Bill Summary for S 486 (2017-2018)

Summary date: 

May 31 2018

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2017-2018 Session
Senate Bill 486 (Public) Filed Wednesday, March 29, 2017
AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES RELATED TO ELECTION LAWS.
Intro. by Brock, Daniel, Tillman.

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Bill summary

House committee substitute deletes all provisions of 1st edition and replaces it with AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES RELATED TO ELECTION LAWS.

Part 1

Amends GS Chapter 143B, Article 13, Part 4, Subpart D, adding new section GS 143B-968, titled Criminal record checks for employees and contractors of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement and county directors of elections. Creates procedure for the Department of Public Safety (Department) to provide to the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement (Director) the criminal history of a current or prospective employee (employee) from the State and National Repositories of Criminal Histories (Repositories). In making a request for criminal history records, the Director must also provide to the Department the fingerprints of the employee and any other identifying information required by the Repositories and the Department. The employee's fingerprints must be forwarded to the State Bureau of Investigation for a search of the State's criminal history record, and the State Bureau of Investigation must forward a set of fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history check. The Department may charge a fee to cover the cost incurred by the record check, but the fee may not exceed the actual cost of the check. Requires the Director to keep all information obtained pursuant to this check confidential. The information obtained through this process is not public record under GS Chapter 132. Defines current or prospective employee to mean a current or prospective: employee of the State Board or county director of elections, contractor with the State Board or their employee or agent, and any other individual engaged by the State Board who has or will have the capacity to modify elections systems or confidential elections or ethics data.

Amends GS Chapter 143B, Article 13, Part 4, Subpart D, adding new section GS 143B-969, titled Criminal record checks for employees of county boards of elections. Creates identical procedures as above GS for 143B-968 for the county board of elections to request the criminal history of a current or prospective permanent or temporary employee. Criminal history obtained in this manner must be kept confidential to the county board of elections, county director of elections, the State Board, and the Executive Director of the State Board.

Amends GS Chapter 163A, Article 1, adding new section GS 163A-7, titled Criminal history record checks of current and prospective employees of the State Board and county directors of elections. Requires a criminal history check of all current or prospective permanent or temporary employees of the State Board, all current or prospective county directors of elections, and all current or prospective employees of the county board who will have access to the statewide computerized voter registration system, to be conducted by the Department as described in GS 143B-968. Appointment as a precinct official or assistant and employment at a one-stop early voting location will not require a criminal history check, unless that person will have access to the computerized voter registration system. If the criminal history check reveals one or more criminal convictions, this will constitute just cause for terminating or refusing employment. However, the conviction does not automatically prohibit employment. Refusal to consent to a criminal history check, fingerprinting, or providing other information necessary to complete the check will constitute just cause for terminating or refusing employment. Allows for a conditional offer of employment pending the criminal history check.  

Amends GS Chapter 163A, Article 16, adding new section GS 163A-778, requiring criminal history record checks of current and prospective employees of county boards of elections, following procedures identical to those used for employees of the State Board as detailed above in GS 163A-7.

Amends GS 163A-774(b), modifying the procedure for appointing a nominee for director of elections to a county board of elections (Director). Requires the Executive Director of the State Board (Executive Director) to decline the appointment of a nominated Director when good cause exists to do so. Allows the Executive Director to delay the appointment for a reasonable time necessary to complete a criminal background check. The Executive Director must apply the standards provided in GS 163A-7 in determining whether to appoint a nominee with a criminal history. If the Executive Director does not appoint the nominee, this decision is final unless it is deferred by the State Board within 10 days of the official date on which it is made. If this occurs, then the State Board will have the final decision on appointment of the director and may require the Executive Director to issue an appointment. If the Executive Director is recused from appointing a Director due to an actual or apparent conflict of interest, the chair and vice-chair of the State Board must designate a member of staff to appoint a Director.

Effective August 1, 2018.

Part II

Includes legislative findings and intent.

Directs the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement (SBEEE) to list the following judicial offices at the end of all partisan offices listed on the general election ballet for the 2018 general election, notwithstanding GS 163A-1114(b)(2): Justices of the Supreme Court, Judges of the Court of Appeals, Judges of the superior courts, and Judges of the district courts. Requires that immediately prior to the placement of these judicial offices on the ballot, the following information must be printed: “No primaries for judicial office were held in 2018. The information listed by each of the following candidates’ names indicates only the candidates’ party affiliation or unaffiliated status on their voter registration at the time they filed to run for office.” Requires ballot order for the above judicial offices to follow SL 2017-214, Section 4(j), except as otherwise provided in this section. 

Part III

GS 150B-33(a) requires an administrative law judge (ALJ) to stay a contested action to which an agency is a party if the agency is engaged in other litigation or administrative proceedings with or before a federal agency in which the other litigation or administrative proceedings will determine the agency’s position in the contested case in whole or in part. GS 150B-33(b)(6) authorizes an ALJ to stay the contested action by the agency pending the outcome of the case subject to the preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order provisions set forth in GS 1A-1, Rule 65. Amends GS 150B-45, providing for the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement (SBEEE) to obtain judicial review of the temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction for a stay entered pursuant to GS 150B-33(b)(6)  in the superior court of the county where the person aggrieved by the administrative decision resides or in the county where the contested case that resulted in the final decision was filed if a person resides outside the State.

Amends GS 163A-741, mandating that all officers, employees, and agents of a county board of elections give to the SBEEE all information, documents, and data in their possession or ascertainable from their records upon request, including internal investigations or personnel documentation. Additionally requires the county boards of elections to make any county board employee available for interview, as well as produce any equipment, hardware, or software for inspection, upon request of the SBEEE pursuant to an investigation of the administration of election laws, frauds and irregularities in elections in any county, municipality, or special district. Requires the requests to be timely complied with as specified in a request made by any four members of the SBEEE.

Amends GS 153A-98, requiring the production of county employee personnel records to the SBEEE in accordance with GS 163A-741 as amended.

Amends GS 163A-775, concerning the suspension or termination of employment of the county board’s director of elections, providing that the chair or vice-chair of the SBEEE must designate a member of staff to fulfill the duties of the SBEEE Executive Director in the event the Executive Director is recused due to an actual or apparent conflict of interest in rendering a decision regarding a county board’s petition to terminate or suspend the county board’s director of elections.

Amends GS 163A-953, establishing that an individual whose name appeared on the ballot in a primary election preliminary to the general election is prohibited from having that individual’s name placed on the general election ballot as a candidate for a new political party for the same office in that year.

Amends GS 163A-1114(b), providing that the Supreme Court is to be listed before the Court of Appeals on official ballots. Adds that judicial offices are to be listed before district attorneys after other offices in the same class.

Amends GS 163A-1115, establishing that the bond or letter of credit required of vendors supplying voting systems to be maintained in the amount determined by the SBEEE as sufficient for the cost of a new statewide election in the case of defects in the voting system. Further amends the statute, providing that only electronic poll books or ballot duplication systems certified by the SBEEE in accordance with guidelines adopted by the SBEEE or developed and maintained by the SBEEE are permitted for use in elections. Establishes minimum certification requirements for these electronic poll books or ballot duplication systems, requiring a vendor to (1) post a bond or letter of credit to cover damages resulting from defects; (2) provide access to all information required to be placed in escrow pursuant to GS 163A-1118 for review and examination by the SBEEE, the Department of Information Technology, the State chairs of each recognized political party, the purchasing county, and their designated agents as authorized by subdivision (f)(9); (3) quote a statewide uniform price for each unit of equipment; and (4) separately agree with the purchasing county to have the escrow agent turn over the source code to continue use of the software for the contract period in the event the vendor fails to debug, modify, repair, or update the software as agreed or the vendor files bankruptcy or is filed against.

Amends GS 163A-1118 to define voting system to include an electronic poll book or a ballot duplication system.

Further amends GS 163A-1115 to add the following new provisions. Establishes that certification of voting systems under the statute does not constitute a license under GS Chapter 150B (APA). Authorizes the SBEEE to decertify or otherwise halt the use of electronic poll books, appealable only to Wake County superior court. Prohibits any voting system used in an election to be connected to a network. Requires any voting system used in an election that features network connection to have the feature disabled. Specifies network connections include internet, intranet, fax, telephone line, networks established by modem, or any other wired or wireless connection. Makes conforming changes to GS 150B-2.

Amends GS 163A-1388, making it a Class 2 misdemeanor for any person who is not an elections official or who is not otherwise authorized by law to retain a registrant’s signature, full or partial social security number, date of birth, or the identity of the public agency at which the registrant is registered, any email address submitted under Article 17 of GS Chapter 163A, or driver's license number from any voter registration application form after its submission to the county board of elections or elections official. Makes technical changes and makes language gender-neutral. Effective December 1, 2018, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.

Amends GS 163A-1412 to more specifically require every candidate to appoint a treasurer and report his or her name to the SBEEE if the candidate has received funds or made payments or given consent for anyone else to receive funds or transfer anything of value for the purpose of the candidate’s nomination or election for office. Makes changes to make language gender-neutral.

Amends Section 30.8 of SL 2013-281, as previously amended, decertifying any direct record electronic voting systems which do not use paper ballots and prohibiting their use in any election held on or after December 1, 2019 (currently, prohibits their use in any election held on or after September 1, 2019, for counties that use direct record electronic voting machines on election day as of January 1, 2015, and January 1, 2018, for all other counties). Makes technical change to reflect the creation of the SBEEE, replacing the State Board of Elections.  Corrects statutory reference to refer to GS 163A-1115(d) instead of GS 163-165.7(b) regarding appealing decertification to the Wake County Superior Court. Makes conforming changes to the effective date provisions set out in Section 30.9 of SL 2013-281.

Part IV

Amends GS 160A-284, declaring the offices of policeman and chief of police to be offices that can be held concurrently with any elective office other than elective office in the municipality employing the policeman or chief of police pursuant to Article VI, Section 9, of the constitution. Makes organizational changes. Provides that any policeman or chief of police having taken an oath of office to any elective office in the state prior to the date the act becomes law is not deemed to have resigned the position as a law enforcement officer due to the elective office.

Part V

Makes technical changes to GS 163A-2, concerning the membership of the SBEEE.

Part VI

Provides a severability clause.

Part VII

Establishes the act applies to elections held on or after the date the act becomes law.

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