HB 738 Modifies several provisions relating to elections

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Current Bill Summary

- Prepared by Senate Research -


SCS/HS/HCS/HB 738 - This act modifies various provision relating to elections.

AUDITS OF VOTER REGISTRATION RECORDS BY SECRETARY OF STATE

(Section 28.960)

The Secretary of State is authorized to audit the voter registration records of any local election authority. Each such audit shall verify that each person listed as a registered voter is alive, currently resides within the jurisdiction of the local election authority, and is entitled to vote. If a person listed in the voter registration records as a voter does not meet the aforementioned criteria the Secretary of State shall instruct the local election authority to remove person's name from the voter registration records. If an election authority does not comply with such instructions then it may be subject to a withhold of funds.

AMENDMENTS TO ELECTION LAWS, RULES, AND REGULATIONS

(Section 115.004)

The act prohibits amendments or modifications of any kind to all election laws, rules, and regulations in the 26 weeks preceding a presidential election.

AUTOMATIC TABULATING EQUIPMENT

(Section 115.013)

Current law defines automatic tabulating equipment as the apparatus necessary to examine and automatically count votes, including any data processing machines used for counting votes and tabulating results. This act requires such equipment to additionally be air gapped and not connected to a network.

This provision is identical to a provision in the perfected HS/HCS/HB 738 (2021).

QUALIFICATIONS FOR ELECTION OFFICIALS

(Sections 115.031 to 115.107)

Current law requires election commissioners to be a registered voter and a resident of the jurisdiction for which he or she is appointed for at least one year preceding his or her appointment. This act repeals the one year residency requirement. (Section 115.031)

This provision is identical to a provision in HB 1065 (2021).

The act stipulates that no employee of a board of election commissioners shall be required to reside and be a registered voter within the jurisdiction of the election authority unless directed by the board. (Section 115.045) The act also stipulates that no deputy county clerk shall be required to reside and be a registered voter within the jurisdiction of the county clerk unless directed by the clerk. (Section 115.051)

The act permits the committee of each major political party within the jurisdiction of a particular election authority to provide the election authority with a list of candidates for the position of election judge. If the committee fails to submit a number candidates equal to the number of positions available for election judge then the local election authority may fill the positions as otherwise required by law. Furthermore, if the local election authority determines that a candidate submitted by the committee does not meet the qualifications for election judge, the authority shall notify the committee and permit it to submit a new name prior to filling the position. (Section 115.081)

This provision is identical to a provision in HB 709 (2021).

Current law permits a local election authority to appoint election judges who are registered voters of another local election authority's jurisdiction only after receiving the written consent of the other local election authority. This act repeals that requirement. (Section 115.085)

This provision is identical to a provision in HB 709 (2021) and substantially similar to a provision in HB 1065 (2021).

Current law requires any election challenger to be a registered voter in the jurisdiction of the election authority for which the challenger is designated as a challenger. This act repeals that requirement. (Section 115.105)

The act provides that poll watchers designated by the chairman of the county political party committee shall not be required to reside within the jurisdiction of the local election authority, provided that if the local election authority determines that the person designated as election watcher does not meet the qualifications to serve as a poll watcher then the chairman of the committee shall be permitted to designate a new poll watcher. (Section 115.107)

This provision is substantially similar to a provision in HB 709 (2021).

VOTER REGISTRATION

(Sections 115.151 to 115.205)

This act requires the use of electronic voter registration application forms by the Director of Revenue. The Director must additionally provide for the secure electronic transfer of voter registration information to election authorities in the manner described in the act. Election authorities are required to accept and process such records. (Section 115.160 and 115.960)

The act requires the Division of Motor Vehicle and Drivers Licensing to transmit voter registration application forms to the appropriate election authority not later than 3, rather than 5, business days after the form is completed by the applicant. (Section 115.151)

These provisions are identical to HB 372 (2021) and substantially similar to SB 587 (2021) and certain provisions in the perfected SS/SB 46 (2021).

The act modifies the voter registration information that a local election authority or the Secretary of State may furnish to any member of the public. Specifically, in furnishing electronic media printouts containing voter registration information a local election authority or the Secretary of State may only contain unique voter identification numbers, voters' names, addresses, townships or wards, and precincts. Furthermore, any information so furnished shall not be used for commercial purposes. (Section 115.157)

This provision is identical to a provision in HB 1065 (2021).

The act repeals a provision allowing a candidate, campaign committee, or a political party committee to request information regarding the names of voters within a particular jurisdiction who have requested an absentee ballot. Another provision is repealed requiring local election authorities to supply voter registration lists to all candidates and party committees that request them. (Section 115.157)

This provision is identical to a provision in HB 1065 (2021).

The act prohibits any person from being paid or otherwise compensated for soliciting voter registration applications, provided that a governmental entity or person paid or compensated by a governmental entity may solicit such applications. Any person who solicits more than 10 voter registration applications is required to register with the Secretary of State.

(Section 115.205)

This provision is identical to a provision in HB 1065 (2021).

PAPER BALLOTS AND ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES

(Sections 115.225 to 115.257, 115.417, and 115.435 to 115.447)

Upon the removal of any touchscreen direct-recording electronic vote-counting machine from an election authority's inventory because of mechanical malfunction, wear and tear, or any other reason, the machine shall not be replaced and no additional direct-recording electronic voting machine shall be added to the election authority's inventory. Such machines shall not be used beginning January 1, 2022, except that election authorities may allow the machines to be used by voters who are disabled as long as the machines are functional. Replacement of equipment for use by voters who are disabled shall be with paper ballot marking devices designed to assist voters.

Each election authority is required to be a member of the Center for Internet Security (CIS) and must allow cyber security review of their office by the secretary of state. If an election authority denies access for cyber security review, the Secretary of State may publicize a notice of noncompliance in a newspaper within the jurisdiction of the election authority or in electronic format. The Secretary of State may also withhold funds from an election authority in violation of this section unless such funding is a federal mandate or part of a federal and state agreement. This provision expires December 31, 2023.

The Secretary of State shall have authority to require cyber security testing, including penetration te sting, of vendor machines, programs, and systems. Failure to participate in such testing shall result in a revocation of vendor certification. Upon notice from another jurisdiction of cyber security failures or certification withholds or revocation, the secretary of state shall have authority to revoke or withhold certification for vendors. The requirements of this section shall be subject to appropriation for the purpose of cyber security testing. Subject to appropriation, an election authority impacted by a revocation of certification under this provision may apply to the Secretary of State for a grant to obtain certified equipment. (Section 115.225)

Beginning January 1, 2022, the official ballot shall be a paper ballot that is hand-marked by the voter, or in the case of voters with disabilities who need assistance, by a paper ballot marking device designed to assist voters, except as otherwise provided by law. (Section 115.237)

This provision is substantially similar to SB 378 (2021), HB 842 (2021), and HB 925 (2021).

ABSENTEE VOTING

(Sections 115.257 to 115.291)

Processing Ballots

Election authorities are required to cause voting machines, if used, to be put in order, set, adjusted, tested, and made ready for voting within one business day of the printing of absentee ballots for the purpose of processing any absentee ballot cast in person by a voter. (Section 115.257)

DEFINITION OF ABSENTEE BALLOT

The act provides that an absentee ballot includes any ballot cast in the office of the election authority or other authorized location designated as a polling place by the election authority.

(Section 115.275(1)).

UNIFORMED SERVICES VOTERS - SPACE FORCE

Any individual who is qualified to vote and is a member of the active or reserve components of the Space Force who is on active duty may cast an absentee ballot or a military overseas ballot.

(Section 115.275(7) and Section 115.902) Furthermore, any resident of the state who is on active duty with the Space Force, including members of his or her immediate family living with them, may request an absentee ballot for both the primary and subsequent general election with one application. (Section 115.279.5(1))

NO-EXCUSE IN-PERSON ABSENTEE VOTING

Under current law, any person seeking to cast an absentee ballot must provide an excuse. This act provides that any person may cast an absentee ballot in person at a place determined by the election authority without stating a reason, beginning on the third Tuesday prior to an election. (Section 115.277.1)

This provision is substantially similar to a provision in SCS/SB 282 (2021), SB 860 (2020), and HCS/HB 1761 (2020).

VOTING ABSENTEE NOT IN-PERSON DUE TO INCAPACITY OR CONFINEMENT

For persons voting absentee not in person, if the reason for such person voting absentee is due to incapacity or confinement due to illness or physical disability, such person must expect to have such incapacity or confinement on election day. Furthermore, if the reason for voting absentee is due to being primarily responsible for the physical care of a person who is incapacitated or confined due to illness or disability, the person voting must live at the same address as the person that is being cared for. (Section 115.277.2(2))

ABSENTEE BALLOTS - WHEN DEEMED CAST

The act stipulates that absentee ballots that are received by an election authority in person are deemed cast when received prior to election day and absentee ballots that are received through a common carrier or at an authorized drop box are deemed cast when received prior to the closing of polls. (Section 115.286)

WITNESS AND RETURN OF MASS ABSENTEE BALLOTS

Under current law, in charter counties and the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City, if the election authority receives ten or more applications for absentee ballots from the same address it may appoint a team to deliver and witness the voting and return of absentee ballots by voters residing at that address. This act expands this provision to all election authorities and furthermore requires, rather than permits, a team to be appointed to deliver and witness the voting and return of the ballots. (Section 115.287)

VOTER IDENTIFICATION

(Section 115.427)

The act modifies provisions governing forms of identification required to vote. Under current law, any person seeking to vote in a public election must provide a certain form of identification, provided that any person lacking such identification can vote without such a form of identification through the execution of a statement under the penalty of perjury averring, among other things, that the person is who they say they are. This act repeals the provision allowing persons to vote through execution of the statement under penalty of perjury. The act additionally creates new provisions governing the use of provisional ballots in the case of persons who do not possess the proper form of identification in order to vote.

The act repeals a provision requiring the Secretary of State to provide advance notice of the identification requirements for voting in elections as well as a provision requiring all costs associated with the implementation of the voter identification law to be reimbursed from the general revenue by an appropriation for that purpose. The act repeals a provision providing that all costs associated with the implementation of the voter identification requirements shall be reimbursed from the general revenue by an appropriation for that purpose.

These provisions are substantially similar to HB 334 (2021), SB 14 (2021), provisions in SCS/SB 282 (2021), provisions in SB 818 (2020), and provisions in HCS/HB 1600 (2020).

RETURNING BALLOTS

(Section 115.435)

The act provides that once a ballot has been completed by the voter and he or she successfully submits the ballot into the ballot box, the ballot is deemed cast.

This provision is identical to a provision in SCS/SB 282 (2021) and HB 1065 (2021).

LABELING OF BALLOT MEASURES

(Section 116.225)

The act requires the use of specific labels for ballot measures depending on the type of measure it is. Statewide statutory ballot measures and referendums shall be labeled by the Secretary of State with the letters A through I. County ballot measures shall be labeled with the letters J through R. Local ballot measures shall be labeled with the letters S through Z.

MAIL-IN BALLOTS

(Section 115.302 and Section 1)

The act repeals a provision of law that expired in 2020 allowing for mail-in voting. (Section 115.302) The act additionally specifically prohibits the use of mail-in ballots in the future without legislative action. (Section 1)

REPORTING OF ELECTION RESULTS AND COUNTING OF BALLOTS

(Section 2)

No election authority, or employee thereof, shall report any information whatsoever concerning vote returns to any party, other than an election authority or employee, until all removable media devices, or other methods of data transport, are secured by the election judges.

As soon as practicable after the election, the election authority shall count all ballots cast, unused ballots, spoiled ballots, and provisional ballots to ensure that the same number of ballots which the election authority sent to each precinct were returned to the election authority at the close of the polls. Any discrepancy in such ballot numbers shall be immediately reported to the Secretary of State.

This act contains a non-severability clause.

SCOTT SVAGERA


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