Primary Election Clean-up
At the 2016 general election, the voters of the state approved 2 initiated measures affecting primary elections: Proposition 107, which restored a presidential primary election, and Proposition 108, which allows participation by unaffiliated voters in primary elections.
The bill makes several modifications to some of the statutory provisions that were affected by Propositions 107 and 108 in the following respects for the purpose of facilitating the effective implementation of the state's election laws:
- Section 1 of the bill adds to the list of questions that a prospective elector who is unaffiliated with a political party may answer prior to registering to vote by means of paper registration to include what political party, if any, whose primary election ballot the elector desires to receive in the mail.
- For a regular primary election, section 2 requires the county clerk and recorder to send to all active electors in the county who have not declared an affiliation or provided a ballot preference with a political party a mailing that contains the ballots of all the major political parties and eliminates the use of a single combined ballot for regular primary elections..
- Section 3 requires the governor to consult the secretary of state (secretary) in selecting the date of the presidential primary election. This section requires, for a presidential primary election, the county clerk and recorder to send to all active electors in the county who have not declared an affiliation or provided a ballot preference with a political party a ballot packet that contains the ballots of all the major political parties as with a regular primary election; authorizes the secretary to adopt by rule additional ballot requirements to avoid voter confusion in presidential primary elections; and repeals provisions requiring the state to reimburse the counties for expenses incurred in connection with the preparation and conduct of presidential primary elections in lieu of the provisions in section 6.
- Section 4 moves the deadline by which a candidate in the presidential primary election is to submit to the secretary required filing materials to run in the primary election from the second day of January in the year of the primary election to 85 days before the date of the primary election. This section also requires challenges to the listing of a candidate on the presidential primary ballot to be filed with the district court, as with other election challenges, and not the secretary.
- . In the case of a primary mail ballot election, section 5 deletes an existing statutory requirement that a notice be sent advising eligible electors who are not affiliated with a political party of the ability to vote in the primary election of any political party. This section of the bill also modifies existing law requiring mail ballot packets in a primary mail ballot election to be mailed only to those active registered electors who are affiliated with a political party that is participating in the election to require that the mail ballot packet be mailed only to active registered electors.
- Section 6 requires the county clerk and recorder or designated election official to record in the statewide voter registration system the names and precinct numbers of eligible electors, together with the date on which the mail ballot was sent and the date on which each mail ballot was returned or otherwise cast. For unaffiliated electors in a primary election, the bill requires the county clerk and recorder to record which political party's ballot the elector cast. If a mail ballot is not returned or otherwise cast, or if it is rejected and not counted, that fact must be recorded in the statewide voter registration system. The information is subject to public inspection under applicable laws and rules.
- 7 requires the general assembly to appropriate money from the state's general fund to cover the costs of the election incurred by the state arising from the preparation and conduct of a presidential primary election.
- Section 8 appropriates $208,811 from the department of state cash fund for the 2017-18 state fiscal year. To implement the act, the department of state may use $180,456 of the appropriation for personal services for information technology services and $28,355 of the appropriation for operating expenses for the elections division.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)