2004 Regular Session
To: Apportionment and Elections
By: Representative Rotenberry
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 23-15-627 AND 23-15-631, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROHIBIT THE ISSUANCE OF AN ABSENTEE BALLOT TO INCARCERATED PERSONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. 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 an absentee ballot. Absentee ballot applications shall be furnished to a person only upon the oral or written request of the elector who seeks to vote by absentee ballot; however, the parent, child, spouse, sibling, legal guardian, those empowered with a power of attorney for that elector's affairs or agent of the elector may orally request an absentee ballot application on behalf of the elector. An absentee ballot application must have the seal of the circuit or municipal clerk affixed to it and be initialed by the registrar or his deputy in order to be utilized to obtain an absentee ballot. A reproduction of an absentee ballot application shall not be valid unless it is a reproduction provided by the office of the registrar of the jurisdiction in which the election is being held and which contains the seal and initials required by this section. An application shall not be accepted from a person who is imprisoned at the time of making the application. Such application shall be substantially in the following form:
"OFFICIAL APPLICATION FOR ABSENT ELECTOR'S BALLOT
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, junior high, elementary or grade school, whose studies or employment at such institution necessitates my absence from the county of my voting residence or spouse or dependent of such student, teacher or administrator who maintains a common domicile outside the county of my voting residence with such student, teacher or administrator.
( ) I will be outside the county on election day.
( ) I have a temporary or permanent physical disability.
( ) I am sixty-five (65) years of age or older.
( ) 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 which the polls will be open.
( ) I am not currently serving a sentence of imprisonment.
I hereby make application for an official ballot, or ballots, to be voted by me at the election to be held in _____, on _____.
Mail 'Absent Elector's Ballot' to me at the following address ____________ (if eligible to vote by mail).
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 ______, 2___.
(Signature of absent elector)
SWORN TO AND SUBSCRIBED before me this the ____ day of _____, 2___.
(Official authorized to administer oaths
for absentee balloting.)
TO BE SIGNED BY WITNESS FOR VOTERS TEMPORARILY OR PERMANENTLY DISABLED:
I HEREBY CERTIFY that this application for an absent elector's ballot was signed by the above-named disabled elector in my presence and that I am at least eighteen (18) years of age, this the _____ day of ____________________, 2___.
(Signature of witness)
CERTIFICATE OF DELIVERY
I hereby certify that _________________ (print name of voter) has requested that I, __________________ (print name of person delivering application), deliver to the voter this absentee ballot application.
(Signature of person delivering application)
(Address of person delivering application)"
SECTION 2. Section 23-15-631, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-631. (1) The registrar shall enclose with each ballot provided to an absent elector separate printed instructions furnished by him containing the following:
(a) All absentee voters, excepting those with temporary or permanent physical disabilities or those who are sixty-five (65) years of age or older, who mark their ballots in the county of the residence shall use the registrar of that county as the witness. Said absentee voter shall come to the office of the registrar and neither the registrar nor his deputy shall be required to go out of the registrar's office to serve as an attesting witness.
(b) Upon receipt of the enclosed ballot, you will not mark same except in view or sight of the attesting witness. In the sight or view of the attesting witness, mark the ballot according to instructions.
(c) After marking the ballot, fill out and sign the "ELECTOR'S CERTIFICATE" on back of the envelope so that the signature shall be across the flap of the envelope so as to insure the integrity of the ballot. All absent electors shall have the attesting witness sign the "ATTESTING WITNESS CERTIFICATE" across the flap on back of the envelope. Place necessary postage on the envelope and deposit it in the post office or some government receptacle provided for deposit of mail so that the absent elector's ballot, excepting presidential absentee ballots, will reach the registrar in which your precinct is located not later than 5:00 p.m. on the day preceding the date of the election, or by personally delivering such ballot to the registrar's office not later than 12:00 noon on the Saturday immediately preceding elections held on Tuesday, the Thursday immediately preceding elections held on Saturday, and the second day immediately preceding elections held on other days.
Any notary public, United States postmaster, assistant United States postmaster, United States postal supervisor, clerk in charge of a contract postal station, or any officer having authority to administer an oath or take an acknowledgment may be an attesting witness; provided, however, that in the case of an absent elector who is temporarily or permanently physically disabled, the attesting witness may be any person eighteen (18) years of age or older and such person is not required to have the authority to administer an oath. If a postmaster, assistant postmaster, postal supervisor, or clerk in charge of a contract postal station acts as an attesting witness, his signature on the elector's certificate must be authenticated by the cancellation stamp of their respective post offices. If one or the other officers herein named acts as attesting witness, his signature on the elector's certificate, together with his title and address, but no seal, shall be required. Any affidavits made by an absent elector who is in the Armed Forces may be executed before a commissioned officer, warrant officer, or noncommissioned officer not lower in grade than sergeant rating or any person authorized to administer oaths.
(d) When the application accompanies the ballot it shall not be returned in the same envelope as the ballot but shall be returned in a separate preaddressed envelope provided by the registrar.
(e) A person who is a candidate for public office may not be an attesting witness for any absentee ballot upon which the person's name appears.
(f) Any voter casting an absentee ballot who declares that he requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, temporary or permanent physical disability or inability to read or write, shall be entitled to receive assistance in the marking of his absentee ballot and in completing the affidavit on the absentee ballot envelope. The voter may be given assistance by anyone of the voter's choice other than a candidate whose name appears on the absentee ballot being marked, or the voter's employer, or agent of that employer. In order to ensure the integrity of the ballot, any person who provides assistance to an absentee voter shall be required to sign and complete the "Certificate of Person Providing Voter Assistance" on the absentee ballot envelope.
(g) Any person who is currently serving a sentence of imprisonment may not make an application for an absentee ballot.
(2) The foregoing instructions required to be provided by the registrar to the elector shall also constitute the substantive law pertaining to the handling of absentee ballots by the elector and registrar.
SECTION 3. 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 4. 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.