July 18, 2007
Dear Attorney General Brown:
Pursuant to Elections Code
Section 9005, we have reviewed the proposed statutory initiative related
to the definition of ballots (A.G. File No. 07‑0021).
Current Definition. Federal law
requires that all precincts have at least one voting machine that is
accessible to the disabled. (Accessible machines generally are
considered to be touchscreen machines, in which a voter makes selections
electronically.) Under current state law, a number of different voting
systems are authorized, including electronic devices such as touchscreen
machines. The Secretary of State is responsible for certifying that
specific systems meet the requirements of state and federal law.
Counties can then choose which type of certified system to use in their
elections. Any touchscreen machine must have a voter verified paper
audit trail which allows voters to check to make sure the machine
correctly recorded voting choices.
Proposed Definition. Under this
measure, electronic devices could still be used but would require a
“tangible ballot” that results from the use of the device.
The fiscal effect on the measure would depend on
the interpretation of the meaning of tangible. Under the measure, it is
possible that some touchscreen machines could no longer be used in their
current form. If so, counties would need to replace or alter some of
their current equipment. Such costs could total in the tens of millions
of dollars on a one-time basis. In recent years, these types of costs
have been shared by federal, state, and county governments.
Summary. This measure would have
the following major fiscal impact:
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