Senate Bill 450 SB-450 (Elections: Vote by Mail Voting and Mail Ballot Elections) is well positioned to revolutionize the way Californians cast their ballots.
In February, the Public Policy Institute of California reported how hard the state was working to make its voting and registration processes as easy as possible.
By late April, anyone eighteen years of age or older who applied/or applies for a California Driver’s License or identification card in California now have the option of registering to vote and/or make changes to their voter registration.
However, despite these efforts California’s voter turn-out in the June primary fell short of desired expectations. Last week, the state legislature took another step in its quest to make the kind of changes that would engage more of the state’s citizens in the voting process–SB40 after being passed by both branches of the legislature, moved to the governor’s office. Governor Jerry Brown has until September 30 to either sign or veto it.
If Brown signs the legislation (currently, it is uncertain as to whether he will), California will transition to what has been identified as the “Colorado Model” for voting. It will discontinue the historical use of neighborhood polling places and transition to a voting process that relies primarily on mail-in ballots supported by ballot drop boxes and voting centers.
The voting centers would also offer Californians a variety of other services including the opportunity to register to vote on election day
Beginning in 2018, counties would be authorized to conduct elections where every voter would receive a ballot by mail; and drop-off locations would be made available (some up to four weeks ahead of time). This approach would replace the traditional polling places. In addition, the counties would also be required to establish temporary voting centers, some would open at least ten days before the election to register voters and accept ballots.
The voting centers would also offer Californians a variety of other services including the opportunity to register to vote on election day; check the status of their existing registration; cast a vote in person provided the voter lives in a different city within the boundaries of the county.
Another difference between these new polling centers and the traditional neighborhood polling places is that the staff will be paid workers who will receive more training than what was historically provided to temporary poll workers.
The new process does not come without criticism. There is growing concern that the voting centers and/or drop off-locations, because there will be far fewer of them than traditional polling sites, will be inconvenient for some voters. The Alpenhorn News will continue to follow this story.