HB 1878 Modifies provisions relating to elections

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Current Bill Summary

- Prepared by Senate Research -


SS/SCS/HB 1878 - This act modifies various provisions relating to elections. This act is substantially similar to SCS/SB 654 (2022), SB 670 (2022), HCS/HB 2140 (2022), and HS/HCS/HB 738 (2021).

AUDITS OF VOTER REGISTRATION RECORDS BY SECRETARY OF STATE

(Section 28.960)

The Secretary of State (SOS) is authorized to audit the voter registration records of any local election authority (LEA). Each such audit shall, at least quarterly, determine whether the LEA has performed certain voter registration list maintenance activities that are required by law. If, after completing the audit, the SOS determines that the LEA has not performed such activities, then the SOS may withhold transaction funds associated with voter list maintenance from the LEA.

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 any presidential election.

AIR-GAPPED ELECTION EQUIPMENT

(Section 115.013)

The act requires all automatic tabulating equipment, electronic voting machines, and electronic voting systems to all be air-gapped, as that term is defined in the act.

ELECTION FUNDING

(Section 115.022)

Neither the state of Missouri nor any political subdivision thereof that conducts elections shall receive or expend private moneys, excluding in-kind donations as provided in the act, for preparing, administering, or conducting an election, including registering voters. Notwithstanding this prohibition, the SOS is permitted to receive private funds in any election year in which the amount of funds appropriated for elections, as required by law, is less than the amount of funds that was appropriated for elections during the previous election year. Such funds received may not exceed the difference plus 10% of the amount appropriated in the previous year. Funds shall then be disbursed to counties based upon the number of registered voters in each county. Funds may be withheld from any LEA in violation of these provisions.

QUALIFICATIONS FOR ELECTION OFFICIALS

(Sections 115.031 to 115.107)

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 LEA 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 LEA to provide the LEA with a list of candidates for the position of election judge. If the committee fails to submit a number of candidates equal to the number of positions available for election judge, then the LEA may fill the positions as otherwise required by law. Furthermore, if the LEA determines that a candidate submitted by the committee does not meet the qualifications for election judge, the LEA 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 an LEA to appoint election judges who are registered voters of another LEA's jurisdiction only after receiving the written consent of the other LEA. 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).

VOTER REGISTRATION

(Sections 115.135 to 115.205)

The act modifies various provisions relating to voter registration.

Change of Address for Already Registered Voters

The act permits a registered voter who has changed his or her residence within the state and has not been removed from the list of registered voters to file a change of address in person at the office of the LEA on election day. In order to change an address in person on election day, a registered voter shall provide a form of personal photo identification required to vote. The act makes corresponding modifications to law to allow for this change of address procedure. (Sections 115.135 and 115.165)

Declaring a Political Party Affiliation

Under current law, voters are not required to declare a political party affiliation when registering to vote. This amendment requires any person registering to vote to declare a political party affiliation, beginning January 1, 2023. The options for political party affiliation shall include all established political parties. Voters are entitled to choose to be unaffiliated with any political party as well. If a voter does not designate any political party affiliation, then the election authority shall designate the voter as unaffiliated. A voter can change his or her political party affiliation at any time by notifying his or her election authority in the manner described in the amendment.

Prior to January 1, 2025, election authorities are required to notify registered voters of the political party affiliation opportunities of this amendment using all current election mailings that would otherwise be mailed to registered voters.

Electronic Voter Registration

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. All voter registration information sent electronically to the election authorities shall be printed out by the election authorities and retained for a period of at least two years. (Section 115.160)

The act requires LEAs to accept and process voter registration records, including electronic images of applicant signatures, transmitted electronically by the Division of Motor Vehicle and Driver Licensing of the Department of Revenue. (Section 115.960)

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

Updating Voter History on Voter Registration System

The act requires LEAs to forward voter history to the Missouri voter registration system not later than 3 months after each election. Current law gives LEAs up to 6 months. (Section 115.157)

Public Availability of Voter Registration Information

The act modifies the voter registration information that a LEA or the SOS may furnish to any member of the public. Specifically, in furnishing electronic media printouts containing voter registration information a LEA or the SOS may only include unique voter identification numbers, voters' names, years of birth, addresses, and 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).

Solicitation of Voter Registrations

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 SOS for every election cycle. (Section 115.205)

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

PAPER BALLOTS AND ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES

(Sections 115.225 and 115.237)

The act prohibits the use of touchscreen direct-recording, electronic vote-counting machines beginning January 1, 2024. Upon the removal of such a machine from an LEA'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 vote-counting machine shall be added to the LEA's inventory. Equipment that is designed for accessibility for voting shall provide a paper ballot audit trail.

The act includes provisions relating to cyber security in election authority offices. Each election authority that controls its own information technology department is required to annually have a cybersecurity review of their office by either the SOS or an entity that specializes in cybersecurity reviews. Each political subdivision that controls the information technology department for an election authority shall annually allow a cyber security review of the information technology department by the secretary of state or alternatively by an entity that specializes in cyber security reviews. The SOS is also required to annually have a cybersecurity review of their office by an entity that specializes in cybersecurity reviews. If an election authority fails to have a cyber security review in any calendar year, the SOS may publish a notice of noncompliance in a newspaper within the jurisdiction of the election authority or in electronic format. The SOS 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. All audits required by this provision that are conducted by SOS must be solely paid for by state and federal funding.

The SOS shall have authority to require cyber security testing, including penetration testing, 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 SOS 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. (Section 115.225)

Beginning January 1, 2023, the official ballot shall be a paper ballot that is hand-marked by the voter or by the voter's designee, unless such voter desires to use a ballot marking device as prescribed by law. (Section 115.237)

ABSENTEE VOTING

(Sections 115.257 to 115.291)

DEFINITION OF ABSENTEE BALLOT

The act provides that an absentee ballot includes any ballot cast in the office of the LEA, by mail, or at another authorized location designated as a polling place by the LEA.

(Section 115.275(1)).

ABSENTEE VOTING - REASONS FOR VOTING

The act expands the use of absentee voting to members of the Space Force as well as their spouses and dependents. (Section 115.275) The Uniformed Military and Overseas Voters Act is also amended to include members of the Space Force as well as their spouses and dependents. (Section 115.902)

The act also allows persons who are employed as a first responder, health care worker, or member of law enforcement to vote absentee. (Section 115.277.3(7))

ABSENTEE VOTING - GENERALLY

This act provides that any person may cast an absentee ballot in person at a place determined by the LEA by providing a form of personal photo identification required by law if it is for one of the reasons enumerated by law. (Section 115.277.1) A person may cast an absentee ballot not in person by having his or her ballot envelope notarized. (Section 115.277.2)

NO-EXCUSE PERIOD

The act provides that beginning on the second Tuesday prior to an election, an excuse shall not be required for voting absentee in person. This provision contains a non-severability provision connecting it with the voter identification provision. (Section 115.277.1)

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 BALLOT APPLICATIONS

No individual, group, or party shall solicit a voter into obtaining an absentee ballot application. Furthermore, absentee ballot applications shall not have any information pre-filled prior to being provided to a voter. This provision does not prohibit any election authority from assisting an individual voter. (Section 115.279.2)

ABSENTEE BALLOTS - WHEN DEEMED CAST

The act stipulates that absentee ballots that are received by an LEA in person are deemed cast when received prior to election day and absentee ballots that are received through a common carrier are deemed cast when received prior to the closing of polls. Furthermore, absentee ballots received by the LEA through a common carrier such as the United States Postal Service are required to be received prior to the time fixed by law for the closing of polls on election day. The LEA shall hand mark or stamp each absentee envelope as it is received, indicating the date and time the absentee ballot was received. (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 LEA 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 LEAs 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)

DROP BOXES PROHIBITED

The act prohibits the use of drop boxes for the delivery of absentee ballots. (Section 115.291.5)

MAIL-IN BALLOTS

(Section 115.302)

The act repeals current law authorizing mail-in ballots, which expired December 31, 2020, and expressly prohibits the use of mail-in ballots.

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 the following:

· A provision requiring the SOS to provide advance notice of the identification requirements for voting in elections by means calculated to inform the public generally, including advertisements in print, TV, and radio. Instead the SOS is required to post such a notice on the official SOS website;

· 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; and

· A provision preventing the voter identification provisions from being enforced unless a sufficient appropriation of state funds is made to implement the law.

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).

CASTING 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 HB 1065 (2021).

PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARY ELECTION

(Sections 115.755 through 115.785)

The act repeals the presidential preference primary election.

SOS SYSTEM - ACCEPTANCE OF VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATIONS ELECTRONICALLY

(Section 115.960.2)

Current law requires the SOS to maintain a system for accepting voter registration applications electronically. This act makes maintenance of such a system permissive.

CIVIL ACTIONS INVOLVING THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

(Section 2)

The act requires parties to provide a copy of the pleading to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tem of the Senate within fourteen days of filing the pleading with the court in the following cases:

· Cases challenging the constitutionality of a statute facially or as applied;

· Cases challenging a statute as violating or preempted by federal law; or

· Cases challenging the construction or validity of a statute, as part of a claim or affirmative defense.

The Speaker of the House and the President pro tem of the Senate may intervene to defend against the action at any time in the action as a matter of right by serving motion upon the parties as provided by applicable rules of civil procedure.

The Speaker of the House and President pro tem of the Senate may intervene at any time in an action on behalf of their respective chambers. They may obtain legal counsel other than from the Attorney General, with the cost of representation paid from funds appropriated for that purpose, to represent the respective chamber in any action.

The President pro tem of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, acting jointly, may intervene at any time in an action on behalf of the General Assembly. The President pro tem and the Speaker, acting jointly, may obtain legal counsel other than from the attorney general, with the cost of representation paid from funds appropriated for that purpose, to represent the General Assembly in any action in which the President pro tem and Speaker jointly intervene.

No individual member, or group of members, of the Senate or the House of Representatives, except the President pro tem and the Speaker, as provided under this act, shall intervene in an action described in this act or obtain legal counsel at public expense under this act in the member's or group's capacity as a member or members of the Senate or the House of Representatives.

The participation of the Speaker of the House or the President pro tem of the senate in any state or federal action, as a party or otherwise, does not constitute a waiver of the legislative immunity or legislative privilege of any member, officer, or staff of the General Assembly.

This act contains a severability clause.

SCOTT SVAGERA


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