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BILL AS PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE 2007-2008

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S.116

AN ACT RELATING TO MISCELLANEOUS ELECTION LAW AMENDMENTS

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

Sec. 1.  17 V.S.A. § 2357 is amended to read:

§ 2357.  PLACE OF FILING PETITION

(a)  Primary petitions and consent forms shall be filed as follows:

(1)  For state and congressional officers, with the secretary of state;

(2)  For county officers with the county clerk;

(3)  For state senator, with the senatorial district clerk;

(4)  For representative to the general assembly, with the representative district clerk.

(b)  The public official designated to accept a petition shall not accept a nominating petition unless a completed and signed consent form is filed at the same time.

Sec. 2.  17 V.S.A. § 2362 is amended to read:

§ 2362.  PRIMARY BALLOTS

(a)  The ballots shall be prepared and furnished to the towns by the secretary of state and shall contain the names of all candidates for nomination at the primary.  The ballot shall be printed in two or more distinct sections, to be separated by a perforation, and A separate ballot for each major political party in the same format as is used for optical scan tabulator ballots shall be printed in substantially the following form:

OFFICIAL VERMONT PRIMARY ELECTION BALLOT

September 12, 1978

CAUTION: VOTE IN ONE PARTY ONLY

OR YOUR BALLOT WILL BE VOID

VOTE ON ONE PARTY BALLOT ONLY AND PLACE IN BALLOT BOX OR VOTE TABULATOR

ALL OTHER PARTY BALLOTS MUST BE PLACED IN UNVOTED BALLOT BOX

________________________

REPUBLICAN PARTY [MAJOR POLITICAL PARTY NAME]

________________________

To vote for a person whose name is printed on the ballot, make or place a cross (X) in the square at the right of the name of that person.

To vote for a person whose name is not printed on the ballot, write or stick his or her name in the blank space provided for that purpose.

When there are two or more persons to be elected to one office, you may vote for any number of persons up to and including the maximum number.

PLEASE REFER TO THE BOOK FOR THE REST OF THE FORM

OFFICIAL PRIMARY ELECTION BALLOT

September 12, 1978

CAUTION: VOTE IN ONE PARTY ONLY

OR YOUR BALLOT WILL BE VOID

________________________

DEMOCRATIC PARTY

________________________

To vote for a person whose name is printed on the ballot, make or place a cross (X) in the square at the right of the name of that person.

To vote for a person whose name is not printed on the ballot, write or stick his or her name in the blank space provided for that purpose.

When there are two or more persons to be elected to one office, you may vote for any number of persons up to and including the maximum number.

PLEASE REFER TO THE BOOK FOR THE REST OF THE FORM

Instructions to voters:  To vote for a candidate whose name is printed on the ballot, mark a cross (X) or fill in the oval at the right of that person’s name and party designation.  To vote for a candidate whose name is not printed on the ballot, write the person’s name on the blank line in the appropriate block.  When there are two or more persons to be elected to one office, you may vote for any number of candidates up to and including the maximum number.

(b)  Following the names of candidates printed on the ballot after the name of each office to be filled, shall be as many blank lines for write-in candidates as there are persons to be elected to that office.  If no primary petition is filed for an office or for a candidate belonging to a party, the ballot shall contain the name of the office with the name of no candidate and blank lines for write-in candidates.  On the same side of each section shall be printed the date of the primary and the words OFFICIAL PRIMARY ELECTION BALLOT.

Sec. 3.  17 V.S.A. § 2402(d) is amended to read:

(d)  A statement of nomination and a completed and signed consent form shall be filed not later than the time for filing the statements prescribed in section 2386 of this title.  No public official receiving nominations shall accept a petition unless a completed and signed consent form is filed at the same time.

Sec. 4.  17 V.S.A. § 2471 is amended to read:

§ 2471.  GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT

(a)  A consolidated ballot shall be used at a general election, which shall list the several candidates for the offices to be voted upon.  The offices of president and vice-president of the United States, United States senator, United States representative, governor, lieutenant governor, state treasurer, secretary of state, auditor of accounts, attorney general, state senator, representative to the general assembly, judge of probate, assistant judge, state’s attorney, sheriff, and high bailiff shall be listed in that order.  Any statewide public question shall also be listed on the ballot, before the listing of all offices to be filled.  The ballot shall be prepared at state expense under the direction of the secretary of state.  The color of the ballot shall be yellow; however, in the case of a town that uses vote tabulators designed to tabulate ballots from multiple districts by means of a single tabulator, the color of the ballots shall be determined by the secretary of state in consultation with the town clerk.  The printing shall be black.

(b)  Ballots for justices shall be prepared at town expense, under the direction of the town clerk, in the town in which they are to be used.  Such ballots may be any color except yellow, and the printing shall be black; in other respects, such ballots shall conform as nearly as may be to the form of the consolidated ballot.  The columns may be less than four inches wide, and the lines dividing the columns may be less than one-quarter inch wide, if the town clerk determines that this will not make the ballots more difficult for the voter to read.  The printing shall be black and shall conform as nearly as possible to the format of the general election ballot.

Sec. 5.  17 V.S.A. § 2472 is amended to read:

§ 2472.  CONTENTS

(a)  The ballot shall be titled “OFFICIAL VERMONT GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT”, followed by the date of the election.  Immediately below, the following instructions shall be printed:  “Instruction to Voters:  To vote for a person candidate whose name is printed on the ballot, mark a cross (X) in the square or fill in the oval at the right of that person’s name and party designation.  To vote for a person candidate whose name is not printed on the ballot, write the person’s name on the blank line in the appropriate block”. block.  When there are two or more candidates to be elected to one office, you may vote for any number of candidates up to and including the maximum number.”  The name of the town or towns and legislative district in which the ballot is to be used shall be listed in the upper left hand corner.

(b)  Each office to be voted upon shall be separately indicated and preceded by the word “For”, as:  “For United States Senator”.  Beneath the office to be voted upon shall appear the instructions:  “Vote for not more than (the number of candidates to be elected)”.  The names of the candidates for each office shall be listed in alphabetical order by surname followed by the candidate’s town of residence and the party or parties by which the candidate has been nominated, or in the case of independent candidates who have not chosen some other name or identification, by the word “Independent”.  To the right of the party designation shall be a square at least one-quarter inch on each side an oval in which the voter may indicate his or her choice by making a cross (X) or filling in the oval if tabulators are being used.  No candidate’s name shall appear on the ballot more than once for any one office.

(c)  Following the names of candidates for each office, there shall be as many blank write-in lines as there are persons to be elected to that office.  To the right of each such line shall be the words “Write-In” and a square an oval identical to the squares ovals which follow the candidates’ names.  Lines provided for writing in names for president and vice-president shall be separately designated by the words “President” and “Vice-President.”

(d)  The ballot shall be bordered on all sides by a black line at least one‑eighth inch in width, and the list of candidates for each office or question to be voted upon shall be separated from every other office or question by similar lines.  The several offices and questions to be voted upon may be arranged in two or more columns not less than four inches wide, separated by black lines at least one-quarter inch in width.

(e)  Printing on the ballot shall conform to the following specifications:

(1)  The title and date of election in 24 point, bold, upper case type;

(2) Instructions and towns in which the ballots are to be used in 12 point bold type;

(3)  The name of each office to be voted upon in 14 point bold type, underlined;

(4)  The instruction “Vote for not more than. . . .” in 12 point bold type;

(5)  Candidates’ names in 10 point, bold, upper case type;

(6)  Candidates’ towns of residence in 10 point bold type; and

(7)  Candidates’ party affiliations in 10 point type.

The ballot shall be printed in the same format as required for optical scan tabulators.  The font shall be at least 10 points for candidate names unless a name exceeds 24 characters, in which case the candidate may change his or her consent form name to 24 characters or less, or the font may be reduced as needed to fit the candidate name space.

Sec. 6.  17 V.S.A. § 2473(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The name and state of residence of the presidential and vice-presidential candidate of each party shall be listed on separate lines joined together by a bracket, followed by the party designations and a single square for that pair of candidates.  In lieu of the instructions:  “Vote for not more than (the number of candidates to be elected)”, elected),” the following instructions shall appear:  “Mark ONE square oval only.”

Sec. 7.  17 V.S.A. § 2479 is amended to read:

§ 2479.  MANNER OF DISTRIBUTION

Not later than 30 days before the election, the secretary of state shall furnish the prepared ballots to the clerk of each town.  Ballots shall be sent in securely fastened packages by mail or in some other safe manner, with marks on the outside clearly designating the polling place for which they are intended and the number of ballots enclosed.  The town clerk shall store the ballots, except for ballots used as early or absentee voter or sample ballots, in a secure place until the day of the election, at which time the town clerk shall deliver them in sufficient quantities to the presiding officer in each polling place, together with any ballots prepared by the town clerk.  Town clerks and presiding officers shall return receipts for ballots to the official from whom they were received.

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:

* * *

(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.

* * *

(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.

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, a town clerk 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 shall 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 shall 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.

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.

Sec. 9.  17 V.S.A. § 2556(b) is amended to read:

(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.

Sec. 10.  17 V.S.A. § 2590 is amended to read:

§ 2590.  SECURING AND STORING BALLOTS, TALLY SHEETS, AND
  CHECKLISTS

* * *

(b)  The commissioner of buildings and general services of the state shall purchase, and the secretary of state shall furnish to all town clerks, sufficient quantities of uniform-style containers.  The secretary of state shall establish a method by which the outside of each container shall indicate the contents of the container, the town to which it belongs, and such other pertinent information as may be required.  This may be done by imprinting on the container, by making attachments to the container, or by any other uniform and suitable method which the secretary of state determines will insure the integrity of the contents and the labeling of the container.

(c)  The presiding officer shall return all sealed containers to the town clerk, who shall safely store them, and shall not permit them to be removed from his or her custody or tampered with in any way.  In the event that a ballot bag or container breaks, splits, or opens through handling, or in the event the entrance checklist was inadvertently sealed in a ballot bag or container, the town clerk shall notify the secretary of state in writing, and the secretary of state shall order the town clerk in the presence of two town election officials who are not members of the same political party to open the bag to remove the entrance checklist or to move the entire contents to new bags or containers, affix new seals, and transmit the new seal numbers.  Ballot bags or containers shall not be removed or tampered with in any other way, except under court order, or by order of any authorized committee of the general assembly.  If necessary for safe storage of the containers, the town clerk may store them in a bank vault or other secure place, within or without the town, provided that access to them cannot reasonably be had without the town clerk’s consent.

* * *

Sec. 11.  17 V.S.A. § 2593 is added to read:

§ 2593.  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 by a method approved by the secretary of state.

Sec. 12.  17 V.S.A. § 2681a is amended to read:

§ 2681a.  LOCAL ELECTION BALLOTS

(a)  Ballots for local officers and local public questions shall be prepared at town expense, under the direction of the town clerk not later than 20 days before the local election.  These ballots may be any color except yellow, and the printing shall be black; in other respects, they shall conform as nearly as may be practicable to the form of the consolidated ballot in subchapter 2 of chapter 51 of this title, except as otherwise provided in this section.

(b)  The columns may be less than four inches wide, and the lines dividing the columns may be less than one-quarter inch wide, if the town clerk determines that this will not make the ballots more difficult for the voter to read.

(c)  On the local election ballot, the board of civil authority may vote to list a street address for each candidate, or the town of residence of each candidate, or no residence at all for each candidate.

(d)(c)  No political party or other designation shall be listed unless the municipal charter provides for such listing, the town has voted at an earlier election to provide such a listing or, in the absence of previous consideration of the question by the town, the legislative body decides to permit listing.  If political party or other designations are permitted, no candidate shall use the name of a political party whose certificate of organization has been filed properly with the secretary of state unless the candidate has been endorsed by a legally called town caucus of that political party for the office in question. In any event, the candidate must still file the petition and consent form required by section 2681 of this title.

(e)(d)  The names of candidates for the same office, but for different terms of service, shall be arranged in groups according to the length of their respective terms.

(f)(e)  Public questions shall be written in the form of a question, with boxes indicating a choice of “yes” and “no” directly under or to the right side of the public question.  No public question shall pass unless a majority of the votes, excluding blank and spoiled votes, is cast in favor of the proposition.

Sec. 13.  17 V.S.A. § 2602(c) is amended to read:

(c)  The superior court shall set an early date for the recount, notifying all candidates at least five days in advance.  The court shall order the town clerk or clerks having custody of the ballots to be recounted to surrender them to the state police, appoint two election officials who are not members of the same political party who shall transport them to the county clerks of their respective counties before the day set for the recount.  County clerks shall store all ballots, still in their sealed containers, in their vaults until the day of the recount.  The court shall appoint a sufficient number of impartial voters as a committee to recount the votes.  Committee members shall be paid by the state at the rate of $25.00 per day plus necessary expenses.

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

(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