BILL ANALYSIS Ó SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION Carol Liu, Chair 2013-2014 Regular Session BILL NO: SB 240 AUTHOR: Yee AMENDED: April 11, 2013 FISCAL COMM: Yes HEARING DATE: April 17, 2013 URGENCY: No CONSULTANT: Lynn Lorber NOTE : This bill has been referred to the Committees on Education and Elections and Constitutional Amendments. A "do pass" motion should include referral to the Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments. SUBJECT : Polling places: higher education campuses. SUMMARY This bill requires county elections officials to establish at least one polling place on every campus of the California State University and the University of California, and consider establishing at least one polling place on each community college campus. BACKGROUND Current law requires: 1) An elections official to, among other things, establish a convenient number of election precincts within the affected jurisdiction, define the precinct boundaries, and designate a polling place for each precinct at least 29 days prior to the election. (Elections Code § 12286) 2) An elections official to undertake necessary measures in the locating of polling places to ensure that polling places meet the guidelines promulgated by the Secretary of State for accessibility by the physically handicapped. (Elections Code § 12280) 3) A precinct boundary to be fixed in a manner so that SB 240 Page 2 the number of voters in the precinct does not exceed 1.000 on the 88th day prior to the day of election. Elections officials are authorized to subtract the number of permanent vote by mail voters from the total number of voters to reach the threshold of 1,000 voters. (Elections Code § 12223) 4) Requires school districts to allow the use of school buildings for polling places if a city or county elections official makes such a request. (Elections Code § 12283) 5) County elections officials to offer conditional voter registration and provisional voting, and authorizes county elections officials to offer conditional voter registration and provisional voting on election day. (Elections Code § 2170) ANALYSIS This bill requires county elections officials to establish at least one polling place on every campus of the California State University and the University of California, and consider establishing at least one polling place on each community college campus. Specifically, this bill: 1) Requires, for each statewide general and primary election, the county elections official to do both of the following: a) Establish at least one polling place within each campus of the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) within the county. b) Consider establishing at least one polling place within each community college (CCC) within the county, and establish that polling place if the elections official determines a polling place at the college would be convenient for voters. 2) Exempts from the provisions of this bill counties with a population of fewer than 150,000 people. SB 240 Page 3 3) Requires the CSU and CCC to provide access for use of their campuses as polling places, and requests the UC to do the same. This bill provides that it does not apply to a campus of the UC if the campus refuses a request for access to the campus as a polling place. STAFF COMMENTS 1) Need for the bill . According to the author, "In 2011, Senate Bill 397 was passed to allow citizens to register to vote via the internet or mobile device. On September 19, 2012, California launched its online voter registration system and saw immediate success. SB 240 ensure that young voters' voices are heard at the ballot box by placing at least one polling place at every University of California and California State University campus. While in college, many students will be voting for the first time. Together with online voter registration, students can effortlessly register to vote, and on Election Day have convenient and easy access to a p9olling place on their university or college campus." 2) What's the problem ? According to information provided by the author's office, nine of the ten campuses of the University of California, and 16 of 23 campuses of the California State University, had polling places in the November 2012 election. According to a news article quoting the registrar of voters for Riverside County relative to the reason a polling place was not placed on the UC Riverside campus, "One of the reasons for not selecting the college as a polling place was due to the high number of commuter students. Commuter college students who live in a different county or city are required to cast a provisional ballot. Parking issues for voters who do not attend the college was also a concern." 3) Removes discretion of county elections officials . This bill requires elections officials to locate a polling place on public college campuses regardless of a determination by county elections officials as to the best location (makes sense for voters in area and accessible to voters) for polling places. This bill requires the placement of polling places without a link to the number of people who are registered to SB 240 Page 4 vote within that precinct or to the number of people who live on a campus. Many students are registered to vote at their permanent residence (e.g., their parents' residence). The committee and the author may wish to consider amending this bill to exclude counties that do not have a public college with an adequate number of students residing on campus that are registered to vote at that campus address. 4) Primary elections . This bill requires elections officials to locate a polling place on public college campuses for each statewide general and primary election. Is it prudent to require polling places on college campuses at times when few students may be on campus? The committee and the author may wish to consider amending this bill to exclude state elections scheduled for June or any other time (special state elections) when these campuses are on summer or other types of breaks. 5) Not just for students . This bill requires polling places on each campus of the CSU and UC, but does not limit voting at those polling places to students of that campus. Access to parking and navigation on college campuses can be difficult, which could impede the ability of the off-campus community to access the polling place. 6) Small County Exemption . This bill exempts counties that have a population under 150,000, which appear to include Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Napa, Nevada, Plumas, San Benito, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, and Yuba. 7) Fiscal impact . According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee analysis of prior legislation, "there are 40 counties in California with a UC, CSU, and/or CCC campus. Assuming an average cost of $1,300 to establish and operate a polling place, annual reimbursable General Fund costs would be $52,000. Some counties currently locate polling places on college campuses. This bill creates a mandate that requires the state to reimburse counties for these costs for one college within each county." SB 240 Page 5 8) Prior legislation . AB 346 (Atkins, 2011) would have required county elections officials to establish at least one polling place for each state election on a campus of a CCC, CSU and UC within their respective counties. AB 346 failed passage in the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee on 2-3 vote on June 21, 2011. SUPPORT Cal Berkeley Democrats California College Democrats Service Employees International Union, California State Council OPPOSITION None on file.