Fix AB 840 to Save CA Election Integrity

AB 840 is an election bill before the CA Senate.

 The problem:

 IT WAS LETHALLY AMENDED AFTER PASSAGE BY THE ASSEMBLY LAST APRIL 20.

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Voting Rights Task Force (VRTF), Open Ballot Initiative (OBI), Citizens Oversight Project (COPS) and democracy advocates across the California insist the Assembly remand AB 840 from the Senate in order to review the significant change added May 23 without Assembly approval.  

Stealth insertion of the May 23 amendment to AB 840 gutted the foundation of California Election Integrity – paper ballots, and 1% random selection of precinct and mail vote batches for hand-audit to verify results. Section 15360 says that the 1% "public manual tally” must include vote by mail ballots. This means all of them, provided that they are postmarked by election day, and arrive by the Friday after the election, as allowed by law.

The authors, Assemblymembers Quirk (D-20) and Obernolte (R-33) were somehow convinced to insert an amendment AFTER Assembly passage. It changes CA Election Code 15360. The added language is below in bold italics:

(1) (A) A public manual tally of the ballots canvassed in the semifinal official canvass, including vote by mail ballots but not including provisional ballots, cast in 1 percent of the precincts chosen at random by the elections official.

They made nearly identical changes in sections (2)(A) and (2)(B).

The key phrase “semifinal official canvass” means the results reported on election night. It includes ballots cast in the precinct, and vote by mail ballots that arrive by election night. It excludes ballots that arrive Wednesday through Friday, and all provisional ballots. Millions of them.

AB 840 reverses the ruling by San Diego. Superior Court Judge Wohlfeil (Lutz v. Vu) that said the 1% audit had to include all mail ballots, not just the ones arriving by election day. Over half of California now votes by mail. Now that election officials won recent legislation that allowed them to shift a county to all vote-by-mail, and to count ballots received up to 3 days after Election Day, the number of excluded ballots could become decisive in determining outcomes. The LA Times reported that on Nov. 10, two days after the election, over 4 million ballots remained uncounted. They were mostly mail and provisional ballots. Legally exempting such large numbers from scrutiny is an invitation to corruption.

THE SOLUTION:

The Assembly Elections Committee can cut the section 15360 amendment from the bill and demand that the Senate consider only AB 840 as originally passed by their committee and the full Assembly.

Please write and/or call the members of the Assembly Elections Committee (below). Urge them to revert AB 840 to the original version passed by the Assembly April 20.

Exemptions from California's audit law would send elections backwards in our state.

                Marc Berman (Chair): (916) 319-2024

                Mathew Harper (Vice Chair): (916) 319-2074

                Ian C. Calderon: (916) 319-2057

                Evan Low: (916) 319-2028

                Kevin Mullin: (916) 319-2022

                Jim Patterson: (916) 319-2023

                Shirley Weber: (916) 319-2079

You should also write to the committee secretary: Lori.Barber@asm.ca.gov. The subject line should read: AB 840: Cut section 15360.

Tell them that AB 840 was significantly amended after it left the Assembly. To protect our election audits, the Assembly needs to call it back, and cut section 15360 from the bill. All vote by mail ballots must remain part of the 1% audit.

Thank you for all you do.

In solidarity,

Mimi Kennedy for
PDA California