Bill Summary for S 747 (2023-2024)

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Summary date: 

Jun 21 2023

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2023-2024 Session
Senate Bill 747 (Public) Filed Thursday, June 1, 2023
Intro. by Hise, P. Newton, Daniel.

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Bill summary

Senate amendments to the 2nd edition make the following changes.

Amendment #1

Sections 2 and 3.

Amends GS 163-22 (State Board of Elections [Board]), GS 163-33 (county boards of elections), and GS 163-37 (county boards of commissioners) to prevent each entity from accepting in-kind contributions, along with monetary donations, for conducting elections or employing individuals on a temporary basis.

Makes the changes to GS 163-231, as already amended by the act, that required the State Board to require county boards of elections to use verification software to check the signatures of voters noted on executed absentee ballots before those ballots are accepted by the county boards effective September 1, 2024, instead of July 1, 2024.

Adds a severability clause.

Amendment #2

Sections 2 and 3.

Amends GS 163-33(18) and GS 163-37(b) to clarify the subsection does not prohibit the in-kind donation or use of a voting site to the Board if that voting site is used for the purpose of conducting elections.

Section 16.

Amends GS 163-210 (pertaining to presidential election results and casting of the State’s votes for President and Vice-President). Changes the day that presidential/vice-presidential electors must be present in the old Hall of the House of Representatives in the State Capitol in the City of Raleigh to vote on behalf of the State for President and Vice-President from noon on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next after their election back to noon of the first Tuesday after the second Wednesday in December next after their election.

Section 20.

Expands the list of curable deficiencies relating to container-return absentee ballot envelopes to include the container-return envelope not being witnessed as required by GS 163-231(a) and any other requirement in executing the container-return envelope under State or federal law. Makes organizational changes.

Section 21.

Amends GS 163-231 (pertaining to voting by absentee ballot and return of ballot to county board of elections) by specifying that failure to include a printed witness name does not invalidate the application and certificate if the identity of an individual can solely be identified by the witness’s signature.

Section 30.

Amends GS 9-6.2 (reports of excusals from jury duty based on disqualification) by now requiring the clerk of the superior court to communicate information of persons excused from jury duty based on lack of US citizenship semi-annually instead of quarterly.

Amends GS 163-82.14(c1)(2)(b) (list maintenance of eligible voters) to now specify that a notice of removal of a voter from the registration based on a report submitted under GS 9-6.2 creates a rebuttable presumption that the person is not a US citizen (was, prima facie case). Changes the naturalization evidence that can rebut the presumption from a naturalization certificate issued after the person is excused from jury service to simply providing a naturalization certificate without restriction as to when it was issued. 

Section 31

Requires the Board to educate the public on the changes to the deadline for returning completed applications and marked mail-in absentee ballots to the county boards of elections contained in this legislation by mailing information regarding the deadline to North Carolina residential addresses of registered voters, in the same manner as the Judicial Voter Guide, before the municipal election in 2023, the primary in 2024, and the general election in 2024.

Section 33.

Requires the Board to select ten counties in the State to run a pilot program during the primary held in 2024 for signature verification on executed mail-in absentee ballots. Requires the Board to seek diversity of population size, regional location, and demographic composition in selecting the ten counties. Directs that the pilot program will consist of county boards of elections using signature verification software to check the signatures of voters noted on all executed mail-in absentee ballots received by the county boards of elections in the 2024 primary. Requires the Board to select the signature verification software and ensure that the software is available for all ten counties to use in the 2024 primary and to assist the selected county boards of elections in implementing the signature verification software, including assisting the selected county boards of elections in any training needed on how the software is to be used for signature matching on executed mail-in absentee ballots.

Requires the Board to closely monitor the pilot program. Requires the county boards of election to submit a report to the Board on its findings on the use of signature verification software during the 2024 primary, including: (1) whether the signature matching software was used for all returned mail-in absentee ballots, and what the voter signature on the executed mail-in absentee ballot was matched against; (2) how many executed mail-in absentee ballots were counted by the county board of elections in the 2024 primary; (3) how many executed mail-in absentee ballots were flagged by the signature matching software, and any information known on how close of a match the signatures must be for the signature match software to not flag the voter's signature; and (4) information on how the signature matching software worked to flag an executed mail-in absentee ballot with a signature that did not match the signature on file for the voter, including any known information on the rate of error in the software.

Directs that in implementing the pilot program, no executed mail-in absentee ballot can be rejected by the county board of elections for failing any signature verification. Specifies that all executed mail-in absentee ballots otherwise eligible to be counted in line with State law must be counted.

Directs the Board to report its findings, along with any recommendations, to the General Assembly and specified NCGA committee by May 1, 2024. Specifies that the report must contain the following: (1) a compilation of the information received by the county boards set forth above, (2) the estimated cost to implement signature verification statewide, (3) any suggested changes in law to fully implement signature verification and how a voter can cure a deficiency related to signature verification, and (4) any other information relevant to signature verification of mail-in absentee ballots.

Makes organizational changes to account for new sections.  

Amendment #3

Section 20.

Amends GS 163-230.1 to provide that cure documentation to cure a deficiency in a container-return envelope may be transmitted to the county board of elections via e-email if the deficiency is that the voter failed to include with the container-return envelope a required photocopy of identification or an affidavit. Adds the requirement that the notification of the voter regarding curable deficiencies must be done by mail, and by telephone or email if the phone number or e-mail address was provided on the application on the container-return envelope.

Amends GS 163-230.3 to requires that the request form for absentee ballots include the voter’s telephone number and email address, but prohibits denying a request because of failure to include this information and requires that the request state that this information is optional if the voter wants to be contacted regarding any deficiencies in the returned executed absentee ballots.