2006 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Tollison
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 23-15-637 AND 23-15-639, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT THE REGISTRAR SHALL KEEP ALL ABSENTEE BALLOTS HE RECEIVES BY 5:00 P.M. ON THE DAY PRECEDING THE ELECTION AND DELIVER THEM TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF ELECTION, IN THE CASE OF GENERAL ELECTIONS, AND DESIGNATED MEMBERS OF THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, IN THE CASE OF PRIMARY ELECTIONS, BY NOT LATER THAN 9:00 P.M. ON THE DAY OF THE ELECTION; TO REQUIRE THE REGISTRAR TO PREPARE A LIST OF THE PERSONS WHO ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE IN THE PRECINCT AND WHO LAWFULLY CAST AN ABSENTEE BALLOT AND DELIVER THE LIST TO EACH PRECINCT BEFORE THE POLLS OPEN ON ELECTION DAY; TO REQUIRE THE ELECTION MANAGERS AT EACH PRECINCT TO NOTE ALL PERSONS ON THE LIST WHO APPEARED IN PERSON AND VOTED AT THE ELECTION; TO REQUIRE THE ELECTION MANAGERS TO DELIVER THE LIST WITH NOTATIONS OF THOSE WHO VOTED IN PERSON TO THE APPROPRIATE ELECTION OFFICIALS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER THE POLLS HAVE CLOSED; TO PROVIDE THAT THE COMMISSIONERS OF ELECTION OR THE DESIGNATED COUNTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS SHALL EXAMINE THE ABSENTEE BALLOT ENVELOPES AND BALLOTS AT A MEETING HELD FOR THAT PURPOSE AT 9:00 A.M. ON THE DAY OF THE ELECTION; TO REQUIRE THE REJECTION OF THE ABSENTEE BALLOTS OF THOSE WHO VOTED IN PERSON AND FOR OTHER REASONS FOR WHICH ABSENTEE BALLOTS MAY BE REJECTED; TO PROVIDE THAT SUCH ELECTION OFFICIALS SHALL COUNT THE ABSENTEE BALLOTS AND ADD THE VOTES TO THE APPROPRIATE PRECINCT TOTALS BEFORE THE VOTE IS CERTIFIED; TO AMEND SECTIONS 23-15-641, 23-15-643 AND 23-15-719, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY THERETO; 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) 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 this time shall be handled as provided in Section 23-15-647 and shall not be counted. All ballots cast by * * * absent electors 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.
(2) The registrar shall keep all absentee ballots that he receives and deliver the ones that are received by him by 5:00 p.m. on the date preceding the election to the appropriate election officials by not later that 9:00 p.m. on the day of the election.
(3) For each precinct, the registrar shall prepare a list of the persons who are registered to vote in the precinct and who cast an absentee ballot by 5:00 p.m. on the date preceding the election. The list shall be delivered to the election manager at each precinct before the polls open on election day. The election managers shall note on the list all persons on the list who appeared in person and voted at the election. The election managers shall deliver the list with notations of those who voted in person to the appropriate election officials as soon as possible after the polls have closed and in no event later than 9:00 p.m. on the day of the election.
(4) As used in this section and Sections 23-15-639, 23-15-641 and 23-15-643, the term "appropriate election officials" means:
(a) In the case of all elections other than primary election, the commissioners of election; and
(b) In the case of primary elections, five (5) members of the appropriate political party county executive committee selected in accordance with procedures established by the state executive committee of the party.
SECTION 2. Section 23-15-639, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-639. At 9:00 p.m. on the day of the election after the close of the regular balloting and at the close of the polls, the appropriate election officials shall conduct a public meeting to examine the absentee ballot envelopes and absentee ballots as provided by law. The appropriate election officials shall first take the envelopes containing the absentee ballots of such electors * * * that have been delivered to them by the registrar, and the name, address and precinct inscribed on each * * * envelope shall be announced * * *. The signature on the application shall then be compared with the signature on the back of the envelope. If it corresponds and the affidavit, if one is required, is sufficient and the appropriate election officials find that the person is a registered and qualified voter or otherwise qualified to vote, and, according to the list delivered to them by the election managers, that he has not appeared in person and voted at the election, the envelope shall then be opened and the ballot removed from the envelope, without its being unfolded, or permitted to be unfolded or examined. Having observed and found the ballot to be regular as far as can be observed from its official endorsement, the appropriate election officials shall deposit it in a separate absentee ballot box for each precinct and enter the voter's name in the receipt book provided for that purpose and mark "VOTED" in the pollbook or poll list as if he had been present and voted in person. Once all absentee ballots have been deposited into a ballot box, the votes shall be counted and added to the votes cast at the appropriate precinct before the vote is certified. If voting machines are used, all absentee ballots shall be placed into a separate absentee ballot box for each precinct before any ballots are counted and the appropriate election officials shall count the absentee ballots and add to the votes cast in the voting machine or deviceat the precinct before the vote is certified.
SECTION 3. Section 23-15-641, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-641. (1) If an affidavit or the certificate of the officer before whom the affidavit is taken is required and such affidavit or certificate is found to be insufficient, or if it is found that the signatures do not correspond, or that the person is not a duly qualified elector in the precinct, or otherwise qualified to vote, or that the ballot envelope is open or has been opened and resealed, or the voter is not eligible to vote absentee or that the voter is present and has voted within the precinct where he represents himself to be a qualified elector, or otherwise qualified to vote, on the date of the election at such precinct, the previously cast vote shall not be allowed. Without opening the voter's envelope the appropriate election officials, shall mark across its face "REJECTED", with the reason therefor.
(2) If the ballot envelope contains more than one (1) ballot of any kind, the ballot shall not be counted but shall be marked "REJECTED", with the reason therefor. The voter's envelopes and affidavits, and the voter's envelope with its contents unopened, when such vote is rejected, shall be retained and preserved in the same manner as other ballots at the election. Such votes may be challenged at the meeting of the appropriate election officials in the same manner and for the same reasons that any other vote cast in such election may be challenged.
(3) If an affidavit is required and the officials find that the affidavit is insufficient, or if the officials find that the absentee voter is otherwise disqualified to vote, the envelope shall not be opened and a appropriate election officials shall write across the face of the envelope "REJECTED" giving the reason therefor, and the registrar shall promptly notify the voter of such rejection.
SECTION 4. Section 23-15-643, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-643. If an affidavit is required, the appropriate election officials shall examine the affidavit of each absentee ballot envelope. If the officials are satisfied that the affidavit is sufficient and that the absentee voter is otherwise qualified to vote, an official shall announce the name of the voter and shall give any person present an opportunity to challenge in like manner and for the same cause as the voter could have been challenged had he presented himself personally * * * to vote. The ineligibility of the voter to vote by absentee ballot shall be a ground for a challenge. Also, the officials shall consider any absentee voter challenged when a person has previously filed a written challenge of the voter's right to vote. The election officials shall handle any such challenge in the same manner as other challenged ballots are handled.
SECTION 5. Section 23-15-719, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-719. (1) Immediately upon completion of an application filed pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (a) of Section 23-15-715, the registrar shall deliver the necessary ballots to the applicant. The registrar shall only deliver the ballots to the applicant by mail or to the applicant in the registrar's office. The registrar shall not personally hand deliver ballots to voters, unless he delivers the ballots in the office of the registrar. The elector shall fill in his ballot in secret. After the applicant has properly marked the ballot and properly folded it, he shall deposit it in the envelope furnished him by the registrar.
After he has sealed the envelope, he shall subscribe and swear to an affidavit in the following form, which shall be printed on the back of the envelope containing the applicant's ballot:
"STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
COUNTY OF ___________
I, __________, do solemnly swear that this envelope contains the ballot marked by me indicating my choice of the candidates or propositions to be submitted at the election to be held on the ___ day of __________, 2___, and I hereby * * * authorize the appropriate election officials to open this envelope * * * and record my name on the poll list as if I were present in person and voted.
I further swear that I marked the enclosed ballot in secret.
(Signature of voter)
SWORN TO AND SUBSCRIBED before me, __________, this the ___ day of __________, 2___.
After the completion of the requirements of this section, the elector shall deliver the envelope containing the ballot to the registrar.
(2) If the voter has received assistance in marking his ballot, the person providing the assistance shall complete the following form which shall be printed on the back of the envelope containing the applicant's ballot:
"CERTIFICATE OF PERSON PROVIDING VOTER ASSISTANCE
(To be completed only if the voter has received assistance in marking the enclosed ballot.) I hereby certify that the above-named voter declared to me that he or she is blind, temporarily or permanently physically disabled, or cannot read or write, and that the voter requested that I assist the voter in marking the enclosed absentee ballot. I hereby certify that the ballot preferences on the enclosed ballot are those communicated by the voter to me, and that I have marked the enclosed ballot in accordance with the voter's instructions.
Signature of person providing assistance
Printed name of person providing assistance
Address of person providing assistance
Date and time assistance provided
Family relationship to voter (if any)"
(3) The envelope used pursuant to this section shall not contain the form prescribed by Section 23-15-635.
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.
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.