HB1572 (2020) Detail

Establishing the New Hampshire local election participation act.


HB 1572-LOCAL - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2020 SESSION

20-2340

11/06

 

HOUSE BILL 1572-LOCAL

 

AN ACT establishing the New Hampshire local election participation act.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Rogers, Merr. 28

 

COMMITTEE: Municipal and County Government

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes the New Hampshire local election participation act.

 

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

20-2340

11/06

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty

 

AN ACT establishing the New Hampshire local election participation act.

 

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

 

1  Findings and Purpose.  The general court hereby finds that the accessibility, integrity, and efficiency of the voting system are of utmost importance to New Hampshire's political system; however, local elections in New Hampshire, as elsewhere in the country, often suffer from very low voter participation.  Voter participation is too often reduced due to factors of weather, modern work schedules, family obligations, health issues, mobility challenges, and geographic distance.  Mail ballot or "vote at home" models for local elections have been established in other states, with turnout often 3 times higher than prior similar elections.  At the same time, no material evidence of fraud and abuse has been seen.  Therefore, the purpose of this local election participation act is to increase voter engagement and participation in New Hampshire's local elections, while ensuring the integrity and efficiency of the system.

2  New Section; Cities and Wards; Local Elections; Elections by Mail.  Amend RSA 44 by inserting after section 20 the following new section:

44:21  Election by Mail Ballot.  

I.  The city council may by resolution authorize the clerk to conduct any local election that does not coincide with a state primary, general, or special election entirely by mail.  The city council shall give notice to the clerk at least 90 days prior to the first election to be conducted entirely by mail pursuant to this section.  Any authorization made pursuant to this section shall apply to every subsequent local election that does not coincide with a state primary, general, or special election.  If the city council decides to discontinue election by mail for future elections, it shall provide notice to the clerk at least 180 days prior to the first election in which mail out ballots are not to be used.

II.  After the council authorizes elections to be conducted through the mail pursuant to paragraph I, the clerk shall notify each registered voter at least 14 days prior to the date of the election by mail that the voting shall be by mail ballot.  In the event an eligible voter registers to vote after the ballots have been mailed out, such voter may obtain a copy of the ballot at the clerk's office and cast a vote in accordance with paragraph III.  If the council rescinds such authorization, the clerk shall so notify each registered voter of this decision and shall provide with such notice the address of the physical polling place to be used by each registered voter.

III.  To ensure efficient return of mail ballots, each city conducting a mail ballot election pursuant to this section shall offer at least one secure ballot drop box available to the public no later than 2 business days after the ballots have been mailed out, along with the option to return ballots by United States mail.  Any city with more than 20,000 registered voters shall have at least one secure ballot drop box for every 10,000 registered voters, publicly available no later than 2 business days after the ballots are mailed out.  Each such secure ballot drop box shall be distributed across such cities to allow convenient access, and shall be secured pursuant to rules adopted by the clerk's office.  The city clerk may adopt rules, subject to approval by the governing body, relative to the processing of ballots received prior to the date of election.  Cities are encouraged to coordinate with the United States Postal Service's National Change of Address System to keep mailing addresses of registered voters up to date, and to consider contracting with a firm that provides mail ballot envelope tracking.

3  New Section; Town Elections; Elections by Mail.  Amend RSA 669 by inserting after section 10 the following new section:

669:10-a  Election by Mail Ballot.

I.  The board of selectmen may by resolution authorize the clerk to conduct any local election that does not coincide with a state primary, general, or special election entirely by mail.  The board of selectmen shall give notice to the clerk at least 90 days prior to the first election to be conducted entirely by mail pursuant to this section.  Any authorization made pursuant to this section shall apply to every subsequent local election that does not coincide with a state primary, general, or special election.  If the board of selectmen decides to discontinue election by mail for future elections, it shall provide notice to the clerk at least 180 days prior to the first election in which mail out ballots are not to be used.

II.  After the board of selectmen authorizes elections to be conducted through the mail pursuant to paragraph I, the clerk shall notify each registered voter at least 14 days prior to the date of the election by mail that the voting shall be by mail ballot.  In the event an eligible voter registers to vote after the ballots have been mailed out, such voter may obtain a copy of the ballot at the clerk's office and cast a vote in accordance with paragraph III.  If the board of selectmen rescinds such authorization, the clerk shall so notify each registered voter of this decision and shall provide with such notice the address of the physical polling place to be used by each registered voter.

III.  To ensure efficient return of mail ballots, each town conducting a mail ballot election pursuant to this section shall offer at least one secure ballot drop box available to the public no later than 2 business days after the ballots have been mailed out, along with the option to return ballots by United States mail.  Any town with more than 20,000 registered voters shall have at least one secure ballot drop box for every 10,000 registered voters, publicly available no later than 2 business days after the ballots are mailed out.  Each such secure ballot drop box shall be distributed across such towns to allow convenient access, and shall be secured pursuant to rules adopted by the clerk's office.  The clerk may adopt rules, subject to approval by the governing body, relative to the processing of ballots received prior to the date of election.  Towns are encouraged to coordinate with the United States Postal Service's National Change of Address System to keep mailing addresses of registered voters up to date, and to consider contracting with a firm that provides mail ballot envelope tracking.

4  New Section; Village District Elections; Election by Mail.  Amend RSA 670 by inserting after section 4-a the following new section:

670:4-b  Election by Mail Ballot.  A village district may opt to conduct elections by mail under the same circumstances and in the same manner as a town as provided in RSA 669:10-a.

5  New Section; School District Elections; Election by Mail.  Amend RSA 671 by inserting after section 3 the following new section:

671:3-a  Election by Mail Ballot.  A school district may opt to conduct elections by mail under the same circumstances and in the same manner as a town as provided in RSA 669:10-a.

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

Links

HB1572 at GenCourtMobile
HB1572 Discussion

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Jan. 14, 2020 House Hearing
Jan. 22, 2020 House Exec Session
House Floor Vote
Feb. 6, 2020 House Floor Vote
Feb. 13, 2020 House Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

HB1572 Revision: 7205 Date: Dec. 3, 2019, 11:43 a.m.

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 8, 2020 Introduced 01/08/2020 and referred to Municipal and County Government HJ 1 P. 27
Jan. 14, 2020 Public Hearing: 01/14/2020 11:00 am LOB 301
Jan. 22, 2020 Executive Session: 01/22/2020 01:30 pm LOB 301
Feb. 6, 2020 Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate for 02/06/2020 (Vote 20-0; CC) HC 5 P. 4
Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate (Vote 20-0; CC)
Feb. 13, 2020 Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate for 02/13/2020 (Vote 20-0; CC) HC 5 P. 4
Feb. 13, 2020 Inexpedient to Legislate: MA VV 02/13/2020 HJ 3 P. 5