Bill to Improve Voter Empowerment is Signed
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill (AB) 1044, authored by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), will provide critical information to vote-by-mail (VBM) voters on how to verify if their ballot was counted.
In October 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) to improve the administration of federal elections. HAVA directed states to develop a platform voters can access to ascertain whether or not their vote was counted, and, if it was not counted, the reason why it was not counted.
California’s county elections officials maintain a free access system to allow VBMs voters to learn whether or not a VBM ballot was voted, and if not the reason why. “Unfortunately, there is a lack of outreach to inform voters of this right,” said Assemblymember Quirk.
Specifically, AB 1044 requires the Secretary of State to include, on the voter information guide, the Internet Web site a voter may access to check the status of his or her VBM or provisional ballot.
“More and more Californians are deciding to cast their ballots in the mail. These voters may be unknowingly disenfranchising themselves. I am thankful Governor Jerry Brown agrees that it is our duty as Legislators to provide voters with all the tools they need to make their vote count,” Assemblymember Quirk stated upon learning Governor Brown had signed his bill.
A study by the California Voter Foundation found that there are three primary reasons that VBM ballots go uncounted in California: (1) late ballot arrival, (2) lack of signature on envelope and (3) signature on the envelope did not match the one on the voter’s affidavit of registration.
AB 1044 will go into effect January 1, 2018.
Elected in 2012, Bill Quirk brings his PhD in astrophysics and career as an educator and scientist to the State Assembly. He is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. He is also Chair of the Select Committee on California’s Clean Energy Economy. He is a member of the Agriculture, Public Safety, Revenue and Taxation, and Utilities and Energy Committees.