SB198 (2015) Detail

Allowing all voters to vote by absentee ballot.


SB 198-FN-LOCAL - AS INTRODUCED

2015 SESSION

15-0603

03/01

SENATE BILL 198-FN-LOCAL

AN ACT allowing all voters to vote by absentee ballot.

SPONSORS: Sen. Pierce, Dist 5; Sen. Lasky, Dist 13; Sen. Kelly, Dist 10; Sen. Watters, Dist 4; Rep. J. Belanger, Hills 27; Rep. Wall, Straf 6

COMMITTEE: Public and Municipal Affairs

ANALYSIS

This bill allows all voters to vote by absentee ballot.

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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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

15-0603

03/01

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Fifteen

AN ACT allowing all voters to vote by absentee ballot.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Absentee Ballots. Amend RSA 656:33 to read as follows:

656:33 Official [Absence, Religious Observance, and Disability] Absentee Ballots. Prior to any state election, the secretary of state shall prepare, in such quantity as the secretary of state may deem necessary, [absence, religious observance, and disability] absentee ballots in the same form as nearly as practicable as the official ballot to be used at said election. Said absentee ballots shall have the words “absentee ballot” printed on them and shall be similarly endorsed and printed on paper of the same color as that used for official ballots.

2 Absentee Voting. Amend RSA 657:1 to read as follows:

657:1 [Absence, Religious Observance, and Disability] Absentee Voting. Any person who is [absent on the day of any state election from the city, town, or unincorporated place in which he or she is registered to vote or who cannot appear in public on any election day because of his or her observance of a religious commitment or who is unable to vote there in person by reason of physical disability] qualified to vote at any state election may vote at such elections as provided in this chapter. [A person who is unable to appear at any time during polling hours at his or her polling place because an employment obligation requires the person to remain physically at work or to be in transit to or from work from the time the polls open until after the time the polls close shall be considered absent for purposes of this chapter.]

3 Forms. Amend RSA 657:4, I to read as follows:

I. Prior to any state election, the secretary of state shall prepare the appropriate application forms for absentee ballots worded in substantially the following form. The secretary of state shall insert the names of all parties qualified as set forth in RSA 652:11 in the list of parties on the application form. The secretary of state shall prepare the application forms in such quantity as he or she deems necessary:

[Absence (Excluding Absence Due to Residence Outside the United States), Religious Observance, and Disability] Absentee Ballot Application:

I hereby declare that (check one):

___ I am a duly qualified voter who is currently registered to vote in this town/ward.

___ I am absent from the town/city where I am domiciled and will be until after the next election, or I am unable to register in person due to a disability, and request that the forms necessary for absentee voter registration be sent to me with the absentee ballot.

[I will be entitled to vote by absentee ballot because (check one):

___ I plan to be absent on the day of the election from the city, town, or unincorporated place where I am domiciled.

___ I am requesting a ballot for the presidential primary election and I may be absent on the day of the election from the city, town, or unincorporated place where I am domiciled, but the date of the election has not been announced. I understand that I may only make such a request 14 days after the filing period for candidates has closed, and that if I will not be absent on the date of the election I am not eligible to vote by absentee ballot.

___ I cannot appear in public on election day because of observance of a religious commitment.

___ I am unable to vote in person due to a disability.

___ I cannot appear at any time during polling hours at my polling place because an employment obligation requires me to remain physically at work or to be in transit to or from work from the time the polls open until after the time the polls close.]

Any person who votes or attempts to vote using an absentee ballot who is not entitled to vote by absentee ballot shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. RSA 657:24.

I am requesting an official absentee ballot for the following election (check one):

___ Presidential Primary to be held on __________

(MM/DD/YYYY)

(The date may appear as blank when the date is not known.)

___ State Primary to be held on __________

(MM/DD/YYYY)

___ General Election

For primary elections, I am a member of or I am now declaring my affiliation with the (check one):

___ Republican Party

___ Democratic Party

and am requesting a ballot for that party’s primary.

Please print:

Applicant’s Name:

__________________________________________________

(Last) (First) (Middle) (Sr., Jr., II., III)

Applicant’s Voting Domicile (home address):

__________________________________________________

(Street Number) (Street Name) (Apt/Unit) (City/Town) (Ward) (Zip Code)

Mail the ballot to me at this address (if different than the home address):

______________________________

(Street Number) (Street Name) (Apt/Unit) (City/Town) (Ward) (Zip Code)

Applicant’s Signature: __________

The applicant must sign this form to receive an absentee ballot.

Date Signed: __________

(MM/DD/YYYY)

4 Absentee Voting Materials. Amend the section heading and introductory paragraph of RSA?657:7 and RSA 657:7, I and II to read as follows:

657:7 [Absence, Religious Observance, and Disability] Absentee Voting. Prior to any state election, the secretary of state shall prepare the following forms in such quantity as he or she deems necessary:

I. [Absence, religious observance, and disability] Absentee ballots as provided in RSA 656:33.

II. Affidavit envelopes of sufficient size to contain the ballots on which shall be printed the following:

[(a) Absence from City or Town.] A person voting by absentee ballot [because of absence from the city or town in which he or she is entitled to vote] shall fill out and sign the following certificate:

I do hereby certify under the penalties for voting fraud set forth below that I am a voter in the city or town of _______________, New Hampshire, in ward __________; [that I will be unable to appear at any time during polling hours at my polling place because I will be working on election day or will be otherwise absent on election day from said city or town and will be unable to vote in person;] that I have carefully read (or had read to me because I am blind) the instructions forwarded to me with the ballot herein enclosed, and that I personally marked the ballot within and sealed it in this envelope (or had assistance in marking the ballot and sealing it in this envelope because I am blind).

(Signature) ____________________

In accordance with RSA 659:34, the penalty for knowingly or purposefully providing false information when registering to vote or voting is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of imprisonment not to exceed one year and a fine not to exceed $2,000. Fraudulently registering to vote or voting is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000.

[(b) Absence Because of Religious Observance or Physical Disability. A person voting by absentee ballot because of religious observance or physical disability shall fill out and sign the following certificate:

I do hereby certify under the penalties for voting fraud set forth below that I am a voter in the city or town of ____________, New Hampshire, in ward ____________; that I will be observing a religious commitment which prevents me from voting in person or that on account of physical disability I am unable to vote in person; that I have carefully read (or had read to me because I am blind) the instructions forwarded to me with the ballot herein enclosed, and that I personally marked the ballot within and sealed it in this envelope (or had assistance in marking the ballot and sealing it in this envelope because I am blind).

(Signature) _____________________________

In accordance with RSA 659:34, the penalty for knowingly or purposefully providing false information when registering to vote or voting is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of imprisonment not to exceed one year and a fine not to exceed $2,000. Fraudulently registering to vote or voting is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000.]

5 Absentee Voting. Amend the subdivision heading preceding RSA 657:12 to read as follows:

Procedure for [Absence, Religious Observance, and Disability and Overseas] Absentee Voting

6 Absentee Voting in Town Elections. Amend RSA 669:26 to read as follows:

669:26 Absentee Voting. Every town which has adopted an official ballot system for town elections as provided in RSA 669:12 or 669:13 shall provide for absentee voting. [Any eligible voter who is absent from such a town on the day of a town election, or who cannot appear in public on election day because of his or her observance of a religious commitment, or who, by reason of physical disability, is unable to vote in person may vote at a town election in accordance with the provisions of this section and RSA 669:27-669:29. A person who is unable to appear at any time during polling hours at his or her polling place because an employment obligation requires the person to remain physically at work or to be in transit to or from work from the time the polls open until after the time the polls close shall be considered absent for purposes of this section and RSA 669:27-669:29.]

7 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

LBAO

15-0603

01/30/15

SB 198-FN-LOCAL - FISCAL NOTE

AN ACT allowing all voters to vote by absentee ballot.

FISCAL IMPACT:

The Department of Justice, Judicial Branch, Department of State, and New Hampshire Municipal Association state this bill, as introduced, may increase state and local expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2015 and each year thereafter. There will be no impact on county expenditures, or state, county, and local revenue.

METHODOLOGY:

The Department of Justice states this bill modifies RSA 656:33 to authorize a qualified voter to vote via absentee ballot, and makes other related changes to election laws. The Department states that it does not currently receive funding related to elections enforcement, and expects that, in general, responding to elections-related complaints will require the assistance of a full-time investigator, 80 percent of an assistant attorney general, and 20 percent of secretarial staff time. The Department is unable to estimate the percentage of the above time that would be spent addressing complaints generated by this particular bill.

The Judicial Branch states that current RSA 659:34 addresses issues related to wrongful voting. The bill states that, “In accordance with RSA 659:34, the penalty for knowingly or purposefully providing false information when registering to vote or voting is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of imprisonment not to exceed one year and a fine not to exceed $2,000. Fraudulently registering to vote or voting is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000.” The Branch does not have information on which to estimate how many additional class A misdemeanor prosecutions may result from the proposed bill. The Branch does, however, have information on the average cost of processing such cases in the trial court. The Branch projects the cost of an average class A misdemeanor in the district division of the circuit court will be $68.71 in FY 2016 and $70.95 in FY 2017. These figures do not consider the cost of any appeals that may be undertaken.

The Department of State states the number of voters voting by absentee ballot will likely increase under this bill resulting in an indeterminable increase in expenditures related to printing and delivering additional ballots.

The New Hampshire Municipal Association states the processing of additional absentee ballots, both by the clerk before election day and by the moderator on election day, will involve additional labor costs. These costs are unlikely to be offset by a reduction in the number of election officials needed to deal with in-person voters. As a result, the bill will likely result in an indeterminable increase in local expenditures.

The New Hampshire Association states this bill will have no fiscal impact.

Links

SB198 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type

Bill Text Revisions

SB198 Revision: 28286 Date: Dec. 16, 2015, midnight

Docket