April 1, 2009

Strengthing California's Democracy: AB 84 and AB 30

YESTERDAY I traveled to Sacramento to testify before the Assembly Elections and Reapportionment Committee. I had been asked to speak in favor of two elections bills.

The first, Assembly Bill 84, authored by Jerry Hill, would make it mandatory for California election officials to provide a free method of access for voters who voted by mail, to determine if and when their vote by mail ballot had been counted. And if not counted, the reason for rejecting the ballot.

AB 84 is a natural extension to existing law. California has a similar requirement for provisional ballots. It also has a requirement to that allows voters to check on when their vote by mail ballot was received by the Registrar of Voters.

One of the things that vote by mail voters always say to me is, "I am not sure about the Post Office and whether my ballot was counted or not." If passed by both houses and signed by the Governor, AB 84 would provide peace of mind to those voters.

I support AB 84 because of that reason. It will give greater confidence to the 6 million California voters who cast their ballot by mail - they will know when the ballot was received by their election office and when that ballot was counted. And if there is a defect in their ballot, they will be able to correct it for the next election.

Organizations that spoke in favor of AB 84 included: Common Cause, the Secretary of State's Office, California League of Women Voters and others.

The bill successfully passed out of committee and now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The other bill I spoke in favor of was Assembly Bill 30 by Assembly Member Curren Price. That bill would allow 16 year olds to "pre-register" to vote and when the person turned 18, the Registrar of Voters would activate that voter's registration.

I supported this bill because it has the potential to engage more young people in the process of voting. In San Mateo County around 1,000 young people served as poll workers at the November 2008 Presidential election. They were excited by their assignments and it was the perfect time to get them pre-registered to vote.

The more people that are engaged in our Democracy, the stronger it is. AB 30 is a good thing for California's Democracy and our young people.

Assembly Bill 30 was supported by several organizations and passed out of committee. The bill's next stop is the Appropriations Committee.

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