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Kelley bill would clean up voter rolls, retain privacy

April 20, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Legislation intended to clean up voter rolls and minimize potential for voter fraud — all while protecting personal privacy — has been introduced by Assemblyman Dave Kelley.

Kelley, who represents the Imperial Valley, introduced the legislation, Assembly Bill 943, at the behest of California Secretary of State Bill Jones, according to Kelley spokesman Bob Ham.

Ham said Jones' goal is to clean up voter registration rolls and make the rolls verifiable without violating anyone's privacy.

Some of the requirements under the pending legislation would require county election officials to cancel voter registration through the use of official death notices, responses to prospective jury questionnaires, changes of address, notification from the court systems of felony convictions, stricter residency confirmation procedures, if notified of a voter's mental incompetence, upon court order.

The bill allows election officials to use obituaries published in newspapers.

Under the legislation, those officials responsible for maintaining certain information would be required to notify their respective elections department of the above information. For example, the county jury commissioner would be required to notify the county elections department of those individuals who return a prospective juror questionnaire that say the individual is not a U.S. citizen; therefore ineligible to vote.

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Many of the requirements found in the pending legislation are already in place locally, said Dolores Provencio, county elections official. She said the state Elections Code lists numerous requirements — what she called "one-liners" — that require the removal of a voter from the rolls.

"The bill appears to put some teeth into those one-liners," Provencio said. "He gives us very specific guidelines."

Provencio said since the last election, and especially with the problems in Florida, representatives of this state's counties have held meetings with the Secretary of State's office on the issue of voter roll maintenance.

As a state-mandated local program, Provencio said, the legislation allows for some recovery of the cost of its implementation.

Meanwhile, Provencio said the county district attorney told her the local investigation into possible voter registration and absentee voter fraud associated with the District 3 county supervisorial race in November is in the hands of the state attorney general. She said she has not been contacted by that office.

Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert Otero could not be reached for comment.

When asked what changes, if any, have been undertaken in the county Elections Office as a result of the investigation, Provencio said procedures are under review and her staff is attending a workshop on absentee voting and voter registration affidavits.

"Maybe we'll get better ideas," she said.

Provencio was asked if the county plans to replace its punch-style voting machines, as has been suggested in other locations.

She said there are two types of punch-style machines: mechanical and stylus. Locally, the mechanical type is used, which Provencio said is more accurate in that the punch will only stop at certain locations along the ballot card.

The stylus type uses a small pointy device — a stylus — to punch a hole in the ballot card.

"We, in my experience, haven't had any trouble with our mechanical punch," Provencio said.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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