HOUSE COMMITTEE ON RULES AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS

 

April 24, 2003 Hearing Room E

1:00 PM  Tapes 48 - 49

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Rep. Dan Doyle, Chair

Rep. Linda Flores, Vice-Chair

Rep. Laurie Monnes Anderson, Vice Chair

Rep. Vic Backlund

Rep. Phil Barnhart

Rep. Betsy L. Close

Rep. Joanne Verger

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Cara Filsinger, Administrator

Annetta Mullins, Committee Assistant

 

MEASURE/ISSUES HEARD:  HB 3304 – Public Hearing and Work Session

HB 2378 – Work Session

HB 2825 – Pubic Hearing and Work Session

 

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

Tape 48, A

004

Chair Doyle

Calls meeting to order at 1:09 p.m. and announces that the committee will not consider HB 2813 today.

 

Chair Doyle

Opens a public hearing on HB 3304.

HB 3304 – PUBLIC HEARING

022

Rep. Linda Flores

Testifies in support of HB 3304.  Explains bill, introduces Eugene Schoenheit, and the HB 3304-1 amendments (EXHIBIT A).

 

Eugene Schoenheit

Testifies in support of HB 3304 (EXHBIIT B).

092

Rep. Verger

Comments that states have been voting deceased people for a long time and they would be sad to hear about such an efficient process. 

101

Jesse Lott

Clackamas County resident.  Testifies in support of HB 3304.  Contends that one ballot cast by a deceased person in each precinct would be a lot of ballots.

 

Chair Knopp

Closes the public hearing and opens a work session on HB 3304.

HB 3304 – WORK SESSION

130

Rep. Flores

MOTION:  Moves to ADOPT HB 3304-1 amendments dated 4/24/03.

115

Rep. Monnes Anderson

Comments she does not have enough information to vote.  Comments on working in Clackamas County Health Department, asked if some one can provide more information, and she wants to know the fiscal impact.

149

Cara Filsinger

Administrator.  Advises the committee that Legislative Fiscal has said there is no impact on the bill.  Suggests Newingham can provide information.

 

Annette Newingham

Oregon Association of County Clerks and Lane County Clerk.  Explains the impact is minimal for the county clerks.  The counties already process the certificates.  If some ballots go out, it is unlikely the signature would match.  Believes there would be an impact on health and vital records departments. 

 

 

VOTE:  7-0-0

168

Chair Doyle

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

 

171

Rep. Flores

MOTION:  Moves HB 3304 to the floor with a DO PASS AS AMENDED recommendation.

163

Rep. Monnes Anderson

States she will vote no until she gets more information on the cost to vital statistics departments. 

 

Rep. Barnhart

Comments that he believes if people do not come to talk about a bill, they are happy with it and will vote aye.

188

 

VOTE:  6-1-0

AYE:               6 - Backlund, Barnhart, Close, Flores, Verger, Doyle

NAY:               1 - Monnes Anderson

 

Chair Doyle

The motion CARRIES.

REP. FLORES will lead discussion on the floor.

 

192

Chair Doyle

Closes the work session on HB 3304 and opens a work session on HB 2378.

HB 2378 – WORK SESION

197

Cara Filsinger

Reviews the history and provisions of HB 2378.

205

Rep. Close

MOTION:  Moves HB 2378 to the floor with a DO PASS recommendation.

 

 

VOTE:  6-0-1 (SEE VOTE IN COMMITTEE MINUTES DATED APRIL 29, 2003).

AYE:            In a roll call vote, all members present vote Aye.

EXCUSED:  1 - Rep. Flores

213

Chair Doyle

The motion CARRIES.

REP. SHETTERLY will lead discussion on the floor.

 

215

Chair Doyle

Closes the work session on HB 2378 and opens a public hearing on HB 2825.

HB 2825 – PUBLIC HEARING

224

Bruce Anderson

Legislative Director to House Speaker Karen Minnis.  Testifies in support of HB 2825.  Explains the provisions of HB 2825 are to control the spiraling costs of elections in vote by mail elections and to provide clarification as to when polls close.

232

Anderson

Comments on increased campaign costs during the extended voting period in vote by mail. 

275

Anderson

Comments on the need to clarify when the polls close.  HB 2825 provides a definite poll closing time of 8:00 p.m. on election day.

330

Anderson

States that the voters’ pamphlets would continue to be sent as they are now.  Advises there is a drafting error, rather than 10 days for mailing the ballots, it would be better to have it be 11 days to allow the ballots to be mailed during the week.

345

Rep. Verger

Asks if she would be turned away if she were waiting in line to vote at 8:00 p.m.

 

Anderson

Responds that we need to tighten down the law; we have to at some point say the polls close at this time. 

368

Chair Doyle

Asks for examples of what has happened and how HB 2825 fixes the concerns.

 

Anderson

Responds that he believes the issue contemplated is where is the end of the line—inside the polling place, outside the door, down the street--at what point do we close down and stop accepting ballots. At some point we need to provide clarity in the law as to the time.

387

Chair Doyle

Comments he has heard of situations where people are completing their ballots after 8:00 while in line.  Asks if those ballots have been accepted.

405

Anderson

Responds that is what he believes needs to be cleaned up.  There needs to be some finality to the process, which we don’t have now.

420

Kappy Eaton

League of Women Voters of Oregon.  Testifies in opposition to HB 2825 (EXHIBIT C).

TAPE 49, A

020

Annette Newingham

Association of County Clerks and Lane County Clerk.  Submits and summarizes a prepared statement in opposition to HB 2825 (EXHIBIT D).

069

Charles Stern

Yamhill County Clerk.  Testifies in opposition to HB 2825.  Asks that the mailing date be moved back to the 11th day.  Questions, even with the 11th day, when the ballot would reach the voter.  If voters have been there by 8:00 p.m. they have been allowed to vote because they are in the process of voting.  The policy question is whether someone should be stopped in the process of filling out their ballot.  Allowing time for the return of undeliverable ballots is also an issue. 

 

Rep. Backlund

Comments there is so much flexibility he is wondering if there is consistently statewide.

 

Stern

Responds that to his knowledge it is consistently applied.  People have called complaining about the exact 8:00 time. 

143

Rep. Backlund

Asks if the problem is the system or the individuals.  Suggests the individuals should choose to vote before the 8:00 p.m. deadline.  Comments on deadlines and procrastination and states that he doesn’t think that this bill revokes anyone’s right to vote.   

 

Eaton

Responds that you cannot change behaviors.  Believes if the current law is repealed, their right to vote has been repealed. 

183

Rep. Backlund

Comments that if voters know they need to change, they will change their behavior. 

200

Rep. Barnhart

Comments on scenarios at polling situations.  States if there is a problem, enforcement should be taken.  Another concern is that the people be allowed to study the ballot and cast their vote.  States he does not support the bill. 

253

Chair Doyle

Asks if the clerks would be drafting rules on what it means to say that a ballot that has been delivered to or received by the clerk.

 

Newingham

Responds her understanding in reading the bill is if someone had not cast their ballot and was standing in line even though they arrived an hour or one-half hour early, the clerks would not be able to count those ballots. 

 

Chair Doyle

Asks if they would need some kind of interpretation in change of the law saying ballots that had not been delivered to or received by the county clerk. 

 

Stern

Responds that a plain reading of the bill would say if the ballot is not in the box, or been delivered by the post office, the ballot will not be counted. 

287

Rep., Verger

Comments that people like voting on election day.

 

Rep. Close

Asks how they handled the deadline in the voting polls.

 

Stern

Responds that the situation depended on the situation of the building.  Gives example of small school where everyone could not be inside and an election official would stand in line. 

328

Rep. Close

Asks if the election person in line is the cutoff.

 

Stern

Responds affirmatively.  The election board person is there to make sure no one else joins the line. 

 

Rep. Close

Asks if that can be done with the mail ballot as well.

 

Stern

Responds that is exactly what they do now at the drop sites and within the courthouse.

343

Rep. Flores

Asks if they had complaints about manipulation of the line at 8:00 p.m.

 

Newingham

Comments on differences in opinion at the last Presidential election.

380

Rep. Barnhart

Asks how late polls were open.

 

Stern

Believes there were polls where ballots were being issued and cast as late as 8:30 p.m.

 

Rep. Barnhart

Asks how it is handled now.

 

Stern

Explains that in Yamhill County the only people were those waiting in the clerk’s office and who were in the process of marking their ballots.

430

Mark Nelson

Public Affairs Council.  Testifies in support of HB 2825.  States they have seen first hand the differences between the polling booth and vote by mail.  It is all about when you vote.  Vote by mail has had a dramatic impact on the cost on campaigns.  Nothing has raised the cost of campaigns more than vote by mail. 

TAPE 48, B

 

Nelson

Continues testifying on cost of campaigns and strategies to deliver messages to the voters. 

080

Nelson

Comments on rate of turnouts at elections throughout the last voting period.  States his interest in the bill is to reduce the cost of campaigns.

093

Rep. Monnes Anderson

Comments on level of turnout by voters in Oregon and states she would not want to limit the number of voters.

 

Nelson

Responds he does not believe this bill will reduce voter turnout. 

121

Rep. Flores

Asks what the comparison of turnout is in vote by mail and polling, whether it depends on what is on the ballot, and how does that compare to other states.

 

Nelson

Comments on election turnouts and states that he believes turnout is better for school elections.

143

Rep. Barnhart

Asks if the bill would apply to all elections.

 

Nelson

Responds affirmatively.

150

Troy Nichols

Chief of Staff to House Majority Leader Tim Knopp and Executive Director of Majority 2002, the House Republican Caucus PAC.  Testifies in support of HB 2825.  States he is a strong believer in shortening the window between mailing of the ballots and election day.  The focus needs to be on the cost of campaigns; the current vote by mail system exacerbates this.  Believes reducing the window from 18 to 11 days would go a long way in controlling the escalating campaign costs. 

196

Chair Doyle

Recesses the public hearing on HB 2825 and recesses the meeting at 2:21 p.m.

 

Chair Doyle

Reconvenes the meeting at 2:28 p.m. and reopens the public hearing on HB 2825.

202

Anderson

Submits the HB 2825-1 amendments relating to marked ballots (EXHIBIT E).  States it should deal with the concern by Rep. Verger of someone standing in line before 8:00 p.m. with a marked ballot.

 

Rep. Monnes Anderson

Notes that the amendment says at the county clerk’s office.  Asks for clarification if this would apply to drop box sites.

 

Anderson

Responds if a person had a marked ballot and was merely dropping it off, and had made it to the county clerk’s office by the deadline, the person would not be turned away.

245

Rep. Barnhart

Asks previous witnesses to comment on  the amendment and how it is similar or different from the current law.

250

Newingham

States that the two references are on voting compartments.  The amendment does not address those who drive up to cast their ballots.  States she is concerned about “marked ballot” because they do not look at the ballots; there is a privacy issue.  States she would want to see if there are conflicts.

 

Rep. Flores

Comments that if someone is presenting an envelope, the presumption would be that they are tendering it to deliver their vote, whether or not it is marked. 

 

Newingham

States she would assume the ballot would be voted.  Adds that someone could be standing in line because they made a mistake on their ballot and needed a replacement ballot in order to cast it correctly.  That would not apply in this case and the person would not have an opportunity to vote. 

299

Rep. Verger

Comments she thinks if someone has a sealed ballot and hands it to the clerk, it is the clerk’s presumption that the ballot is as it should be and it is not the clerk’s responsibility to be sure that it is filled out correctly or that the person signed the envelope.  This just says the clerk will accept the ballot.

 

Newingham

States that if the ballot is sealed, she would agree with Rep. Verger.  States others may be waiting inline to take care of other business dealing with voting ballots and need help to complete the process.

 

Chair Doyle

Notes these incidents are happening at 8:00 p.m., and asked if the clerks would allow time for the person to complete their ballot after 8:00 p.m.

 

Stern

Explains they have people who walk in and do not have their ballot in the envelope and ask for a fresh ballot.  The question is whether or not the clerks could give the person the replacement ballot under the amendment.  Gives example of the clerk’s office calling a person to have them sign their ballot and the person gets in line prior to 8:00 p.m.

 

Eaton

Comments she is trying to figure out the language on page 4 in line 38.  States she is not sure the proposed language is any clearer than the current law—that is, if you are at the polling place at 8:00 p.m. you are allowed to vote. 

 

Rep. Barnhart

Comments on daughter being called in to prove signature.  States under the current rule, she could arrive at 7:59 and complete her business by 8:15 and her ballot would count. 

 

Newingham

Responds that things are different under the circumstance stated by Rep. Barnhart.  States they would challenge the ballot and send a letter out even it was on election day and allow the person 10 days to resolve the issue and prove who they were. 

388

Rep. Backlund

Asks if someone can get inside the door and receive assistance even after 8:00 by getting in a special line.

 

Stern

Responds that the question is how to process the activity under the HB 2825-1 amendment.  It will vary from county to county on their staffing, space and other factors.  In their office they have three people servicing the customers for whatever reason.  States that he reads into the question whether there should be a distinct line for corrections versus any other type of election activity.  Believes it would depend on space and other factors.

TAPE 49, B

025

Newingham

Comments on the large number of people at the counter at 8:00 p.m. in the last presidential election. 

 

Rep. Backlund

Comments he would assume the person with the soiled ballot would be there before 8:00 and would go in and vote.

035

Chair Doyle

Closes the public hearing  and opens a work session on HB 2825.

HB 2825 – WORK SESSION

037

Rep. Flores

MOTION:  Moves to ADOPT HB 2825-1 amendments dated 4/9/03.

 

Rep. Backlund

Asks if it might be important to insert “sealed” before “ballot” in line 7 of the HB 2825-1 amendments.

046

Chair Doyle

Comments that it would provide clarification.

 

Rep. Backlund

Comments it would help the county clerk know the ballot was truly completed because it would be sealed and clearly marked.

 

Rep. Close

States that it would be a mandate on the clerk to determine if the envelope was sealed or not.

053

Chair Doyle

Comments that he takes this as making sure that we are distinguishing between those who are in line to deposit a ballot they have completed and those who are standing in line and are basically marking their ballot after 8:00 p.m.

 

 

VOTE:  7-0-0

 

Chair Doyle

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

 

059

Rep. Flores

MOTION:  Moves to ADOPT HB 2825-2 amendments dated 4/24/03.

063

 

VOTE:  7-0-0

 

Chair Doyle

Hearing no objection, declares the motion CARRIED.

 

064

Rep. Flores

MOTION:  Moves HB 2825 to the floor with a DO PASS AS AMENDED recommendation.

068

Rep. Barnhart

Comments on the way the current law works.  Quotes language on pages 4, lines 38 and 39 of HB 2825 and page 3, lines 19 through 21.  States the current language is very clear.  Everyone knows what their responsibilities are and what their rights are.  If the person is there ready to vote or drop their ballot in the box before 8:00 p.m., the person gets to vote.  States that the amendment says the clerk is going to accept the ballot at the sites referenced.  States that a couple of the subsections don’t make sense when the amendment is added.  It does make it very clear that someone who is actually in the compartment or at the voting booth marking a ballot at 8:00 p.m. will not be allowed to vote because the ballot is not ready to deposit at 8:00 p.m.  It is a significant change from the current law.  States he would feel more comfortable if the original language on page 3, lines 19-21 and the original language on page 4, lines 38 and 39, were still in the bill rather than being taken out because they are very clear. 

126

Rep. Barnhart

Adds that he is also concerned about shortening the length of time by changing when the ballots would be mailed. 

160

 

VOTE:  4-3-0

AYE:               4 - Backlund, Close, Flores, Doyle

NAY:               3 - Barnhart, Monnes Anderson, Verger

 

Chair Doyle

The motion CARRIES.

REP. BACKLUND will lead discussion on the floor.

 

168

Chair Doyle

Closes the work session on HB 2825 and adjourns meeting at 2:53 p.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

A – HB 3304, HB 3304-1 amendments, Rep. Flores, 1 p

B – HB 3304, prepared statement, Eugene Schoenheit, 1 p

C – HB 2825, prepared statement, Kappy Eaton, 1 p

D – HB 2825, prepared statement, Annette Newingham, 2 pp

E – HB 2825, HB 2825-1 amendment, Bruce Anderson, 1 p

F – HB 2825, HB 2825-2 amendment, Bruce Anderson, 1 p