HB 2140 Modifies provisions relating to elections

Current Bill Summary

- Prepared by Senate Research -


HCS/HB 2140 - This act modifies various provisions relating to elections. This act is similar to SCS/HB 1878 (2022), SCS/SB 654 (2022), SB 670 (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 minimum, 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 funds 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, for preparing, administering, or conducting an election, including registering voters.

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 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 provides that in order to vote in any election for which registration is required, a person must be registered to vote in the state of Missouri, rather than in the specific jurisdiction, no later than 5:00 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday prior to the election. Furthermore, the act repeals a provision that says in no case shall registration for an election extend beyond 10:00 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday prior to the election. (Section 115.135)

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. The SOS and the Director of Revenue shall jointly develop a process by which the Division of Motor Vehicle and Driver's Licensing of the Department of Revenue, upon obtaining as part of a license transaction a person's full name, date of birth, driver's license or state identification number, residence address, and mailing address, if different from such person's residence address, may use information from the statewide voter registration database to determine whether the person is already registered to vote in this state and, if so, whether the person is registered at the address and under the name the person provided to the Division of Motor Vehicle and Driver's Licensing of the Department of Revenue.(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).

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)

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).

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).

A registered voter who has changed his or her residence within the state and has not been removed from the list of registered voters shall be permitted 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 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. 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.

The SOS may 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 may revoke or withhold certification for vendors. The requirements of this provision shall be subject to appropriation for the purpose of cyber security testing. (Section 115.225)

Beginning January 1, 2024, the official ballot shall be a paper ballot that is hand-marked by the voter or by a paper ballot marking device. (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)

DEFINITION OF ABSENTEE BALLOT

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

(Section 115.275(1)).

ABSENTEE VOTING - REASONS FOR VOTING

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. (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)

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))

ESSENTIAL CONNECTEDNESS OF ABSENTEE VOTING AND PHOTO ID

The provisions of this act authorizing the casting of absentee ballots and requiring the use of a personal form of identification in order to vote are essentially connected, and if any of the personal form of identification requirements in this act are held unconstitutional or otherwise made ineffective, all general law or rules enabling the casting of absentee ballots shall be null and void. (Section 115.277.7)

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. (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. (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)

MAIL-IN BALLOTS

(Section 115.302)

The act repeals current law authorizing mail-in ballots, which expired December 31, 2020.

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;

· 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).

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 HB 1065 (2021).

MISSOURI ELECTIONS SOVEREIGNTY ACT

The act creates the Missouri Elections Sovereignty Act. Under this provision, the General Assembly reserves the authority to regulate both voter qualifications and the time, place, and manner for state and local elections to the extent authorized under the United States Constitution. The State shall comply with federal law but shall reserve the right to protect, preserve, and defend the integrity of state and local elections through lawful regulation of voter qualifications for such elections. Any difference between state and federal election regulations shall result in separate election procedures for such elections.

(Section 115.1200)

FEDERAL ELECTION COMMUNICATIONS

Any state agency, whether that agency is involved in elections or not, or any person, group, or entity charged by the state to administer any official election occurring within the state, who receives or sends a communication, as defined in the act, with the federal Department of Justice or any other federal executive branch agency related to new or existing voting or election laws, shall provide notice to the Governor and General Assembly of this communication within five business days. This provision expires February 1, 2025. (Section 115.1500)

IMPLEMENTATION OF FEDERAL ELECTION GUIDANCE

Any person, group, or entity charged by the state of Missouri to administer any official election occurring within the state who intends to implement any new federal election guidance pending approval from the General Assembly in compliance with this act, shall provide notice to the General Assembly of its intent to do so at least thirty days before implementing the guidance.

All new federal election guidance shall be approved by the general assembly before it is implemented by a person, group, or entity charged by the state to administer any official election occurring within the state.

It shall be presumed for purposes of compliance with this act that the General Assembly has approved the implementation of the new federal election guidance if the General Assembly fails to vote on the issue within thirty days from when notice is provided to the legislature under this act.

A violation of this provision shall result in a fine in the amount of $5,000 to be levied every 30 days until the implemented guidance is formally withdrawn.

This provision expires February 1, 2025. (Section 115.1505)

FEDERAL ELECTION FUNDS

Any person, group, or entity charged by the state to administer any official election occurring within Missouri who intends to accept or disperse federal election funds pending approval from the General Assembly in compliance with this act, shall provide notice to the General Assembly of its intent to do so at least thirty days before accepting the funds. If funds have already been accepted, then notice must be provided to the General Assembly thirty days before the funds are be dispersed.

All new federal election funds shall be approved by the General Assembly before they may be accepted or dispersed by a person, group, or entity charged by the state to administer any official election occurring within the state.

It shall be presumed for purposes of compliance with this act that the General Assembly has approved the acceptance and dispersal of new federal election funds if the General Assembly fails to vote on the issue within thirty days from when notice is provided to the General Assembly in accordance with this act.

A violation of this provision shall result in a fine in the amount of the new federal election funds accepted or dispersed in violation of this provision plus an additional $1,000.

This provision expires February 1, 2025. (Section 115.1510)

LOCAL ELECTIONS - PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOL ATHLETIC EVENTS

The act permits any school district in the state to adopt a law that prohibits a public school from knowingly allowing a student of the male sex, as defined in the act, from participating on a school-sponsored athletic team that is exclusively for students of the female sex.

The act requires the Joint Committee on Education to study student athletic events that are exclusively for either males or females and the impact of a policy that prohibits participation in those events by individuals who are of the opposite sex. A report shall be issued to the General Assembly with the committee's findings and recommendations. (Section 167.177)

PROHIBITION ON COMPROMISE AND SETTLEMENT IN CIVIL ACTIONS

The act prohibits public officials from compromising or settling a civil action, consenting to any condition, or agreeing to any order in connection therewith if the compromise, settlement, condition, or order nullifies, suspends, enjoins, alters, or conflicts with any provision of Missouri law relating to elections or congressional redistricting. Any compromise, settlement, condition, or order to which a public official agrees that conflicts this provision is void and has no legal effect.

Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or otherwise restrict any powers granted by the Missouri Constitution. (Section 1.1)

CIVIL ACTIONS INVOLVING THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

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. (Section 1.2-1.10)

OFFENSE OF TAMPERING WITH AN ELECTION OFFICIAL

A person commits the offense of tampering with an election official if, with the purpose to harass, intimidate, or influence such official in the performance of such official's official duties, such person disseminates through any means, including by posting on the internet, the official's family's personal information. The offense of tampering with an election official shall be a Class D felony. If a violation results in death or bodily injury to an election official or a member of the official's family, the offense shall be a Class B felony. (Section 2)

SCOTT SVAGERA


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