On March 15, the California Assembly Elections Committee passed AB 80 unanimously. It moves the presidential primary from February to June. Because the primary for office other than President is already in June, combining the presidential primary with the non-presidential primary to a single date will save almost $100,000,000.
Also on March 15, the California Senate Elections Committee passed SB 205 by a vote of 3-2. It outlaws paying anyone who goes out in public and asks voters to change their registration from one party to another, if the payment is based on a per-registration basis. The payment may not be on a per-registration basis “directly or indirectly”, which seems to say that if someone hires someone else to obtain voter registration changes, the payer can’t even give a bonus for high-performance workers. This bill will make it far more difficult for parties to maintain their place on the ballot, or to qualify for the ballot. The only procedure remaining in California for a party to be ballot-qualified is to have at least 103,004 registered members. The Libertarian Party needs another 11,000 registrants, and the Peace & Freedom Party needs another 45,000 registrants, although not until 2014. Making it illegal for these parties to hire “salespeople” to get them more registrants will hamper these registration drives, if the parties can’t pay the workers on a per-registrant basis.
Dave Kadlecek of the Peace & Freedom Party, and Richard Winger (the person writing this post) testified against the bill. Winger testified that the bill should be amended, to no longer define “political party” by how many registered voters it has. However, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Lou Correa, chair of the Committee, seemed uninterested in that proposal. The two Republicans on the Senate Elections Committee, Doug LaMalfa and Ted Gaines, expressed sympathy for minor parties and voted against the bill.
Finally, the California Senate Elections Committee passed SB 168 on a 3-2 vote, with the three Democrats voting in favor. This bill makes it illegal to pay petition circulators on a per-signature basis. However, Senator Ted Lieu stated that although he would vote for the bill in Committee, that he had serious doubts about the bill and that he likely would oppose it on the Senate floor.