LA Democratic Party Opposes AB 840!


This letter was endorsed unanimously on September 12, 2017
by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party!


Eric Bauman, Chair
Los Angeles County Democratic Party
3550 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90010

Assemblymember Bill Quirk
Capitol Office, Room 3132
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0023

Re: AB 840

Dear Assemblymember Quirk:

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party, upon the recommendation of its Legislative Action Committee, has considered whether to endorse AB 840.

AB 840, as originally crafted, addressed the issue of voters who did not sign their vote by mail (VBM) identification envelopes. It would amend Elections Code section 3019 to provide that such voters could return a completed, unsigned ballot statement by email.

After this bill passed the Assembly, its Elections and Appropriations Committees, and the Senate Elections Committee in its original form, it was amended in the Senate to amend an entirely different section of the Elections Code, Section 15360. Section 15360 defines the 1% audit of randomly-selected precincts’ ballots. The phrase “semifinal official canvass” was inserted into subdivisions (1)(A), (2)(A) and (2)(B) of Elections Code Section 15360.

“Semifinal official canvass” means the results reported on election night. It includes only those mail ballots that arrived in time to be counted on Election Day. “Semifinal official canvass” excludes mail ballots that arrive Wednesday through Friday after Election Day. It excludes all provisional ballots, as well. Elections officials will have discretion to include those ballots in their audits if they so choose, but there is no requirement that they do so which why this is so important. This number is now in the millions of ballots for big elections, and can be decisive in smaller races too.

The last-minute amendment of AB 840 reverses the San Diego Superior Court’s ruling in Lutz v. Vu. That case held that the 1% audit had to include all mail ballots, not just the ones arriving by Election Day. The ballots that the amendment to Section 15360 would exclude from auditing could be decisive in election outcomes.

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party believes that all mail ballots should be subject to audit. It cannot be stated strongly enough that protecting our audit law’s efficacy as originally intended – to deter malfeasance and correct error – means subjecting the growing number of late VBM ballots to audit. The growing number of provisional ballots must also be subject to audit.

Therefore, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party will endorse AB 840 if the amendment to Elections Code Section 15360 is removed. If not, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party will oppose it.

Sincerely,

Eric Bauman, Chair
Los Angeles County Democratic Party

cc:
Assembly Speaker, Anthony Rendon
Senate Pro Tempore, Kevin DeLeon
Assembly Elections Committee Member – Chair, Marc Berman
Assembly Elections Committee Member – Vice Chair, Mathew Harper
Assembly Elections Committee Member, Ian C. Calderon
Assembly Elections Committee Member, Evan Low
Assembly Elections Committee Member, Kevin Mullin
Assembly Elections Committee Member, Jim Patterson
Assembly Elections Committee Member, Shirley Weber
Assembly Elections Committee Secretary, Lori Barber

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