NO. 5. AN ACT RELATING TO CLARIFYING, UPDATING, AND MAKING MINOR ALTERATIONS TO THE VERMONT ELECTION LAWS.
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 17 V.S.A. § 2103 is amended to read:
§ 2103. DEFINITIONS
As used in this title, unless the context or a specific definition requires a different reading:
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(17) "Legislative body" means the *[
selectmen]* selectboard in the case of a town, the city council, mayor, and *[ aldermen]* alderboard in the case of a city, the trustees or bailiffs in the case of a village, the school board in the case of a school district, and the prudential committee in the case of a fire district.
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(24) "Political subdivision" means any county, municipality (including cities, towns and villages), school district, fire district, water, sewer or utility district, ward and any consolidation of the foregoing entities authorized under the laws of this state.
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(38) "State institution" means the Vermont State Hospital, *[
Brandon Training School,]* correctional facilities, and other similar public institutions, established or funded, or both, by public funds within the state of Vermont, not including educational institutions.
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(42) "Voter registration application *[
form]* forms," "application *[ form]* forms," or *[ "form"]* "forms" mean the voter registration application *[ form]* forms or the voter registration application portion of a motor vehicle driver’s license application approved by the secretary of state under sections 2145 and 2145a of this title.
Sec. 2. 17 V.S.A. § 2122(a) is amended to read:
(a) A person shall not gain or lose a residence solely by reason of presence or absence while in the service of the state or of the United States; nor while engaged in the navigation of the waters of the state or of the United States or on the high seas; nor while in a hospital, nursing home, or other health care facility; nor while confined in a prison or correctional institution; nor while a member of a veterans’ home; nor while a student at any educational institution; nor while living outside the United States. *[
Members of the Vermont veterans’ home in the town of Bennington may vote in the town of Bennington in all elections but this right shall not affect their residence for any other purpose.
Sec. 3. 17 V.S.A. § 2141 is amended to read:
§ 2141. POSTING OF CHECKLIST
At least 30 days before any election the town clerk shall cause copies of the most recent checklist of the persons qualified to vote to be posted in two or more public places in the town in addition to being posted at the town clerk's office; however, in a town having a population of less than 5,000 qualified voters, only one checklist in addition to the one posted in the town clerk’s office need be posted. Upon the checklist shall be stated against the name of each voter, if possible, the street and number of *[
his]* each voter’s residence, and otherwise the mailing address of *[ his]* each voter’s residence. The town clerk shall make available a copy of the list, together with lists of corrections and additions when made, to the *[ chairman]* chair of each political party in the town, upon request, free of charge. Additions or amendments to the checklist may be attached to the checklist by means of a separate list. Copies of the list shall be made available to other persons at cost, and to officers with whom primary petitions are filed under section 2357 of this title free of charge.
Sec. 4. 17 V.S.A. § 2456 is amended to read:
§ 2456. DISQUALIFICATIONS
Notwithstanding the preceding sections of this subchapter, no person shall serve as an election official in any election in which his or her name appears on a ballot of the Australian ballot system as a candidate for any office unless he or she is the only candidate for that office, or unless the office for which he or she is a candidate is that of moderator, justice of the peace, *[
constable,]* town clerk, clerk-treasurer, ward clerk, or inspector of elections. When an Australian ballot is not used, a person shall not serve as an election official during the election to fill any office for which he or she is a nominee. For the purpose of this section, "clerk-treasurer" means a person who is a candidate for the offices of town clerk and town treasurer at the same time.
Sec. 5. 17 V.S.A. § 2493 is amended to read:
§ 2493. REGULATIONS 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 regulations which will ensure that the arrangement of names and offices on each type of machine conforms as nearly as practicable to the ballot design described in subchapter 2 of this chapter. For lever-type machines at general elections, the regulations shall ensure that names are arranged alphabetically by column and that, to the extent possible, columns for different contests and questions are separated by blank columns and thick, bright-colored lines]* 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. 6. REPEAL
17 V.S.A. §§ 2497 (providing candidate names to town clerks for ballot preparation) and 2498 (making demonstrator machines available) are repealed.
Sec. 7. 17 V.S.A. § 2499 is amended to read:
§ 2499. MISCELLANEOUS REQUIREMENTS FOR VOTING MACHINES
At primary elections, the system of voting shall be designed so that a voter can only vote in one party; however, it must also permit a voter to change votes any time before leaving the booth, in the case of lever-type machines, or before the deposit of any official voting card, in the case of other voting machines.
(b) For lever-type machines, as soon as the meeting required by subsection (b) of section 2498 of this title is over and all the machines are properly programmed and in good working order, the machines shall be sealed. The seals must remain unbroken until the polls open. The machines shall be kept in a locked room until the polls open. Except for breaking the seals, officials may]* *[
completely prepare the machines the day before the election.
The presiding officer with the assistance of at least two election officials may transfer voted ballots from the box attached to the voting machine to another secure ballot box or secured ballot bag whenever necessary during election day in order to allow the machine to continue to function properly.*[
(c)]*(b) The checklist or checklists, as the case may be, the absentee ballots, tally sheets for 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.
Sec. 8. 17 V.S.A. § 2571 is amended to read:
§ 2571. CHECKING VOTER’S NAME UPON LEAVING*[
Before]* In towns that have exit checklists, before a voter’s ballots are deposited, he or she shall again announce his or her name to the election officials attending the second certified copy of the checklist. A mark shall then be placed next to his or her name upon the checklist, ballots shall be deposited and he or she shall proceed immediately outside the guardrail by the exit and shall not again enter within the guardrail unless he or she is an election official.
Sec. 9. 17 V.S.A. § 2150 is amended to read:
§ 2150. REMOVING NAMES FROM CHECKLIST
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(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:
(1) If the board of civil authority is satisfied that a voter whose eligibility is being considered is still qualified to vote in the municipality, the voter’s name shall remain on the checklist, and no further action shall be taken.
(2) If the board of civil authority does not immediately know that the voter is still qualified to vote in the municipality, the board shall attempt to determine with certainty what the true status of the voter’s eligibility is. The board of civil authority may consider and rely upon official and unofficial public records and documents, including but not limited to, telephone directories, city directories, newspapers, death certificates, obituary (or other public notice of death), tax records, any checklist or checklists showing persons who voted in any election within the last four years. The board of civil authority may also designate one or more persons to attempt to contact the voter personally. Any voter whom the board of civil authority finds through such inquiry to be eligible to remain on the checklist shall be retained without further action being taken. The name of any voter proven to be deceased shall be removed from the checklist.
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Sec. 10. 17 V.S.A. § 1971 is amended to read:
§ 1971. CASTING MORE THAN ONE BALLOT
A legal voter who knowingly *[
gives in at an election]* casts more than one ballot at any one time of balloting for the same office shall be fined not more than *[ $100.00]* $1,000.00, if the offense is committed at a general election, and not more than *[ $10.00]* $100.00, if committed in town meeting.
Sec. 11. 17 V.S.A. § 1972 is amended to read:
§ 1972. SHOWING BALLOT; INTERFERENCE WITH VOTER
A voter who, except in cases of assistance as provided in this title, allows his ballot to be seen by another person with an apparent intention of letting it be known how he or she is about to vote or makes a false statement to the presiding officer at an election as to his or her inability to mark his or her ballot or places a distinguishing mark on his or her ballot, or a person who interferes with a voter when inside the guard rail or who, within the building in which the voting is proceeding, endeavors to induce a voter to vote for a particular candidate, shall be fined *[
$50.00]* $1,000.00. It shall be the duty of the election officers to see that the offender is duly prosecuted.
Sec. 12. 17 V.S.A. § 1973 is amended to read:
§ 1973. VOTING IN MORE THAN ONE PLACE
A person who, on the same day, votes in more *[
towns than one]* than one town, district, or ward for the same *[ officers]* office shall be fined not more than *[ $100.00]* $1,000.00.
Sec. 13. 17 V.S.A. § 2143 is amended to read:
§ 2143. POLITICAL REPRESENTATION ON BOARD OF CIVIL AUTHORITY
(a) If the board of civil authority of any political subdivision does not contain at least three members of each major political party, and the party committee or at least three voters request increased representation for an underrepresented major political party, by filing a written request with the clerk of the political subdivision, the legislative body shall appoint from a list of *[
six]* names submitted to it by the underrepresented party a sufficient number of voters to the board of civil authority to bring the underrepresented major party’s membership on the board to three. A person’s name shall not be submitted unless he or she consents to serve if appointed.
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Sec. 14. 17 V.S.A. § 2508 is amended to read:
§ 2508. CAMPAIGNING DURING POLLING HOURS; VOTER ACCESS
(a) The presiding officer shall insure during polling hours that:
(1) Within the building containing a polling place, no campaign literature, stickers, buttons, name stamps, information on write-in candidates or other political materials are displayed, placed, handed out or allowed to remain; and
(2) Within the building containing a polling place, no candidate, election official or other person distributes election materials, solicits voters, or otherwise campaigns; and
(3) On the walks and driveways leading to a building in which a polling place is located, no candidate or other person may physically interfere with the progress of a voter to and from the polling place.
(b) During polling hours, the presiding officer shall control the placement of signs on the property of the polling place in a fair manner.
(c) The provisions of this section shall be posted in the notice required by section 2521 of this title.
Sec. 15. 17 V.S.A. § 2403 is amended to read:
§ 2403. NUMBER OF CANDIDATES; PARTY NAMES
A statement of nomination shall contain the name of only one candidate, except in the case of presidential and vice-presidential candidates, who may be nominated by means of the same statement of nomination. A person shall not sign more than one statement of nomination for the same office. The political or other name on a statement of nomination shall be substantially different from the name of any organized political party. It shall also be substantially different from the political or other name already appearing on any other statement of nomination for the same office then on file with the same officer for the same election; if the secretary of state determines that it is not substantially different, the candidate named on the statement shall select a different political or other name, otherwise the secretary may reject the statement of nomination. Except in the case of presidential and
vice-presidential candidates, the word "independent" may not be used as part of a party name; if no party is indicated, the word "Independent" shall be printed on the ballot, and no candidate appearing on the ballot as a candidate of a political party shall also appear on the ballot as an "Independent."
Sec. 16. 17 V.S.A. § 2313 is amended to read:
§ 2313. FILING OF CERTIFICATE OF ORGANIZATION
Within ten days after the first meeting of the state committee of a party, the *[
chairman]* chair and secretary shall file in the office of the secretary of state a certificate stating that the party has completed its organization for the ensuing two years and has substantially complied with the provisions of this chapter. However, no state committee shall be eligible to file a certificate of organization unless it has town committees organized in at least 15 towns in this state by January 1 of the year of the general election. The certificate of organization shall set forth the names and mailing addresses of the officers and members of the state committee, together with the counties which they represent. It shall also designate, in not more than three words, the name by which the party shall be identified on any Australian ballot and shall be accompanied by a copy of the notice calling the meeting. The secretary of state shall prescribe and furnish the form to be used for this purpose. Upon receipt of a certificate of organization, the secretary of state promptly shall notify all persons who have registered with the secretary of state asking to be notified of such filings. Within ten days, the secretary of state shall accept a certificate of organization if it appears to be valid on its face or reject it if it is not. The secretary of state may reject a certificate of organization if the political or other name is not substantially different from the name of any organized political party. When a certificate is rejected, the secretary of state promptly shall notify the *[ chairman]* chair and secretary of the committee to
inform them in writing of the reasons for rejection. A committee is not considered organized until the material required by this section has been filed and accepted.
Approved: April 10, 2001