Bill Summary for S 683 (2019-2020)

Summary date: 

Jul 9 2019

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
Senate Bill 683 (Public) Filed Friday, June 28, 2019
AN ACT TO AMEND THE LAWS GOVERNING MAIL-IN ABSENTEE BALLOTS; TO RESTORE THE LAST SATURDAY OF EARLY ONE-STOP VOTING; TO EXTEND THE TIME BY WHICH COUNTY BOARDS OF ELECTIONS NEED TO REPLACE DIRECT RECORD ELECTRONIC VOTING EQUIPMENT UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS; TO AUTHORIZE A COUNTY TO TEST NEW VOTING EQUIPMENT DURING A SIMULATED ELECTION; AND TO MAKE APPROPRIATIONS FOR CURRENT OPERATIONS OF THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS, CONSISTENT WITH HOUSE BILL 966 OF THE 2019 REGULAR SESSION.
Intro. by Daniel, McKissick, Hise.

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Bill 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.

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