1997 Regular Session
To: Apportionment and Elections
By: Representative Denny
House Bill 1631
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-637, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT ABSENTEE BALLOTS CAST BY VOTERS IN THE MILITARY THROUGH THE MAIL MAY BE RECEIVED UNTIL THE CLOSING OF THE POLLS; TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-677, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY TO THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT; TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-685, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DELETE THE PROVISION WHICH REQUIRES THE COUNTY REGISTRAR TO SEND AN AFFIDAVIT OF REGISTRATION TO A VOTER WHO IS VOTING BY ABSENTEE BALLOT; TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-687, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT ONE APPLICATION FOR ABSENTEE BALLOT SHALL SERVE AS A REQUEST FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT FOR ALL ELECTIONS HELD DURING THAT CALENDAR YEAR; TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-695, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS AND PETTY OFFICERS MAY ADMINISTER AND ATTEST THE OATH REQUIRED TO BE GIVEN BY A PERSON VOTING BY ABSENTEE BALLOT; TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-699, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE ABSENTEE BALLOTS WHICH ARE CAST BY PERSONS IN THE MILITARY TO BE CAST BY ELECTRONIC FACSIMILE DEVICES, AND TO PROVIDE THAT A FEDERAL POSTCARD APPLICATION FOR ABSENTEE BALLOTS MAY BE USED TO REQUEST AN ABSENTEE BALLOT OR TO REGISTER TO VOTE OR TO REQUEST BOTH; TO PROVIDE THAT A UNITED STATES CITIZEN RESIDING OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES AND WHO HAS NEVER LIVED IN THE UNITED STATES, BUT HAS A PARENT WHO IS A REGISTERED VOTER OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI SHALL BE ELIGIBLE TO REGISTER AND VOTE WHERE HIS PARENT IS REGISTERED TO VOTE; TO PROVIDE THAT THE SECRETARY OF STATE MAY EXERCISE EMERGENCY POWERS OVER ELECTIONS UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES; TO PROVIDE THAT AN ABSENT VOTER RESIDING OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES OR A MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES MAY USE THE FEDERAL WRITE-IN ABSENTEE BALLOT FOR LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL ELECTIONS; TO REPEAL SECTION 23-15-689, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH REQUIRES THE REGISTRAR TO FORWARD AN APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION TO VOTE TO AN ABSENT VOTER AND WHICH REQUIRES AN OATH TO BE ADMINISTERED TO AN ABSENT VOTER WHO IS REGISTERING TO VOTE, WILL BE REPEALED; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 23-15-637, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-637. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, absentee ballots received by mail, excluding presidential ballots as provided for in Sections 23-15-731 and 23-15-733, must be received by the registrar by 5:00 p.m. on the date preceding the election; any received after such time shall be handled as provided in Section 23-15-647 and shall not be counted. All ballots cast by the absent elector appearing in person in the office of the registrar shall be cast not later than 12:00 noon on the Saturday immediately preceding elections held on Tuesday, the Thursday immediately preceding elections held on Saturday, or the second day immediately preceding the date of elections held on other days. The registrar shall deposit all absentee ballots which have been timely cast in the ballot boxes upon receipt.
(2) Absentee ballots received by mail which have been cast by any absent voter as defined by Section 23-15-673(1) and (2), must be received by the registrar by the closing of the polls on election day. The absentee ballots received after the ballot boxes have been delivered to the election managers shall be delivered by the registrar to the election managers who shall examine the ballots, and as near as practicable, follow the procedures set out in the Absentee Balloting Procedures Law.
SECTION 2. Section 23-15-677, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-677. All absent voters as defined in Section 23-15-673(1) and (2) may use a duly executed federal postcard application (as provided * * * in the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA, 42 USC 1973 ff et seq.) to request a ballot or to register to vote or to request both simultaneously.
SECTION 3. Section 23-15-685, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-685. Within forty-five (45) days next prior to any election upon application first made to the registrar of the county by any absent voter as defined in this subarticle, such person shall be sent an absentee voter ballot * * *. The registrar shall send to such absent voter a proper absentee voter ballot containing the names of all candidates who qualify or the proposition to be voted upon in such elections, and with such ballot there shall be sent an official envelope containing upon it in printed form the recitals and data hereinafter required.
SECTION 4. Section 23-15-687, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-687. The registrar shall keep all applications for absentee ballots and shall, within twenty-four (24) hours, if possible, send to such absent voter on whose behalf the application is made the proper affidavit and the proper ballot or ballots applicable to the elections. One (1) application shall serve as a request for an absentee ballot for each election held within that calendar year for which the voter is eligible to vote. The registrar shall preserve all applications for absentee voter ballots for one (1) year as a record to be furnished to any court or constituted authority for inspection or evidence if properly called for.
SECTION 5. Section 23-15-695, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-695. Those persons authorized to administer and attest oaths shall be:
(a) Any commissioned officer, noncommissioned officer (NCO) or petty officer in the active service of the Armed Forces;
(b) Any member of the Merchant Marine of the United States designated for this purpose by the Secretary of Commerce;
(c) The head of any department or agency of the United States;
(d) Any civilian official empowered by state or federal law to administer oaths; or
(e) Any civilian employee designated by the head of any department or agency of the United States.
SECTION 6. Section 23-15-699, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-699. The registrar shall be authorized to use electronic facsimile (FAX) devices to transmit absentee ballots * * * and receive absentee ballots which have been cast and completed federal postcard applications as provided in Section 23-15-677, which shall serve to request an absentee ballot or to register to vote or to request both simultaneously.
SECTION 7. A United States citizen residing outside the United States and who has never lived in the United States, but has a parent who is a registered voter of the State of Mississippi, is eligible to register and vote where his parent is registered to vote.
SECTION 8. The Secretary of State may exercise emergency powers over any election being held in a district in which either a natural disaster or extremely inclement weather has occurred. The Secretary of State may exercise emergency powers during an armed conflict or other military contingencies involving United States Armed Forces, or mobilization of those forces, including State National Guard and Reserve components. The Secretary of State shall adopt rules describing the emergency powers and the situations in which the powers will be exercised.
SECTION 9. If an absent voter is residing outside the United States and is a member of the United States Armed Forces or is a family member of a member of the United States Armed Forces and is a registered voter of the State of Mississippi, he may use the Federal Write-In Ballot as provided for in 42 USC 1973 ff-2, in general, special, primary and runoff elections for local, state and federal offices.
SECTION 10. Section 23-15-689, Mississippi Code of 1972, which requires the registrar to forward an application for registration to vote to an absent voter and which requires an oath to be administered to an absent voter, is repealed.
SECTION 11. 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.
SECTION 12. 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.