2005 Regular Session
To: Apportionment and Elections
By: Representative Banks
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 23-15-415 AND 23-15-473, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT A CANDIDATE MAY INSPECT A VOTING MACHINE OR VOTING DEVICE AT LEAST THREE DAYS BEFORE AN ELECTION; TO BRING FORWARD SECTION 23-15-429, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, FOR PURPOSES OF AMENDMENT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 23-15-415, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-415. It shall be the duty of the authorities in charge of any election where a voting machine is to be used, to have the machine at the proper polling place or places before the time fixed for opening of the polls, and the counters set at zero, and otherwise in good and proper order for use at such election. For the purpose of placing ballots in the ballot frames of the machine, putting it in order, setting, testing and adjusting and delivering the machine, the authorities in charge of elections may employ one or more competent persons, to be known as custodian or custodians of voting machines, who shall be fully competent, thoroughly instructed, and sworn to perform his duties honestly and faithfully, and for such purpose shall be appointed and instructed at least thirty (30) days before the election. All voting machines to be used in an election shall be properly prepared at least three (3) days prior to the election day. When a voting machine has been properly prepared for election, it shall be locked against voting and sealed; and the keys thereof shall be delivered to the registrar, together with a written report made by the custodian or official preparing the machine, stating that it is in every way properly prepared for the election. Any candidate may inspect a voting machine at least three (3) days before an election. After the voting machine has been transferred to the polling place, it shall be the duty of the managers to provide ample protection against molestation or injury to the machine. All voting machines used in any election shall be provided with a screen, hood or curtain which shall be so made and adjusted as to conceal the voter and his action while voting.
SECTION 2. Section 23-15-473, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-473. The circuit court clerk shall be the custodian of voting devices acquired by a county, who shall be charged with the proper storage, maintenance and repair of voting devices, and the preparation of them for voting prior to elections. After they have been prepared for an election and at least three (3) days before an election, the voting devices shall be available for public inspection, including inspection by a candidate, at a time and place designated by the custodian. Thereafter they shall be locked or sealed before delivery to the managers of the election. The custodian shall immediately repair, replace or remove any voting device which fails to function properly on election day. The clerk of any municipality which acquires voting devices shall be the custodian of such voting devices and perform the same functions.
If a voting device at a polling place malfunctions and cannot be repaired or replaced quickly and there is no other device in the polling place that can be used to perform the function of the device that malfunctions, unofficial ballots made as nearly as possible in the form of the official ballot may be used until the voting device is repaired or replaced. Such ballots shall be received by the managers and placed by them in a receptacle in such case to be provided by the managers, and counted with the votes registered on the voting device; and the result shall be declared the same as though there had been no accident to the voting device; the ballots thus voted shall be preserved and returned as herein directed, with a certificate or statement setting forth how and why the same were voted.
SECTION 3. Section 23-15-429, Mississippi Code of 1972, is brought forward as follows:
23-15-429. Prior to the opening of the polls, the managers and clerks of each voting precinct shall meet at the polling place at the time set for opening of the polls, at each election, and shall proceed to arrange the furniture, stationery and voting machine for the conduct of the election. The keys to the voting machines shall be delivered to the managers before the time set for opening the polls, in a sealed envelope, on which shall be written or printed the number and location of the voting machine, and the number of the seal and the number registered on the protective counter or device, as reported by the custodian or official preparing the machine. Before opening the envelope, all managers and clerks present shall examine the number on the seal on the machine, also the number registered on the protective counter, and shall see if they are the same as the number written on the envelope; and if they are not the same, the machine must not be opened until the custodian, or other authorized person, shall have been notified and shall have presented himself at the polling place for the purpose of re-examining such machine and shall certify that it is properly arranged.
If the numbers on the envelope are the same as those on the machine, the election officers shall proceed to open the doors concealing the counters, and each officer shall carefully examine every counter and see that it registers zero, and the same shall be subject to the inspection of official watchers. The machine shall remain locked against voting until the polls are formally opened, and shall not be operated except by voters in voting. If any counter is found not to register zero, the manager shall immediately notify the officials in charge of the election or the custodian, who shall, if practicable, adjust the counters at zero; but if it shall be impracticable to so adjust such counters before the time set for opening the polls, the managers shall immediately make a written statement of the designating letter and number of such counter, together with the number registered thereon, and shall sign and post same upon the wall of the polling room, where it shall remain throughout election day, and, in filling out the statement of canvass, they shall subtract such number from the number then registered thereon.
SECTION 4. 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 5. 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.