SB 695 - This act modifies various provisions relating to elections. This act is identical to SB 1065 (2022).
The act prohibits an election authority from taking or accepting funding, grants, or gifts of any kind from any source other than from the governing body of a political subdivision or the state of Missouri, provided that funding can be accepted from the federal government or from any other source upon approval by a majority of each house of the General Assembly.
This provision is similar to provisions in SB 738 (2022), HCS/SS/SB 812 (2022), HB 1483 (2022), the truly agreed to and finally passed SS/SCS/HB 1878 (2022), the perfected HCS/HB 2140 (2022), HB 2577 (2022), and HB 2630 (2022).
Under this act, an election authority may not prohibit any poll watcher who has been lawfully appointed from entering a polling place nor may the election authority remove any poll watcher from a polling place during the times when the poll watcher is lawfully entitled to be in the polling place. Violations of this provision are punished as a class four election offense, with a maximum penalty of one year in prison, a $2,500 fine, or both imprisonment and a fine.
ACTIVITIES OF ELECTION OFFICIALS
The act creates new provisions establishing certain rights of poll watchers and election challengers. Specifically, election authorities are required to clearly designate observation areas for challengers and watchers to readily observe all public aspects of the voting process. Furthermore, election authorities are required to provide all challengers and watchers uniform and non-discriminatory access to observe all stages of the voting process, as described in the act. Watchers and challengers are required to wear a badge that contains his or her name and the political party or campaign committee, in the case of a ballot measure, with which they are affiliated. Additionally, watchers and challengers are entitled to challenge any ballot in the same manner as qualifications to vote are challenged under current law. Any violation of these provisions on the part of an election authority is a class four election offense.
This provision is substantially similar to provisions in HCS/SS/SB 812 (2022), HB 2081 (2022), and HB 2577 (2022).
VOTER ROLL MAINTENANCE
(Sections 115.013, 115.163, 115.179, 115.181, 115.193, 115.221)
Current law permits an election authority to remove a registered voter's name from the list of registered voters on the precinct register on the ground that the voter has changed residence under certain circumstances. This act requires such removal if:
· The voter confirms in writing that the voter has changed residence to a place outside the election authority's jurisdiction in which the voter is registered; or
· The voter fails to respond to a notice and has not engaged in voter activity during the period beginning on the date of the notice and ending on the day after the date of the second general election that occurs after the date of the notice.
The act additionally requires each election authority to investigate the qualifications of any person who has not engaged in voter activity within the preceding two calendar years. Furthermore, if the election authority determines that a registered voter has not engaged in voter activity within the two preceding calendar years, the election authority must include such registered voter in any canvass.
These provisions are identical to SB 137 (2021).
ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES
(Sections 115.225 and 115.237)
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, 2023, 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.
Beginning January 1, 2023, 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.
These provisions are identical to provisions in HS/HCS/HB 738 (2021) and to similar to provisions in SB 633 (2022), SCS/SB 654 (2022), SB 670 (2022), SB 679 (2022), SB 738 (2022), HCS/SS/SB 812 (2022), SB 861 (2022), HB 1483 (2022), HB 1646 (2022), the perfected HB 1859 (2022), the truly agreed to and finally passed SS/SCS/HB 1878 (2022), HB 1911 (2022), HB 1976 (2022), HB 2113 (2022), the perfected HCS/HB 2140 (2022), HB 2531 (2022), HB 2577 (2022), HB 2630 (2022), SB 378 (2021), HB 842 (2021), and HB 925 (2021).
ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATION REQUESTS
The act prohibits any individual, group, or party, including any election authority, from:
(1) Soliciting a person to obtain an absentee ballot application; or
(2) Sending or delivering an absentee ballot application to any person without such person affirmatively requesting such application, with limited exceptions.
This provision is substantially similar to provisions in SCS/SB 654 (2022), SB 670 (2022), HCS/SS/SB 812 (2022), HB 1455 (2022), HB 1483 (2022), HB 1646 (2022), the truly agreed to and finally passed SS/SCS/HB 1878 (2022), HB 2113 (2022), the perfected HCS/HB 2140 (2022), and HB 2577 (2022).
The act repeals a provision of law that expired in 2020 allowing for mail-in voting and provisions of law allowing certain people to vote by absentee ballot due to COVID-19.
These provisions are identical to provisions in SB 633 (2022), SCS/SB 654 (2022), SB 670 (2022), SB 679 (2022), SB 738 (2022), HCS/SS/SB 812 (2022), HB 1646 (2022), the truly agreed to and finally passed SS/SCS/HB 1878 (2022), HB 1911 (2022), HB 2113 (2022), the perfected HCS/HB 2140 (2022), HB 2577 (2022), and HB 2630 (2022).
ABSENTEE BALLOT ENVELOPE REQUIREMENTS
All absentee ballot envelope statements are required to contain either the voter's driver's license number or the last four digits of the voter's Social Security Number.
BALLOTS - UNIQUE IDENTIFIERS
All ballots are required to contain a unique identifier, with information as described in the act, for the purpose of preventing ballots from being copied and harvested. No unique identifier may contain any information specific to a particular voter.
The act also 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.
These provisions are identical to provisions in SCS/SB 282 (2021) and SB 14 (2021) and substantially similar to provisions in SB 633 (2022), SCS/SB 654 (2022), SB 668 (2022), SB 670 (2022), SB 679 (2022), SB 738 (2022), SB 780 (2022), HCS/SS/SB 812 (2022), SB 861 (2022), HB 1454 (2022), HB 1483 (2022), HB 1646 (2022), the truly agreed to and finally passed SS/SCs/HB 1878 (2022), HB 1911 (2022), HB 1976 (2022), HB 2113 (2022), the perfected HCS/HB 2140 (2022), HB 2531 (2022), HB 2577 (2022), HB 2630 (2022), HB 334 (2021), SCS/HS/HCS/HB 738 (2021), SB 818 (2020), HCS/HB 1600 (2020), HB 815 (2021), and HB 1065 (2021).
VOTER PETITION-INITIATED AUDITS
Any registered voter is entitled to file a petition with the election authority or the secretary of state, as the case may be, requesting an audit a particular election. Such petition may be filed at any time prior to the certification of election results by the appropriate body. The petition must be signed by 5% of the registered voters in the jurisdiction, based upon the total vote at the last gubernatorial election, preceding the election in question. Petitions calling for an audit of an election for a statewide office, state senator, or state representative shall be filed with the Secretary of State. All other petitions shall be filed with the appropriate election authority.
If, after determining that the requisite number of signatures have been gathered, the election authority or the secretary of state, as the case may be, shall order an audit of the election in question. Such audit shall include a recount of all votes cast in the election and a full examination of all equipment used in the election.
The results of an election shall not be certified if an election authority or the secretary of state has determined that a petition has been filed that meets the requirements of this act calling for an audit of such election. However, nothing in this act shall prohibit the certification of elections for presidential and vice presidential elections as required under federal law or prevent the meeting of the Board of State Canvassers to certify any election for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and Attorney General.