BIPARTISAN ELECTIONS ACT OF 2020. (NEW)

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
House Bill 1169 (Public) Filed Friday, May 22, 2020
AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES TO THE LAWS RELATED TO ELECTIONS AND TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS TO THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC.
Intro. by Grange, Dahle, D. Hall, Harrison.

Status: Ch. SL 2020-17 (Jun 12 2020)

Bill History:

H 1169/S.L. 2020-17

Bill Summaries:

  • Summary date: Jun 15 2020 - More information

    AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES TO THE LAWS RELATED TO ELECTIONS AND TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS TO THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC. SL 2020-17. Enacted June 12, 2020. Effective June 12, 2020, except as otherwise provided.


  • Summary date: Jun 9 2020 - More information

    Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to the 5th edition.

    Section 2

    Makes organizational changes.

    Amends proposed GS 163-226.3(c), regarding the composition of multipartisan teams. Now, of the team members required to represent the two political parties having the highest number of affiliated voters in the State, requires the team members to be recommended by the members of that political party serving on the county board of elections, rather than by the county chair of each respective political party. Clarifies that the proposed provisions applies to appointments to a multipartisan team on or after the date the act becomes law.

    Section 4.5

    Adds to the proposed changes to GS 163-182.2 to clarify that precinct officials are required to provide a preliminary report of the vote counting on election day to the county board of elections as quickly as possible (previously, did not specify the preliminary report is required on election day).

    Eliminates the proposed changes to GS 163-166.11, regarding publication of the number of provisional ballots cast in an election by 5:00 p.m. the day after the close of polls. Instead, adds a requirement for county boards to publish the following information by 12:00 p.m. two days after the close of polls: the number of provisional ballots cast on election day, cast by one-stop absentee voting, cast by mail-in absentee ballots received as of election day, and cast by military and overseas absentee ballots cast under State law and received as of election day.

    Section 7

    Eliminates the mandate requiring the State Board of Elections (State Board) to investigate IP addresses or VPNs accessing the website for submitting online requests for absentee ballots to request absentee ballots for more than 10 qualified voters from the date the website is first available to voters through October 27, 2020, as well as the coordinating reporting requirements. Instead, requires the State Board to report to the specified NCGA committee by February 1, 2021, regarding online requests for absentee ballots, including online requests by county, and the results of any cybersecurity investigations related to online requests during the 2020 general election.

    Section 11.1

    Changes the source of the $2,120,497 in matching State funds appropriated to the State Board for 2020-21 for coronavirus response during the 2020 election cycle. Previously, appropriated the funds from the General Fund to match the federal CARES Act funds appropriated. Now, directs the Department of Commerce to transfer the same amount in nonrecurring funds from the Job Investment Grant Special Revenue Fund to the State Board for 2020-21, as the required State match. Requires the transfer to be made no later than August 15, 2020.

    Section 11.2

    Changes the source of the $2,335,488 in matching State funds appropriated to the State Board for 2020-21 for specified election purposes and county HAVA expense reimbursements. Previously, appropriated the funds from the General Fund to match the federal HAVA funds appropriated. Now, directs the Department of Commerce to transfer the same amount in nonrecurring funds from the Job Investment Grant Special Revenue Fund to the State Board for 2020-21, as the required State match. Requires the transfer to be made no later than August 15, 2020.

    Adds to the identified uses and coordinating allowable amounts the State Board is authorized to use from a portion of the HAVA funds and State match funds appropriated by the act, $1 million to assist counties with the speed, accuracy, and transparency of the counties' election, voter, and canvass data and processes.

    Sections 11A.1 and 11A.2

    Adds new sections. Reenacts and incorporates by reference the State Budget Act, GS Chapter 143C.

    Provides for the continued validity of 2019 legislation appropriating funds to entities covered by the act, unless expressly repealed or amended.


  • Summary date: Jun 2 2020 - More information

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

    Section 1

    Makes technical changes.

    Section 2

    Makes further changes to the directive to the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Board of Elections (State Board) regarding multipartisan team assistance in congregate living situations to consistently refer to the development of "guidance" rather than a "joint program" concerning safety.

    Amends proposed GS 163-226.3, regarding the composition of multipartisan teams. Of the team members required to represent the two political parties having the highest number of affiliated voters in the State, requires the team members to be recommended by the county chair of each respective political party.

    Section 4.5

    Adds a new section.

    Amends GS 163-182.2 to require precinct preliminary reports to the county board to include the number of provisional ballots cast in that precinct.

    Amends GS 163-166.11 to require county boards to publish the number of provisional ballots cast in an election by 5:00 p.m. on the day after the close of polls.

    Section 7

    Mandates the State Board to investigate IP addresses or VPNs accessing the website for submitting online requests for absentee ballots to request absentee ballots for more than 10 qualified voters from the date the website is first available to voters through October 27, 2020. Requires the State Board to report to the specified NCGA committee on investigation outcomes by February 1, 2021. Makes conforming changes.

    Section 10.5

    Adds a new section amending GS 163-132.5G to require county boards of elections to report, by precinct for each item on the ballot, the number of voters who did not select a choice for an item on the ballot and the number of voters who selected more choices than available for the item on the ballot when reporting returns to the State Board of Elections. Adds a new requirement for a county board chair to appear and explain any delay in meeting the statute's voting data and return requirements at the next official meeting of the State Board.


  • Summary date: May 28 2020 - More information

    House amendment #1 makes the following changes to the 3rd edition.

    Section 1

    Changes the effective date of Section 1(b), regarding the residency requirements of precinct assistants and chief judges and judges. Now provides for these provisions to become effective on the date the act becomes law, rather than July 1, 2020. Maintains the provisions' sunset date of December 31, 2020.

    Section 2

    Regarding the directive to the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Board of Elections (State Board) regarding multipartisan team assistance in congregate living situations, now directs the entities to develop guidance, rather than a program, as previously described. Maintains the reporting deadline of August 1, 2020.

    Section 11.2

    Increases the amount of the appropriated HAVA funds and State match funds the State Board can use for statewide advertising to inform the public of election law changes and other procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, from $250,000 to $300,000.


  • Summary date: May 27 2020 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 2nd edition.

    Section 1

    Makes technical changes to the provisions concerning the authorizations for multipartisan team members.

    Section 8

    Makes a clarifying change to the GS Chapter reference in proposed GS 163-237(d7).

    Section 11.2

    Limits the directive requiring the State Board of Elections to report on any funds spent from the County Reimbursement Account, created by the act, in a confidential report to the specified NCGA committee chairs, to limit the confidential report to expenditures for State Board security improvements.

    Changes the act's short title.


  • Summary date: May 27 2020 - More information

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

    Section 1

    Makes a technical change regarding the container-return envelopes for absentee ballots for the 2020 general election to include space for the one witness's signature (was, signatures). 

    Concerning the authorization for the appointment of registered voters from other precincts in the same county to fill the other two chief judge or judge positions in the precinct who are not required to meet the precinct residency requirement for the 2020 general election, clarifies that the appointees must meet all other qualifications to be a chief judge or judge other than residency.

    Adds additional authorization to allow a multipartisan team member trained and authorized by the county board pursuant to state law to serve as a witness for the casting of absentee ballots.

    Section 2

    Amends the directive of the Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) and the State Board of Elections (State Board) to more specifically direct the entities to jointly develop a program to safely allow multipartisan teams to assist registered voters within hospital, clinic, nursing homes, assisted living or other congregate living situations in the 2020 elections during the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with state law (previously, required the entities to develop how to safely allow trained and authorized multipartisan team members to access hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and rest homes under quarantine to assist voters in requesting, voting, and returning absentee ballots). Defines multipartisan teams. Maintains the previously specified reporting requirements with a deadline of August 1, 2020.

    Enacts GS 163-226.3 to specify that a multipartisan team consists of at least two registered voters of the county with the two political parties with the highest number of affiliated voters required to be represented, and unaffiliated voters or voters affiliated with other recognized parties permitted to be team members if the team has more than two members, or if the county board of elections unanimously votes to appoint an unaffiliated team member due to an insufficient number of voters available to meet the standard two party representation requirement.

    Section 5

    Amends the proposed changes to GS 163-230.2, as amended, to allow voters to call the State Board, in addition to a county board office, and request that the blank absentee ballot request form be sent to the voter by mail, e-mail, or fax.

    Section 8

    Makes a clarifying change to proposed GS 163-237(d7), making it a Class I felony for any member (rather than person) serving on, or as an employee of, the State Board or a county board to knowingly send or deliver an absentee ballot to any person who has not requested it in accordance with state law. 

    Section 11

    Makes changes throughout the Section to refer to "allocations" to county boards of elections rather than "grants." Makes conforming changes to reflect this terminology.

    Regarding allocations for early one-stop voting expenses, specifies that the counties must adopt uniform early one-stop voting plans in accordance with GS 163-227.6 (previously, did not reference the governing statutory provisions).

    Defines registered voter as the term is used in the Section, defining the term by referencing the meaning of a voter registered in accordance with Article 7A, GS Chapter 163 as of May 8, 2020.

    Section 11.2

    Adds a new directive requiring the State Board to report on any funds spent from the County Reimbursement Account, created by the act, in a confidential report to the specified NCGA committee chairs. Requires an initial report by August 15, 2020, and a follow up report by December 1, 2020. Specifies that the report is not public record.

    Finally, adds to the NCGA committees the State Board is required to report to on the funds appropriated under Sections 11.1 through 11.3 to include the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government. Maintains the February 1, 2021, reporting deadline.


  • Summary date: May 22 2020 - More information

    Section 1

    Provides the following requirements for elections held in 2020.

    Requires returned absentee ballots to be accepted and processed by the county board of elections (county board) if the voter marked the ballot in the presence of at least one person who is at least 18 years old and is not disqualified under state law, so long as the person signed the application and certificate as a witness and printed that person's name and address on the container-return envelope, and all other absentee ballot requirements are met. Allows the State Board of Elections (State Board) to prepare applications for each container-return envelope accordingly.

    Requires county boards to ensure that at least one precinct assistant is a registered voter of the precinct, and allows for the appointment of otherwise qualified registered voters in the same county to serve as precinct assistants, if there are an insufficient number of precinct assistants to meet the precinct residency requirement for a precinct. Requires county boards to ensure that at least one chief judge or judge is a registered voter of the precinct, and allows for the appointment of registered voters from other precincts in the same county to fill the other two chief judge or judge positions in the precinct.

    Permits any individual working as part of the multipartisan team trained and authorized by the county board pursuant to state law to assist any voter in the completion of a request for absentee ballots or in delivering a completed request form for absentee ballots to the county board.

    Effective July 1, 2020, and expires December 31, 2020.

    Section 2

    For 2020 elections, allows for a completed written request for absentee ballots to be delivered in person or by mail, e-mail, or fax, to the county board by the voter, the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian, or any individual trained and authorized as part of the multipartisan team. Further specifies the valid methods of delivery pursuant to specified state and federal laws.

    Directs the Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) and the State Board to develop and submit a report to specified NCGA committees and the Governor by August 1, 2020, detailing how to safely allow trained and authorized multipartisan team members to access hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and rest homes under quarantine to assist voters in requesting, voting, and returning absentee ballots.

    Section 3

    Amends GS 163-229, as amended, to require container-return envelopes to have a bar code or unique identifier to allow the county board and the voter to track the ballot following its return to the county board. Effective September 1, 2020, and applies to elections held on or after that date.

    Section 4

    Amends GS 163-230.1, as amended, to require county boards to begin meeting on the fifth Tuesday before an election in which absentee ballots are authorized, rather than the third Tuesday before, to hold at least one public meeting each Tuesday to take action on absentee ballot applications.

    Section 5

    Amends GS 163-230.2, as amended, to specify that the State Board is responsible for making blank request forms available at its offices, online, and at county board offices. Adds a new provision to allow voters to call a county board office and request that the blank request form be sent to the voter by mail, e-mail, or fax.

    Section 6

    Amends GS 163-27.1 to prohibit the Executive Director or the State Board from (1) delivering absentee ballots to eligible voters who did not submit a valid written request form for absentee ballots pursuant to state law or (2) ordering an election to be conducted using all mail-in absentee ballots.

    Section 7

    Enacts GS 163-230.3 to establish an alternative, online method for absentee ballots requests rather than the completed written request form, with all other absentee ballot requirements remaining applicable. Requires the State Board to establish a secure website to permit qualified voters eligible to vote by absentee ballot, or that voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian, to submit an online request for absentee ballots. Requires the website to be able to track the IP address of anyone who accesses the website, and requires the website to require requests to include all information required for a valid written request under state law and an electronic signature of the voter, or the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian, if requesting on behalf of the voter. Requires the State Board to submit online requests received to the respective county board, and requires the county boards to process the online request in the same manner as completed written requests.

    Specifies that the State Board is not required to comply with the initial purchase and contract requirements under GS Chapter 143 for establishing or securing a website for online requests. Sunsets this exemption on December 31, 2020.

    Requires the State Board to have the secure website available to voters to submit an online request by September 1, 2020.

    Section 8

    Amends GS 163-237, making it a Class I felony for any person serving on, or as an employee of, the State Board or a county board to knowingly send or deliver an absentee ballot to any person who has not requested it in accordance with state law. Effective July 1, 2020, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date. 

    Section 9

    Amends GS 20-37.7 to require the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to offer renewal of a special identification card in person and online.

    Section 10

    Amends GS 163-166.16 to expand the forms of identification that are acceptable to present to vote, regardless of whether the identification contains a printed expiration or issuance date, to also include an identification card issued by a State or federal entity for a public assistance government program.

    Section 11

    Appropriates the following amounts for the 2020-21 fiscal year to the State Board to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic during the 2020 federal election cycle: $10,987,295 in federal CARES Act funds; and $2,120,497 as the required match from the State General Fund. Requires at least $424,000 to be used by the State Board to establish the online portal for absentee ballot requests. Requires the remaining funds to be allocated in specified amounts to counties for county boards, with base grants based on development tier, and other funds specified on a per registered voter basis for counties that conducted second primary elections after March 10, 2020, and for early one-stop voting expenses for counties that adopt uniform one-stop voting plans that include satellite location operations with specified weekday hours, or based on development tier, as specified. Requires any remaining funds after the required allocations to be allocated to counties on a per registered voter basis for expenses eligible under the CARES Act. Requires the base grants to be used to address the coronavirus pandemic such as increased postage costs, ensuring an adequate number of poll workers, and recruiting for and promoting the use of multipartisan assistance teams. Specifies uses are limited by state and federal law.

    Section 11.2

    Appropriates the following amounts for the 2020-21 fiscal year to the State Board to a new fund code, titled County Reimbursement Account (Account), to reimburse counties for eligible HAVA (Help American Vote Act) expenses: $11,677,441 from federal HAVA funds; and $2,335,488 as the required match from the State General Fund. Requires the State Board to ensure timely county reimbursement. Entitles each county to at least $10,000 in reimbursements, and caps reimbursement at $250,000 per county. Requires certification that HAVA funds will not be used to supplant county funds, prior to reimbursement. Authorizes the State Board to make bulk purchases from the Account for items on the counties' collective behalf.

    Allows the State Board to use portions of the appropriated funds in specified amounts (1) to acquire a more secure system for the delivery and return of uniformed and overseas citizen absentee ballots; (2) to fund State Board security improvements; (3) to assemble Attack Response Kits for county continuity of operations following cyber attacks; (4) for bar code scanners to ensure accurate ballot distribution; (5) to purchase high-speed ballot tabulators for county board disaster recovery or continuity of operations, as needed; (6) to invest in increased ballot-on-demand capacity for county boards for disaster recovery or continuity of operations; (7) to acquire software to modernize the State Board help desk and add a chatbot feature, with staff training on each; and (8) for statewide advertising concerning election law changes and other pandemic response procedures. Requires any unspent funds to revert to the Account and remain until legislatively appropriated. 

    Requires county coordination with local political parties to enhance or maintain partisan balance of election day workers. 

    Directs the State Board to collaborate with the Division of Emergency Management to purchase and distribute personal protective equipment to deploy to counties pursuant to the above provisions.

    Requires the State Board to provide counties with lists of example expenses eligible under HAVA and the Cares Act after consultation with the US Election Assistance Commission.

    Directs the State Board to report to the specified NCGA committee and division on the use of funds appropriated in this section by February 1, 2021. Requires counties receiving funds under this section to provide specified information to the State Board for its report, including funding used to expand early one-stop and mail-in absentee ballots and to address the coronavirus pandemic.


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