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  Regular-General Government   # 42.       
Clerk-Recorder/Assesor/Elections  
Meeting Date: 05/10/2022  
Brief Title:    Ratify transition to Voter's Choice Act election model
From: Jesse Salinas, Assessor/Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters, Assessor/Clerk-Recorder/Elections
Staff Contact: Armando Salud, Deputy of Elections, Assessor/Clerk-Recorder/Elections, x8126

Subject
Ratify the Yolo County Registrar of Voter's implementation of the Voter's Choice Act for the 2022 statewide election cycle. (Potential general fund impact) (Salinas)
Recommended Action
Ratify the Yolo County Registrar of Voter's implementation of the Voter's Choice Act for the 2022 statewide election cycle.
Strategic Plan Goal(s)
Thriving Residents
Reason for Recommended Action/Background
In 2002, when permanent vote-by-mail voting was opened to all California voters, permanent vote-by-mail voters increased from one percent (1%) to twenty percent (20%) of the Yolo County registered voters. Participation in permanent vote-by-mail voting has risen steadily to eighty percent (80%) of all registered voters in the county—the number of ballots cast in an election using vote-by-mail ballot increases. The overwhelming majority of Yolo County voters are comfortable with vote-by-mail ballots. The State of California enacted Assembly Bill 37, which required every registered voter to receive a vote-by-mail ballot packet starting 29 days before an election regardless of a county's use of traditional polling places. However, the State of California enacted Senate Bill 450 in 2016, known as the Voter’s Choice Act (“the VCA” codified in California Elections Code section 4005), authorizing counties and their respective elected chief election officers to transition to elections conducted by all vote-by-mail balloting with the establishment of vote centers and installation of ballot drop boxes. Vote centers and ballot drop boxes replace traditional polling places. 

The VCA requires at least one vote center per 50,000 registered voters to be open eleven (11) days leading up to and including any Election Day. At least one vote center per 10,000 voters to be available four (4) days leading up to and including any Election Day. The VCA also requires at least one ballot dropbox per 15,000 registered voters to be open twenty-eight (28) days, including Election Day. The number of vote centers and ballot drop-off locations are determined by the number of registered voters on the 88th day before Election Day. Yolo County is equipped with the technology to securely access registration data at the vote centers, as required by the VCA. Vote centers provide a high level of service for in-person voting.  Vote centers increase flexibility and convenience for voters to access services such as registering to vote or updating their registration, dropping off their vote-by-mail ballot, picking up a replacement ballot, casting a ballot, receiving and voting a provisional or conditional voter registration ballot, using the accessible voting equipment for a private and independent voting experience. Yolo County successfully conducted November 3, 2020, and the September 14, 2021 elections following the Voter’s Choice Act model due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As required by the VCA, the Yolo County Elections office submitted an Elections Administration Plan ("EAP") to the California Secretary of State ("SOS"), which the SOS approved on March 7, 2022. The EAP is a road map for transitioning to the VCA election model and increasing voter participation. Under the requirements of the VCA, the EAP was drafted with collaboration from the community, which included public consultation meetings, public comment, a public hearing, and feedback from the Yolo County Voting Accessibility and Language Accessibility Advisory Committees.

Further information on local implementation of the VCA is included in the attachments, including a memorandum from the Registrar of Voters in Attachment A. This Board item deems Board ratification of the approach described above, as further explained in the attachments.
Collaborations (including Board advisory groups and external partner agencies)
Arteaga's Starlite Supermarket, Bel Air Grocery Store, Lorenzo's Market, Nugget Markets, Raley's Grocery Store, City of Davis City Clerk, City of West Sacramento City Clerk, City of Woodland City Clerk, City of Winters City Clerk, Davis Joint Unified School District, Esparto Unified School District, Washington Unified School District, Woodland Joint Unified School District, Yolo County Library, UC Davis, State of California, U.S. Postal Service

Fiscal Impact
Potential fiscal impact (see notes in explanation section below)
Fiscal Impact (Expenditure)
Total cost of recommended action:    $   0
Amount budgeted for expenditure:    $   0
Additional expenditure authority needed:    $   0
On-going commitment (annual cost):    $   262,000
Source of Funds for this Expenditure
$0
Explanation (Expenditure and/or Revenue)
Further explanation as needed:
Assembly Bill 37, passed into law in 2021, requires county election officials to send a vote-by-mail ballot to every active registered voter. This new law mandates postage and printing cost projected to be ($134,899) and ($115,248), respectively. This new cost would need to be appropriated regardless of the voting model.

The new cost associated with the Vote Center Act (VCA) model compared to the traditional polling place model is estimated to be approximately $196,000.  This additional ongoing cost covers the required outreach, translation, and extra staffing cost of Vote Centers opening for more days. It is important to note that the transition from the traditional polling place model to VCA is saving the County approximately $1.2 million in upfront equipment cost when activating 13 Vote Centers as opposed to 96 assigned polling places.  Given the typical five-year cycle of equipment upgrades needed with technology, we expect these upfront savings to refresh before new equipment is needed again, providing ongoing cost savings to the county with this new model.

Although the Election’s office will have these costs covered in the current fiscal year, these new legal requirements will require needed appropriations in future fiscal years to the extent that the price cannot be covered by local jurisdiction billings or available state funds, or election reimbursements.
Attachments
Att. A. VCA Board Letter
Att. B. 2022 VCA Checklist
Att. C. Final EAP with SOS Approved Certificate
Att. D. EAP Public Comments

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Form Review
Inbox Reviewed By Date
Jesse Salinas Jesse Salinas 04/25/2022 06:11 PM
Phil Pogledich Phil Pogledich 05/04/2022 07:40 AM
Joanne Van Hoosear Joanne Van Hoosear 05/04/2022 08:58 AM
Form Started By: Annette Lim Started On: 02/18/2022 05:01 PM
Final Approval Date: 05/04/2022

    

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