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S.164

Introduced by   Committee on Government Operations

Date:

Subject:  Elections; voter registration; voter’s oath

Statement of purpose:  This bill would allow administration of the voter’s oath by any person who has previously taken the voter’s oath and would allow persons who failed to register before 5:00 p.m. on the second Monday preceding election day to obtain an absentee ballot that could be cast at the polls on election day after taking the voter’s oath and proving identity and residence.  The bill would also authorize elections officials in municipalities with more than 1,000 names on the checklist to open the outside envelope of an absentee ballot to determine if the absentee ballot certificate is properly signed.  Such checked‑in early absentee ballots would need to be properly sealed and transported to the polls on election day for counting.  In addition, the bill requires municipalities to record voter participation and requires the secretary of state to complete a survey of additional expenses incurred by towns or polling places in allowing voters to register and cast ballots on election day.

AN ACT RELATING TO ELECTIONS AND VOTER REGISTRATION

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

Sec. 1.  17 V.S.A. § 2124 is amended to read:

§ 2124.  VOTER’S OATH; HOW ADMINISTERED

(a)  The voter’s oath may be administered within the state of Vermont by:

(1)  any person authorized by the law of this state to administer oaths,;

(2)  any member of a board of civil authority,;

(3)  or any presiding officer any commissioned officer of the military service;

(4)  any other person qualified to administer oaths, within or outside the United States, by the laws of the place in which the oath is administered; and

(5)  any person who has taken the voter’s oath, provided that the person to whom the oath is administered shall take the oath under the penalty of perjury.

(b)  A military service or other early or absentee voter may also be administered the voter’s oath, within or without the state of Vermont, by any commissioned officer of the military service or by any other person qualified to administer oaths, within or without the United States, by the laws of the place in which the oath is administered.  The person administering the oath shall subscribe his or her name and rank or title.  Neither a seal nor the place where the oath is administered shall be required.

(c)(b)  A person who administers the voter’s oath to another shall forthwith sign the appropriate place on the application or sign some other written notification giving the person’s name and the date the oath was administered.

(d)(c)  The town clerk shall keep the completed applications for addition to the checklist.  If the written notification that a person has taken the oath is submitted separately from the application, it shall be filed along with the application.  The town clerk shall verify, upon request, that a voter has been given the oath.

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

§ 2144.  DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS

(a)  The town clerk shall not accept applications for persons’ names to be placed on the checklist after 12:00 noon 5:00 p.m. on the second Monday preceding the day of the election.  The town clerk’s office shall be kept open on the second Monday preceding the day of the election from no later than 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon, 5:00 p.m. 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 by 12:00 noon 5:00 p.m. of the second Monday preceding the day of the election.

(b)  If a person is not eligible to register prior to the second 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 Monday preceding the day of election, and the 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  If a person eligible to register fails to register prior to 5:00 p.m. on the second Monday before the day of the election, he or she may register and vote on election day.

(c)  If a person is not eligible to register prior to the second Monday before the day of the election, and has submitted he or she may file a written notice of intent to apply in accord with subsection (b) of this section, the for addition of his or her name to the checklist.  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.

(e)  On election day, the town clerk and presiding officers shall accept applications for persons’ names to be placed on the checklist until the 7:00 p.m. closing of the polls.

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

§ 2144a.  REGISTRATION

A person who desires to register to vote may apply in any of the following ways:

* * *

(4)  By completing a voter registration application and delivering it to the polling place before the close of polls on election day.  In order to be eligible to register and vote on election day, a voter who submits a voter registration application on election day shall complete a sworn statement prepared by the secretary of state and present any one of the following to the elections official:  a valid photo identification; a copy of a current utility bill; a copy of a current bank statement; or a copy of a paycheck, a government check, 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 chapter 51 of this title.  The elections official shall note upon the checklist that the voter registered on election day and the type of identification produced by the voter. 

Sec. 4.  17 V.S.A. § 2370 is amended to read:

§ 2370.  WRITE-IN CANDIDATES

A write-in candidate shall not qualify as a primary winner unless he the candidate receives at least one-half the number of votes required for his the candidate’s office on a primary petition, except that if a write-in candidate receives more votes than a candidate whose name is printed on the ballot, he or she may qualify as a primary winner.  The write-in candidate who qualifies as a primary winner under this section must still be determined a winner under section 2369 of this title before he or she becomes the party’s candidate in the general election.

Sec. 5.  17 V.S.A. § 2546 is amended to read:

§ 2546.  DEPOSIT OF EARLY VOTER ABSENTEE BALLOTS IN

              BALLOT BOX

(a)  No sooner than 24 hours before the opening of polls on election day, a town clerk in a municipality having more than 1,000 names on the checklist may direct two elections officials working together to open the outside envelope and remove the certificate envelope in order to determine that an absentee ballot certificate has been properly signed by the early voter and that the name of the early voter appears on the checklist and to check the name off the entrance checklist and place the sealed envelope into a secure container marked “checked‑in early absentee ballots” to be transported to the polling place on election day.  Upon opening of the polls on election day, ballots from this container may be opened by elections officials and deposited either into the ballot box or into the voting machine.

(b)  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 the ballots are in a container marked “checked‑in early absentee ballots,” two elections officials from different political parties may open the envelopes and deposit the ballots into the ballot box or into the voting machine.  If the ballots have not been precisely checked off the entrance checklist and 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)(c)  All early voter absentee ballots shall be commingled with the ballots of voters who have voted in person.

Sec. 6.  17 V.S.A. § 2593 is added to read:

§ 2593.  VOTER PARTICIPATION TO BE ENTERED ON STATEWIDE

              CHECKLIST BY TOWN CLERK

Not later than 60 days after the general election, the town clerk shall indicate on the town or municipal checklist of the statewide checklist each voter’s participation in the general election.  This shall be done by a method approved by the secretary of state.

Sec. 7.  SURVEY OF ELECTION LAW EXPENSES

The secretary of state shall survey town clerks and presiding elections officers regarding any additional expense incurred by towns or polling places in allowing voters to register and cast ballots on election day.  The secretary shall report his or her findings to the senate and house committees on government operations by January 15, 2007.

Sec. 8.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on July 1, 2006.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us