Bill Summaries: S683 (2019-2020 Session)

Tracking:
  • Summary date: Aug 28 2019 - View summary

    House amendments to the 5th edition, as amended, make the following changes.

    Amendment #6 amends GS 163A-1317 to increase the punishment for selling or attempting to sell, or purchasing or agreeing to purchase, a completed written request, a completed application for absentee ballots, or voted absentee ballots from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class I felony. Increases the punishment for compensating another, or accepting compensation, based on the number of returned written requests for absentee ballots from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class I felony. 

    Amendment #7 amends GS 163A-1303 by adding that if a county board of elections opens one-stop sites on Saturdays, all one-stop sites must be open on the last Saturday before the election, for the hours required under GS 163A-1300(b) for that last Saturday.

     


  • Summary date: Aug 27 2019 - View summary

    House amendments to the 5th edition make the following changes.

    Amendment #1 further modifies GS 163A-1310 to qualify the option to transmit executed absentee ballots to county boards of elections by mail or commercial courier, stating this option is at the expense of the voter or the State Board of Elections (State Board; previously, eliminated existing language which deemed this option to be at the voter's expense).

    Amendment #2 adds new subsection (e1) to GS 163A-1309 to allow voters who need assistance to complete the written request form for absentee ballots and do not have a near relative or legal guardian available to request another person to give assistance. Limits the scope of this new provision to voters needing assistance due to blindness, disability, or inability to read or write. Requires the name and address of the person giving assistance in completing the written request form to be disclosed on the form in addition to all of the information required on the form pursuant to GS 163A-1309, as amended.

    Amendment #4 amends GS 163A-1117, regarding actions county boards of elections must take before approving the adoption and acquisition of any voting system by the board of county commissioners. Current law requires the county board to test the voting system during an election in at least one of the county's precincts. Adds an alternative to this testing requirement, now allowing a county to test the voting system during a simulated election pursuant to standards established by the State Board. Applies to the purchase of any voting system tested prior to December 31, 2020. Changes the act's long title.


  • Summary date: Aug 26 2019 - View summary

    House committee substitute to the 4th edition makes the following changes.

    Amends GS 163A-1306 to deem each register of absentee requests (mail-in and one-stop) to constitute public record, and can be opened to inspection by any registered voter of the county within 60 days before and 30 days after an election in which absentee ballots were authorized, or any other time when good and sufficient reason warrants inspection (previously, limited the scope of these parameters to the one-stop absentee ballot register required under new subsection (b), and deemed the mail-in absentee ballot request register required of subsection (a), as amended, confidential until the opening of the voting place, at which time the register is public record). Eliminates proposed subsection (e), which required the State Board of Elections (State Board) or the county board of elections to inform the voter of the status of that voter's request for a mail-in absentee ballot upon inquiry by the voter or the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian.

    Makes organizational and clarifying changes to GS 163A-871. Further amends the statute, which deems confidential specified personal identifying information, modifying the scope of the provisions to now include any email address submitted under the Article or Article 21 of GS Chapter 163A (was, more specifically Part 2 of Article 21), photocopies of identification for voting (previously not included), and driver's license numbers held by the State Board or a county board (previously, deemed the personally identifying information confidential as generated by the voter, the State Board, or a county board in the mail-in absentee ballot process). Specifies that voter signatures can be viewed by the public, whether held by the State Board or a county board.

    Makes organizational and clarifying changes to GS 163A-1308, concerning absentee ballot requests and issuance. Changes the statutory cross-reference regarding voter eligibility to vote by absentee ballot, now referencing GS 163A-1295 rather than GS 163A-1295(a). Makes language gender-neutral. Recodifies subsection (h), which defines near relative, as GS 163A-1295(f).

    Amends GS 163A-1309, setting forth the method for requesting absentee ballots, to require the State Board to make the written request form available at its office, online, and in each county board of elections (previously, excluded online availability), and permits reproduction of the form (previously, no longer permitted). No longer permits the voter to request the form in person or in writing. Modifies the required content of the form to include a clear indicator of the date the election generating the request is to be held, except for annual calendar year requests pursuant to GS 163A-1295 for individuals with sickness or physical disability (previously, required indication of the calendar year in which the election or elections generating the request are to be held, and did not provide for this exception). No longer requires the form to include the name of any individual or group assisting the voter with obtaining or completing the form, or a unique identifier for the voter. Now allows a member of a multipartisan team trained and authorized by the county board to return the completed request form (previously, limited to the voter or the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian). Adds to the reasons for which a request for an absentee ballot is not valid and will not be issued an application and ballot, including (1) the completed written request is not on a form created by the State Board; (2) the completed written request is completed or signed by anyone other than the voter or the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian (with assistance permitted by a member of a multipartisan team trained and authorized by the county board); (3) the written request does not contain all of the required information; and (4) the completed written request is returned to the county by someone other than than the voter, the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian, a member of a multipartisan team trained and authorized, the US Postal Service, or a designated delivery service. Adds to the required content of the State Board's enforcement rules, now requiring a voter affidavit stating a reasonable impediment as an inability to attach a physical copy of the voter's identification with the written request to include either (1) the number of the voter's NC driver's license, (2) the number of the voter's special identification card, or (3) the last four digits of the applicant's Social Security number. Makes further technical and conforming changes.

    Amends GS 163A-1295(b) to allow a voter that reports a sickness or physical disability that is expected to last the remainder of the calendar year to request to vote by mail-in absentee ballot for all primaries and elections held during the calendar year when the completed written request under GS 163A-1308, as amended, is received (previously, allowed the applicant to report and request on the application an absentee ballot, and did not cross-reference GS 163A-1308 nor specify the request be for mail-in absentee ballots).

    Changes the State Board's reporting requirement. Now requires the State Board to report to the specified NCGA committee and the General Assembly by May 1, 2020, on its plans to implement Section 2 and 3 of the act and any necessary statutory changes (concerning the proposed changes to GS 163A-1308, GS 163A-1309, and GS 163A-1295; previously, limited to proposed GS 163A-1309(a)(9), now deleted, concerning including unique voter identifiers on request forms).

    Amends GS 20-30 to allow making a color copy of a driver's license, learner's permit, or special ID card in order to comply with GS 163A-1307 (method of requesting absentee ballots).

    Amends GS 163A-1317, making it a Class 1 misdemeanor to sell, attempt to sell, purchase, or agree to purchase a completed written request, a completed application for absentee ballots, or voted absentee ballots (was, limited to completed applications and ballots). Requires a person who intentionally fails to deliver or destroys a completed request for, an application for, or a voter absentee ballot to have the intent of obstructing a vote by a registered voter to be guilty of a Class G felony. Eliminates the proposed Class G felony for stealing, releasing, or possessing the official register of absentee requests for mail-in ballots prior to the permitted time for a purpose other than the conduct of county board business.

    Amends GS 163A-1300, as amended, to modify the one-stop voting period. Now sets the period to be no earlier than the third Thursday before an election and no later than 2:00 p.m. on the last Saturday before the election (was, no later than 1:00 p.m. on the last Saturday). Changes the proposed explicit requirement for county boards to conduct one-stop voting on the last Saturday before the election, now requiring one-stop voting from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. (was, from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.). No longer permits a county board to continue until 5:00 p.m. on that last Saturday.

    Eliminates the proposed changes to GS 163A-1303, regarding the sites and hours for one-stop voting. Instead, amends the statute to require the State Board to consider, in determining whether to approve a county's Plan for Implementation, whether the Plan disproportionately favors any party, racial or ethnic group, or candidate. Adds identical language regarding approval of a Plan that includes a one-stop site in a building the county board is not entitled to demand and use as an election-day voting place, now requiring the State Board to find that the sites chosen will not disproportionately favor any party, racial or ethnic group, or candidate (previously, required finding the sites chosen do not unfairly advantage or disadvantage geographic, demographic, or partisan interests of that county). Excepts from the requirement for county-wide uniformity of one-stop sites on Saturdays the last Saturday before the election.

    Effective January 1, 2020, amends GS 163A-1303 to limit required one-stop site hours to 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (was, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.). Sunsets this provision on August 1, 2020.

    Makes organizational and clarifying changes to GS 163A-1310, regarding transmission of executed absentee ballots to county boards. Also, removes language specifying that transmission by mail or commercial courier is at the voter's expense. Appropriates $250,000 from the unappropriated fund balance of the General Fund to the State Board for the 2019-20 fiscal year to provide for pre-paid postage for mail-in absentee ballots. Effective January 1, 2020, and expires December 31, 2020.

    Amends Section 3.11 of SL 2018-13, which modifies Sections 30.8 and 30.9 of SL 2013-281. Makes technical corrections to refer instead to SL 2013-381, which requires the decertification of certified direct record electronic (DRE) voting systems that do not use paper ballots and prohibits their use in any election held on or after December 1, 2019. Makes other technical changes.

    Allows the State Board to authorize a county board of elections to use a direct record electronic (DRE) voting system in any election prior to December 1, 2020, so long as the county board, by December 1, 2020, submits a request to the State Board, provides sufficient information for the State Board to conclude the use will not jeopardize election security, and has begun the process and timeline for replacing the DRE voting system and provided the State Board documentation of the timeline and required testing. Specifically authorizes the State Board to grant an exception to any requirement of GS 163A-1117(a), which requires system recommendation, demonstrations, and testing, that the State Board deems appropriate for that county. Effective when the act becomes law and expires January 1, 2021.

    Maintains the act's effective date provisions and changes the act's long title.


  • Summary date: Jul 9 2019 - View summary

    Senate amendments to the 2nd edition make the following changes.

    Amendment #1 provides the following.

    Further amends GS 163A-1313 to require county boards of elections to create a list of applications made for absentee ballots received by the county board. Requires county boards to update the list daily from the date the county board begins to mail application and ballots through the date of canvass. Deems the list public record. Makes technical changes. 

    Maintains the requirement set forth in GS 163A-1308 for a qualified voter eligible to vote by absentee ballot, or that voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian to complete a request form for an absentee ballot application and absentee ballots, with receipt by the county board required no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election (previously, required a written, signed request rather than a completed request form). Maintains current law set forth in GS 163A-1309, establishing that a completed written request form for absentee ballots is only valid on a form created by the State Board of Elections (State Board) and signed by the requesting voter or the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian. Now restricts availability of the form to the State Board's offices and county board of elections offices (no longer allowing the State Board to make the form available online or allowing county boards to reproduce the form). Maintains current law which allows for a voter to request a State Board-created form to request absentee ballots either in person or by writing to the county board. Adds to the information the request form must contain: (1) a clear indicator of the calendar year in which the election(s) generating the request are to be held; (2) the name of any individual or group that assisted with the voter obtaining or completing the written request form; and (3) a unique identifier, applicable only to the voter completing that written request form. Restricts delivery of the completed request form to the county board by the voter or that voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian only (similar to the restrictions previously provided for completed requests), and makes a request not delivered by those authorized persons invalid. Modifies the minimum criteria for the State Board's implementing rules concerning forms of identification that must be included with completed written requests for absentee ballots to include (1) acceptable photocopies of forms of readable identification as described by state law (was, acceptable forms of readable identification substantially similar to those required under state law) and (2) a process for a voter without acceptable photocopies of forms of readable identification to complete an alternative affidavit that includes inability to attach a physical copy of the voter's ID with the written request as a reasonable impediment to compliance with the requirement (was, including lack of access to a method to attach an electronic or physical copy; maintains elimination of option to return required ID forms with the absentee ballot container return envelope). Makes further changes to eliminate reference to the proposed replacement of the form with written requests. Makes clarifying changes by adding descriptors to the statute's subsections. 

    Makes new GS 163A-1309(a)(9), which requires the State Board's absentee ballot request form to include a unique identifier for voters, effective January 1, 2019, and applicable to requests for absentee ballots on or after that date.

    Eliminates the requirement for the State Board to prepare and disseminate a voter instruction sheet regarding the process to request a mail-in absentee ballot by December 1, 2019. Instead, requires the State Board to report to the specified NCGA committee and the legislature by May 1, 2020, as to its plans to implement the unique identifier requirement on request forms, set forth in GS 163A-1309(a)(9), as amended, and any necessary statutory changes.

    Amendment #2 amends GS 163A-1307, concerning the requirements for container-return envelopes for absentee ballots, to require the State Board to prohibit the display of the voter's party affiliation on the outside of the container-return envelope. 

    Amendment #3 amends the proposed changes to GS 163A-1317, increasing from a Class 2 misdemeanor to a Class 1 misdemeanor the new offenses of selling or attempting to sell completed written requests for absentee ballots, and compensating or accepting compensation based on the number of returned written requests for absentee ballots. Creates another new offense, making it a Class G felony to steal, release, or possess the official register of absentee requests for mail-in absentee ballots prior to the opening of the voting place for a purpose other than the conduct of business at the county board of elections.

    Amendment #4 eliminates the proposed changes to GS 163A-1303 concerning uniform hours at one-stop sites, and instead amends the statute to change the weekday hours for one-stop sites from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., to 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.


  • Summary date: Jul 1 2019 - View summary

    Senate committee substitute to the 1st edition makes the following changes.

    Further amends GS 163A-1306 to require the State Board of Elections (State Board) or county board of elections to inform the voter of the status of that voter's request for mail-in absentee ballots upon inquiry by the voter or the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian.

    Further amends GS 163A-1308 regarding issuance of absentee ballots to specify that the county board is to promptly issue and transmit applications and absentee ballots to the voter upon receipt of a request from the voter, or the near relative or the verifiable guardian of that voter.

    Modifies the proposed changes to GS 163A-1309 regarding the method of requesting absentee ballots. No longer permits an option to request using a form generated by the county board. Adds that the completed request must be returned to the county board by the voter only, or the near relative or the verifiable legal guardian of that voter, so requesting the absentee ballot. 

    Enacts GS 163A-1317(d)(5), making it a Class F felony to commit, attempt to commit, or conspire to commit a crime identified in GS 163A-865(b) (certain misdemeanors involving acceptance of voter registration application forms), GS 163A-1298(a) (certain felonies regarding absentee voting), GS 163A-1388 (certain misdemeanors involving campaigns), GS 163A-1389 (certain felonies involving campaigns), or this statute, GS 163A-1317 (certain misdemeanors and felonies involving absentee ballots), with the intent to unlawfully influence or interfere with a primary or election, or to otherwise unlawfully gain. Makes technical correction to proposed GS 163A-1317(d1) to remove reference to an absentee request form (terminology eliminated by the act).

    Changes the effective date of the proposed changes to GS 163A-1300 and GS 163A-1303, regarding one-stop voting, from January 1, 2020, to August 1, 2019.


  • Summary date: Jul 1 2019 - View summary

    Amends GS 163A-1306 to establish separate requirements for county boards of elections records regarding early one-stop absentee ballots voted, distinct from records regarding mail-in absentee ballot requests. Directs the State Board of Elections (State Board) to approve an official register in which each county board must record (1) the name of the voter for whom application and ballots are being requested, (2) the number assigned to the voter's application when issued, (3) the precinct in which the voter is registered, (4) the date the voter voted early one-stop, (5) the voter's party affiliation, and (6) any additional information and official action required by law. Makes the official records for early-one stop absentee ballots constitute a public record and requires that it be open to inspection by any registered voter of the county within 60 days before and 30 days after an election in which absentee ballots were authorized, or at any other time good and sufficient reason is assigned for its inspection. Allows the State Board to provide the official registers to be kept in electronic data processing equipment. With regard to mail-in absentee ballot requests, deems the official record confidential and not public record until the opening of the voting place, at which time the official register constitutes public record (currently, the register of absentee requests, applications, and ballots issued constitutes public record, open for inspection within 60 days before and 30 days after an election or any other time as described). Eliminates the requirement for the register to have daily printed copies and supplements. Makes further technical and conforming changes.

    Amends GS 163A-1313 to require any copies of any photo identification associated with absentee ballot requests, or returned applications and ballots, not public record. Makes technical changes.

    Amends GS 163A-871 to also deem confidential and not public record full or partial Social Security numbers; dates of birth; identity of the public agency where the individual registered, any email addresses submitted under Article 17, Qualifying to Vote, or Part 2, Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act, Article 21 (previously, did not include Article 17); and drivers license numbers that may be generated by the voter, the State Board, or a county board in the mail-in absentee ballot process (previously, did not include identifiers generated by the voter; previously, applied to such information generated in the voter registration process).

    Amends GS 163A-1308, as amended, which provides for the procedure for completing absentee ballot request forms. Eliminates the absentee ballot request form. Instead, requires a qualified voter eligible to vote by absentee ballot under existing law (GS 163A-1295(a)), or that voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian, to request in writing an application for absentee ballots so that the county board receives the request no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election (identical to the same time period for completing request forms). Requires the written request to be signed by the voter, the voter's near relative, or the voter's verifiable legal guardian. Requires county boards to use existing procedures to record requests, applications, and ballots issued. Maintains requirements for county boards to mail the official ballot, a container-return envelope, and an instruction sheet. Concerning absentee ballots for voters unable to go to the voting place in person on election day due to sickness or other physical disability, requires the voter or the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian to make the same written request in person for absentee ballots to the county board no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election. Now requires the county board to enter specified information into the register regarding these absentee requests, applications, and ballots issued, and requires the county board to personally deliver to the requester the official ballot, a container-return envelope, and an instruction sheet in a single-package (previously, permitted personal delivery to the voter or the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian). Makes conforming changes.

    Amends GS 163A-1309, making conforming changes to eliminate provisions relating to the State Board's request form for absentee ballots. Instead, enacts the following new requirements. Requires written requests for an absentee ballot to be written entirely by the requester personally, or on a form generated by the county board, and signed by the requester and submitted together with the required identification. Requires each request to include any form of valid identification as described in GS 163A-1145.1(a) or an affidavit as described in GS 163A-1145.1(d) (exceptions for religious objection, reasonable impediment, or natural disaster). Limits issuance of the request form by a county board to the voter seeking to vote by absentee ballot or the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian authorized to make a request for the voter. Provides that, if a requester is unable to complete a written request due to disability or illiteracy, the requester can receive assistance in writing the request from an individual of that requester's choice. Requires the State Board to adopt rules to implement and enforce the provisions. 

    Directs the State Board to prepare and disseminate to the county boards and post on its website an instruction sheet for voters regarding the process to request a mail-in absentee ballot, no later than December 1, 2019, in English and any other languages the State Board deems appropriate. Requires periodic updates to the instruction sheet to reflect any changes in relevant law.

    Amends GS 163A-1317 increasing the following criminal offenses regarding absentee ballots from a Class 2 misdemeanor to a Class 1 misdemeanor: making false statements under oath, making false statements not under oath for the purpose of obtaining or voting any official ballot, witnessing an absentee ballot of a nonrelative by a candidate, and any other willful noncompliance with absentee ballot laws. Makes attempting to vote by fraudulently signing the name of a regularly qualified voter a Class G felony rather than a Class I felony. Adds the following new offenses. Makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor to sell or attempt to sell, or purchase or agree to purchase, completed applications and ballots. Makes it a Class G felony to intentionally fail to deliver or intentionally destroy completed written requests, completed applications for absentee ballots, or voted absentee ballots. Makes it a Class G felony for any person other than the voter or the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian to makes copies or otherwise retain the request for absentee ballots, completed applications for absentee ballots, or any identifying information, as specified, disclosed in a request or application. Makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor to compensate another or to accept compensation based on the number of returned written requests for absentee ballots under GS 163A-1309, as amended. Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019.

    Amends GS 163A-1300 to modify the one-stop voting period. Now sets the period to be no earlier than the third Thursday before an election and no later than 1:00 p.m. on the last Saturday before the election (was, no earlier than the third Wednesday before an election, and no later than 7:00 p.m. on the last Friday before the election). Adds an explicit requirement for county boards to conduct one-stop voting on the last Saturday before the election from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., and permits a county board to continue until 5:00 p.m. on that day.

    Amends GS 163A-1303(c)(4), which provides that if a county board must open one-stop sites on Saturdays during the one-stop period, the county must have all one-stop sites open for the same number of hours throughout the county on those Saturdays, to except the last Saturday before the election from the requirement.