AN ACT TO EXPAND VOTER ACCESS BY ESTABLISHING A VOTING PORTAL FOR VISUALLY IMPAIRED VOTERS TO VOTE BY ABSENTEE BALLOT ONLINE, ALLOWING FOR THE ONLINE SUBMISSION OF VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATION FORMS, AND STATING THE INTENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO FUND A PROGRAM TO IDENTIFY AND ASSIST VOTERS NEEDING PHOTO IDENTIFICATION.
Senate committee substitute to the 1st edition makes the following changes.
Amends proposed GS 163-231.1, by adding that the State Board of Elections (State Board) must establish and maintain a portal for the visually impaired to vote an absentee ballot in accordance with the statute. Requires that completed absentee ballots cast through the visually impaired portal be counted in accordance with GS 163-230.1 and GS 163-234 (was, absentee ballots cast under this statute must comply with all other provisions of the Article, and if so, the ballot must be counted under those same statutes). Deletes the provision allowing, when submitting absentee ballots through the visually impaired portal, for the visually impaired voter and witness to sign the application electronically. Instead, provide that when submitting voted absentee ballots through the visually impaired portal, (1) the voted absentee ballots must be returned electronically to the county board of elections by 7:30 pm on the day of the statewide primary or general election or county bond election; (2) the voted absentee ballot must be witnessed in accordance with the specified statute, provided that a notary must not be permitted unless remote notarization is allowed by State law; and (2) the signatures of the visually impaired voter and witness must be submitted at the same time as the voted ballots and requires the State Board to adopt rules to address signatures.
Amends proposed GS 163-82.5A as follows. Requires the State Board to notify the individual that the application cannot be processed and submitted (was, denial of the application and notification of the denial) if the State Board cannot verify the driver's license, date of birth or Social Security number, and requires the notification to state the deficiencies which the individual needs to cure. Requires that the individual be given an opportunity to cure those deficiencies or to otherwise register to vote. Makes an additional clarifying change.
Deletes the proposed changes to GS 163-82.10(a1) that added specified identifying information submitted during the online voter registration application process to the information that is confidential.
Makes Section 2 of the act effective January 1, 2022. Allows the State Board to begin rulemaking to implement the new statute's provisions before January 1, 2022 (was, December 1, 2021), so long as no temporary or permanent rule becomes effective prior to that date. Authorizes the State Board to initiate any needed requests for proposals for development of the secure internet site prior to January 1, 2022 (was, December 1, 2021).
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