Assembly Elections Chair Introduces Bills to Expand Voting Rights

Posted on 16 Feb 2017 for representative Evan Low

CA Fights Back Against National Voter Suppression SACRAMENTO—Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), Chair of the California Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee, introduced a package of bills this week to improve voter participation, eliminate barriers to voting, and fight back against those who seek to deny Californians their voting rights. “An open and accessible electoral process is the cornerstone of a representative government, but rampant voter suppression efforts nationwide threaten to undermine our democracy,” said Assemblymember Evan Low. “California remains steadfast in our commitment to civic engagement and we will not tolerate efforts to suppress or intimidate voters.” The bills will accomplish the following: · Establish an Election Day holiday- Declares the intent of the Legislature to establish an Election Day holiday on the first Tuesday in November of each year in which a statewide or national election is to be held. Making Election Day a holiday will make it easier for people to participate in the political process and give everyone the time and opportunity to vote. This is especially important to low-income communities since it removes financial roadblocks that keep them from taking unpaid time off to vote, and will ultimately help engage a more inclusive and representative electorate. · Require public officials convicted of voter intimidation to forfeit office- Makes it clear that voter intimidation and suppression are as serious a threat to the electoral process as voter fraud. It ensures that people who violate the public trust by illegally undermining voting rights are stripped of any governmental authority to further block voter participation. · Streamline procedures for "No Party Preference" voters to vote in primary elections- Ensures that all voters have the opportunity to participate in presidential primary elections and eliminates barriers for non-affiliated voters to vote in the primary of their choice. · Require county elections officials to update voter education and outreach plans- Ensures that counties periodically review and update their voter education and outreach programs to reflect current challenges in providing for full voter participation. · Schedule local voter initiatives for the next regularly-scheduled election- Prohibits initiative proponents from timing their initiatives to force standalone special elections that suffer from low and unrepresentative turnout. Voting on initiatives during regularly scheduled elections ensures greater – and more representative – voter participation. Last December, Low introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 1, which urges Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College. He is also joint-authoring Assembly Bill 216 with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher to require return postage on vote by mail ballots to be prepaid. ###