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Abolishing ‘Voting-by-Mail Middlemen’ Awaits Governor Brown’s Pen

Sally and Bob Hoyt from Bell Gardens created the concept around AB 1596.

Sally and Bob Hoyt from Bell Gardens created the concept around AB 1596.

By Brian Hews
(Sacramento) – For years, local city council campaigns in and around communities such as Cerritos, Norwalk, Downey, Bell, Bell Gardens and Commerce have used “paid volunteers” to go from house-to-house to personally collect, review, and turn in “vote by mail” applications to local city clerk offices.
The clerks would approve the applications directly and mail the secured “live ballot” back to the specific voter. The volunteer would then go back to each house, collect the ballot, and turn it into the clerk.
California State Assemblymember Cristina Garcia’s very public crusade to clean up these fraudulent-looking campaign tactics at the local and state level continued this week after the California State Senate approved Assembly Bill 1596.
Garcia has been touting AB 1596, as a law that would reform Vote-by-Mail campaigning.
Garcia told Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper that the measure would require all vote-by-mail applications, when completed, to be mailed directly to the county registrar’s office and not to intermediaries or political campaign organizations.
Garcia’s new law would fix “how easy” local elections could be manipulated by a handful of organizers.
The first term legislator could not be more thrilled about the new possible change in election law here in California.
“It’s exciting to have the first of my ethics package legislation to the Governor’s desk. I’m hopeful he will agree to sign this and any of my additional ethics bills that make it to his desk,” Garcia said. “I encourage the public to reach out to the Governor’s office in support of this measure and the rest of my ethics package.”
Garcia stated that AB 1596 was-created in response to increasing reports of alleged tampering, interference and loss of Vote- by-Mail applications. “We need to make sure there is no tampering in the voting procedure so that we can ensure the public’s trust in the process,” she concluded.
“There were numerous questions about why the applications were still at campaign headquarters for weeks, where many were lost or not returned by the deadline,” Garcia said.
“AB 1596 would make the application process more efficient by cutting out the middle men and provides that all Vote-by-mail applications must be addressed and mailed directly to the county registrar’s office,” Garcia stressed.
The measure was a proposal submitted by Bell Garden’s residents Sally and Ron Hoyt, the winners of Garcia’s 58th Assembly District “There Ought to Be a Law” contest.
The Hoyts have been involved in local grassroots campaigning for decades. They have been active with several local Democratic clubs as well as being part of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party Central Committee.
The bill is part of Garcia’s “Political Conduct, Ethics & Public Trust Acts of 2014,” a package of six bills written against a background of state and local corruption and political misdeeds that have plagued California’s political system.
Garcia has been on a crusade to “clean up local dirty politics” since she first arrived in Sacramento less than two years ago and she has already made a name for herself as being a “outside reformer.”

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