AN ACT TO LIMIT WHO CAN ASSIST CERTAIN VOTERS WITH ABSENTEE BALLOTS AND REQUIRE VERIFICATION OF ADDRESS WHEN THE ADDRESS OF A VOTER REQUESTING AN ABSENTEE BALLOT DIFFERS FROM THE RESIDENCE ADDRESS LISTED IN THE VOTER'S COUNTY OF REGISTRATION.
Overall purpose. Limits who can assist certain voters with absentee ballots by removing near relatives and verifiable legal guardians from multiple statutes that reference persons authorized to file an absentee ballot on behalf of a voter. Authorizes instead a person working with a multipartisan team, defined as a team authorized and trained by a county board of elections to assist voters with absentee ballots, to file an absentee ballot on behalf of a voter. Moves definition of near relative from GS 163A-1308(h) to GS 163A-1317(c). Specific amendments are as follows.
Repeals GS 163A-1295(e) (which had allowed a verifiable legal guardian, defined as an individual appointed guardian under GS Chapter 35A, to vote an absentee ballot).
Amends GS 163A-1298 (certain acts declared felonies) by making it a felony for anyone except for a member of a multipartisan team to assist a voter with absentee voting (previously, a voter could be assisted by a near relative or guardian, or request someone else if neither of those was available). Makes it a felony for anyone assisting a voter who is a patient in a hospital or similar facility, other than a member of a multipartisan team, to request an absentee ballot or to sign an application or certificate as a witness. If a member of a multipartisan team is not available to provide assistance, voters are directed to contact the county board of elections for assistance. Adds new subsection (a1) defining multipartisan team, previously included in subdivision (a)(4).
Amends GS 163A-1306 (Register of absentee requests, applications and ballots issued) by removing references to near relative and verifiable legal guardian and requiring voters whose address in a request for an absentee ballot differs from the residence address to provide the temporary address so the county board of elections can verify it.
Amends GS 163A-1308 by replacing references to a "voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian" with "member of a multipartisan team." Removes subsection (h) (defining near relative as a spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, parent-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepparent or stepchild).
Amends GS 163A-1309(a) by replacing references to a "voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian" with reference to a "member of a multipartisan team assisting the voter." Requires a request for an absentee ballot to include verification of the voter's address by the county board of elections, and allows the signature requirement to be fulfilled by a member of the multipartisan team if the request is on behalf of the requesting voter.
Amends GS 163A-1310(b)(1) by changing reference to "voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian" to "member of the multipartisan team providing assistance."
Amends GS 163A-1317(c) by removing reference to GS 163A-1308(h), and directly adding the definition of near relative that was previously stated in GS 163A-1308(h).
Directs the State Board of Elections and county boards of elections to take any steps necessary to comply with this act, including establishing policies and procedures and updating information and forms online.
Effective January 1, 2020, and applies to elections held on or after that date.