2006 Regular Session
To: Apportionment and Elections
By: Representative Banks, Hines
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-47, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE MAIL-IN VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATIONS TO BE PLACED IN ALL POLLING PLACES ON AN ELECTION DAY; TO PROVIDE THAT ANY PERSON OBTAINING AND COMPLETING A MAIL-IN VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATION MUST MAIL THE APPLICATION TO HIS COUNTY REGISTRAR BEFORE HE WILL BE REGISTERED TO VOTE; TO AMEND SECTION 23-15-245, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT PERSONS WANTING TO OBTAIN A MAIL-IN VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATION SHALL BE ALLOWED TO ENTER THE POLLING PLACE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 23-15-47, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-47. (1) Any person who is qualified to register to vote in the State of Mississippi may register to vote by mail-in application in the manner prescribed in this section.
(2) The following procedure shall be used in the 818 registration of electors by mail:
(a) Any qualified elector may register to vote by mailing or delivering a completed mail-in application to his county registrar at least thirty (30) days prior to any election. The postmark date of a mailed application shall be the date of registration.
(b) Upon receipt of a mail-in application, the county registrar shall stamp the application with the date of receipt, and shall verify the application by contacting the applicant by telephone, by personal contact with the applicant, or by any other method approved by the Secretary of State. Within twenty-five (25) days of receipt of a mail-in application, the county registrar shall complete action on the application, including any attempts to notify the applicant of the status of his application.
(c) If the county registrar determines that the applicant is qualified and his application is legible and complete, he shall mail the applicant written notification that the application has been approved, specifying the county voting precinct, municipal voting precinct, if any, polling place and supervisor district in which such person shall vote. This written notification of approval containing the specified information shall be the voter's registration card. The registration cards shall be provided by the county registrar. Upon entry of the voter registration information into the Statewide Centralized Voter System, the system shall assign a voter registration number to the person, which shall be that person's current and valid Mississippi driver's license number, or if the person does not possess a current and valid Mississippi driver's license, the last four (4) digits of the person's social security number, if the number is provided. If the person does not have a current and valid Mississippi driver's license number and does not provide the last four (4) digits of his social security number, the Statewide Centralized Voter System shall assign the person a unique registration number. The assigned voter registration number shall be clearly shown on the application and on the written notification of approval. In mailing the written notification, the county registrar shall note the following on the envelope: "DO NOT FORWARD". If any registration notification form is returned as undeliverable, the voter's registration shall be void.
(d) A mail-in application shall be rejected for any of the following reasons:
(i) An incomplete portion of the application which makes it impossible for the registrar to determine the eligibility of the applicant to register;
(ii) A portion of the application which is illegible in the opinion of the county registrar and makes it impossible to determine the eligibility of the applicant to register;
(iii) The county registrar is unable to determine, from the address and information stated on the application, the precinct in which the voter should be assigned or the supervisor district in which he is entitled to vote;
(iv) The applicant is not qualified to register to vote pursuant to Section 23-15-11;
(v) The registrar determines that the applicant is registered as a qualified elector of the county;
(vi) The county registrar is unable to verify the application pursuant to subsection (2)(b) of this section.
(e) If the mail-in application of a person is subject to rejection for any of the reasons set forth in paragraph (d)(i) through (iii) of this subsection, and it appears to the registrar that the defect or omission is of such a minor nature and that any necessary additional information may be supplied by the applicant over the telephone or by further correspondence, the registrar may write or call the applicant at the telephone number provided on the application. If the registrar is able to contact the applicant by mail or telephone, he shall attempt to ascertain the necessary information and if this information is sufficient for the registrar to complete the application, the applicant shall be registered. If the necessary information cannot be obtained by mail or telephone or is not sufficient, the registrar shall give the applicant written notice of the rejection and provide the reason for the rejection. The registrar shall further inform the applicant that he has a right to attempt to register by appearing in person or by filing another mail-in application.
(f) If a mail-in application is subject to rejection for the reason stated in paragraph (d)(v) of this subsection and the "present home address" portion of the application is different from the residence address for the applicant found in the registration book, the mail-in application shall be deemed a written request to transfer registration pursuant to Section 23-15-13. Subject to the time limits and other provisions of Section 23-15-13, the registrar or the election commissioners shall note the new residence address on his records and, if necessary, transfer the applicant to his new county precinct or municipal precinct, if any, advise the applicant of his new county precinct or municipal precinct, if any, polling place and supervisor district.
(3) The instructions and the application form for voter registration by mail shall be in a form established by rule duly adopted by the Secretary of State.
(4) (a) The Secretary of State shall prepare and furnish without charge the necessary forms for application for voter registration by mail to each county registrar, municipal clerk, all public schools, each private school that requests such applications, and all public libraries.
(b) The Secretary of State shall distribute without charge sufficient forms for application for voter registration by mail to the Commissioner of Public Safety, who shall distribute such forms to each driver's license examining and renewal station in the state, and shall ensure that the forms are regularly available to the public at such stations.
(c) Bulk quantities of forms for application for voter registration by mail shall be furnished by the Secretary of State to any person or organization. The Secretary of State shall charge a person or organization the actual cost he incurs in providing bulk quantities of forms for application for voter registration to such person or organization.
(5) The originals of completed mail-in applications shall remain on file in the office of the county registrar in accordance with Section 23-15-113. Nothing in this section shall preclude having applications on microfilm, microfiche or as an electronic image.
(6) If the applicant indicates on the application that he resides within the city limits of a city or town in the county of registration, the county registrar shall enter the information into the Statewide Centralized Voter System. The county registrar shall send municipal voting precinct information by United States first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the person at the address provided on the application. Any and all mailing costs incurred by the county registrar or the clerk of the municipality in effectuating this subsection shall be paid by the governing authority of the municipality. If a review of the application for registration or changes to the registration indicates that the applicant is not qualified to vote in the municipality, the registrarshall notify the applicant of the correct county precinct.
(7) If the applicant indicates on the application that he has previously registered to vote in another county of this state or another state, notice to the voter's previous county of registration in this state shall be provided by the Statewide Centralized Voter System. If the voter's previous place of registration was in another state, notice shall be provided to the voter's previous state of residence if the Statewide Centralized Voter System has that capability.
(8) Any person who attempts to register to vote by mail shall be subject to the penalties for false registration provided for in Section 23-15-17.
(9) Mail-in voter registration applications shall be placed in all polling places on an election day and shall be distributed to any person requesting a mail-in voter registration application. Persons obtaining a mail-in voter registration application must mail the application to his county registrar as provided in subsection (2)(a) of this section before he will be registered to vote.
SECTION 2. Section 23-15-245, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-245. (1) It shall be the duty of the manager designated as bailiff to be present at the voting place, and to take such steps as will accomplish the purpose of his appointment, and he shall have full power to do so, and he may summon to his aid all persons present at the voting place. A space thirty (30) feet in every direction from the polls, or the room in which the election is held, shall be kept open and clear of all persons except the election officers and two (2) challengers of good conduct and behavior, selected by each party to detect and challenge illegal voters; and the electors shall approach the polls from one direction, line, door or passage, and depart in another as nearly opposite as convenient.
(2) Any person wanting to obtain a mail-in voter registration application shall be allowed to enter the polling place to obtain a mail-in voter registration application, and after he has obtained an application, he shall depart immediately from the polling place. The mail-in voter registration applications shall be distributed by the manager. Mail-in voter registration applications shall be placed in all polling places on an election day and shall be distributed as authorized in Section 23-15-47(8).
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.