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AB-44 updates existing recount process

Sacramento - Speaker pro Tem, Kevin Mullin’s recount reform bill, AB-44 cleared its first hurdle in the legislative process today when it passed out of the Elections and Redistricting Committee. The bill would provide a state-funded, full manual recount option for  any statewide office or ballot measure where the margin of victory is 0.015% or 1,000 votes whichever is less, addressing the serious flaws exposed in the existing recount system during the June 2014 State Controller’s primary race.

“It’s time for the State of California to join the twenty other states and the District of Columbia who already have state-funded recount systems in place,” stated Mullin. Our existing recount system is full of flaws and does not inspire voter confidence in the process.”

In the June 2014 primary, former Assembly Speaker John Perez trailed Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee by only 481 votes out of roughly four million. The very narrow margin prompted Perez to request a recount, which under current law is only available if a candidate or any registered voter requests one and can front the costs involved to state and local governments.

Existing law also allows the funder of the recall to demand recounts in counties/precincts of their choice; otherwise known as “cherry-picking,” and if they make up the vote difference in those counties, the entire outcome of the election changes. In turn, their opponent can respond with their own recount, using the same “cherry-picking” tactics in an effort to recover lost votes.  This inefficient back and forth can continue until every vote is counted or until a candidate runs out of money, which begs the question, should the person with the deepest pockets be able to “out recount” his/her opponent?  

“Obviously the answer is no,” Mullin said. “Recounts are rare and should be fair to everyone involved,” Mullin said. “Ensuring accurate election outcomes and maintaining the integrity of the ballot should be a priority for the state. I look forward to seeing this bill continue to move through the process and ultimately ensuring that California brings its elections process into the 21st century.”

Kevin Mullin represents the 22nd Assembly District and is the Speaker pro Tempore of the California State Assembly. He chairs the Select Committee on Biotechnology and serves on the following committees:  Budget, Budget Subcommittee #4 on State Administration, Business and Professions, Elections and Redistricting, Housing and Community Development and Revenue and Taxation. The 22nd district includes the cities of Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Foster City, Hillsborough, Millbrae, Pacifica, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, portions of South San Francisco and the San Mateo County Coastside communities of Montara and Moss Beach.

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