Senate Bill 29 by Senator Tom Umberg (D-Orange County) has already passed the State Senate and is headed to a quick enactment as an urgency statute. SB 29 would extend to the requirement to mail a ballot to every registered voter for elections proclaimed or conducted prior to January 1, 2022. Existing law required county elections officials to mail a ballot to every registered voter for the November 3, 2020 statewide general election.
Section One of the bill contains the following legislative findings and declarations:
(a) To maintain a healthy democracy in California, it is important to encourage eligible voters to vote and to ensure that residents of the state have the tools needed to participate in every election.
(b) When California conducts an election in 2021, it is unknown to what degree the COVID-19 pandemic will still pose a threat to public health. The state and its counties need to begin taking action now in order to ensure that elections are held in a manner that is accessible, secure, and safe.
(c) Consistent with paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 2226 of the Elections Code, and with the longstanding interpretation by state and local elections officials of Sections 4000 to 4108, inclusive, of the Elections Code governing the conduct of all-mailed ballot elections and of Section 3005 of the Elections Code governing mailed ballot precincts, nothing in this act is intended, and shall not be construed, to mean that a voter with an inactive voter registration status shall receive a vote by mail ballot for an election conducted in 2021.
Section Two of the bill would amend Elections Code Section 3000.5 to strike the November 3, 2020 limitation to apply the required mailing of a ballot to “an election proclaimed or conducted prior to January 1, 2022.” Section Three of the bill would amend Elections Code Section 3019.7 to provide the same change in law.
Section Four of the bill specifies that local agencies and school districts can apply to the Commission on State Mandates for reimbursement if the bill results in “costs mandated by the state” pursuant to the Government Code.
Section Five of the bill provides the following urgency clause which specifies the bill should take effect immediately (i.e., when it is signed by the Governor and chaptered by the Secretary of State):
To ensure that county elections officials have sufficient time to ensure that elections are held in a manner that is accessible, secure, and safe, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.