Bill Summary for H 251 (2011-2012)

Summary date: 

Mar 15 2011

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2011-2012 Session
House Bill 351 (Public) Filed Monday, March 14, 2011
TO RESTORE CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT BY (1) REQUIRING THAT VOTERS PROVIDE PHOTO IDENTIFICATION BEFORE VOTING; (2) REQUIRING CANDIDATES AND TREASURERS TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO CORRECT CAMPAIGN FINANCE VIOLATIONS AND REQUIRING LIABILITY OF CANDIDATES FOR CIVIL PENALTIES FOR CAMPAIGN FINANCE VIOLATIONS OF CANDIDATE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEES; (3) LIMITING THE CHAIR OF THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS TO TWO TWO-YEAR TERMS IN THAT OFFICE; (4) PROHIBITING PIECE-WORK PAYMENT FOR VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVES; (5) PREVENTING CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND ITS APPEARANCE INVOLVING POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS BY STATE CONTRACTORS; AND (6) ALLOWING VOTERS MORE FLEXIBILITY IN APPLYING FOR ABSENTEE BALLOTS.
Intro. by Lewis, T. Moore, Killian.

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Bill summary

Voter Photo Identification. Amends GS 163-166.12 to require every individual seeking to vote in person to present valid photo identification to a local election official before voting at the voting place (deletes provision requiring persons who registered by mail to present identification under certain circumstances). New GS 163-166.12(a1) defines valid photo identification as one of the following items, provided it contains a photograph of the registered voter: (1) a NC driver’s license issued under GS Chapter 20; (2) a special identification card for nonoperators issued under GS 20-37.7; (3) a valid identification card issued by any state or federal entity authorized to issue personal identification; (4) a valid U.S. passport; (5) a valid employee identification card issued by any state, local government, or federal entity; (6) a valid U.S. military identification card; (7) a valid tribal identification card; or (8) a valid NC voter identification card issued under proposed GS 163-166.13. Makes conforming and clarifying changes.
Enacts new GS 163-166.13 to require each county board of elections to accept applications for and issue NC voter identification cards to registered NC voters that are valid only for voter identification purposes. Prohibits the board of election from charging or collecting any fee associated with the voter identification card. Clarifies that only persons without a valid unexpired driver’s license or special identification card for nonoperators are eligible for a NC voter identification card. Requires the card to be captioned “NORTH CAROLINA VOTER IDENTIFICATION CARD” and to contain a prominent statement that the card is valid only as identification for voting purposes. Requires that the card be laminated, contain a digital color photograph of the applicant, and include the applicant’s full legal name, address of residence, birth date, date of card issuance, sex, height, weight, eye color, county where card was issued, and any other information required by the State Board of Elections (SBE). Requires the application for a NC voter identification card to elicit the information for inclusion on the card, and directs the applicant to sign. Directs the county board of election to verify the following before issuing a voter identification card: (1) a photo identity document or a nonphoto identity document if it includes the person’s name; (2) evidence that the person is registered to vote in NC; and (3) documentation of the person’s name and residence address. Sets forth additional guidelines for valid voter identification cards, including duties for voters who move. Authorizes the SBE to adopt policies to administer the statute as necessary.
Amends GS 163-82.6A(b) to require a voter present valid photo identification, as defined, in order to register in person and then vote at one-stop voting sites. States that the photo identification requirement is separate from the requirement to provide proof of residence during in-person registration. Specifies that a person may vote a provisional ballot if the person fails to present the required identification. Makes a conforming change.
Makes additional conforming changes to GS 163-166.7(a) (requiring a person to state current name and address and to present valid photo identification upon entering the voting site) and 163-227.2(b) (requiring a person to state current name and address and to present valid photo identification upon entering an early voting site).
Enacts new GS 163-182.1A to allow a voter who cast a provisional ballot as a result of the voter’s inability or refusal to provide proof of identification to personally appear at the county board of elections office before the conclusion of the election canvass in that county in order to request the provisional ballot be counted. Specifies that unless the vote is disqualified for some other reason provided by law, the county board of elections will count the provisional ballot if the voter both: (1) provides valid photo identification and (2) executes an affidavit affirming, under penalty of perjury, that the individual personally appeared to vote and cast the provisional ballot on that date. Allows a voter with a sincerely held religious objection to being photographed to submit an affidavit affirming such. Directs the board to note on the provisional ballot envelope that the voter has provided valid photo identification and to determine any other reason for the cast provisional ballot before ruling on the ballot’s validity, in a situation where the county board of election determines that a voter cast a provisional ballot for a cause other than the voter’s inability or declination to provide photo identification.
Amends GS 163-87 to also allow any registered voter of the precinct to challenge a voter who does not present proof of identification. Adds that an observer appointed under GS 163-45 may also enter challenges against voters in the precinct regardless of the observer’s place of residence.
Provides that the above provisions of the act, requiring and relating to the new photo identification requirement, become effective in counties not subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (requiring preclearance of election law changes in some counties) beginning with the 2012 statewide primary, and become effective in any county covered by Section 5 beginning with the later of the 2012 statewide primary or the date the act is precleared or approved.
Amends GS 20-37.7(d) to clarify that the special identification card issued under the statute by the Division of Motor Vehicles does not include a fee if the state resident is eligible to vote in NC but does not have valid photo identification. Makes technical changes. Effective July 1, 2011.
Provides for public education about the photo identification requirement by counties and the SBE, as indicated. Appropriates $600,000 from the General Fund for 2011-12 to a special reserve to fund the public education campaign and the issuance of NC voter identification cards, allocated as follows: (1) $100,000 to the SBE; (2) $100,000 in an equal share to each county board of elections; (3) $200,000 to county boards of election in proportion to the number of the county’s registered voters; and (4) $200,000 to county boards of election in counties covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in proportion to the number of the county’s registered voters. States that funds under Title I and Title II of the Help America Vote Act and unexpended funds in the NC Voter-Owned Elections Fund may fund the public education campaign and the issuance of NC voter identification cards. Also states that funds under the Election Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities provisions of the Help America Vote Act may fund the public education campaign and the issuance of NC voter identification cards to eligible persons. Provides that funds from the surcharge on attorney membership fees may fund the judicial elections component of the public education campaign. Effective July 1, 2011.
Candidate and Treasurer Duty and Liability. Enacts new GS 163-278.11A (duty of candidate) and 163-278.11B (duty of treasurer) to require a candidate or treasurer to take immediate action to correct the violation, upon actual notice of a violation under Article 22A of GS Chapter 163 (regulating political campaign contributions and expenditures) which may result in a criminal or civil penalty to a candidate or candidate campaign committee. Enacts new subsection (d1) to GS 163-278.34 to state that a candidate will be jointly and severally liable for a civil penalty assessed by the SBE against a candidate campaign committee if the candidate had actual notice of the violation at the time the violation occurred and failed to correct the violation. Applies to civil penalties assessed for any violation occurring on or after January 1, 2012.
State Board of Elections Chair Term Limit. Amends GS 163-19 to provide that the term of office for the SBE chair is two years, beginning on May 1 of each odd-numbered year. Requires a new chair to be elected to serve the remainder of an unexpired term, in the case of vacancy. Prohibits any person from being elected as chair for more than two terms. Cumulative service as chair for more than two years prior to May 1, 2009, is considered one term. Directs the SBE to elect a new chair for a two-year term beginning May 1, 2011.
Prohibit Piece-Work Payment for Voter Registration. Enacts new GS 163-82.25A to prohibit any person who employs or contracts with another to register voters or assist voters with registration forms from paying that person per voter registration application completed. Prohibits a person from accepting such payment. Makes a violation a Class 2 misdemeanor. Makes a conforming change to GS 163-274. Applies to voter registration applications completed on or after January 1, 2012.
No Pay-to-Play. Enacts new GS 163-278.13D, prohibiting any entity affiliated with a vendor that has a contract in excess of $25,000 with any principal office or department listed under GS 143A-11 and subject to Article 3 of GS Chapter 143 (contract requirements) from making a contribution to a relevant political campaign during the contract’s term. Also prohibits any campaign from knowingly accepting a contribution during the contract. Provides that the prohibition does not apply if contributions by all entities affiliated with the vendor to the relevant political campaign during the contract’s term do not exceed $1,000. Defines contribution, entity affiliated with a vendor, office with authority to award contract, and relevant political campaign for purposes of the statute. Authorizes the SBE to adopt reporting procedures necessary to enforce the law. Makes a violation a Class 2 misdemeanor. Applies to contributions made on or after January 1, 2012.
Absentee Ballots. Amends GS 163-230.2, stating that a written request for an absentee ballot is valid only if it is signed by the requester and deleting all other conditions placed on an absentee ballot request. Effective with respect to primaries and elections conducted on or after January 1, 2012.

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