NO. 59.  AN ACT RELATING TO IMPLEMENTING THE FEDERAL HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT.

(H.460)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

* * * Common Law; General Rights * * *

* * *Access to Public Documents * * *

Sec. 1.  1 V.S.A. § 317(c) is amended to read:

(c)  The following public records are exempt from public inspection and copying:

* * *

(31)  records of a registered voter’s month and day of birth, motor vehicle operator’s license number, the last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number, and street address if different from the applicant’s mailing address contained in an application to the statewide voter checklist or the statewide voter checklist established under section 2154 of Title 17.

* * * Qualification and Registration of Voters * * *

* * * Registration of Voters * * *

Sec. 2.  17 V.S.A. § 2144 is amended to read:

§ 2144.  DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS

(a)  The board shall meet at the time and place appointed and remain in session a reasonable time.  It may recess or adjourn from day to day, but The town clerk shall not accept applications for persons’ names to be placed on the checklist shall not be accepted after 12:00 noon on the second Saturday Monday preceding the day of the election.  The town clerk’s office shall be kept open on the second Saturday Monday preceding the day of the election from no later than 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon, for the purpose of receiving applications for addition to the checklist.  For purposes of this subsection, a mail application or an application submitted to the department of motor vehicles in connection with a motor vehicle driver’s license or an application accepted by a voter registration agency shall be considered to have met the filing deadline established by this subsection if the application is postmarked, submitted or accepted, as the case may be, by 12:00 noon of the second Saturday Monday preceding the day of the election.

(b)  If a person is not eligible to register prior to the second Saturday Monday before the day of election, but expects to be eligible on or before election day, he or she may file with the town clerk a written notice of intention to apply for addition of his or her name to the checklist.  The notice shall be filed prior to noon of the second Saturday Monday preceding the day of election, and the board of civil authority town clerk shall then accept the person’s application at any time before the close of the polls on election day, and act upon the application forthwith.

(c)  If a person is not eligible to register prior to the second Saturday Monday before the day of the election, and has submitted a written notice of intent to apply in accord with subsection (b) of this section, the clerk shall, upon application, allow the applicant to vote absentee.  If the application is approved and the name added to the checklist prior to the close of the polls on election day, the early or absentee ballots cast by that voter shall be treated as other valid early or absentee ballots.

(d)  In the case of annual meetings and towns that start their annual meetings on any day preceding the first Tuesday in March as authorized in section 2640(b) of this title, the “day of election” shall be the first Tuesday in March.

Sec. 3.  17 V.S.A. § 2144b is amended to read:

§ 2144b.  ADDITIONS TO CHECKLIST BY TOWN CLERK; LOCAL

                OPTION

(a)  A town may vote at a special or annual town meeting to authorize its town clerk to approve additions to the checklist clerk shall review all applications to the voter checklist and shall approve those applications that meet the requirements of this chapter and section 2103 of this title.  Once approved, application information shall be added to the statewide voter checklist on an expedited basis.  If an applicant has failed upon the date of the election to provide any information required upon the application form pursuant to section 2145 of this title, the town clerk shall notify the applicant that the form was incomplete and the applicant may provide the information on or before the date of the election

(b)  Except as provided in this section, if the town votes to authorize the town clerk to approve additions to the checklist, applications shall not be reviewed by the board of civil authority, and the applicable provisions of sections 2144, 2145 and 2146 of this title shall apply to the clerk. 

(c)  If the town clerk does not believe determine that an applicant meets the requirements of section 2121 of this title, the clerk shall forthwith immediately forward the application to the board of civil authority, which shall, meet in a timely manner, after the receipt of the application and proceed under section 2146 of this title to determine whether the applicant meets the requirements of section 2121.  For purposes of adding applicants to the checklist, a quorum shall consist of three members of the board of civil authority.

(d)  Periodically, or at least ten five days prior to each election, the town clerk shall forward to the board of civil authority a list of additions to the checklist.

Sec. 4.  17 V.S.A. § 2145 is amended to read:

§ 2145.  APPLICATION FORMS

(a)  The voter registration application shall be in the form approved by the federal election commission or by the secretary of state.  The application form approved by the secretary shall include:

(1)  A statement informing the applicant of the requirements for place for the applicant to swear or affirm, by checking the appropriate box, that he or she meets all voter eligibility requirements set forth in section 2121 of this title and space for the applicant to provide the information necessary for the board of civil authority to determine eligibility, including the applicant’s town of residence, street address and, if the applicant’s mailing address is different from his or her street address, the mailing address a place for the signature of the applicant affirming, under penalty of perjury, that all information submitted by the applicant is accurate and truthful.  The affirmation shall include the following information:

(A)  The applicant’s place and date of birth.

(B)  The applicant’s town of legal residence.

(C)  The applicant’s street address or a description of the physical location of the applicant’s residence.  The description must contain sufficient information so that the town clerk can determine whether the applicant is a resident of the town.

(D)(i)  if the applicant has been issued a current and valid driver’s license or nondriver’s identification, the applicant’s driver’s license number or nondriver’s identification number; or

(ii)  if the applicant does not possess a driver’s license number, the last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number; or

(iii)  if the applicant does not possess a Social Security number, the town clerk shall contact the secretary of state and the secretary shall assign a unique identifier for the applicant.

(2)  An attestation by the applicant that he or she satisfies all the voter eligibility requirements.  The attestation shall be signed by the applicant under penalty of perjury.

(3)  The voter’s oath and a space for a person administering the voter’s oath to another to execute the written notification required by section 2124 of this title.

(3)  Space for the town clerk to document action on the application.

(4)  Space for documentation of the board of civil authority’s action on the application.

(5)  The following statements:

“If you were provided with this form when you applied for, or renewed, a motor vehicle driver’s license or were provided with this application form by a voter registration agency, you may decline to register.  If you decline to register, your failure to register will remain confidential and will be used only for voter registration purposes.”

“If you are submitting this application in connection with a motor vehicle driver’s license application, or renewal, or through a voter registration agency, the office through which you submitted this application will remain confidential and will be used only for voter registration purposes.”

(5)  The following statement on applications provided by the department of motor vehicles:  “Keep this receipt and take it to the polls when you go to vote.  This is proof you submitted an application before the deadline for registration.”

(6)  A statement informing the applicant:  “Keep a copy of this application form.  Contact your town clerk to make sure your application has been received.  Bring the copy to the polls when you go to vote.  This is your proof you have submitted an application to the checklist before the deadline for registration.”

(b)  Except for forms included as part of a department of motor vehicles license application, the registration application form shall be in four copies.  One copy shall be retained by the applicant; three copies shall be forwarded to the town clerk.  In the case of applications received at voter registration agencies, three copies shall be forwarded to the secretary of state who shall forward the copies to the town clerk of the applicant’s town of residence.  In the case of forms included as part of a department of motor vehicles license application, the form shall be in two copies.  One copy shall be retained by the applicant; one copy shall be forwarded to the secretary of state who shall forward the form to the town clerk of the applicant’s town of residence.

Sec. 4a.  AGREEMENT BETWEEN DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR

              VEHICLES AND SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

The commissioner of motor vehicles may enter into an agreement with the Social Security Administration pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(r)(8), however, the agreement shall be limited to verifying applications to register to vote that use the last four digits of an applicant’s Social Security number as the applicant’s unique identifying number.  The secretary of state is prohibited from giving any information contained in any portion of the statewide voter checklist that is exempt from public inspection pursuant to subdivision 317(c)(31) to any subdivision of the federal government.

Sec. 5.  17 V.S.A. § 2147(a) is amended to read:

§ 2147.  ALTERATION OF CHECKLIST

(a)  Pursuant to section 2150 of this title, the board shall add to the checklist posted in the town clerk’s office the names of the voters added and the names omitted by mistake, and shall strike the names of persons not entitled to vote.  The list so corrected shall not be altered except by:

* * *

(4)  adding, at the polling place, the names of persons who sign a sworn affidavit prepared by the secretary of state that they completed and submitted a valid application for addition to the checklist of that town before the deadline for applications and who otherwise are qualified to be added to the checklist; or

* * *

(6)  adding the names of persons who submitted an incomplete application before the deadline for application, and who provide that information on or before election day. 

Sec. 6.  17 V.S.A. § 2150 is amended to read:

§ 2150.  REMOVING NAMES FROM CHECKLIST

(a)  When a voter from one town becomes a resident of another town and is placed on the checklist there, the clerk shall send one copy of the voter registration application form or other official notice to the clerk of the town where the voter was formerly a resident, and that clerk shall strike the voter’s name from the checklist of that town.  Likewise, when a town clerk receives a copy of the death certificate of a voter, public notice of the death of a voter, or official notice from the department of motor vehicles that a voter has authorized his or her address to be changed for voting purposes, the clerk shall strike the voter’s name from the checklist.  A town clerk shall also strike from the checklist the name of any voter who files a written request that his or her name be stricken.

* * *

(d)  Except as provided in subsection (a) of this section, a board of civil authority shall only remove a name from the checklist in accordance with the following procedure:

* * *

(3)  If after conducting its inquiry the board of civil authority is unable to locate a voter whose name is on the checklist, or if the inquiry reveals facts indicating that the voter may no longer be eligible to vote in the municipality, the board of civil authority shall send a written notice to the voter.  The notice shall be sent by first class mail to the most recent known address of the voter asking the voter to verify his or her current eligibility to vote in the municipality.  The notice shall be sent with “address correction requested.” the required United States Postal Service language for requesting change of address information.  Enclosed with the notice shall be a postage paid pre‑addressed return card form on which the voter may reply, either setting forth swearing or affirming the voter’s current place of residence as the municipality in question and requesting that the voter’s name be retained upon the checklist, or alternatively consenting to the removal of the voter’s name.  The notice required by this subsection shall also include the following:

(A)  A statement informing the voter that if the voter has not changed his or her residence, or if the voter has changed his or her residence but the change was within the area covered by the checklist, the voter should return the card form to the town clerk’s office on or before the date upon which the checklist is closed under section 2144 of this title.  The statement shall also inform the voter that if he or she fails to return the card form as provided in this subdivision, written affirmation of the voter’s address shall be required before the voter is permitted to vote.

(B)  Information concerning how the voter can continue to be eligible to vote if the voter has changed his or her residence to a place outside the area covered by the checklist register to vote in another state or another municipality within this state.

* * *

Sec. 7.  17 V.S.A. § 2154 is added to read:

§ 2154.  STATEWIDE VOTER CHECKLIST

(a)  The secretary of state shall establish a uniform and nondiscriminatory, statewide computerized voter registration checklist.  This checklist shall serve as the official voter registration list for all elections in the state.  In establishing the statewide checklist, the secretary shall:

(1)  limit the town clerk to adding, modifying, or deleting applicant and voter information on the portion of the checklist for that clerk’s municipality;

(2)  limit access to the statewide voter checklist for a local elections official to verifying if the applicant is registered in another municipality in the state by a search for the individual voter;

(3)  notify a local elections official when a voter registered in that official’s district registers in another voting district so that the voter may be removed from that district’s checklist;

(4)  provide adequate security to prevent unauthorized access to the checklist;

(5)  ensure the compatibility and comparability of information on the checklist with information contained in the department of motor vehicles’ computer systems. 

(b)  A registered voter’s month and day of birth, driver’s license number, the last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number, and street address if different from the applicant’s mailing address shall not be considered a public record as defined in subsection 317(b) of Title 1.  Any person wishing to obtain a copy of all of the statewide voter checklist must swear or affirm, under penalty of perjury pursuant to chapter 65 of Title 13, that the person will not use the checklist for commercial purposes.  The affirmation shall be filed with the secretary of state.

(c)  No elections official may access the portion of the statewide voter checklist that is exempt from public inspection pursuant to subdivision 317(c)(31) of Title 1, except for elections purposes.

* * * Party Organization * * *

Sec. 8.  17 V.S.A. § 2321 is amended to read:

§ 2321.  REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT COMMITTEE

The “representative district committee” of a party shall consist of those members of the town committee residing in a representative district, as finally established by the legislative apportionment board.  A representative district committee may encompass less than an entire town or may extend across town lines, as the case may be.  Such a committee shall elect its own officers when called upon to meet, but it need not meet unless required to perform some function under this title.  Any three members may call the first meeting by giving at least seven five days written notice to all other members; thereafter, the committee shall meet at the call of the chairman chair.

Sec. 9.  17 V.S.A. § 2322 is amended to read:

§ 2322.  SENATORIAL DISTRICT COMMITTEE

The “senatorial district committee” of a party shall consist of those members of the county committee residing in a senatorial district.  A senatorial district committee may encompass less than an entire county or may extend across county lines, as the case may be.  Such a committee shall elect its own officers when called upon to meet, but it need not meet unless required to perform some function under this title.  Any three members may call the first meeting by giving at least seven five days written notice to all other members; thereafter, the committee shall meet at the call of the chairman chair.

Sec. 10.  17 V.S.A. § 2323 is amended to read:

§ 2323.  PROBATE DISTRICT COMMITTEE

The “probate district committee” of a party shall consist of those members of the county committee residing in a probate district.  Such a committee shall elect its own officers when called upon to meet, but it need not meet unless required to perform some function under this title.  The chairman chair of the county committee may call the first meeting by giving at least seven five days written notice to all other members; thereafter the committee shall meet at the call of the probate district chairman chair.

* * * Nominations * * *

* * * Primary Elections * * *

Sec. 11.  17 V.S.A. § 2356 is amended to read:

§ 2356.  TIME FOR FILING PETITIONS

Primary petitions shall be filed no sooner than the first Monday in June and not later than 5:00 p.m. on the third Monday of July preceding the primary election prescribed by section 2351 of this title, and not later than 5:00 p.m. of the forty-second 42nd day prior to the day of a special primary election.

Sec. 12.  17 V.S.A. § 2361 is amended to read:

§ 2361.  CONSENT OF CANDIDATE

A candidate for whom petitions containing sufficient valid signatures have been filed shall file with the official with whom the petitions were filed a consent to the printing of the candidate’s name on the ballot.  The secretary of state shall prepare and furnish forms for this purpose.  The consent shall set forth the name of the candidate, as the candidate wishes to have it printed on the ballot, the candidate’s town of residence and correct mailing address.  The consent shall be filed on or before the day primary petitions are due.  Unless a consent is filed, the candidate’s name shall not be printed on the primary ballot.

* * * Nominations * * *

* * * Nominations by Party Committee * * *

Sec. 13.  17 V.S.A. § 2386 is amended to read:

§ 2386.  TIME FOR FILING STATEMENTS

(a)  Statements pursuant to this subchapter, except for vacancies created by the death or withdrawal of a candidate after the primary, shall be filed not more than 60 days before the day of the general election and not later than 5:00 p.m. on the third day following the primary election. 

(b)  In the case of the death or withdrawal of a candidate after the primary election, the party committee shall have seven days from the date of the withdrawal to nominate a candidate.  In no event, shall a statement be filed later than 40 days prior to the election.

* * * Nominations * * *

* * * Miscellaneous Provisions * * *

Sec. 14.  17 V.S.A. § 2412 is amended to read:

§ 2412.  WITHDRAWAL OF CANDIDACY

A candidate who has been validly nominated by one of the methods prescribed in this chapter shall have a right to withdraw his or her candidacy up until 5:00 p.m. on the 47th day before the day of the election third day following the primary by filing a written notice of withdrawal with the town clerk in case of a candidate for justice of the peace, and with the secretary of state in case of all other offices.  The name of a candidate who has withdrawn shall not be printed on the ballot.  After that date, if the candidate has filed a written notice of withdrawal, the town clerk or secretary of state may still remove the candidate’s name from the ballot up until a the printing deadline which he shall publicly announce ahead of time.

Sec. 15.  17 V.S.A. § 2457(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The secretary of state shall organize regional workshops for election officials, provide them with informational materials about the conduct of elections and recounts and otherwise help them run elections in a proper and legal manner conformance with state and federal law.

* * * Conduct of Elections * * *

* * * Elections Officials * * *

Sec. 16.  17 V.S.A. § 2451 is amended to read:

§ 2451.  BOARD OF CIVIL AUTHORITY

The board of civil authority shall have charge of the conduct of elections within the political subdivision for which it is elected.  At any time before an election, the board of civil authority may issue guidance for elections officials that assists officials in conducting elections within the political subdivision.  Guidance issued by the board shall not conflict with federal or state elections laws.  A quorum of the board of civil authority shall be available at all times when the polls are open, and those members of the board of civil authority present at a polling place shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business relating to the conduct of the election and the qualification and registration of voters at this polling place.

Sec. 17.  17 V.S.A. § 2454 is amended to read:

§ 2454.  ASSISTANT ELECTION OFFICERS

(a)  Prior to the day of the election, the board of civil authority shall appoint a sufficient number of voters from each voting district to serve as assistant election officers in their respective polling places.  As far as possible, the board shall attempt to appoint an equal number of persons from each major political party.  Each assistant election officer shall be sworn prior to entering on the performance of his or her duties.  An assistant town clerk may serve as an assistant elections officer, regardless of his or her residence.

(b)  The board of civil authority may appoint residents of a voting district who are 16 or 17 years old to serve as assistant elections officers in their respective polling places.  Youth assistant elections officers shall have the same duties as adult assistant elections officers but shall work under the direct supervision of adult elections officials.

Sec. 18.  17 V.S.A. § 2458 is added to read:

§ 2458.  COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

The secretary of state shall adopt rules to establish a uniform and nondiscriminatory complaint procedure to be used by any person who believes that a violation of this title or any other provision of Title III of United States Public Law 107-252 has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur.  For purposes of this section, “complaint” shall mean a statement in writing made by a voter stating, with particularity, the violation, notarized, and sworn or affirmed under penalty of perjury.  The secretary’s rules shall provide for an informal proceeding to hear complaints for all complainants unless a formal hearing is requested.  Formal complaints held pursuant to this section shall be in conformance with the rules adopted by the secretary.  Any decision of the secretary may be appealed to the superior court in the county where the individual resides.

* * * Conduct of Elections * * *

* * * Ballots * * *

Sec. 19.  17 V.S.A. § 2474 is amended to read:

§ 2474.  CHOICE OF PARTY

(a)  A person nominated by any means for the same office by more than one political party, at least 36 days before the day of the not later than the second Friday following the primary election may elect the party or parties in which the nominee will be a candidate.  The nominee shall notify in writing the secretary of state or town clerk, as the case may be, of such choice, and only the party or parties which the nominee so elects shall be printed next to the nominee’s name on the ballot.

(b)  A candidate for state or congressional office who is the nominee of two or more political parties shall file with the secretary of state, at least 36 days before the day of the not later than the second Friday following the primary election, a statement designating for which party the votes cast for him or her shall be counted for the purposes of determining whether his or her designated party shall be a major political party.  The party so designated shall be the first party to be printed immediately after the candidate’s name on the ballot.  If a candidate does not file the statement at least 36 days before the date of election before the second Friday following the primary, the secretary of state shall designate by lot the party to be printed immediately after the candidate’s name.

* * * Conduct of Elections * * *

* * * Voting Machines * * *

Sec. 20.  17 V.S.A. § 2491 is amended to read:

§ 2491.  POLITICAL SUBDIVISION MAY USE VOTING MACHINES

A town may vote at any annual or special meeting to employ mechanical or electronic devices (“voting machines”) for the registering and counting of votes in subsequent elections.  Voting machines may be used in combination with the paper ballots described in the preceding subchapter, so that each voter may choose whether to use a paper ballot or a voting machine to cast his or her vote, if the town so votes.

Sec. 21.  17 V.S.A. § 2492 is amended to read:

§ 2492.  LEGISLATIVE BRANCH TO OBTAIN VOTING MACHINES

(a)  If a town votes to use voting machines, in whole or in part, for voting in subsequent elections at least six months prior to the next primary or general election, the legislative body shall make arrangements to rent or purchase voting machines of standard make, approved by the secretary of state, capable of providing a simple and convenient means of voting and ascertaining the true result.  The town shall be responsible for all expenses attendant upon the purchase or rental of voting machines and the secretary of state shall furnish the ballots.  Other election materials which are not particular to voting machines shall be prepared at state expense, under the direction of the secretary of state, except for local elections, which shall be governed by 17 V.S.A. § section 2682 of this title.

(b)  The secretary of state may attach conditions to the approval of a voting machine if he deems it necessary to further the purposes of this chapter.

Sec. 22.  17 V.S.A. § 2493 is amended to read:

§ 2493.  REGULATIONS RULES FOR USE OF VOTING MACHINES

(a)  The secretary of state shall make regulations for the use of voting machines.  These regulations may cover any of the following:

(1)  The format of machine programs for the primary and general elections;

(2)  The content of summary sheets;

(3)  The content of all voter instruction materials provided by a town;

(4)  Security before and after the election;

(5)  Obtaining and recording machine totals;

(6)  Duties of election officials;

(7)  Availability of machines during polling hours;

(8)  Disposition of checklists, summary sheets and machine materials after the election;

(9)  Other matters pertaining to the proper use of voting machines under this title.

The secretary of state shall adopt rules governing the use and the selection of any voting machine in the state.  These rules shall include requirements that:

(1)  All municipalities that have voted to use a voting machine shall use a uniform voting machine approved by the secretary of state. 

(2)  The secretary of state shall provide for the security of voting machines at all times.

(3)  All voting machines shall be set to reject a ballot that contains an overvote and provide the voter the opportunity to correct the overvote, have the ballot declared spoiled, and obtain another ballot.  If an early voter absentee ballot contains an overvote, the elections official shall override the voting machine and count all races except any race that contains an overvote.

(4)  All voting machines shall be set not to reject undervotes.

(b)  Each voting machine shall be tested using official ballots that are marked clearly as “test ballots” at least ten days prior to an election.

Sec. 23.  17 V.S.A. § 2494 is amended to read:

§ 2494.  CONSTRUCTION WITH OTHER LAWS

Except as this subchapter affects the method of registering votes and ascertaining the result, the laws of this state pertaining to elections shall be applicable.  The laws pertaining to early or absentee voters shall in no way be affected by this subchapter, and votes cast by early or absentee voters shall be counted with votes registered on voting machines.  In towns using voting machines, the board of civil authority may vote to open polling places at 5:00 a.m., provided that at least three elections officials are present, two of whom are from different parties, solely for the purpose of checking voters who voted by early voter absentee ballot off the checklist and depositing the ballots into the ballot box or voting machine.  If all early voter absentee ballots have not been deposited into the voting machines before the closing of the polls at 7:00 p.m., the elections officials shall continue to deposit ballots using the same procedure as provided in subsection 2561(b) of this title, treating each ballot as a voter waiting to cast his or her ballot at the close of the polls.

Sec. 24.  17 V.S.A. § 2499(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The checklist or checklists, as the case may be, the early voter absentee ballots, tally sheets for early voter absentee ballots, read-out sheets and other machine materials shall be sealed in the ballot bags provided by the secretary as soon as all the votes have been counted.  The container and contents shall be secured and stored as provided in section 2590 of this title.

* * * Conduct of Elections * * *

* * * Warnings, Notices, and Other Voter Information * * *

Sec. 25.  17 V.S.A. § 2521 is amended to read:

§ 2521.  WARNINGS AND NOTICES

(a)  Not less than 30 days before the election, the town clerk shall cause a warning and notice to be posted informing the voters of the town about the election.  The warning shall include the date and time of the election, location of the polling place or places, nature of the election and offices or questions to be voted upon.  The notice shall contain information on voter registration and early or absentee voting, on how to obtain ballots, mark them, get help marking them and obtain new ballots in place of those accidentally spoiled; information about offenses relating to elections; how to get help if there is a problem on election day; instructions for registrants by mail; instructions for first‑time voters; instructions on who may cast a provisional ballot; instructions on how to cast a provisional ballot; information on federal and state laws prohibiting fraud and misrepresentation; instructions on how to contact the appropriate official if a person believes any of his or her rights to vote have been violated; and other appropriate information.  The warning and notice shall be posted in at least two public places within each town and in or near the town clerk’s office.  If a town has more than one polling place, the warning and notice shall be posted in at least two public places within each voting district and in or near the town clerk’s office.  The checklist shall also be posted as required in section 2141 of this title.

* * *

Sec. 26.  17 V.S.A. § 2522 is amended to read:

§ 2522.  SAMPLE BALLOTS AND OFFICIAL VOTER INFORMATION

              CARDS

(a)  Not less than ten days before the election As soon as ballots are received by the town clerk, but not later than 20 days prior to any primary or general election or 10 days prior to any municipal election, the town clerk shall post sample ballots and official voter information cards in at least two public places within the town and in or near the town clerk’s office.  If a town has more than one polling place and the polling places are not all in the same building, the sample ballot and official voter information cards shall be posted in at least two public places within each voting district and in or near the town clerk’s office.

(b)  The town clerk shall prepare the sample ballots by marking the words SAMPLE BALLOT prominently at the top of official election ballots.  In the case of voting machines, the town clerk shall prepare the sample ballots by preparing a form similar in layout and format to what appears in the voting machines.

* * *

* * * Conduct of Elections * * *

* * * Early or Absentee Voters * * *

Sec. 27.  17 V.S.A. § 2523(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Before the polls open on election day, the presiding officer shall post copies of the warning and notice, and the sample ballots and the official voter information cards conspicuously in and about the polling place so that voters can reasonably be expected to see them before voting.

Sec. 28.  17 V.S.A. § 2542 is amended to read:

§ 2542.  SIGNING CERTIFICATE

There shall be printed on the face of the envelope provided for use in returning early voter absentee ballots a certificate in substantially the following form:

“Early or Absentee Voter Ballots of ___________________________________________”

                             (print your name)

   I, ____________________, solemnly swear or affirm that I am a resident of the town (city) of ________________, State of Vermont, and that I am a legal voter in this town (city).

__________________________

                  (your signature)

The early or absentee voter must sign the certificate on the outside of the envelope in order for the ballot to be valid.  When an early or absentee voter is physically unable to sign his or her name, he or she may mark an “X” or take an oath swearing or affirming to the statement on the certificate.  The officers who deliver the ballots shall witness the mark or oath and sign their names with a statement attesting to this fact on the envelope.

Sec. 29.  17 V.S.A. § 2546 is amended to read:

§ 2546.  DEPOSIT OF EARLY VOTER ABSENTEE BALLOTS IN

              BALLOT BOX

(a)  Upon receipt of the early or absentee voter’s ballots, the election officials shall examine the checklist and ascertain that the early or absentee voter is qualified to vote, that he has not already voted in person and that the certificate on the envelope containing the ballots is properly filled out.  When the election officials are satisfied that the early or absentee voter is legally qualified to vote, has not already voted in person and that the certificate is properly filled out, they shall open the envelope containing the ballots, and without unfolding the ballots or permitting the same to be opened or examined, shall have the proper election official place a mark upon the entrance and exit checklists indicating the fact that the voter has voted by means of an early or voter absentee ballot, and shall deposit the ballots in the proper ballot boxes.  Such early voter absentee ballots shall be commingled with the ballots of voters who have voted in person, and thereafter treated as those ballots are treated.  The town clerk or presiding officer shall deliver the unopened early voter absentee ballots to the election officials at the place where the entrance checklist is located.  If an elections official determines that the certificate on the envelope is signed by the early voter, the name of the early voter appears on the checklist, and the early voter is not a first‑time voter in the municipality who registered by mail, the elections official shall mark the checklist, open the envelope, and deposit the ballot in the proper ballot box or voting machine.  If the early voter is a first‑time voter who registered by mail, the elections official shall determine whether the identification required under subdivision 2563(a)(1) of this title has been submitted by the voter.  Upon ascertaining that the proper identification has been submitted by the voter, the elections official shall mark the checklist, open the envelope, and deposit the ballot in the proper ballot box or voting machine.  If the proper identification has not been submitted, the ballot shall be treated as a provisional ballot, as provided in subchapter 6A of this chapter.

(b)  In the case of towns using voting machines, the early voter absentee ballots deposited under this section shall be deposited in ballot boxes or other secure containers.  The ballot boxes or containers shall not be opened, and the early voter absentee ballots shall not be counted, until the polls are closed.  All early voter absentee ballots shall be commingled with the ballots of voters who have voted in person. 

* * * Conduct of Elections * * *

* * * Provisional Voting * * *

Sec. 30.  17 V.S.A. chapter 51, subchapter 6A is added to read:

Subchapter 6A.  Provisional Voting and Voter Affirmation

§ 2555.  PROVISIONAL BALLOT ENVELOPES

The clerk shall deliver to each polling place on the date of the election a sufficient number of provisional ballot envelopes printed with a voter attestation.  The attestation shall include:

(1)  A statement informing the applicant of the requirements for voter eligibility set forth in section 2121 of this title and space for the provisional voter to provide the information necessary for the town clerk to determine eligibility, including a place for the applicant to swear or affirm, by checking the appropriate box, that he or she meets all voter eligibility requirements set forth in section 2121 of this title and the signature of the provisional voter signed under penalty of perjury.  In addition, the attestation shall include the following information:

(A)  The provisional voter’s place and date of birth.

(B)  The provisional voter’s town of legal residence.

(C)  The provisional voter’s street address or a description of the physical location of the applicant’s residence.  The description must contain sufficient information so that the town clerk can determine whether the applicant is a resident of the town.

(2)  An attestation by the provisional voter that he or she submitted a properly completed voter application form before the application deadline.  The attestation shall be signed by the provisional voter under penalty of perjury.

(3)  Space on the application for documentation of the town clerk’s action.

(4)  A statement informing the provisional voter:  “Provisional balloting allows a provisional voter only to vote in federal elections.  If you wish to vote in any other state or local election, you should return this form to the elections officials and file an appeal in superior court in the county in which you live pursuant to section 2148 of Title 17.  If you choose to vote by provisional ballot, after the close of the polls, the town clerk will determine whether you meet all eligibility requirements.  If the clerk denies your application, he or she will inform you that the application has been denied.”

§ 2556.  PROVISIONAL VOTING

(a)  If an individual’s name does not appear on the checklist and the individual claims to have submitted an application for the checklist prior to noon on the second Monday before the election, the election official shall allow the individual to vote provisionally.

(b)  The provisional voter shall be given a ballot that includes only candidates for federal offices and an envelope with an attestation printed upon it, as described in section 2555 of this title, and shall complete the attestation on the envelope.  Upon completion, the provisional voter shall seal the envelope and deposit it in a ballot box marked for the receipt of provisional ballots.

(c)  A provisional voter who makes a false statement in completing the attestation, knowing the statement to be false, shall be subject to the penalties of perjury as provided in chapter 65 of Title 13.

§ 2557.  TOWN CLERK APPROVAL OF PROVISIONAL VOTER  

              ATTESTATION

(a)  The town clerk may make such investigation as he or she deems proper to verify any fact stated in the application.  In making the determination whether to accept the provisional voter’s attestation, the town clerk shall determine whether the applicant meets all of the registration eligibility requirements.  However, the town clerk may not require a provisional voter to complete any form other than that approved under section 2555 of this title; nor may the board of civil authority require all provisional voters or any particular class or group of provisional voters to appear personally before a meeting of the board or routinely or as a matter of policy require provisional voters to submit additional information to verify or otherwise support the information contained in the attestation.

(b)  Within two days after the close of the polls, the town clerk shall inform each provisional voter of his or her action on a provisional voter’s attestation.  If the clerk rejects a provisional voter, the clerk shall also notify the provisional voter immediately of his or her reasons by first class mail directed to the address given in the application. 

(c)  When the town clerk approves a provisional voter’s attestation, the town clerk shall note his or her approval in the space provided on the envelope, photocopy the affidavit from all provisional envelopes, place all provisional envelopes with the official return of vote, and send all information to the secretary of state in a manner prescribed by the secretary.

(d)  Upon receipt of the official return of vote that contains provisional envelopes from any town clerk, the secretary shall open all envelopes that were approved by the municipal clerk, deposit the ballot in a ballot box, and count all approved ballots, adding the totals to the statewide count for federal offices.

* * * Conduct of Elections * * *

* * * Process of Voting * * *

Sec. 31.  17 V.S.A. § 2561(a) is amended to read:

(a)  At all elections using the Australian ballot system, the polls shall open no earlier than six 5:00 a.m. and no later than ten 10:00 a.m. as set by the board of civil authority in each town unless the board of civil authority has elected to open the polls earlier than 6:00 a.m. as provided in section 2494 of this title.  The polls in all polling places shall close at seven 7:00 p.m.

Sec. 32.  17 V.S.A. § 2563 is amended to read:

§ 2563.  ADMITTING VOTER

Before a person may be admitted within the guardrail to vote, he or she shall announce his or her name and if requested, his or her place of residence in a clear and audible tone of voice, or present his or her name in writing, or otherwise identify himself or herself by appropriate documentation.  The election officials attending the entrance through the guardrail of the polling place shall then verify that the person’s name appears on one of the certified copies of the checklist for the polling place.  If the name does appear, and if no one immediately challenges the person’s right to vote on grounds of identity or having previously voted in the same election, the election officials shall repeat the name of the person and:

(1)  repeat the name of the person; If the checklist indicates that the person is a first‑time voter in the municipality who registered by mail and who has not provided required identification before the opening of the polls, require the person to present any one of the following:  a valid photo identification; a copy of a current utility bill; a copy of a current bank statement; or a copy of a government check, paycheck, or any other government document that shows the current name and address of the voter.  If the person is unable to produce the required information, the person shall be afforded the opportunity to cast a provisional ballot, as provided in subchapter 6A of this chapter.  The elections official shall note upon the checklist a first‑time voter in the municipality who has registered by mail and who produces the required information, and place a mark next to the voter’s name on the checklist and allow the voter to proceed to the voting booth for the purpose of voting.

(2)  place a check mark next to his name; and If the voter is not a first‑time voter in the municipality, no identification shall be required, the clerk shall place a check next to the voter’s name on the checklist and allow the voter to proceed to the voting booth for the purpose of voting.

(3)  admit him within the guardrail for the purpose of voting.

Sec. 33.  17 V.S.A. § 2567 is amended to read:

§ 2567.  REGISTERING VOTES ON VOTING MACHINES

(a)  If a voter is to register his vote upon a voting machine, he or she shall proceed, immediately upon being admitted within the guardrail, to a voting machine not occupied by another voter.  He The voter shall then register his or her vote according to the instructions provided to voters with the machine.  Upon leaving the voting machine, he or she shall proceed directly to the exit of the guardrail.  A voter shall not be allowed to occupy a voting machine more than five minutes when other voters are waiting to vote.

(b)  All polling places, regardless of whether the municipality has voted to use a voting machine pursuant to section 2492 of this title, shall possess at least one voting system approved by the secretary of state equipped for individuals with disabilities, including accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, to vote independently and privately.

Sec. 34.  17 V.S.A. § 2569 is amended to read:

§ 2569.  ASSISTANCE TO VOTER

(a)  A voter who declares to the presiding officer that he or she cannot read or write or by reason of physical or mental disability is unable needs assistance to mark the ballot or register a vote on a machine, as the case may be, shall, upon request, be directed by the presiding officer to a booth in which the voter may be assisted in the marking or registering of the ballot by a person of the voter’s choice or two election officials or a person of the voter’s choice, provided that the person so chosen is not the employer or union representative of the voter desiring assistance of different party affiliations.

* * *

Sec. 35.  17 V.S.A. § 2573 is amended to read:

§ 2573.  NO COUNTING BEFORE POLLS CLOSE

The In towns using paper ballots, the ballot boxes shall not be opened nor the ballots counted before the closing of the polls.  In towns using voting machines, the machine counts shall not be viewed or printed before the closing of the polls.

Sec. 36.  17 V.S.A. § 2582 is amended to read:

§ 2582.  PRESIDING OFFICER TO DIRECT COUNT; TRANSPORTING

              BALLOTS OR CHECKLIST

The presiding officer shall direct the manner in which the votes are counted, subject to the provisions of this subchapter title and as provided for in the rules for counting ballots adopted by the secretary of state.  Ballots shall be counted at the polling places where they are cast, except where the secretary of state determines that it would not be practical because of the type of voting machine employed and except for ballots cast in union school district votes on bond issues which, under section 706w of Title 16, shall be commingled, upon request of the presiding officer, has issued a determination that the ballots should be counted elsewhere, or the checklist should be moved by two elections officials of different parties for the purpose of making a photocopy.

* * * Conduct of Elections * * *

* * * Count and Return of Votes * * *

Sec. 37.  17 V.S.A. § 2583(b) is amended to read:

(b)  If in the case of voting machines an exit checklist is not used, as provided by section 2496 of this title, alternative material read-out sheets and other machine materials which is are used to provide equivalent security shall be sealed and stored with the ballots and tally sheets. 

Sec. 38.  17 V.S.A. § 2587 is amended to read:

§ 2587.  RULES FOR COUNTING BALLOTS

(a)  In counting ballots, election officials shall attempt to ascertain the intent of the voter, as expressed by his markings on the ballot which is consistent with guidance adopted by the secretary of state.  The secretary shall adopt, by rule, guidance on determining whether a ballot is spoiled.  If it is impossible to determine the intent of the voter for any office or public question, the ballot shall be counted as blank or spoiled, as the case may be, for that office or question; but that determination shall not control any other office or question on the ballot for which the voter’s intent can be determined.  If they have any doubt about the intent of the voter or any other question about a ballot, the election officials counting the ballot shall bring it to the presiding officer, who shall present the question of how to treat the ballot to the assembled election officials.  The decision of how to treat the ballot shall be made by majority vote of the election officials who are present.

* * *

(e)  In the case of “write-in” votes, the act of writing in the name of a candidate, or pasting a label containing a candidate’s name upon the ballot, without other indications of the voter’s intent, shall constitute a vote for that candidate, even though no cross is placed after such name.  The election officials counting ballots and tallying results must list every person who receives a “write-in” vote and the number of votes received.  On each tally sheet, the counters shall add together the names of candidates that are clearly the same person, even though a nickname or last name is used.  Names of fictitious persons shall not be listed.

* * *

* * * Conduct of Elections * * *

* * * Recounts * * *

Sec. 39.  17 V.S.A. § 2588 is amended to read:

§ 2588.  FILING RETURNS

As the count of votes for each office or public question is completed, the presiding officer and at least one other election official shall collect the tally sheets, enter the totals shown on the tally sheets upon the summary sheets, add and enter the sum of such figures, and sign the summary sheets.  As each summary sheet is completed, the presiding officer shall publicly announce the results.  The presiding officer and one other election official then shall proceed either to complete the return at once, or to store the summary sheets in a safe and secure place until their retrieval for completion of the return.  In any event, no later than 24 hours after the polls close, the presiding officer and at least one other election official shall transfer the totals from the summary sheets to the proper spaces on the return, and both shall sign the return.  The town clerk shall store the summary sheets safely so that the public cannot reasonably have access to them for a period of 90 days without the town clerk’s consent.  The original of the return shall be delivered to the town clerk.  Within In a manner prescribed by the secretary of state and within 48 hours of the close of the polls, the town clerk shall deliver in person or mail to the secretary of state, the senatorial district clerk, the county clerk, and the representative district clerk, one certified copy each of the return.  The town clerk shall also make a copy available to the public upon request.

Sec. 40.  17 V.S.A. § 2592(k) is amended to read:

§ 2592.  CANVASSING COMMITTEES; CANVASS OF VOTES IN

              GENERAL OR SPECIAL ELECTIONS

* * *

(k)  In the case of the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, secretary of state, attorney general, and auditor of accounts, the canvassing committee shall prepare a certificate of election but shall not sign it.  The prepared certificate shall be presented to the official canvassing committee appointed by the general assembly, pursuant to chapter II, section 47 of the Vermont constitution, for their use if they desire.

Sec. 41.  17 V.S.A. § 2602l is amended to read:

§ 2602l.  RECOUNTS USING VOTING MACHINES

When voting has been by machine of the tabulator type, the recount shall proceed according to the provisions of this section.  When voting has been by machine of the punch or the lever type, the recount shall proceed as directed by the court, instead of according to the recount procedures established by this section.  In all recounts conducted under this chapter, ballots shall be counted by hand as described in sections 2602a through 2602k of this title.

* * * Local Elections * * *

* * * Local Elections Using the Australian Ballot System * * *

Sec. 42.  17 V.S.A. § 2680 is amended to read:

§ 2680.  AUSTRALIAN BALLOT SYSTEM; GENERAL

* * *

(c)  Budgets.  A vote whether to use the Australian ballot system to establish the budget shall be in substantially the following form:

“Shall (name of municipality) adopt its budget by Australian ballot?”

If a budget voted on by Australian ballot is rejected, the legislative body shall prepare a revised budget.  The legislative body shall establish a date for the vote on the revised budget, and shall take appropriate steps to warn a public informational meeting on the budget and the vote.  The date of the public informational meeting shall be at least five days following the public notice.  The date of the vote shall be at least seven days following the public notice.  The vote on the revised budget shall be by Australian ballot and shall take place in the same locations that the first vote was taken.  The budget shall be established if a majority of all votes cast are in favor.  If the revised budget is rejected, the legislative body shall repeat the procedure in this subsection until a budget is adopted.  Once a municipality votes to establish its budget by the Australian ballot system, the vote on the budget shall be taken by Australian ballot until the municipality votes to discontinue use of the system.

* * *

(g)  Whenever a municipality has voted to adopt the Australian ballot system of voting on any public question, including except the budget revote as provided in subsection (c) of this section, the legislative body shall hold a public informational hearing on the question by posting warnings at least 10 days in advance of the hearing in at least two public places within the municipality and in the town clerk’s office.  The hearing shall be held within the 10 days preceding the meeting at which the Australian ballot system is to be used.  The hearing under this subsection may be held in conjunction with the meeting held under subsection 2640(c), in which case the moderator shall preside.

* * * Presidential Elections * * *

* * * Presidential Primary * * *

Sec. 43.  17 V.S.A. § 2704 is amended to read:

§ 2704.  BALLOTS

A person voting at the primary shall be required to ask for the ballot of the party in which the voter wishes to vote and an election official shall record the voter’s choice of ballot by marking the entrance checklist with a letter code, as designated by the secretary of state, to indicate the voter’s party choice.  The names of all candidates on the ballot shall be listed in alphabetical order.  Each voter may vote for one candidate for the presidential nomination of one party, either by placing a mark opposite the printed name of a candidate as in other primaries, or by writing in the name of the candidate of the voter’s choice.

Sec. 44.  30 V.S.A. § 7059(e) is added to read:

(e)  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no person acting on behalf of the state of Vermont or any political subdivision of the state shall require an individual to disclose his or her enhanced 911 address, provided that the individual furnishes his or her alternative mailing address. 

Sec. 45.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  Secs. 4 and 7 of this act shall take effect January 1, 2004, unless the secretary of state receives a waiver, pursuant to Title III of United States Public Law 107-252, and files notice of that waiver with the legislative committee on administrative rules.  Once a waiver is granted and notice filed, Secs. 4 and 7 of this act shall take effect on January 1, 2006.

(b)  Sec. 33 shall take effect January 1, 2006.

Sec. 46.  REPORT ON IMPLEMENTATION OF ELECTIONS REFORM

The secretary of state shall submit a report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, the House Committee on Local Government, and the Senate Committee on Government Operations before January 15, 2004, summarizing the expenditures to implement United States Public Law 107-252.

Approved:  June 7, 2003