HB622 (2017) Detail

Allowing all voters to vote by absentee ballot.


HB 622-FN-LOCAL - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2017 SESSION

17-0386

03/09

 

HOUSE BILL 622-FN-LOCAL

 

AN ACT allowing all voters to vote by absentee ballot.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Read, Rock. 17; Rep. J. Schmidt, Hills. 28; Rep. Oxenham, Sull. 1; Rep. Higgins, Graf. 12; Rep. DiLorenzo, Rock. 17; Rep. Rand, Graf. 8

 

COMMITTEE: Election Law

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill allows all voters to vote by absentee ballot.  This bill also allows any eligible person to register to vote using the absentee registration process.

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

17-0386

03/09

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seventeen

 

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 Registration.  Amend RSA 654:16 to read as follows:

654:16  Applicability.  Any person who has his or her domicile in any town or city in this state and is qualified to vote therein at the next subsequent election to be held in said town or city except for the fact that his or her name does not appear on the checklist to be used at the election, [and who is temporarily absent therefrom or who by reason of physical disability is unable to attend a meeting of the supervisors of the checklist,] may cause his or her name to be added to such checklist by applying to the city or town clerk or the secretary of state for a voter registration form provided for in RSA 654:7 and an appropriate absentee registration affidavit provided for in RSA 654:17.

2  Absentee Registration Affidavit.  Amend RSA 654:17, I to read as follows:

I.  The absentee registration affidavit shall be prepared by the secretary of state and shall be in substantially the following form:

Affidavit [(Absence from town)]

I, __________________ do hereby swear or affirm, under the penalties for voting fraud set forth below, the following:

1)  That  my legal domicile is in the town of _______________, New Hampshire, I will be of the age of 18 years or over on election day and am entitled to vote in the election to be held in said town on _______________, _________ (date), except for the fact that my name does not appear on the checklist to be used in said town at such election;

2)  [That I do not intend to be present within said town at such time prior to said election as shall enable me personally to appear before the supervisors of the checklist of said town in their regular sessions for the correction of the checklist for said election;

3)  That I am temporarily residing in __________ (city and state or city, province, and country);

4)]  That I hereby enclose one of the following as proof of identity and domicile:

(a)  A copy of a current and valid New Hampshire driver's license or an armed services identification or other photo identification issued by the United States government that shows my name and address; or

(b)  A  copy of a current and valid photo identification and a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, other government document that shows my name and address, or a letter from the administrator of a nursing home or similar facility affirming that I am a resident of that facility that was provided to me at my request pursuant to the administrator's duty to provide such a letter upon my request;

[5)] 3)  That I acknowledge that if I do not provide a copy of proof of identity and domicile as required by section [4) above] 2), this application may not be approved; and

[6)] 4)  That I hereby make application for the addition of my name to the checklist of said town to be used at said election.

____________________

Signature of Applicant

____________________

Date

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.

[Affidavit (Physical Disability)

I, _____________________ do hereby swear or affirm, under the penalties for voting fraud set forth below, the following:

1)  That  my legal domicile is in the town of ________________, New Hampshire, I will be of the age of 18 years or over on election day, and am entitled to vote in the election to be held in said town on ________________, ___ (date), except for the fact that my name does not appear on the checklist to be used in said town at such election;

2)  That I am unable by reason of physical disability personally to appear before the supervisors of the checklist of said town in their regular sessions for the correction of the checklist for said election;

3)  That I hereby enclose one of the following as proof of identity and domicile:

(a)  A copy of a current and valid New Hampshire driver's license or an armed services identification or other photo identification issued by the United States government that shows my name and address; or

(b)  A copy of a current and valid photo identification and a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, other government document that shows my name and address, or a letter from the administrator of a nursing home or similar facility affirming that I am a resident of that facility that was provided to me at my request pursuant to the administrator's duty to provide such a letter upon my request;

4)  That I acknowledge that if I do not provide a copy of proof of identity and domicile as required by section 3) above, this application may not be approved; and

5)  That I hereby make application for the addition of my name to the checklist of said town to be used at said election.

____________________

Signature of Applicant

____________________

Date

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.]

3  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.

4  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 of an employment obligation shall be considered absent for purposes of this chapter.  For the purposes of this section, the term "employment'' shall include the care of children and infirm adults, with or without compensation.]

5  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 of an employment obligation. For the purposes of this application, the term "employment'' shall include the care of children and infirm adults, with or without compensation.]

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)

6 Absentee Voting Materials.  Amend the section heading of RSA 657:7 and RSA 657:7, I-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).  [For the purposes of this certification, the term "working'' shall include the care of children and infirm adults, with or without compensation.]

(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.]

7  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

8  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 of an employment obligation shall be considered absent for purposes of this section and RSA 669:27-669:29.  For the purposes of this section, the term "employment'' shall include the care of children and infirm adults, with or without compensation.]

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

 

LBAO

17-0386

1/23/17

 

HB 622-FN-LOCAL- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT allowing all voters to vote by absentee ballot.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [ X ] County               [ X ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2018

FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [    ] Other

 

 

 

 

 

COUNTY:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

 

 

 

 

 

LOCAL:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill would allow any voter to vote by absentee ballot, without a requirement that the voter be absent from the municipality or unable to vote in person for another reason.  The Secretary of State would be required to print and deliver enough absentee ballots and envelopes to accommodate absentee voting in state elections.  The Department of State indicates there is no method to determine how many additional voters would vote by absentee ballot, but the Department assumes 100,000 for a general election and presidential primary, and 50,000 for a State primary.  The cost of printing additional absentee ballots, absentee affidavit envelopes, absentee ballot mailing envelopes and absentee ballot return envelopes, and delivery charges to city and town clerks costs a minimum of $1 per ballot.  In FY 2018 there are no regularly scheduled elections, in FY 2019 there will be a State primary and general election, in FY 2020 there will be a presidential primary, and in FY 2021 there will be a State primary and general election. The estimated expenditures for FY 2019 are $150,000, for FY 2020 are $100,000, and for FY 2021 are $150,000.

 

The Department of Justice assumes the bill would not eliminate the need for polling places and in-person voting.  The Department does not anticipate a significant change in its election duties and thus no fiscal impact.

 

The New Hampshire Municipal Association states that a significant increase in the number of voters who choose to vote by absentee ballot would occur, necessitating corresponding additional preparation and mailing of absentee ballots and envelopes.  The municipal clerk prepares absentee ballots for municipal elections, and will incur additional costs, which may be somewhat offset by the reduction in expense for preparation of ballots at the polling place.   Additional envelopes will be required and such expense is not offset.  Increase in postage and costs for mailing additional absentee ballots will be more significant.  The processing of more absentee ballots by the clerk prior to election day, and by the moderator on election day, will require increased labor and possible increased costs.  There may be less of a need for assistant election officials to handle voters at the polls, but the increased labor required for processing the additional absentee ballots will more than offset this.  The Association is unable to estimate how many more voters will choose to vote by absentee ballot and does not have information on the per-voter costs of processing absentee ballots, so the effect on municipal expenditures is indeterminable.  There is no effect on municipal revenue.

 

This bill contains penalties that may have an impact on the New Hampshire judicial and correctional systems.  There is no method to determine how many charges would be brought as a result of the changes contained in this bill to determine the fiscal impact on expenditures.  However, the entities impacted have provided the potential costs associated with these penalties below.

 

Judicial Branch

FY 2018

FY 2019

Class A Misdemeanor

$71

$72

Routine Civil Case

$470

$477

Routine Criminal Felony Case

$451

$456

Complex Equity Case

$734

$740

Appeals

Varies

Varies

It should be noted average case cost estimates for FY 2018 and FY 2019 are based on data that is more than ten years old and does not reflect changes to the courts over that same period of time or the impact these changes may have on processing the various case types.  An unspecified misdemeanor can be either class A or class B, with the presumption being a class B misdemeanor.

Judicial Council

 

 

Public Defender Program

Has contract with State to provide services.

Has contract with State to provide services.

Contract Attorney – Misdemeanor

$275/Case

$275/Case*

Assigned Counsel – Misdemeanor

$60/Hour up to $1,400

$60/Hour up to $1,400

 

It should be noted that a person needs to be found indigent and have the potential of being incarcerated to be eligible for indigent defense services. The majority of indigent cases (approximately 85%) are handled by the public defender program, with the remaining cases going to contract attorneys (14%) or assigned counsel (1%).

 

* The Council’s budget request for the FY 2018-19 biennium includes an increase to $300 per case for contract attorney misdemeanor cases.

Department of Corrections

 

 

FY 2016 Average Cost of Incarcerating an Individual

$35,832

$35,832

FY 2016 Average Cost of Supervising an Individual on Parole/Probation

$573

$573

NH Association of Counties

 

 

County Prosecution Costs

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Estimated Average Daily Cost of Incarcerating an Individual

$85 to $110

$85 to $110

 

The Judicial Council states the indigent defense delivery system has rarely, if ever, been called upon to provide representation to someone who violated laws governing elections.  The Council assumes the number of election law cases is so small that any change in the law would have no effect on the Council’s expenditures.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Departments of State and Justice, Judicial Branch, Judicial Council, New Hampshire Association of Counties, and New Hampshire Municipal Association

 

 

Links

HB622 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Feb. 7, 2017 House Hearing
Feb. 14, 2017 House Exec Session
March 8, 2017 House Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

HB622 Revision: 932 Date: Jan. 25, 2017, 1:57 p.m.

Docket


March 8, 2017: Inexpedient to Legislate: MA RC 200-145 03/08/2017 HJ 9 P. 99


: Minority Committee Report: Ought to Pass


March 8, 2017: Majority Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate for 03/08/2017 (Vote 11-8; RC)


Feb. 14, 2017: Executive Session: 02/14/2017 11:00 AM LOB 308


Feb. 7, 2017: Public Hearing: 02/07/2017 11:40 AM LOB 308


Jan. 5, 2017: Introduced 01/05/2017 and referred to Election Law HJ 3 P. 22