1997 Regular Session
To: Apportionment and Elections
By: Representative Denny
House Bill 179
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-541, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE IDENTIFICATION OF ELECTORS BEFORE THEY ARE ALLOWED TO VOTE; TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-625, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE PRINTING AND DISTRIBUTION OF ABSENTEE VOTING APPLICATIONS; TO REQUIRE THE NAMES OF PERSONS VOTING BY ABSENTEE BALLOT; TO REQUIRE A LIST OF THE NAMES OF PERSONS RECEIVING APPLICATIONS FOR ABSENTEE BALLOTS TO BE LISTED IN A LEDGER; TO PROVIDE FOR SEQUENTIAL NUMBERING OF ABSENTEE BALLOTS; TO AMEND SECTIONS 23-15-627 AND 23-15-713, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ALLOW CERTAIN PERSONS WHO WILL BE AWAY FROM THEIR COUNTY OF RESIDENCE ON ELECTION DAY FOR ANY REASON TO VOTE BY ABSENTEE BALLOT; TO DELETE THE PROVISION THAT AUTOMATICALLY ALLOWS A PERSON WHO IS SIXTY-FIVE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER, TO RECEIVE AN ABSENTEE BALLOT; TO PROVIDE A PROCEDURE WHEREBY THE COMMISSIONERS OF ELECTION OF A COUNTY MAY CONDUCT INVESTIGATIONS OF ELECTION LAW VIOLATIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 23-15-541, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-541. At all elections, the polls shall be opened at seven o'clock in the morning and be kept open until seven o'clock in the evening and no longer. Upon the opening of the polls, and not before, the managers of the election shall designate two (2) of their number, other than the manager theretofore designated to receive the blank ballots, who shall thereupon be known respectively as the initialing manager and the alternate initialing manager. The alternate initialing manager, in the absence of the initialing manager, shall perform all of the duties and undertake all of the responsibilities of the initialing manager. When any person entitled to vote shall appear to vote, the managers shall identify the voter, in the presence and view of the bystanders, by requiring the voter to submit a valid Mississippi driver's license, identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety, voter registration card, Medicaid or Medicare card, health insurance card, tax receipt or other identification card or by comparison with the descriptive information on the pollbook or have a person from the precinct vouch for such person's identification; and then such person shall sign his name in a receipt book or booklet provided for that purpose and to be used at that election only and said receipt book or booklet shall be used in lieu of the list of voters who have voted formerly made by the managers or clerks; whereupon and not before, the initialing manager or, in his absence, the alternate initialing manager shall indorse his initials on the back of an official blank ballot, prepared in accordance with law, and at such place on the back of the ballot that the initials may be seen after the ballot has been marked and folded, and when so indorsed he shall deliver it to the voter, which ballot the voter shall mark in the manner provided by law, which when done the voter shall deliver the same to the initialing manager or, in his absence, to the alternate initialing manager, in the presence of the others, and the manager shall see that the ballot so delivered bears on the back thereof the genuine initials of the initialing manager, or alternate initialing manager, and if so, but not otherwise, the ballot shall be put into the ballot box; and when so done one (1) of the managers or a duly appointed clerk shall make the proper entry on the pollbook. If the voter is unable to write his name on the receipt book, a manager or clerk shall note on the back of the ballot that it was receipted for by his assistance.
SECTION 2. Section 23-15-625, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-625. The registrar shall be responsible for printing applications for absentee voting as provided in this section. At least sixty (60) days before any election in which absentee voting is provided for by law, the registrar shall order a sufficient number of applications to be printed; provided, however, that if a special election is called and set at a date that makes it impractical or impossible to print applications for absent elector's ballot sixty (60) days before the election, the registrar shall print the applications as soon as practicable after the election is called. The applications shall be printed with sequential numbers appearing on the application and the corresponding perforated stub. The registrar shall fill in the date of the particular election on the application for which the application will be used. Upon receipt of the applications for the election from the printer, the registrar shall file an affidavit with the election commission and a duplicate original of the affidavit in the registrar's office stating the number of applications which he received from the printer.
The registrar may disburse applications for absentee ballots to any qualified elector within the county where he serves. The registrar shall keep a permanent ledger for the purpose of showing the number of applications and the persons to whom the applications were given. If an elector picks up applications for another person, the elector shall indicate on the ledger the name or names of the persons for which he is obtaining the applications.
The registrar in the county wherein a voter is qualified to vote upon receiving the envelope containing the absentee ballots shall keep an accurate list of all persons preparing such ballots, which list shall be kept in a conspicuous place accessible to the public near the entrance to his office. The registrar shall also furnish to each precinct manager a list of the names of all persons in each respective precinct voting absentee ballots to be posted in a conspicuous place at the polling place for public notice. The application on file with the registrar and the envelopes containing the ballots shall be kept by the registrar and deposited in the proper precinct ballot boxes before such boxes are delivered to the election commissioners or managers. At the time such boxes are delivered to the election commissioners or managers, the registrar shall also turn over a list of all such persons who have voted and whose ballots are in the box.
The registrar may mail one (1) application to any qualified elector of the county for use in a particular election.
SECTION 3. Section 23-15-627, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-627. The registrar shall be responsible for furnishing an absentee ballot application form to any elector authorized to receive a ballot. Such application shall be substantially in the following form:
"OFFICIAL APPLICATION FOR ABSENT ELECTOR'S BALLOT
SEQUENTIAL APPLICATION NUMBER
I, _____, duly qualified and registered in the ___ Precinct of the County of _____, and State of Mississippi, coming within the purview of the definition 'ABSENT ELECTOR' will be absent from the county of my residence on election day, or unable to vote in person because (check appropriate reason):
( ) (PRESIDENTIAL APPLICANT ONLY:) I am currently a resident of Mississippi or have moved therefrom within thirty (30) days of the coming presidential election.
( ) I am an enlisted or commissioned member, male or female, of any component of the United States Armed Forces and am a citizen of Mississippi, or spouse or dependent of such member.
( ) I am a member of the Merchant Marine or the American Red Cross and am a citizen of Mississippi or spouse or dependent of such member.
( ) I am a disabled war veteran who is a patient in any hospital and am a citizen of Mississippi or spouse or dependent of such veteran.
( ) I am a civilian attached to and serving outside of the United States with any branch of the Armed Forces or with the Merchant Marine or American Red Cross, and am a citizen of Mississippi or spouse or dependent of such civilian.
( ) I am a citizen of Mississippi temporarily residing outside the territorial limits of the United States and the District of Columbia.
* * *
( ) I am a student, teacher or administrator at a college, university, junior or community college, high school, junior high, elementary or grade school, whose studies or employment at the institution necessitates my absence from the county of my voting residence, or spouse or dependent of a student, teacher or administrator who maintains a common domicile outside the county of my voting residence with the student, teacher or administrator.
* * *
( ) I will be outside the county on election day.
( ) I am ( ) temporarily disabled or ( ) permanently disabled and ( ) voting in person could likely create a medical danger to myself or to others or ( ) voting in person would be a substantial hardship to myself as the result of my disability.
* * *
( ) I am the parent, spouse or dependent of a person with a temporary or permanent physical disability who is hospitalized outside his county of residence or more than fifty (50) miles away from his residence, and I will be with such person on election day.
( ) I am a member of the congressional delegation, or spouse or dependent of a member of the congressional delegation.
( ) I am required to be at work on election day during the times at which the polls will be open.
I hereby make application for an official ballot, or ballots, to be voted by me at the election to be held in _____, on _____. Send 'Absent Elector's Ballot' to me (1) at the following address _____________, or (2) deliver same to me in person. (Strike (1) or (2), whichever is inapplicable.)
I realize that I can be fined up to Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) and sentenced up to five (5) years in the penitentiary for making a false statement in this application and for selling my vote and violating the Mississippi Absentee Voter Law. (This sentence is to be in bold print.)
If you are temporarily or permanently disabled, you are not required to have this application notarized or signed by an official authorized to administer oaths for absentee balloting. You are required to sign this application in the proper place and have a person eighteen (18) years of age or older witness your signature and sign this application in the proper place.
DO NOT SIGN WITHOUT READING. (This sentence is to be in bold print.)
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this the ____ day of ______, 19__.
(Signature of absent elector)
(Address as registered)
(Current residence address)
Social Security number
SWORN TO AND SUBSCRIBED before me this the ____ day of _____, 19__.
(Official authorized to administer oaths for absentee balloting or witness in the case of an elector temporarily or permanently disabled.)"
A perforated stub shall be attached to the top of the application to be retained by the registrar which shall contain the following information:
"Application for Absentee Ballot for:
Sequential Application Number _________________________________
Requested by: _______________________________
Relationship to Voter: ______________________
Requested by: _____ Phone _____ Fax _____ In Person (check one)
Date of Request _______________________
Date of Election ______________________
Type of Ballot ____ Democratic Primary ____ Republican Primary
____ General Election ____ Special Election"
SECTION 4. Section 23-15-713, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-713. For the purpose of this subarticle, any duly qualified elector may vote as provided in this subarticle if he be one who falls within the following categories:
(a) Any qualified elector who is a bona fide student, teacher or administrator at any college, university, junior college, high, junior high, or elementary grade school whose studies or employment at such institution necessitates his absence from the county of his voting residence on the date of any primary, general or special election, or the spouse and dependents of said student, teacher or administrator if such spouse or dependent(s) maintain a common domicile, outside of the county of his voting residence, with such student, teacher or administrator.
* * *
(b) Any qualified elector who is required to be away from his place of residence on any election day due to his employment * * * as an employee of a member of the Mississippi Congressional Delegation and the spouse and dependents of such person if he or she shall be residing with such absentee voter away from the county of the spouse's voting residence. * * *
(c) Any qualified elector who is away from his county of residence on election day for any reason.
(d) Any person who has a temporary or permanent physical disability and who, because of the disability, is unable to vote in person without substantial hardship to himself or others, or whose attendance at the voting place could reasonably cause danger to himself or others.
(e) The parent, spouse or dependent of a person with a temporary or permanent physical disability who is hospitalized outside of his county of residence or more than fifty (50) miles distant from his residence, if the parent, spouse or dependent will be with such person on election day.
(f) Any person who is sixty-five (65) years of age or older.
(g) Any member of the Mississippi congressional delegation absent from Mississippi on election day, and the spouse and dependents of such member of the congressional delegation.
(h) Any qualified elector who will be unable to vote in person because he is required to be at work on election day during the times at which the polls will be open.
SECTION 5. In addition to any other procedure provided by law, any person who has reason to believe that any election law has been violated may file a written complaint with the commissioners of election of the county in which the alleged violation occurred. The commissioners of election shall conduct a hearing on any complaint. The district attorney shall have notice of the hearing and the district attorney or his legal assistant may attend the hearing. If the election commissioners find that there is probable cause to believe that a violation has occurred, they shall refer the complaint to the district attorney and the district attorney shall present the matter to the grand jury at its next term.
SECTION 6. The Attorney General of the State of Mississippi shall submit this act, immediately upon approval by the Governor, or upon approval by the Legislature subsequent to a veto, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended. If any section, paragraph, sentence, clause, phrase or any part of this act is declared to be void or if this entire act is not approved and effectuated in accordance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended, then the entire act shall be void and no part of this act shall take effect or be in force.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date it is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.