SB 478 Modifies provisions relating to elections
Sponsor: Scott
LR Number: 1822S.01I Fiscal Note:
Committee: Financial & Governmental Organizations and Elections
Last Action: 3/7/2005 - Second Read and Referred S Financial & Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee Journal Page: S375
Title: Calendar Position:
Effective Date: August 28, 2005

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SB 478 -This act modifies provisions relating to elections.

An election authority may appoint two election judges of different political parties to a polling place in order to assist voters who appear at the wrong polling place. (Section 115.081). The act prohibits the payment of compensation to a person based on the number of voters registered by the person or registration applications collected by submitted by the person. It shall be unlawful for a person who collects registration applications to destroy, deface or conceal such applications. Any registration application collected by a person must be submitted to the election authority within seven days. Violation of any of these provisions is a class four election offense. (Section 115.203).

Persons who are compensated for soliciting more than ten voter registration applications must register with the secretary of state as a voter registration solicitor. Such solicitor must be a registered voter in this state and must submit relevant personal information to the secretary of state. Any person that knowingly fails to register or submits false information is guilty of a class three election offense. (Section 115.205). The act creates procedures for a person to file a complaint with the secretary of state alleging a violation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and for the secretary to investigate such complaints. If a violation is identified, the secretary shall determine and provide the appropriate remedy. (Section 115.219).

In cases where a voter's name is mistakenly purged from the voter registration list, the voter must appeal to the circuit court on or before two weeks before the election and the court must decide the appeal prior to the election day. If the court restores the person's name to the registration list, the person shall be entitled to cast a provisional ballot. The person must attach documents relating to the appeal, including the court order, to the provisional ballot envelope. (Section 115.223).

The act provides that any person may cast an absentee ballot for any reason. Currently, a person can only cast an absentee ballot if the person meets a specified reason. (Sections 115.277 and 115.279). The act also removes the requirement that an application for absentee ballot and the affidavit accompanying the ballot must be made under oath. (Sections 115.283 and 115.291). Voters can obtain absentee ballots at the central office or an alternative location of the election authority if the absentee ballot application is timely submitted. Six weeks prior to an election, an election authority may personally deliver absentee ballots to voters at its central or alternative location. (Section 115.287).

The election authority must verify that the signature on an absentee ballot envelope matches the signature on file. If an absentee ballot is rejected, the election authority must notify the individual and allow them to correct the information on the envelope. (Section 115.295). Election authorities may start preparation of absentee ballots ten days, rather than the current five, prior to the election. (Section 115.300).

The act establishes procedures to establish a voter's eligibility at a polling place, including examination of the precinct register, and, if eligibility cannot be determined, allowing the person to cast a provisional ballot. If it appears that the person is eligible to vote at a different polling place, the person may cast a provisional ballot at the wrong polling place or travel to the correct place. A provisional ballot shall only count if the voter was eligible to vote at such polling place. In order to cast a provisional ballot, the person must complete an affidavit. Provisional ballots must be separated from other ballots. The act sets forth procedures for the election authority to follow in determining whether the ballot should count and documentation that must be made after a finding that the voter was eligible or ineligible to cast such ballot. After the election authority completes its review, the ballots and eligibility information shall be delivered to bipartisan counting teams, which shall count eligible provisional ballots. Challengers and watchers may be present at all times when provisional ballots are being reviewed by counting teams. No court shall have jurisdiction to extend polling hours. (Section 115.430).

For punch card ballots, the election authority must inspect all ballot cards for hanging chad or damaged ballots. A bipartisan team must be appointed for the inspection. If a ballot is damaged, the team can replace the ballot with a new one that duplicates the voter's intent if there is an undisputed method of matching the duplicate with its original. If a chad is hanging by two or less corners, it shall be removed. The act also creates standards for use in determining voter intent when counting ballots in jurisdictions using an optical scan voting system, a centrally-based tabulator or paper ballots. The use of write-in stickers is allowed, provided certain conditions are met. (Section 115.456).

Currently, is a class four election offense to electioneer or conduct exit polls within twenty-five feet of a polling place. The act extends the distance to fifty feet. (Section 115.637).

The act repeals law authorizing election authorities to implement an advanced voting system. (Section 115.126).

JIM ERTLE