[Editor's note: The following was submitted by the Office of Senator Jerry Hill.]
The Legislature has approved and sent to the governor a bill by Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, that would allow voters to confirm their mail-in ballot was counted.
Senate Bill 589, which unanimously cleared the Senate Thursday, stems from a bill idea that emerged from Hill’s annual “Oughta Be a Law … or Not” contest.
The legislation was suggested by a constituent who wrote, “I’ve voted for over decade, but do not know if my vote counts because the registrar does not acknowledge my vote.”
The constituent who submitted the winning bill idea requested anonymity.
Hill’s bill – co-sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco -- will require county election officials to establish a system allowing vote-by-mail voters to learn if their ballot was counted and, if it was not, why it wasn’t.
“The need for this verification is critical as use of the vote-by-mail option grows,” Hill said.
“For the first time ever, a majority of voters in the 2012 general election in California cast their ballots by mail.”
Under current law, vote-by-mail voters have no way of knowing whether their ballot was counted. The most common reasons for rejected vote-by-mail ballots are late submissions and signatures on the ballot that do not match the signature on the registration form.
SB 589 would create a “free access system” and provide county registrars with flexibility to determine how they want to comply with the legislation by notifying voters on a walk-in basis, over the phone, or online.
“During the November 2012 General Election in California, over 60,000 vote-by-mail ballots were rejected by county registrars throughout the state,” said Hill.
“This legislation will ensure that voters whose ballots were rejected have the ability to fix the problem for future elections.”
The bill is supported by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials and Common Cause California.