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HOUSE PROPOSAL OF AMENDMENT 2007-2008

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S.116

 

An act relating to miscellaneous election law amendments

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill as follows:

First:  By striking Sec. 8 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 8 to read:

Sec. 8.  17 V.S.A. § 2493(a) is amended to read:

(a)  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:

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(2)  The secretary of state shall provide for the security of voting machines at all times. Voting machines, not including the ballot box portion, shall be locked in a vault or a secure location at all times when not in use.  The secretary of state may conduct a random post election audit of any polling place election results for a primary or general election within 30 days of the election.  If the secretary determines that a random audit shall be conducted of the election results in a town or city, the town clerk shall direct two members of the board of civil authority to transport the ballot bags to the office of the secretary of state not later than 10:00 a.m. on the morning when the secretary has scheduled the audit.  The secretary shall open the ballot bags and conduct the audit in the same manner as recounts are to be conducted under sections 2602e through 2602h ballots are counted under sections 2581 through 2588 of this title.  The secretary of state shall publicly announce the results of the audit as well as the results from the original return of the vote.  If the secretary finds that the audit indicates that there was possible fraud in the count or return of votes, the secretary shall refer the results to the attorney general for possible prosecution.

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(5)  Establish a process for municipalities using voting machines, whereby markings on ballots that are unreadable by a machine may be transferred by a pair of election officials who are not members of the same political party to ballots that are readable by the machine.

Second:  By adding a Sec. 8a to read:

Sec. 8a.  17 V.S.A. § 2532(a) is amended to read:

(a)(1)  An early or absentee voter, or an authorized family member or health care provider acting in on the voter’s behalf, may apply for an early voter absentee ballot by telephone, in person, or in writing.  “Family member” here As used in this section, “family member” means a person’s spouse, children, brothers, sisters, parents, spouse’s parents, grandparents, and spouse’s grandparents.  Any other authorized person may apply in writing or in person.  The application shall be in substantially the following form: a form prescribed by the secretary of state.

REQUEST FOR EARLY VOTER ABSENTEE BALLOT

Name of early or absentee voter: ____________________________________

Current address: _________________________________________________

Residence (if different): ___________________________________________

Telephone contact:    _________________         E‑mail:    ________________

If applicant is other than the early or absentee voter:

Name of applicant: _______________________________________________

Address of applicant: _____________________________________________

Relationship to early or absentee voter: _______________________________

Telephone contact:    _________________         E‑mail:    ________________

Date: _____________ Signature:_____________________________________

(2)  If the application is made by telephone or in writing, the information supplied must be in substantial conformance with the information requested on this form.

Third:  By adding a Sec. 8b to read:

Sec. 8b.  17 V.S.A. § 2546 is amended to read:

§ 2546.  DEPOSIT OF EARLY VOTER ABSENTEE BALLOTS IN
   BALLOT BOX

(a)  No sooner than 30 days before the opening of polls on election day, the town clerk of a municipality with at least 5,000 registered voters on its checklist may direct two election officials working together to open the outside envelope in order to sort absentee ballots by ward and district, may data‑enter the return of the ballots by the voter, may determine that the certificate has been signed, and may place the inside envelopes in various secure containers to be transported to the polling places on election day.  No sooner than 48 hours before the opening of polls on election day, town clerks in all other municipalities may direct two election 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.  The election officials shall check the name of the early voter off the entrance checklist and place the sealed envelope into a secure container marked “checked‑in early voter 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 election officials who are not members of the same political party 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 voter absentee ballots,” two election 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 previously checked off the entrance checklist and if an elections election 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 election 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 election 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 election 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.

Fourth:  By adding a Sec. 8c to read:

Sec. 8c.  17 V.S.A. § 2548(b) is amended to read:

(b)  A person who in good faith has received early voter absentee ballots for his or her use but has not yet marked them, if he finds that he or she is able to vote in person, may cast the early voter absentee ballots as provided above, or may vote in person after returning the complete set of unmarked ballots, together with the envelope intended for their return, to the presiding officer at the time the voter appears to vote in person.  If a person does not have his or her absentee ballots to return, the person shall be checked off the checklist and permitted to vote only after completing a sworn affidavit that he or she does not have his or her absentee ballots to return.  The presiding officer shall return the unused early voter absentee ballots and envelope to the town clerk, who shall make a record of their return on the list of early or absentee voters and treat them as spoiled or unused ballots, pursuant to section 2568 of this title.

Fifth:  By adding a Sec. 9a to read:

Sec. 9a.  17 V.S.A. § 2587 is amended to read:

§ 2587.  RULES FOR COUNTING BALLOTS

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(e)  In the case of “write‑in” votes in a primary election, 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 shall 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.

(f)  In the case of “write‑in” votes in a general election, 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 oval is marked or cross is placed after such name.  The election officials counting ballots and tallying results shall list each person who receives a “write‑in” vote and the number of votes received, except that a write‑in candidate shall not have his or her name listed and votes counted unless the candidate has filed a declaration‑of‑candidacy form with the official where nominating petitions must be filed for the office by 12:00 p.m. on the day prior to election day.  The declaration‑of‑candidacy form shall contain the same information as the candidate consent form.  Votes for write‑in candidates who have not filed a declaration‑of‑candidacy form shall be counted as “write‑in” votes but shall not be listed by name.  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 persons who did not file a declaration of candidacy and fictitious persons shall not be listed, but votes for these persons shall be counted as “write‑in” votes.

(g)  When the same number of persons are nominated for the position of justice of the peace as there are positions to be filled, the presiding officer may declare the whole slate of candidates elected without making individual tallies, providing each person on the slate has more votes than the largest number of write‑in votes for any one candidate.

Sixth:  By striking Sec. 14 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 14 to read:

Sec. 14.  17 V.S.A. § 2682 is amended to read:

§ 2682.  PROCESS OF VOTING; APPOINTMENTS

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(c)  In a municipal election controlled by this subchapter, the person receiving the greatest number of votes for an office shall be declared elected to that office; a certificate of election need not be issued.  However, in order to be elected a write‑in candidate must receive 30 votes or the votes of one percent of the registered voters in the municipality, whichever is less.  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 oval is marked or cross is placed after such name.  The election officials counting ballots and tallying results shall list each person who receives a “write‑in” vote and the number of votes received, except that a write‑in candidate shall not have his or her name listed and votes counted unless the candidate has filed a declaration‑of‑candidacy form with the town clerk or presiding officer by the close of the polls on election day or unless there are no candidates printed on the ballot.  The declaration‑of‑candidacy form shall contain the same information as the candidate consent form.  Votes for write‑in candidates who have not filed a declaration‑of‑candidacy form shall be counted as “write‑in” votes but shall not be listed by name.  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 persons who did not file a declaration of candidacy and fictitious persons shall not be listed, but votes for these persons shall be counted as “write‑in” votes.

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(e)  If there is a tie vote for any office, the legislative body, or in their stead, the municipal clerk, shall within seven days warn a runoff election to be held not less than 15 days nor more than 22 days after the warning.  The only candidates in the runoff election shall be those who were tied in the original election.  However, if one of the candidates that are tied withdraws his or her candidacy within five days after the election, the town clerk shall certify the other tied candidate as the winner, and there shall be no runoff election.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us