McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli outside the California State Capitol

The California State Assembly is poised to adopt a new rule to allow proxy voting. On July 27th, the first day back from its extended recess, Assembly Majority Floor Leader Ian Calderon introduced House Resolution 100 which would adopt a rule to allow proxy voting during the COVID‑19 state of emergency.

HR-100 notes that the pandemic has affected members of the Legislature and their ability to participate in official legislative proceedings to the point that the pandemic threatens to undermine the constitutional duty and authority of each house to convene and to compel the attendance of members during COVID-19.

The resolution does not amend existing Assembly Rules, but rather, adopts a standalone resolution. If adopted by a majority the Assembly, the Speaker of the Assembly would be authorized to permit proxy voting by designated members for floor session, but not during committee hearings.

Eligible members must request authorization from the Speaker. In order to be eligible, the Assemblymember must be at a higher risk to contract the COVID-19 virus.

The proxy authorization will be terminated when the 2020 legislative ends sine die on November 30, when the state of emergency ends, or when the Speaker withdraws the authorization – whichever comes first.

To request authorization to vote by proxy, the Assemblymember must submit a letter requesting it prior to the floor session at which the voting would occur. If approved by the Speaker, the authorization is provided to the Chief Clerk of the Assembly and printed in the Assembly Daily Journal. Once floor session begins, but before proceeding with the business contained in the Daily File, the presiding officer must announce the names of the members who are voting by proxy on that particular day.

The Assemblymember voting by proxy must submit written instructions prior to the floor session. Their instructions must identify each legislative action on which the absent member will be voting by proxy. Proxy votes will be identified for each roll call vote in the Assembly Daily Journal for that day. An Assemblymember voting by proxy cannot add on or change his or her vote after the proxy vote has been cast.

Only four legislative leaders are authorized to actually cast the proxy votes of any absent members. They are the Speaker, the Assembly Majority Leader, the Minority Leader, and the Minority Floor Manager.