HB1651 (2020) Detail

Relative to prisoners' voting rights.


HB 1651-FN - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2020 SESSION

20-2559

11/04

 

HOUSE BILL 1651-FN

 

AN ACT relative to prisoners' voting rights.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Andrew Bouldin, Hills. 12; Rep. Query, Hills. 16; Rep. Kenney, Straf. 6; Rep. Klein-Knight, Hills. 11; Rep. Conley, Straf. 13; Rep. Amanda Bouldin, Hills. 12; Rep. Bixby, Straf. 17; Rep. Nutting-Wong, Hills. 32; Rep. Bouchard, Hills. 11

 

COMMITTEE: Election Law

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill amends the absentee voter application form and absentee voting affidavits to make clear that certain persons confined to penal institutions may 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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

20-2559

11/04

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty

 

AN ACT relative to prisoners' voting rights.

 

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

 

1  Voters and Checklists; Voters Confined in Penal Institutions.  Amend RSA 654:2-a, III to read as follows:

III.  In completing a voter registration form, as specified in RSA 654:7, or an absentee ballot application, as specified in RSA 657:4, I, a person confined in a penal institution shall list the address of his or her domicile in the address section, and the address of the penal institution in the mailing address section.

2  Absentee Voting; 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:

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 expect to be absent on the day of the election from the city, town, or unincorporated place where I am domiciled because I am confined in a penal institution for a misdemeanor or while awaiting trial.

_____ 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.

For use only on the Monday immediately prior to the election: I cannot appear at my polling place on election day because the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning, blizzard warning, or ice storm warning for election day applicable to my city, town, or unincorporated place and either (check one):

______ I am elderly or infirm or I have a physical disability, and would otherwise vote in person but I have concerns for my safety traveling in the storm.

______ I anticipate that school, child care, or adult care will be canceled, and would otherwise vote in person but will need to care for children or infirm adults.

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

_____ (name of any party determined by the secretary of state to have achieved official status under RSA 652:11)

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 Phone Number : _________________________

Applicant's Email Address : __________________________

Applicant's Signature: __________________

  Date Signed: ___________________________

(MM/DD/YYYY)

  I attest that I assisted the applicant in executing this form because he or she has a disability.

Signature ____________________ Print Name ____________________

If your absentee ballot application or affidavit envelope has the printed name and signature of a person who assisted you with voting, your signature will not be compared to your signature on the absentee ballot affidavit to verify your identity.  Otherwise, if your signatures do not appear to be made by the same person, your absentee ballot may not be counted.

The applicant must sign this form to receive an absentee ballot.  Any person who witnesses and assists a voter with a disability in executing this form shall print and sign his or her name in the space provided on the application form.  The moderator will not compare the voter's signature on the application with the signature on the absentee ballot affidavit when a person assisting the voter has signed the statement on the absentee ballot application or affidavit envelope that assistance was provided.

3  Absentee Voting; Absentee Ballots and Related Materials; Absence, Religious Observance, and Disability.  Amend RSA 657:7, II(a) to read as follows:

(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 I am voting on the Monday immediately prior to the election, the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning, blizzard warning, or ice storm warning, and I am elderly or infirm, have a physical disability, or have to care for children or infirm adults, or I am confined to a penal institution for a misdemeanor or while awaiting trial, or I 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.

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

 

LBAO

20-2559

Revised 1/8/20

 

HB 1651-FN- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT relative to prisoners' voting rights.

 

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

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Funding Source:

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

 

 

 

 

 

COUNTY:

 

 

 

 

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

$0

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

Indeterminable Increase

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill adds language to the state absentee ballot voting application form and absentee voting affidavits to specify an individual is absent on the day of election from their place of domicile due to confinement in a penal institution for a misdemeanor or awaiting trial.

 

The Department of State indicates the bill may increase the length of various forms related to obtaining an absentee ballot.  Any increased printing cost for such ballots would be absorbed within the Department's budget.

 

The Department of Corrections and New Hampshire Association of Counties indicate this bill has no fiscal impact on their operations.  However 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 2021

FY 2022

Class A Misdemeanor

$77

$79

Appeals

Varies

Varies

It should be noted that average case cost estimates for FY 2021 and FY 2022 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

$300/Case

$300/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%).

NH Association of Counties

 

 

County Prosecution Costs

Indeterminable

Indeterminable

Estimated Average Daily Cost of Incarcerating an Individual

$105 to $120

$105 to $120

 

Many offenses are prosecuted by local and county prosecutors.  When the Department of Justice has investigative and prosecutorial responsibility or is involved in an appeal, the Department would likely absorb the cost within its existing budget.  If the Department needs to prosecute significantly more cases or handle more appeals, then costs may increase by an indeterminable amount.  

 

It is assumed this bill will have no fiscal impact until FY 2021.

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

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

 

Links

HB1651 at GenCourtMobile
HB1651 Discussion

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Jan. 22, 2020 House Hearing
March 3, 2020 House Exec Session
March 4, 2020 House Exec Session

Bill Text Revisions

HB1651 Revision: 7295 Date: Jan. 13, 2020, 3:43 p.m.

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 8, 2020 Introduced 01/08/2020 and referred to Election Law
Jan. 22, 2020 Public Hearing: 01/22/2020 10:30 am LOB 308
Feb. 12, 2020 Subcommittee Work Session: 02/12/2020 10:00 am LOB 308
March 3, 2020 Executive Session: 03/03/2020 11:00 am LOB 308
March 4, 2020 ==CONTINUED== Executive Session: 03/04/2020 11:00 am LOB 308 (if not exec'd on the 3rd)