McGeorge School of Law

Proposition 52

Proposition 52:
Election Day Registration

by

By Ryan Marcroft
JD, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific
to be conferred May 2003
B.A., Sociology, University of the Pacific, 2000

and

Scott Huber
JD, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific
to be conferred May 2003
B.S., Psychology, Brigham Young University, 1997

Copyright © 2002 by University of the McGeorge School of Law

Table of Contents

I. Executive Summary
II. The Law
III. Drafting Issues
IV. Constitutional Issues
V. Public Policy Considerations
VI. Conclusion

I. Executive Summary

Currently, all eligible voters must register fifteen days before an election in order to vote in that election. Cal. Elections Code § 2101 (West 1996). Proposition 52 makes it easier for eligible citizens to vote by never "closing" the registration period. Californians for Election Day Registration, Facts (last updated Sept. 16, 2002). Though the initiative moves the 15-day deadline back to twenty-eight days in order to give the elections official more time to get voter information to registered voters, citizens can register up to and on the day of election. Text of Proposition 52, Article 5, (last updated Sept. 16, 2002). Proposition 52 also increases the penalties for individuals who commit voter fraud. It codifies the crime of "conspiracy to commit fraud" so that even those who participate in the commission of voter crimes may be prosecuted and sentenced to three to five years in jail. Id. at Article 4. Finally, the initiative allocates $6,000,000 dollars annually from the general fund to implement the election day voter registration requirements. Id. at Article 6. The act may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature as long as the new provisions further the purpose of the act, which is to increase voter turnout on election day. Id. at Article 8. Whether Californians will have the ability to register and vote at the same time is ultimately up to the voters on November 5th.

II. The Law

A. Current Law

1. Voting and Registration

 

 

California's current law places some limitations upon voting; these can be found in the California Constitution, state statutes, and regulations. Although federal law also plays a role in the elections process, all that is mandated by federal law is already addressed by California statutes or regulations. Much of the reason for overlapping federal and state laws stems from the high deference the federal Constitution gives the states in the election process. See e.g., U.S. Const. art. I, § 4. Many federal statutes simply defer to the state election procedures when establishing election guidelines. See e.g., 42 U.S.C.A. § 1973gg (West 2002).

The state Constitution sets out a very minimal standard for eligibility, requiring only that a person seeking to register must be a United States citizen, at least 18 years old, and a resident of the state. Cal. Const. art. II, § 2. The state's statutes restate these constitutional prerequisites, but further limit registrants to those who are not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction. Cal. Elections Code § 2101 (West 1996).

In addition to these basic limitations, there are some procedural steps that Californians must comply with before being able to vote. First among these is that a person must register before being permitted to vote. Id. at § 2000; Kagan v. Kearney, 85 Cal. App. 3d 1010 (1978). A person may only register by completing an affidavit of registration. Cal. Elections Code § 2102 (West Supp. 2002). The affidavit of registration is a form that is filled out and returned to the elections official. It contains the necessary information for the official to determine a person's voting eligibility. Included in the form are the person's name, address, birth date and place of birth, driver's license or identification number, political party affiliation, an assertion that the person is not in prison or on parole, and an indication of whether the person has registered at another address, under another name, or intends to affiliate with another political party. Id. at § 2150. Similar requirements are also found in federal law. 42 U.S.C.A. § 1973gg-7(b) (West 2002). The registrant also signs this affidavit under penalty of perjury. Id. If any of the required information is missing, and the elections official is not able to obtain it by calling the registrant, then the registration form may be rejected. Cal. Elections Code § 2153 (West 1996). Although rejection is a possibility, the statute further provides that even if some of this information is missing, such as place of birth, middle name, or party affiliation, the official may presume the existence of the information in order to validate the form. Id. at § 2154 (West Supp. 2002).

Secondly, in order to effectuate an affidavit of registration, the voter must comply with certain deadlines. For most Californians who want to vote in an upcoming election, registration with the county elections official must occur on or before the 15th day before the election. Id. at § 2101 (West 1996). For example, to vote in this year's November 5th election, the statute requires most people be registered by Monday, October 21st. Registration may be accomplished by mail; the person may also register directly at the county elections office; and, in compliance with the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C.A. § 1973gg (West 2002)), a person may register at the Department of Motor Vehicles or any other voter registration agency. Cal. Elections Code § 2107(b) (West Supp. 2002). One limitation on mailed registration forms is that they must be postmarked on or before the 15th day before the election in order to be effective. Id. at § 2102(a)(1). So long as a properly executed registration form is received by the county elections official in one of these ways, the official must accept it for an upcoming election. Id. at § 2107(b).

There are several exceptions to the general 15-day registration rule. For example, if a person is registered to vote, but changes his or her place of residence after the 15-day deadline but before election day, that person is permitted to vote in the precinct that he or she was already registered. Id. at § 2035; 42 U.S.C.A. § 1973gg-6(e)(2)(A)(i) (West 2002).

Another exception to the 15-day deadline applies when voters relocate to another address within the same county and fail to reregister. According to the Secretary of State's regulations, these people may, at their option, register and vote on election day at the precinct assigned to their new address, so long as they show proof of current residency. Cal. Elections Code § 14311 (West 1996); Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 20107. Such a person may also choose to vote at either a central location designated by the county elections official or at the elections office. Cal. Elections Code § 14311 (West 1996); see also 42 U.S.C.A. § 1973gg-6(e)(2)(A)(ii)(I) (West 2002). To vote on election day, the person is required to show proof of residence to a poll worker. Cal. Elections Code § 14311 (West 1996). Furthermore, an individual registering pursuant to this regulation would be required to vote with a provisional ballot. Id. Proof of residency can be shown by way of a California driver's license or identification card that includes the name and current address of the registrant. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 20107. It can further be shown by providing the poll worker with any two documents listed below, except that only one document in category (12) and (13) may be used: 1) Military identification; 2) College or university fee card or students identification; 3) Lease agreement; 4) Mortgage statement; 5) Property tax statement; 6) Income tax return; 7) Utility bill; 8) Credit card bill; 9) Bank statement; 10) Preprinted check or bank deposit slip; 11) Vehicle registration; 12) Mail containing the voter's current address; or 13) Sworn statement from an previously registered voter in the precinct, given in the presence of a poll worker at the polling place, and indicating that "he or she knows and can identify the person who is attempting to vote" and can attest to the name and residence address of that person. Id. Even if the registrant does not have an address, cannot receive mail, or cannot show proof using any of the above categories, he or she may prove residence by showing any two of the following documents: 1) deed or lease containing the legal description of the residence; 2) property tax statement containing the assessor's parcel number; or 3) sworn statement. Id.

A final exception to the 15-day registration requirement involves a situation where a person registers with the elections office in one county, but lives in a different county. In these cases, the person is required to register on or before the 29th day before an election instead of the 15th day. Cal. Elections Code § 2114 (West 1996). Though these individuals must register at an earlier date, this is presumably so that the elections official has ample time to send the registration form to the proper county. See id.

If the registration process is successfully completed in one of these ways, and long as the registrant meets the requirements set out in the state Constitution and statutes regarding citizenship, age, and residency, that person is eligible to vote in any election held within the territory in which he or she resides. Id. at § 2000.

Once election day arrives, a properly registered voter, who is entitled to vote, will cast his or her vote by ballot. Id. at § 13102 (West Supp. 2002). To receive a ballot, the person must state his or her name and address to a poll worker. Id. at § 14216 (West 1996). The poll worker then checks the registration index and crosses off the person's name. Id. at § 14294. At this point only a poll worker may challenge the eligibility of the person requesting a ballot. Id. at § 14240(b). The worker may allege that the voter is not the person whose name is in the index; that the voter does not reside in the precinct; that the voter is not a United States citizen; that the voter has already voted; or that the voter is on parole for a felony conviction. Id. at § 14240(a). All of these challenges can be resolved immediately by the poll workers; most are resolved by a sworn oath affirming, or denying as the case may be, the truth of the challenged fact. See e.g. id. at §§ 14243-14245.

If no challenge is levied against the voter, the person may be handed one of two ballots: a standard ballot or a provisional ballot. As a general proposition, each voter can only receive one ballot. Id. at § 14278. Whether a person receives a standard or provisional ballot depends entirely upon the circumstances surrounding his or her registration information. For example, if a person's name is missing from the registration index in a given precinct, or it cannot be established that the person is entitled to vote in that precinct, that person will be required to vote with a provisional ballot. Id. at § 14310(a). Provisional ballots are special ballots of a different color that are placed into an envelope, specifically identifying the ballot as provisional, before being placed into the ballot box. Id. at § 14310(b). After the election, the elections official will compare the signatures on each provisional ballot with the signature on the voter's affidavit of registration. Id. at § 14310(c)(1). If the signatures do not match, then the ballot will be rejected. Id. The purpose of provisional ballots is to ensure that the person, whose information could not be verified on election day, is qualified and entitled to vote.

If the individual is not handed a provisional ballot, then he or she will receive a standard ballot, signifying that his or her registration information was confirmed. Except for the ballot stubs, standard ballots are not intended to be distinguished from one another. Id. at § 13202 (West 1996). The statute requires that there be only one form of ballot for all candidates for public office, except in partisan primary elections. Id. at § 13102(b) (West Supp. 2002). As noted in section V, this provision becomes quite important in light of Proposition 52. Moreover, voters are expressly prohibited from placing any mark on a ballot that would make it identifiable. Id. at § 14287 (West 1996). The only distinguishing feature, the ballot stub, is a perforated attachment to the ballot; its distinguishing markings are the serial number of the specific ballot, the name of the county, and, in some cases, the precinct number. Id. at § 13261 (West Supp. 2002). Two ballot stubs are affixed to the ballot; one remains with the elections official and the other is given to the voter. Id. After the polls are closed, the poll workers count the number of ballots and check the total against the number of people who voted according to the voting roster. Id. at § 14420(c). Any discrepancies are noted with an explanation of difference. Id.

 

2. Voting Crimes and Penalties

 

 

Currently, the maximum fine for any Election Code violation is $1000 for a misdemeanor and $10,000 for a felony. Cal. Elections Code § 18001 (West 2002). Generally, the statutes are written in a manner that give discretion to a prosecutor to determine whether to prosecute a crime as a misdemeanor or a felony. Id. The fines are currently discretionary and may or may not be imposed depending on the specifics of each case. There is no specific crime of "conspiracy to commit vote fraud" in the existing statute, however, a prosecutor may, under general crimes, prosecute conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor as a felony. Cal. Penal Code § 182 (West 2002).

Section 18100 of the California Election Code provides for imprisonment for a person who willfully causes, procures, or allows himself or any other person to be registered as a voter knowing they are not entitled to voter registration. Imprisonment is discretionary and rarely, if ever, used in this instance. Cal. Elections Code § 18100 (West 2002).

 

B. Changes Proposed by Proposition 52

1. Voting and Registration

a. Intent of Initiative

 

 

Proposition 52, the "Election Day Voter Registration Act of 2002," begins with a statement of voter intent: "the state should ensure that every eligible person has the opportunity to vote." Text of Proposition 52, at Article 2. Moreover, due to increasingly low voter turnout, Californians should take necessary steps to get more people to the polls on election day. Id. This is the main thrust of the initiative. The initiative further provides that it will increase protection against voter fraud and provide elections officials with more time to prepare voter registration indexes and other election day materials. Id.

 

b. Text of the Initiative

 

 

If passed by California voters, Proposition 52 would add Article 4.5 to Chapter 2 of Division 2 of the Elections Code. Id. at Article 3. In order to fully understand the changes proposed by this initiative, a rather insignificant change to the Elections Code must be mentioned first. Proposition 52 will do away with the 15-day registration deadline. Id. Instead, proposed Article 3 of the initiative pushes that deadline back to twenty-nine days. Id. Therefore, any person following the standard registration procedure as described above would have to ensure he or she was registered on or before the 29th day before the election instead of the 15th day. The 29-day deadline is simply a return to the state of California law that existed only two years ago and that ended with the passing of AB 1094. Stat. 2000, chapter 899. The term "deadline," however, is somewhat misleading. The term does not refer to the day that registration closes, as it does under the current law. Instead, the term refers to the last day that a person may register by simply completing an affidavit of registration, as the current law provides. The reason that the term is misleading is because, under Proposition 52, registration never ceases; its procedures simply change depending upon when the person registers. For people who do not meet the 29-day deadline, the initiative permits registration or re-registration beginning twenty eight days prior to the election and continuing through the election at any elections office in the county in which the person resides. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 3. A voter who is reregistering within the same county need not provide proof of residence; only fill out a new affidavit of registration. Id. This section applies equally to those voters who live in all-mail ballot precincts or in jurisdictions holding all-mail elections. Id. The only real loss for a person who registers during this period is that the elections official is not required to mail the voter a ballot pamphlet. Id. Of course, that person could always just pick one up at his or her polling place. The seminal change proposed by this initiative is not that a person may register or reregister to vote on election day, but that the person may register and vote on election day at any polling place throughout the state. Id. The Secretary of State's regulations had limited such voting to re-registration of individuals who had changed residences within one county; this initiative, however, has no such restriction. Id.

For people registering pursuant to the initiative's new procedures, two things are required. Not only must the individual complete an affidavit of registration, but he or she must also show proof of current residence. Id. The affidavit requirement is not new; the proof of residency requirement, is an addition to current law. Id. Though the Secretary of State's regulation already requires proof of residence, this is not codified in California codes. Moreover, the requirement is not applied as extensively as Proposition 52 would require. Much like the Secretary of State's residence requirement, the initiative's requirement of residency consists of a number of things. First, a person may simply show his or her California driver's license or identification card that includes the name and address of the person. Id. This alone will entitle a person to vote on election day. Even if a person is without this identifying information, he or she may still vote. Id. The proposition permits eligible voters to register to vote by providing two documents which are currently accepted for re-registration. See infra, Section II(B)(2).

For example, if a person decides to vote on election day, he or she need only show a mortgage statement and a credit card bill in order to register. He or she may instead decide to show two bank statements or two utility bills. Each would be sufficient to register. If, however, the person chooses to provide a piece of mail, he or she may only show one piece of mail along with one other form of proof. Furthermore, if the person decides to utilize the sworn statement, he or she must still provide at least one other piece of evidence proving residency. In other words, while the registrant could use two bank statements to prove residency, he or she cannot use two pieces of mail or two sworn statements. These provisions are taken from the Secretary of State's regulations concerning the federal "Motor Voter" law. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 20107. It is important to note, that there are no provisions in Proposition 52 for individuals who do not have a street address, are unable to collect mail, or cannot otherwise meet the proof of residency requirements as there are in the Secretary's regulations. Thus, these individuals are unable to vote.

The initiative also states that a person registering or re-registering to vote on election day may "cast a ballot as provided in Article 4 (commencing with Section 14270)." Id. As noted earlier, the importance of this statement is found in the language of section 13102. Section 13102 provides that there is only to be one form of ballot, except in partisan primary elections. Cal. Elections Code § 13102 (West Supp. 2002). It further provides that in primary elections, each voter will receive a partisan ballot reflecting his or her party affiliation or a nonpartisan ballot. Id. This section establishes the standard ballot. The reason this is important language is because Elections code section 14278 (part of Article 4) states that a voter shall receive one ballot, "as provided in Section 13102." By limiting Proposition 52 to Article 4, which in turn, limits ballots pursuant to section 13102, every ballot cast on election day pursuant to Proposition 52 will be a standard, rather than a provisional ballot. Moreover, Article 5, the provisional ballot section of the Elections code, expressly precludes ballots cast pursuant to Proposition 52. Cal. Elections Code § 14310 (West 1996). The first line of the section limits provisional ballots to "voter[s] claiming to be properly registered." Id. People who are registering for the first time on election day make no such claim. Therefore, the only other ballot they can vote with is the standard ballot.
Any person who decides to register on election day will, from that day forward, be registered at the address he or she provides during registration. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 3. The elections official is required to create an index of those people who registered or re-registered on the 28th day before the election continuing through election day. Id. The official is further required to cancel any duplicate voter registrations and, if the official believes fraud has occurred, he or she is to notify the district attorney and the Secretary of State. Id.

Proposition 52 also requires each polling place to dedicate space for election day registration. Id. Polling places must conspicuously place posters and other written materials that include: 1) a statement that election day registration is available; 2) a description of the types of residency evidence that may be provided; and 3) a statement that registration documents are signed under penalty of perjury and any fraudulent statements may subject the person to criminal prosecution. Id. In addition, the county elections official must train at least one poll worker per polling place who will conduct the election day registration. Id. Any student who has undergone training, is approved by the elections official, is at least 16 years of age at the time of the election, is a United States citizen or will be a citizen at the time of the election, is a student in good standing attending a public or private secondary educational institution, and is a senior and has a grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, may also conduct registration. Id. See also Cal. Elections Code § 12302 (West 2002). In any event, election day registration must be conducted in a way that does not hinder the voting of previously registered voters. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 3. Finally, Proposition 52 requires the Secretary of State to educate voters about election day registration, including its availability. Id.

 

2. Voting Crimes and Penalties

 

 

Proposition 52 would increase the maximum penalty for voter fraud. Under this proposition, the maximum fine would be $2000 for a misdemeanor and $20,000 for a felony. Id. at Article 4 §4. Further, the crime of "conspiracy to commit vote fraud" would be created. Id. at Article 4 §5. Proposition 52 defines conspiracy to commit vote fraud:

"If two or more persons conspire to commit any of the following . . .:

(a) Not being entitled to vote at an election, fraudulently votes or fraudulently attempts to vote at an election.
(b) Being entitled to vote at an election, votes more than once or attempts to vote more than once.
(c) Procures, assists, counsels, or advises another person to vote at an election, with knowledge that the person is not entitled to vote.
(d) Procures, assists, counsels, or advises another person otherwise entitled to vote at an election to vote more than once.
(e) Pays, lends, contributes, offers or promises any money or other valuable consideration to another person to vote at an election for any particular candidate.
(f) Attempts to pay, lend, contribute, offer or promise any money or other valuable consideration to another person to vote at an election for any particular candidate." Id.

Conspiracy to commit voter fraud would be an automatic felony and carry a prison sentence between three and five years. Id.

 

Proposition 52 would also change the notification requirements if fraud is found. Id. If any fraudulent voting activity is detected, the election officials for each county must notify the District Attorney or Secretary of State. Id. at Article 3. This modification is designed to give the official an opportunity to investigate any potential crime and preserve any evidence while maintaining the integrity of the election process. Id.

The proposition would also require signs to be posted at each voting location informing the general public of these crimes and their penalties. Id. The information on the signs must also be available in written form for distribution in every language which the ballot and voter registration materials are printed. Id. This requirement is to assist non-English speaking voters in understanding the nature of the crime and its associated penalties. Id.

 

3. "Election Day Registration Fund"

 

 

In addition to election day voter registration, Proposition 52 would allocate $6,000,000 annually from the general fund to pay for the additional costs of personnel to implement the new requirements. Id. at Article 6. Election officials would be required to submit annual reports detailing how the money was spent, including the number of personnel and a description of any voter outreach efforts implemented as a result of the funding. Id. The funding may also assist in the training of election precinct workers. Id. The training would consist of information regarding how to accurately register qualified voters, and which documents are acceptable to prove eligibility. Id.

 

C. Comparing Proposition 52 to Other States With Election Day Registration

1. Idaho

 

 

Adopted in 1994, during the second wave of election day registration reform measures, an Idaho statute provides that an eligible citizen may register on election day to vote. Idaho Code § 34-408A (2001). To do so, the individual must complete a registration card, make an oath, and provide proof of residence. Id. Both the registration form and the oath are similar to those required by California law. See id. at § 34-411. Also similar to California is that Idaho only has one form of ballot. Id. at § 34-906. Idaho's residency requirements, however, are somewhat different than those in California. Residency may be proven in the following ways: 1) by showing an Idaho driver's license or identification card; 2) showing any document that contains a valid address together with a picture identification card; or 3) showing a current valid student identification card from a postsecondary school that includes a picture of the person attempting to register along with a current student fee statement that contains the student's valid address. Id. at § 34-408A. It is important to note that if a person attempts to register other than by showing a driver's license or state issued identification card, a picture identification card is required. Id.

 

2. Maine

 

 

Maine was among the first states to adopt election day registration. The Maine statute provides that all voters must be registered before being entitled to vote. 21-A Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 111 (1993). Registration in Maine is similar to that in California. The registrant must meet general eligibility requirements, such as age and citizenship requirements, and fill out a registration form. Id. The registration form contains the same information as the California form, except that Maine requires registrants to swear that they are United States citizens. Id. at § 171 (1993 & Supp. 2001). It is at the sole discretion of the registrar whether an individual meets these qualifications to vote. Id. at § 121 (Supp. 2001). The registrar may, at his or her discretion, require a registrant or another voter to swear to the truth of the registrant's qualifications. Id. at § 121 (1993). One difference from Proposition 52 is that, in order to be eligible, all voters, not just election day registrants, must provide certain proof of residence. Id. at § 111. Another interesting difference is that even the proof of residency requirement is subject to a sufficiency determination by the registrar. Id. at § 112 (Supp. 2001). In considering whether a registrant is a resident of a particular municipality, the registrar considers: 1) any oath given affirming residency; 2) the location of any dwelling occupied by the person; 3) the place where any motor vehicle owned by the person is registered; 4) the address on an income tax return; 5) the address at which mail is received; 6) the address on a current hunting or fishing license; 7) the address on a driver's license; the receipt of any public benefit conditioned upon residency; and 8) any other objective fact tending to indicate a person's place of residence. Id. On election day, a person may submit a registration form to the registrar and shall receive a certificate entitling the applicant to be placed on the voting list in the person's municipality. Id. at § 661 (1993); Id. at § 122 (Supp. 2001) . The registrar is required to accept registration on election day. Id. at § 661 (1993).

Maine provides for a "challenged" ballot. Id. at § 696 (Supp. 2001). These ballots are issued for the same reasons that provisional ballots are issued; a poll worker cannot establish the eligibility of a person attempting to vote. In Maine, however, these ballots are not verified unless they affect the results of an election. Id. In any event, individuals registering on the day of election would not cast a challenged ballot because they have a certificate from the registrar of voters confirming their eligibility to vote at a particular place. Id. at § 661 (1993).

 

3. Minnesota

 

 

Minnesota was also among the group of initial states to adopt election day registration. Its laws provide that an eligible voter may vote on election day in the precinct in which he or she resides, so long as the registrant completes a registration card, makes an oath, and provides proof of residence. Minn. Stat. Ann. § 201.061 (West 2002). Proof of residence may be shown by: 1) a state driver's license or identification card; 2) any document approved by the secretary of state as proper identification; 3) by having a previously registered voter sign an oath before a poll worker attesting that the voter knows the address of the person attempting to vote; or 4) by showing any one of the following: a) current postsecondary school student identification card; b) a current student fee statement containing the student's address together with a picture identification card. Id. Though very similar to Proposition 52, Minnesota law permits a person to register by offering the statement of a previously registered voter without other documentation. Id.

 

4. New Hampshire

 

 

New Hampshire was among the more recent states to adopt election day registration. According to state law, a person who registers to vote on election day must also complete a registration card. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:7-a (Supp. 2001). The registration form requires the standard information, along with the name of the court where a person was naturalized, if the person is a naturalized citizen. Id. Also, the registrant is required to give an oath attesting to the person's voting qualifications. Id. Much like the proof of residency requirements in Maine, New Hampshire also gives its poll workers discretion to determine whether a person attempting to register on election day is qualified to vote. Id. "Qualified," as used in New Hampshire law, is a broader term than "proof of residency" as used in Proposition 52. A poll worker in New Hampshire may require proof of citizenship, in the form of a birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers, an affidavit, or any other reasonable document that indicates that the registrant is a United State citizen. Id. at 654:12. Furthermore, the poll worker may require the registrant to provide proof of age using any reasonable document indicating the applicant is 18 or older. Id. Finally, the worker may require proof of domicile. Id. This term is used loosely to mean any document, including a sworn statement, that indicates the person attempting to vote lives in the voting precinct. Id. Like Maine, New Hampshire gives far greater discretion to its poll workers than does Proposition 52. Moreover, it only requires one piece of documentation in order for a person to register on election day. Id.

 

5. Wisconsin

 

 

Wisconsin adopted election day voter registration in the mid-1970s. State law permits two types of election day registration. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 6.29 (West Supp. 2001). First, a person may register at the office of the elections official. Id. The person registering in this manner must provide proof of residency along with one of the following: 1) a registration form; or 2) a statement, signed by the person, containing the information required on the registration form. Id. Proof of residency may be shown using any document that includes the name of the person attempting to register and the his or her address. Id. If, however, the person attempting to register cannot show proof of residence in any of these ways, he or she may still register if another voter, who can show proof of residence, corroborates the information in the statement or registration form. Id. If the person is qualified to register, then the elections official will issue a certificate permitting the person to vote at the proper polling place. Id.

The second way a person may register on election day is at the polling place. Id. at § 6.55. An individual registering in this manner must fill out a registration form that certifies that the person is a qualified voter, who has lived at his or her place of residence for at least 10 days preceding the election. Id. This is the only state among those with election day registration that requires a residency requirement such as this. The person attempting to register must also provide proof of residence as described above. Id. If the person cannot provide proof of residence, then another voter must attest to the accuracy of the registration information and must sign the form. Id.

 

6. Wyoming

 

 

Wyoming adopted its election day registration laws, along with New Hampshire and Idaho, in the early- to mid-1990s. Like each other state that permits election day registration, Wyoming requires citizens to be registered before they may vote. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 22-3-101 (2001). Other than the citizenship, age, residency, and felony requirements, the state also excludes mentally incompetent people from registering. Id. at § 22-3-102 (Supp. 2002). In order to register, the person must complete a registration form which requires the person to attest to his or her residency. Id. at § 22-3-102 (Supp. 2002). This is the only form of proof required under Wyoming law. Id. The only other protection against voter fraud is that, if the poll worker has reasonable cause to suspect that the registrant is unqualified to vote, the worker may investigate the qualifications of the registrant. To determine whether a person is qualified, the worker may consider: 1) the location of the registrant's dwelling; 2) the occupation and location of employment; 3) the location of vehicle registration; 4) the registrant's driver's license; 5) any property owned; and 6) any other residency qualification deemed reasonable by the worker. Id. at 22-3-105 (2001). Wyoming requires only that a person attempting to vote fill out a registration form, which asks the voter to attest to residency. Id. at § 22-1-102 (Supp. 2002).

III. Drafting Issues

A. Vague Terminology

 

 

Proposition 52 would alter the current language in Section 18001 of the Elections Code. The current language states "the court may impose a fine not exceeding . . ." (italics added) and then defines the amounts for a misdemeanor and felony. Cal. Elections Code § 18001 (West 2002). This proposition changes the word "may" to "shall" but leaves the words "not exceeding." Text of Proposition 52, at Article 4, § 4. As proposed, it is unclear whether the intent is a mandatory fine of the maximum amount or a mandatory fine with the amount left up to the discretion of a court.

Further, Proposition 52 does not specify how the $6,000,000 will be distributed from the fund to the county election boards. The proposition includes a requirement that a "fair and equitable distribution formula" be used but does not include a formula or give any guidelines as to what factors are important in determining the amount of distributions to each election board. Id. at Article 6. The funding section only mentions that preference will be given to actual expenses of providing the additional personnel required by this provision. Id.

IV. Constitutional Issues

A. Federal Constitution

 

 

This Proposition appears to raise one potential federal constitutional issue: Whether a homeless or indigent person, who desires to vote on election day, would be treated unequally by a law that requires proof of residency for election day registration.

The 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution states that "[N]o State shall make or enforce any law which shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." U.S. Const. amend. XIV. As a general matter, if a state enacts a law that treats similarly situated people differently, and the law implicates an important constitutional right, the law may violate the equal protection clause. See e.g., Kramer v. Union Free School D. No. 15, 395 U.S. 621 (1969); Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330 (1972). If, in fact, such a violation does occur, a court will strike down the law as unconstitutional. Id.

The right to vote is considered a fundamental right by both the federal and state courts. See e.g., Collier, 176 Cal. App. 3d at 24 (1985); Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964); Burson v. Freeman, 504 U.S. 191 (1992). Not only is the importance of voting recognized by the judicial branch, but Congress also declared the right to vote as fundamental. 42 U.S.C.A. § 1973gg(a)(1) (West 2002). Voting is a fundamental right because it is imperative for the protection of many other basic civil rights and "any unjustified discrimination in determining who may participate in political affairs or in the selection of public officials undermines the legitimacy of representative government." Kramer, 395 U.S. at 626. As such, when there is a question as to whether the right to vote is being infringed upon because of some statutory classification, it will be strictly scrutinized by the courts. Id.; Reynolds 377 U.S. at 562. For standard of review purposes, it makes no difference whether the right is being restricted due to dilution of votes or denial of franchise to individuals who are otherwise qualified by age or residency. Kramer, 395 U.S. at 626; Collier, 176 Cal. App. 3d at 33. If the state statute permits some residents to vote but denies that right to others, the court must determine whether the statute is necessary to serve a compelling state interest. See e.g., Kramer, 395 U.S. 621 at 627. If there are other ways to achieve the state's goals that place a lesser burden on the right to vote, the state must choose the way of lesser interference. Dunn, 405 U.S. at 352. This is the only way the law will pass constitutional muster.

As an example of a law that violates the equal protection clause, courts have, held that certain residency requirements fail the strict constitutional standard. E.g. id. Most states require potential voters to be bona fide residents of the state before the right to vote is granted. See e.g., Cal. Const. Art. 2, Sec. 2; Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 7-6; Tex. Code Ann., Election Code § 11.002. In addition, some states require that voters be residents for some length of time before being allowed to vote. In Dunn v. Blumstein, for example, the state of Tennessee required its citizens to reside in the state for one year and reside in a county for three months before being permitted to vote. Dunn, 405 U.S. at 333. The court noted that this requirement divided citizens into two groups, old residents and new residents. Id. at 334. One group was afforded the right to vote while the other was not. Id. at 335. The court rejected Tennessee's asserted interests in preventing voter fraud and in assuring that all voters were knowledgeable of the ballot measures and candidates. Id. at 353, 360. Moreover, the court held that it would not be difficult for the state to determine on an individualized basis, whether a newly arrived person was a bona fide resident. Id. at 351. Such a determination would serve the state's interests with a less drastic impact on the right to vote. Id. at 352. For these reasons the court found the residency requirement unconstitutional. See id.

Another state law that violated the equal protection clause permitted only property owners or lessees, or parents of students enrolled in a public school, to vote in school district elections. Kramer, 395 U.S. at 622. The plaintiff was a bachelor who neither owned nor leased property. Id. In Kramer, the state asserted that it had an interest in limiting the right to vote in school district elections to those primarily interested in the election. Id. at 630-631. It further argued it could conclude that "property taxpayers" and parents are those primarily interested in school affairs. Id. at 631. The court did not address whether it was appropriate for the state to limit voters to those primarily interested. Id. at 632. Instead, the court held that the classifications in the law permit inclusion of many people who have only a remote and indirect interest in school affairs and exclude others who have a distinct and direct interest. Id. at 632. The law was insufficiently tailored to accomplish this purpose and, therefore, unconstitutional. Id.

For the purposes of voter registration in California, a residence is defined in terms of a person's domicile. Cal. Elections Code § 349 (West 1996). A domicile is a place where a person's habitation is fixed; where the person has an intent to remain; and to which, whenever he or she is away, the person intends to return. Id. California courts have interpreted this definition to include such places as under bushes and trees or in city parks. See Collier v. Menzel, 176 Cal. App. 3d 24 (1985). Though the place where a person sleeps is not necessarily conclusive of residency, in the absence of any more substantial evidence, it is determinative for voting purposes. Gray v. O'Banion, 23 Cal. App. 468 (1913). Therefore, in the case of homeless people, courts have interpreted the definition of residency so that they may be permitted to vote. Collier, 176 Cal. App. 3d at 33.

Furthermore, the court in Collier recognized the state's "fundamental statutory policy" of "effectuating and maintaining at the highest possible levels voter registration and voting." Collier, 176 Cal. App. 3d at 31. Proposition 52 reiterates California's commitment to voter turnout in its statement of purpose; "[i]t should be the policy of this state to ensure that every legally eligible voter who wants to vote has the chance to do so." Art. 2 § 2(1). Collier notes that a flexible definition of residency best serves this statutory policy. Collier, 176 Cal. App. 3d at 31.

Proposition 52 would require a person to show up to two identifying items in order to register on election day. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 3. By simply showing a driver's license or California identification card, a person can register to vote. Also, as noted above, by showing any two documents from the list, a person is eligible to register to vote. See supra, Section II(B)(2). The only limitation on this is that a person may only use one piece of mail or one sworn statement to prove residency. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 3.

Because residency on election day must be proved using documents from the list, the Proposition may create a classification that would permit some people to vote on election day, but would exclude others. Id. It is conceivable that any person could get a sworn written statement from a previously registered voter, attesting to the residency of the person attempting to vote. The problem arises because Proposition 52 requires two documents to prove residency. Id. The sworn statement alone is insufficient. Id. Among the other 12 documents, a homeless or indigent resident of an election precinct might be unable to provide poll workers with the second necessary document. Failure to do so would exclude that person from election day voting. The disparity is further highlighted by the fact that under the normal registration process, indigent or homeless persons would be permitted to register. Cal. Elections Code § 2101 (West 2002). It is only pursuant to the proposed election day registration process that such persons would be excluded. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 3. The goal of increased voter turnout appears to be a legitimate state interest and is likely sufficient to satisfy strict scrutiny. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that bona fide residency requirements serve a compelling state interest. Dunn, 405 U.S. at 342. Because, however, the right to vote is a fundamental right; and because indigent or homeless individuals are permitted to vote under the standard process, indicating that this proposition is not narrowly tailored, the law might still violate the equal protection clause.

 

B. California Constitution

 

 

Aside from the same equal protection concerns that arise under the federal Constitution, Proposition 52 raises a separate state constitutional issue. Article II, section 8 of the California Constitution mandates that an initiative must embrace a single subject. The purpose for this rule is to avoid voter confusion, and to prevent the subversion of the electorate's will. Senate v. Jones, 21 Cal. 4th 1142 (1999). The court stated in Jones that an initiative does not violate the single subject rule if all of the parts are reasonably germane to each other. Id. at 1158. Further, it said that initiative measures which "fairly disclose a reasonable and commonsense relationship among their various components in furtherance of a common purpose" do not violate the rule. Id. at 1157.

Proposition 52 contains changes to the Election Code, creates a new crime and increases current vote fraud penalties. There is a common thread between the election day voting and the need for the new crime as a way to endure the integrity of the voting process. It is not likely that this proposition violates the single subject rule because the new crime is related to, and furthers the purpose of the proposition.

V. Public Policy Considerations

The public policy debate swirling around Proposition 52 presents several considerable issues. According to the proponents, the main thrust of the initiative is to increase voter turnout by refining the voter registration procedures. Californians for Election Day Registration, Facts (last updated Sept. 16, 2002). While the opponents do not deny the validity of this goal, they argue that the manner by which Proposition 52 achieves higher turnouts greatly increases the potential for voter fraud. Citizens & Law Enforcement Against Voter Fraud, Seven Reasons Why Prop. 52 is BAD for California (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). The following sections consider these and other policy questions regarding Proposition 52.

 

A. How important is voter turnout?

 

 

One of the driving forces behind Proposition 52 is the desire to increase voter turnout in California. Californians for Election Day Registration, Facts (last updated Sept. 16, 2002). Not only was this the sentiment of the initiative's sponsor, the so-called philanthropic "Taco Bell Millionaire," but among the conclusions drawn by Proposition 52 are the facts that voter turnout is declining in California; that it has been declining for some time; and that Californians should do everything possible to remedy this problem. Id.

As an empirical matter, the proponents note that the six states that already have election day voter registration lead the nation in voter turnout. One of these states, Minnesota, led the nation in November 2000 with almost 70% voter turnout. Californians for Election Day Registration, Frequently Asked Questions com/facts_detail.cfm?varFactID=13> (last updated Sept. 16, 2002). In fact, two recent studies confirmed that election day registration laws directly increase voter turnout. Craig Leonard Brians & Bernard Grofman, Election Day Registration's Effect on US Voter Turnout, vol. 82, No. 1 (Soc. Sci. Q. Mar. 2001); R. Michael Alvarez & Stephen Ansolabehere, California Votes: The Promise of Election Day Registration demos-usa.org/Pubs/CAEDR/california_votes.pdf> (Demos Publications) (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). One study found that, in states where election day registration had been adopted, voter turnout increased and remained higher than registration rates throughout the country. Election Day Registration's Effect on US Voter Turnout, vol. 82, No. 1 (Soc. Sci. Q. Mar. 2001). The greatest increases were seen among young people and middle class citizens. Id.; R. Michael Alvarez & Stephen Ansolabehere, California Votes: The Promise of Election Day Registration california_votes.pdf> (Demos Publications) (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). Applying these findings, one of the studies concluded that since California has a younger population overall, registration increases may be even greater here than in states that had previously adopted the law. Id.

Even if the application of this data is speculative with regard to California, as the opponents argue, at the very least, increased registration rates facilitate greater distribution of voter information. Id.

Addressing these studies, opponents to Proposition 52 are quick to note that states that have already adopted election day registration had higher than average turnout to begin with, were rural, and combined, their populations were only 28% the size of California's. Id.; Citizens & Law Enforcement Against Voter Fraud, Seven Reasons Why Prop. 52 is BAD for California (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). As the studies reveal, there were no control groups, nor was this a representative sample of states. Election Day Registration's Effect on US Voter Turnout, vol. 82, No. 1 (Soc. Sci. Q. Mar. 2001). According to opponents, the manner of voter registration is not the problem. Citizens & Law Enforcement Against Voter Fraud, Seven Reasons Why Prop. 52 is BAD for California (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). Since the adoption of the federal Motor Voter law, which permits eligible voters to register at the same time they obtain a license to drive, registration rates have increased tremendously; voter turnout, on the other hand, has reached some of the lowest levels in decades.

None of this empirical data, however, addresses the real question; is increased voter turnout good or bad for California? As many in the judiciary have noted, the right to vote is an important guarantee in our republican form of government. See e.g., Kramer, 395 U.S. at 626. Even the federal and state Constitutions contain voting provisions, signifying the importance of voting. U.S. Const. art. I, § 4; Cal. Const. art. II. The problem may be that it is worse to permit people to vote who "otherwise [have] little interest in voting, let alone in learning anything about the initiatives or candidates on the ballot," than to have low voter turnout. Michael D. Capaldi, Ocregister.com, Problems Lurk in Relaxed Vote System (August 01, 2002); Walter Dobrowoiski, North County Times, Voters Taken for a Ride by Gov. Davis (Sept. 01, 2002). Adding to this argument, the initiative's opponents contend that the inevitable result of allowing people to "wait until the very last minute to participate" is that "voters with little or no information will be asked to wade through a lengthy ballot and decide the fate of numerous candidates." Citizens & Law Enforcement Against Election Fraud, Seven Reasons Why Prop. 52 is BAD for California (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). They argue this rewards non-attention, fosters disconnection between citizens and government, and generally harms the election process. Id. One commentator even went so far as to say that if the most important goal of the election process was to get voters to the polls, then perhaps America should emulate the former Soviet Union's mandatory voting system. Michael D. Capaldi, Ocregister.com, Problems Lurk in Relaxed Vote System (August 01, 2002).

With regard to the logistics of election day registration, one potential problem is that poll workers may not be able to handle more than a few "new" voters at a time. That was certainly the problem facing poll workers in Minneapolis, Minnesota when election day registration was first introduced. R. Michael Alvarez & Stephen Ansolabehere, California Votes: The Promise of Election Day Registration (Demos Publications) (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). Lengthy lines made for a long, slow voting process. Moreover, because of voter confusion and lack of adequate voter information, many new voters registered at the wrong polling place. Id.

It is not at all clear whether California will face the same issue. Proposition 52 provides that elections officials must operate new registration in a manner that will not adversely affect previously registered voters. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 3. Proponents suggest this section will effectively address the problem. Californians for Election Day Registration, Facts (last updated Sept. 16, 2002). Whether this statutory language will have any impact upon election day procedures remains to be seen.

Contrasting the opponents' argument, one of the initiative's supporters, the AFL-CIO, notes that increased turnout by farm laborers and Latinos provides a greater voice for their cause. Californians for Election Day Registration, Group Supports Removing Barriers to the Voting Process varPressID=29> (last updated Sept. 16, 2002). Another supporter, the American Association of University Women, also thinks that greater electorate participation would result in positive societal change. Rita Wustner, American Association of University Women, AAUW CA Positions on November 2002 Ballot policy/voter_education.htm> (last updated Sept. 13, 2002). Probably the greatest factor motivating proponents of election day registration is the voter turnout factor. By making it easier for Californians to vote, millions of eligible voters, who are otherwise turned away by procedural obstacles, will finally have their voice heard. Moreover, those groups that are traditionally considered to have a minority voice in politics, such as women or minority voters, now are more likely to vote on election day.

Although Minnesota suffered many problems at first, especially in Minneapolis, subsequent elections in that state have marked record turnouts. R. Michael Alvarez & Stephen Ansolabehere, California Votes: The Promise of Election Day Registration (Demos Publications) (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). This is primarily attributable to the stepped-up voter information campaign undertaken by the state Id. Although Proposition 52 does require the elections officials and the Secretary of State to educate the voters about election day registration generally, the initiative does not require any specific education or advertisement concerning the problems that affected Minnesota, such as educating voters as to proper polling places. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 3. The discretion to notify the public of these potential problems rests with the Secretary of State and local elections officials. Until California experiences election day registration, it is not clear how efficient it would be.

 

B. How great is the potential for voting fraud?

 

 

As mentioned earlier, every ballot cast pursuant to the provisions of Proposition 52 would be a standard, rather than a provisional, ballot. The chief concern raised by this section is that, because standard ballots have no identifying features, a person may register multiple times throughout the state in a fraudulent manner. Citizens & Law Enforcement Against Voter Fraud, Seven Reasons Why Prop. 52 is BAD for California (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). Some opponents hark back to the days "New York City's old Tammany Hall tigers, who routinely shifted battalions of voters from precinct to precinct in pursuit of their 'vote early, vote often' philosophy." Editorial, Voter Reform is in the Mail, Denver Post, page B-08 (June 4, 2002). Serious legitimacy concerns arise if fraud is determined to have occurred, but the fraudulent votes cannot be identified or nullified.

Exacerbating this problem is that the procedural safeguards in Proposition 52 against fraudulent, or even erroneous, voting appear minimal. See supra, Section II(B)(1)(b). It would be nearly impossible to uncover a fraudulent ballot once cast as opposed to discovering a fraudulent voter. The initiative requires the elections official to keep a list of the names of voters who registered on election day. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 3. He or she must cancel any duplicate names and notify the district attorney and the Secretary of State if it appears as though voting fraud has occurred. Id. Vote fraud is not defined in Proposition 52 and the determination whether it has occurred is left up to the discretion of the elections official. Id.

Another way Proposition 52 increases the potential for voter fraud is by acceptance of some relatively permissive forms of identification. Id. Although a California driver's license is not currently required to register, as the opponents point out, the initiative would permit any piece of junk mail as proof of residency. Citizens & Law Enforcement Against Voter Fraud, Seven Reasons Why Prop. 52 is BAD for California (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). Arguably, a driver's license is not needed under the current law because registration ends fifteen days before the election. The period between the close of registration and election day is currently used to verify registration information. This period is a check against fraudulent voting. By removing that check, and by establishing low standards to prove residency, Proposition 52 makes fraudulent voting easier. Furthermore, unless the elections official suspects that a voter is falsifying his or her registration documents, votes cast using falsified information are not possible to trace. Because the ballot is a standard ballot, it is simply mixed in and counted along with all other ballots.

Proponents of the initiative show that there is a lack of any significant increase in actual fraud throughout the states that have already adopted election day registration procedures. Californians for Election Day Registration, Frequently Asked Questions (last updated Sept. 16, 2002). During interviews conducted by researchers for the California Votes study, elections officials in Minnesota explained that they only encountered "a couple of cases of voter fraud, involving only one or two votes." R. Michael Alvarez & Stephen Ansolabehere, California Votes: The Promise of Election Day Registration (Demos Publications) (accessed Sept. 16, 2002). Much of the success in preventing voter fraud is attributed to three things: (1) stiff penalties for committing fraud; (2) the effective administration of a registration system; and (3) the requirement that election day registrants provide proof of residency. Id. These safeguards are either already maintained in the current law or addressed by Proposition 52. For example, California already makes felonious some acts of voter fraud. Cal. Elections Code § 18001 (West 2002). Proposition 52 goes a step further to increase the fines for committing fraud. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 4. Furthermore, as in Minnesota, the initiative provides for a complete review of the list of election day registrants. Id. at Article 3. Elections officials must cancel any duplicate registration and notify the district attorney and Secretary of State of potential voter fraud. Id. Finally, in order to register on election day, Proposition 52 requires proof of residence. Id. Noting that Proposition 52 addresses these factors, the California Votes study concludes that voter fraud in California would not be any greater than that experienced in other states. R. Michael Alvarez & Stephen Ansolabehere, California Votes: The Promise of Election Day Registration (Demos Publications) (accessed Sept. 16, 2002).

 

C. How well does Proposition 52 deal with the potential for vote fraud?

 

 

The proponents of Proposition 52 want every eligible voter to have the opportunity to vote on election day. Californians for Election Day Registration, Frequently Asked Questions (last updated Sept. 16, 2002). They believe that the increase in penalties will discourage those who would consider voting fraudulently. Id. They also state that the new crime of conspiracy to commit vote fraud will give law enforcement "vital new tools" necessary to prosecute offenders. Official Voter Information Guide, Arguments and Rebuttals (last updated Sept. 16, 2002). Finally, current law does not obligate election officials to report fraudulent voting activities to the district attorney or the Secretary of State. Proponents claim Proposition 52 will further protect against vote fraud by requiring county election officials to notify the Secretary of State or District Attorney anytime fraud is suspected. Id.

The question arises whether it is necessary to create a new crime of conspiracy to commit vote fraud. Under current law, a prosecutor may charge conspiracy as a felony. Cal. Penal Code §182 (West 2002). This section of the proposition removes any doubt that may exist as to whether conspiracy can be charged in the context of voter fraud. It also increases the penalties for conviction of conspiracy to between three to five years in prison. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 4, Section 5.
It is widely believed that, in general, prosecutors are overworked. Many question whether it is prudent to add another crime for district attorneys to prosecute with all of the violent crimes that already require their attention.

Proposition 52 also increases the maximum fines for vote fraud. Id. at Article 4, Section 4. It is not clear whether the fine is a mandatory maximum fine or a mandatory fine with the amount left up to the discretion of the judge. Given that most courts favor judicial deference with respect to punishment and fines, it is likely to be interpreted as a mandatory fine with the amount being left to the discretion of the court. See e.g. Cal. Penal Code § 1203.1 (West 2002); People v. Samarjian, 49 Cal. Rptr. 180 (1966).

 

D. Will $6,000,000 be enough?

 

 

Though Proposition 52 requires the Secretary of State to distribute the $6,000,000 in a "fair and equitable" manner, the initiative does not address what is to be done if the amount of money is not enough to implement election day registration throughout the state. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 6. Though there has been no showing that $6,000,000 will not be enough, Proposition 52's opponents seize on the lack of information by making their own bald assessments. Some opponents claim that the expense to county elections offices would be substantial. Phelps Hobart, Sacramento County Citizens for Limited Government, Recommendations on November, 2002 Propositions (Aug. 15, 2002). Even some county elections officials have remarked that Proposition 52 would greatly increase county expenses. E.g. Andrew LaMar, Registrar skeptical of late vote sign-ups: Backers say the initiative should boost state's Election Day turnout; official says cost may be prohibitive, Contra Costa Times mld/cctimes/3444912.htm> (June 11, 2002). For Contra Costa County alone, it is estimated that 800 new poll workers would have to be hired, costing the county $75,000. Id.

Finally, some opponents question whether the proposition's cost of $6,000,000 is a good use of tax dollars. See Phelps Hobart, Sacramento County Citizens for Limited Government, Recommendations on November, 2002 Propositions (Aug. 15, 2002).

VI. Conclusion

Proposition 52 would permit all eligible voters to register and vote on election day. Text of Proposition 52, at Article 2. To do so, the initiative would require that a registrant show proof of residency within the precinct. Id. at Article 3. Moreover, Proposition 52 would limit registration under the current law to 29 days before an election. Id. at Article 5. It would, however, allow individuals to register 28 days before the election continuing through election day; in effect registration would never "close." Id. at Article 3 and 5. It would also increase the maximum fines and penalties for vote fraud. Id. at Article 4. Finally, the initiative would codify the crime of conspiracy to commit vote fraud. Id. The overall effect of Proposition 52 would likely be to increase voter turnout in the state. Id. at Article 2. Proposition 52 would anticipate future technological advancements and would make the act amenable to legislative amendments, so long as the amendments further the purpose of the act. Id. at Article 8. In all, Proposition 52 strives for admirable goals. The voters must ultimately consider whether Proposition 52 is good or bad for California.