Government Finance and Operations update 7/7/2014
AB 280 (Alejo) – Concerns
As Amended on June 18, 2014
AB 280, by Assembly Member Luis Alejo, would implement a state-level preclearance system similar to the federal system largely overturned by the US Supreme Court last year. The new state-level system would apply to about 25 counties and many more school districts, cities, and special districts for which counties run elections. A jurisdiction would be subject to the new rules if the voting-age citizen population of at least two racial, ethnic, or language groups was at least 20 percent.
Under the new system, jurisdictions would be required to obtain permission from the state before making changes to polling places, jurisdictional boundaries (annexations, etc), or voting districts. Unlike the old federal system, a local agency would have to wait for permission before implementing the change. Also unlike the federal system, no system for expedited review is included in the current bill. Unfortunately, the rules related to changing polling places would significantly impinge election departments’ ability to comply with existing legal requirements.
CSAC’s concerns with AB 280 have to do with the cost of complying with these new regulations. We are in discussions with the author’s office and with county election officials to figure out a way to achieve the bill’s purposes without imposing unnecessarily costly or administratively burdensome requirements.