2007 Regular Session
To: Apportionment and Elections
By: Representative Moss, Cummings
AN ACT TO CREATE THE "EARLY VOTING ACT"; TO PROVIDE THAT A QUALIFIED ELECTOR MAY VOTE EARLY IN THE OFFICE OF THE REGISTRAR OR A LOCATION DESIGNATED BY THE REGISTRAR NOT MORE THAN 22 DAYS NOR LESS THAN FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE DAY OF AN ELECTION; TO REQUIRE THAT ALL EARLY VOTES SHALL BE CAST ON A VOTING MACHINE, ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEM, OPTICAL MARK READING EQUIPMENT OR DIRECT RECORDING ELECTRONIC VOTING EQUIPMENT WHICH SHALL COMPLY WITH THE SPECIFICATIONS PROVIDED BY LAW; TO PROVIDE THAT QUALIFIED ELECTORS MAY VOTE BY AFFIDAVIT BALLOT DURING EARLY VOTING; TO PROVIDE THAT ALL ELECTION LAWS RELATING TO THE CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS ON ELECTION DAY THAT ARE APPLICABLE AND NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THE PROVISIONS OF EARLY VOTING SHALL BE APPLICABLE; TO AMEND SECTIONS 23-15-653, 23-15-449 AND 23-15-463, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CONFORM TO THE PRECEDING SECTION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Early Voting Act."
SECTION 2. A qualified elector may vote early in the office of the registrar or a location designated by the registrar not more than twenty-two (22) days nor less than five (5) days before the day of an election. A qualified elector who desires to vote early shall come to the office of the registrar or a location designated by the registrar. No person shall utilize absentee ballots to vote early without excuse.
SECTION 3. (1) All early votes shall be cast on a voting machine, electronic voting system, optical mark reading equipment or direct recording electronic voting equipment which shall comply with the specifications provided by law.
(2) The county election commission shall place the names of all candidates for election on a voting machine, electronic voting system, optical mark reading equipment or direct recording electronic voting equipment which shall comply with the specifications provided by law.
(3) The county election commissioner shall secure the voting machine, system or equipment used in early voting to prohibit tampering and shall also provide maximum security that allows no other person, except for persons designated by the election commission to have access to the room or facility in which the voting machines, ballots and other election equipment are stored.
(4) No single direct recording electronic (DRE) voting system may have more than nine thousand nine hundred ninety-nine (9,999) voters using a single machine during the early voting period.
(5) The Secretary of State shall promulgate rules and regulations for use of authorized voting systems for early voting.
SECTION 4. In the event a qualified elector appears to vote but such person's name does not appear upon the pollbook, is not able to cast a regular election day ballot under a provision of state or federal law but is otherwise qualified to vote, or has been illegally denied registration. Such person shall vote by affidavit ballot. The registrar shall follow the procedure established for affidavit ballot provided in Section 23-15-573.
SECTION 5. Any person voting early is entitled to the same assistance during the early voting period that such person would be entitled as otherwise provided by law on the day of election.
SECTION 6. The results of votes cast during early voting shall be announced simultaneously with the votes cast on election day.
SECTION 7. Each candidate shall have the same rights to be present at voting locations and to challenge the qualifications of any person offering to vote in the same manner as otherwise provided by law.
SECTION 8. The Secretary of State shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to effectuate the provisions of the "Early Voting Act."
SECTION 9. The provisions of the election law relating to the conduct of elections on election day that are applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions of early voting shall be applicable.
SECTION 10. Section 23-15-653, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-653. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, all registrars' offices shall remain open until noon on the two (2) Saturdays prior to each election.
(2) (a) On at least three (3) days during the early voting period, the county registrars' offices shall remain open between 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and on at least one (1) Saturday during the same period the office shall be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The registrars' offices shall determine the appropriate dates for both late and regular hours.
(b) Notice of the office hours shall be given by the county registrar not less than twenty-five (25) days before the day of election by publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
SECTION 11. Section 23-15-449, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-449. All laws relating to elections now in force in this state shall apply to all elections under this chapter so far as the same may be applicable thereto, and so far as such provisions are not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter. Absentee ballots and early voting ballots shall be voted as now provided by law.
SECTION 12. Section 23-15-463, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
23-15-463. The board of supervisors of any county in the State of Mississippi and the governing authorities of any municipality in the State of Mississippi are hereby authorized and empowered, in their discretion, to purchase or rent voting devices and automatic tabulating equipment used in an electronic voting system which meets the requirements of Section 23-15-465, and may use such system in all or a part of the precincts within its boundaries, or in combination with paper ballots in any election or primary. It may enlarge, consolidate or alter the boundaries of precincts where an electronic voting system is used. The provisions of Sections 23-15-461 through 23-15-485 shall be controlling with respect to elections where an electronic voting system is used, and shall be liberally construed so as to carry out the purpose of this chapter. The provisions of the election law relating to the conduct of elections with paper ballots, insofar as they are applicable and not inconsistent with the efficient conduct of elections with electronic voting systems, shall apply. Absentee ballots and early voting ballots shall be voted as now provided by law.
SECTION 13. 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 14. 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.