March 30, 2017 - Despite reaping regular benefits from county administration of elections, the state only sporadically provides funding to counties for election activities. The state has a clear interest in secure, timely, and uniform elections. We recommend the Legislature develop a new financial relationship between the state and counties to (1) direct statewide elections policy and (2) provide a reasonable and reliable level of financial support that reflects the benefits to the state of county elections administration. The pending implementation of a new voting model via 2016 legislation, SB 450, provides an opportunity for the Legislature to consider how to structure such a financial relationship to ensure consistency across counties as well as address other elections issues.
March 16, 2018 - County governments in California administer most local, state, and federal elections pursuant to various requirements established under state and federal law. The Governor’s budget proposes providing counties $134 million to replace their voting equipment. This proposal assumes counties implement a the new “vote center” model of voting. Given the condition of counties’ voting equipment and the state’s interest in effective county administration of elections, state assistance for purchasing new voting equipment is warranted. We recommend that the Legislature direct the Secretary of State to distribute funds based on counties’ equipment costs for implementing the vote center model—assuming the state covers half of those costs.