HB 366-FN – VERSION ADOPTED BY BOTH BODIES
HOUSE BILL 366-FN
This bill adds the acts of a voter allowing his or her marked ballot to be seen and a voter distributing or sharing a photograph or digital image of his or her marked ballot to the prohibitions on showing or specially marking ballots. This bill changes the penalty for willful violations of the prohibitions from a misdemeanor to a violation. This bill also requires posters at each polling place highlighting the prohibitions on showing or specially marking ballots.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [
in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Thirteen
AN ACT relative to showing a ballot.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 Showing or Specially Marking Ballot. Amend RSA 659:35 to read as follows:
659:35 Showing or Specially Marking Ballot.
I. No voter shall allow his or her ballot to be seen by any person with the intention of letting it be known how he or she is about to vote or how he or she has voted except as provided in RSA 659:20. This prohibition shall include taking a digital image or photograph of his or her marked ballot and distributing or sharing the image via social media or by any other means.
II. No voter shall place a distinguishing mark upon his or her ballot nor write in any name as the candidate of his or her choice with the intention of thereby placing a distinguishing mark upon [
his] the ballot.
III. No voter shall use or attempt to use any ballot not given him or her by the ballot clerk to accomplish any of the acts or purposes prohibited by paragraph I or II or both.
IV. Any person willfully violating any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a [
V. Before each state election, the secretary of state shall prepare and distribute to the town and ward clerks a sufficient number of posters measuring 8-1/2 inches by 11 inches highlighting the provisions of paragraphs I through IV.
VI. Each town and ward clerk shall prominently post the posters referred to in paragraph V at each polling place in his or her town or ward.
2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect September 1, 2014.
HB 366-FN FISCAL NOTE
AN ACT relative to showing a ballot.
The Judicial Council, Judicial Branch, and New Hampshire Association of Counties state this bill, as amended by the House (Amendment #2013-2223h), may increase state and county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2015 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on local expenditures, or state, county, and local revenue.
The Judicial Council states this bill would make it a misdemeanor for voters to take a digital image of a marked ballot and distribute the image using social media. The Council assumes this bill, if passed, would result in a small number of prosecutions and a majority of those prosecutions would be brought as class B misdemeanors. Although violations of this proposed law are presumed to be class B misdemeanors, a prosecutor could file notice in advance of trial that class A misdemeanor penalties are sought. Class B misdemeanors do not carry a potential for incarceration as a penalty, and therefore do not trigger a right to counsel. To the extent that class A misdemeanor penalties might be sought, the state would be subject to expenditures of approximately $275 for each misdemeanor case handled by a public defender or contract attorney. If an assigned counsel attorney is used, the fee is $60 per hour with a cap of $1,400. The Council also states additional costs could be incurred if an appeal is filed. The public defender, contract attorney, and assigned counsel rates for Supreme Court appeals is $2,000 per case. Expenditures would increase if services other than counsel are requested and approved by the court during the defense of a case or during an appeal.
The Judicial Branch states it does not have information on which to estimate how many additional misdemeanor prosecutions may result from this proposed bill. However, the Judicial Branch has information on the costs of an average of processing such cases in the trial court. The Judicial Branch states the cost of a class B misdemeanor case in the district division of the circuit court will be $46.99 in FY 2015 and $48.02 in FY 2016. The Judicial Branch states the case cost estimates are based on data that is more than seven years old and does not reflect the changes to the courts over that same period of time or the impact these changes may have on the processing of these types of cases. However, according to the Judicial Branch, the potential for appeals makes the number of class B misdemeanors needed for a fiscal impact to the Judicial Branch in excess of $10,000 significantly fewer.
The New Hampshire Association of Counties states, to the extent more individuals are charged, convicted, and sentenced to incarceration in a county correctional facility, the counties may have increased expenditures. The Association is unable to determine the number of individuals who might be charged, convicted, or incarcerated as a result of this bill to determine an exact fiscal impact. The average annual cost to incarcerate an individual in a county correctional facility is approximately $35,000. There is no impact on county revenue.
The Department of State reports there is no impact on Department, county, and local revenue or expenditures. The bill does require the Department to create and distribute an explanatory poster for each polling place in the state, but the cost of this provision is very small and can be absorbed within the Department’s existing budget.
The Department of Justice states no fiscal impact would result from this bill because any investigations and prosecutions would be absorbed within the Department’s existing budget.