Connecticut Seal

House Bill No. 5500

Public Act No. 04-74

AN ACT CONCERNING COMPLIANCE WITH THE FEDERAL HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 9-323 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

Any elector or candidate who claims that he is aggrieved by any ruling of any election official in connection with any election for presidential electors and for a senator in Congress and for representative in Congress or any of them, held in his town, or that there was a mistake in the count of the votes cast at such election for candidates for such electors, senator in Congress and representative in Congress, or any of them, at any voting district in his town, or any candidate for such an office who claims that he is aggrieved by a violation of any provision of sections 9-355, 9-357 to 9-361, inclusive, as amended, 9-364, 9-364a or 9-365 in the casting of absentee ballots at such election, may bring his complaint to any judge of the Supreme Court, in which he shall set out the claimed errors of such election official, the claimed errors in the count or the claimed violations of said sections. In any action brought pursuant to the provisions of this section, the complainant shall send a copy of the complaint by first-class mail, or deliver a copy of the complaint by hand, to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made prior to such election, such judge shall proceed expeditiously to render judgment on the complaint and shall cause notice of the hearing to be given to the Secretary of the State and the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made subsequent to the election, it shall be brought within fourteen days of the election and such judge shall forthwith order a hearing to be had upon such complaint, upon a day not more than five nor less than three days from the making of such order, and shall cause notice of not less than three nor more than five days to be given to any candidate or candidates whose election may be affected by the decision upon such hearing, to such election official, to the Secretary of the State, to the State Elections Enforcement Commission and to any other party or parties whom such judge deems proper parties thereto, of the time and place for the hearing upon such complaint. Such judge, with two other judges of the Supreme Court to be designated by the Chief Court Administrator, shall, on the day fixed for such hearing and without unnecessary delay, proceed to hear the parties. If sufficient reason is shown, such judges may order any voting machines to be unlocked or any ballot boxes to be opened and a recount of the votes cast, including absentee ballots, to be made. Such judges shall thereupon, in the case they, or any two of them, find any error in the rulings of the election official, any mistake in the count of such votes or any violation of said sections, certify the result of their finding or decision, or the finding or decision of a majority of them, to the Secretary of the State before the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. Such judges may order a new election or a change in the existing election schedule, provided such order complies with Section 302 of the Help America Vote Act, P.L. 107-252, as amended from time to time. Such certificate of such judges, or a majority of them, shall be final upon all questions relating to the rulings of such election officials, to the correctness of such count and, for the purposes of this section only, such claimed violations, and shall operate to correct the returns of the moderators or presiding officers so as to conform to such finding or decision.

Sec. 2. Section 88 of public act 03-6 of the June 30 special session is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

Immediately after the close of the polls, the moderator shall seal the provisional ballot depository envelope and deliver such envelope to the registrars of voters of the town. The registrars of voters shall forthwith verify the information contained with each provisional ballot. If the registrars of voters determine that the applicant is eligible to vote, they shall note their decision on the outer envelope of the ballot and open and count the provisional ballot in accordance with the provisions of sections [55 to 61] 83 to 89, inclusive of [this act] public act 03-6 of the June 30 special session* and procedures prescribed by the Secretary of the State. If the registrars of voters are unable to determine that the applicant is eligible to vote or determine that the applicant is not eligible to vote, the applicant's provisional ballot sealed envelope shall be marked "rejected", along with the reason for such rejection, and signed by the registrars of voters. The registrars of voters shall verify and count all provisional ballots in their town not later than six days after the election or primary. The registrars of voters shall forthwith prepare and sign in duplicate a report showing the number of provisional ballots received from electors, the number rejected and the number counted, and showing the additional votes counted for each candidate for federal office on the provisional ballots. The registrars of voters shall file one report with the town clerk and shall seal one in the depository envelope with the provisional ballots and file such depository envelope with the town clerk. The depository envelope shall be preserved by the town clerk for the period of time required to preserve counted absentee ballots for federal elections. The head moderator shall forthwith file a corrected return for federal offices with the town clerk and the Secretary showing (1) the final votes after any recanvass, pursuant to sections 9-311 to 9-311b, inclusive, the votes on provisional ballots and the totals, and (2) the number of provisional ballots received from electors, the number rejected and the number counted, as reported by the registrars of voters.

Sec. 3. Subsection (a) of section 9-261 of the general statutes, as amended by section 101 of public act 03-6 of the June 30 special session, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) In each primary, election or referendum, when an elector has entered the polling place, the elector shall announce the elector's street address, if any, and the elector's name to the checkers in a tone sufficiently loud and clear as to enable all the election officials present to hear the same. Each elector who registered to vote by mail for the first time on or after January 1, 2003, and has a "mark" next to the elector's name on the official registry list, as required by section [91] 90 of [this act] public act 03-6 of the June 30 special session, shall present to the checkers, before the elector votes, either a current and valid photo identification that shows the elector's name and address or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the name and address of the elector. Each other elector shall (1) present to the checkers the elector's Social Security card or any other preprinted form of identification which shows the elector's name and either the elector's address, signature or photograph, or (2) on a form prescribed by the Secretary of the State, write the elector's residential address and date of birth, print the elector's name and sign a statement under penalty of false statement that the elector is the elector whose name appears on the official checklist. Such form shall clearly state the penalty of false statement. A separate such form shall be used for each elector. If the elector presents a preprinted form of identification under subdivision (1) of this subsection, the checkers shall check the name of such elector on the official checklist. If the elector completes the form under subdivision (2) of this subsection, the assistant registrar of voters shall examine the information on such form and either instruct the checkers to check the name of such elector on the official checklist or notify the elector that the form is incomplete or inaccurate.

Sec. 4. Section 9-7b of the general statutes, as amended by section 2 of public act 03-223 and sections 53 and 65 of public act 03-241, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) The State Elections Enforcement Commission shall have the following duties and powers:

(1) To make investigations on its own initiative or with respect to statements filed with the commission by the Secretary of the State or any town clerk, or upon written complaint under oath by any individual, with respect to alleged violations of any provision of the general statutes relating to any election or referendum, any primary held pursuant to section 9-423, as amended, 9-425 or 9-464 or any primary held pursuant to a special act, and to hold hearings when the commission deems necessary to investigate violations of any provisions of the general statutes relating to any such election, primary or referendum, and for the purpose of such hearings the commission may administer oaths, examine witnesses and receive oral and documentary evidence, and shall have the power to subpoena witnesses under procedural rules the commission shall adopt, to compel their attendance and to require the production for examination of any books and papers which the commission deems relevant to any matter under investigation or in question. In connection with its investigation of any alleged violation of any provision of chapter 145, or of any provision of section 9-359 or section 9-359a, the commission shall also have the power to subpoena any municipal clerk and to require the production for examination of any absentee ballot, inner and outer envelope from which any such ballot has been removed, depository envelope containing any such ballot or inner or outer envelope as provided in sections 9-150a, as amended, and 9-150b and any other record, form or document as provided in section 9-150b, in connection with the election, primary or referendum to which the investigation relates. In case of a refusal to comply with any subpoena issued pursuant to this subsection or to testify with respect to any matter upon which that person may be lawfully interrogated, the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford, on application of the commission, may issue an order requiring such person to comply with such subpoena and to testify; failure to obey any such order of the court may be punished by the court as a contempt thereof. In any matter under investigation which concerns the operation or inspection of or outcome recorded on any voting machine, the commission may issue an order to the municipal clerk to impound such machine until the investigation is completed;

(2) To levy a civil penalty not to exceed (A) two thousand dollars per offense against any person the commission finds to be in violation of any provision of chapter 145, part V of chapter 146, part I of chapter 147, chapter 148, section 9-12, as amended, subsection (a) of section 9-17, section 9-19b, 9-19e, 9-19g, 9-19h, 9-19i, 9-20, 9-21, 9-23a, 9-23g, as amended, 9-23h, as amended, 9-23j to 9-23o, inclusive, 9-26, 9-31a, 9-32, 9-35, as amended, 9-35b, 9-35c, 9-40a, 9-42, as amended, 9-43, 9-50a, 9-56, 9-59, 9-168d, 9-170, 9-171, 9-172, 9-409, as amended, 9-410, as amended, 9-412, as amended, 9-436, as amended, 9-436a, 9-453e to 9-453h, inclusive, as amended, 9-453k, as amended, 9-453o, as amended, [or] sections 1 to 3, inclusive, of [this act] public act 03-241 or sections 83 to 90, inclusive, of public act 03-6 of the June 30 special session, or (B) two thousand dollars per offense or twice the amount of any improper payment or contribution, whichever is greater, against any person the commission finds to be in violation of any provision of chapter 150. The commission may levy a civil penalty against any person under subparagraph (A) or (B) of this subdivision only after giving the person an opportunity to be heard at a hearing conducted in accordance with sections 4-176e to 4-184, inclusive. In the case of failure to pay any such penalty levied pursuant to this subsection within thirty days of written notice sent by certified or registered mail to such person, the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford, on application of the commission, may issue an order requiring such person to pay the penalty imposed and such court costs, state marshal's fees and attorney's fees incurred by the commission as the court may determine. Any civil penalties paid, collected or recovered under subparagraph (B) of this subdivision for a violation of any provision of chapter 150 applying to the office of the Treasurer shall be deposited on a pro rata basis in any trust funds, as defined in section 3-13c, affected by such violation;

(3) (A) To issue an order requiring any person the commission finds to have received any contribution or payment which is prohibited by any of the provisions of chapter 150, after an opportunity to be heard at a hearing conducted in accordance with the provisions of sections 4-176e to 4-184, inclusive, to return such contribution or payment to the donor or payor, or to remit such contribution or payment to the state for deposit in the General Fund, whichever is deemed necessary to effectuate the purposes of chapter 150;

(B) To issue an order when the commission finds that an intentional violation of any provision of chapter 150 has been committed, after an opportunity to be heard at a hearing conducted in accordance with sections 4-176e to 4-184, inclusive, which order may contain one or more of the following sanctions: (i) Removal of a campaign treasurer, deputy campaign treasurer or solicitor; (ii) prohibition on serving as a campaign treasurer, deputy campaign treasurer or solicitor, for a period not to exceed four years; and (iii) in the case of a party committee or a political committee, suspension of all political activities, including, but not limited to, the receipt of contributions and the making of expenditures, provided the commission may not order such a suspension unless the commission has previously ordered the removal of the campaign treasurer and notifies the officers of the committee that the commission is considering such suspension;

(C) To issue an order revoking any person's eligibility to be appointed or serve as an election, primary or referendum official or unofficial checker or in any capacity at the polls on the day of an election, primary or referendum, when the commission finds such person has intentionally violated any provision of the general statutes relating to the conduct of an election, primary or referendum, after an opportunity to be heard at a hearing conducted in accordance with sections 4-176e to 4-184, inclusive;

(D) To issue an order to enforce the provisions of the Help America Vote Act, P.L. 107-252, as amended from time to time, as the commission deems appropriate;

(4) To inspect or audit at any reasonable time and upon reasonable notice the accounts or records of any campaign treasurer or principal campaign treasurer, as required by chapter 150 and to audit any such election, primary or referendum held within the state; provided, (A) (i) not later than two months preceding the day of an election at which a candidate is seeking election, the commission shall complete any audit it has initiated in the absence of a complaint that involves a committee of the same candidate from a previous election, and (ii) during the two-month period preceding the day of an election at which a candidate is seeking election, the commission shall not initiate an audit in the absence of a complaint that involves a committee of the same candidate from a previous election, and (B) the commission shall not audit any caucus, as defined in subdivision (1) of section 9-372, as amended;

(5) To attempt to secure voluntary compliance, by informal methods of conference, conciliation and persuasion, with any provision of chapters 149 to 153, inclusive, or any other provision of the general statutes relating to any such election, primary or referendum;

(6) To consult with the Secretary of the State, the Chief State's Attorney or the Attorney General on any matter which the commission deems appropriate;

(7) To refer to the Chief State's Attorney evidence bearing upon violation of any provision of chapters 149 to 153, inclusive, or any other provision of the general statutes pertaining to or relating to any such election, primary or referendum;

(8) To refer to the Attorney General evidence for injunctive relief and any other ancillary equitable relief in the circumstances of subdivision (7) of this [section] subsection. Nothing in this subdivision shall preclude a person who claims that he is aggrieved by a violation of any provision of chapter 152 or any other provision of the general statutes relating to referenda from pursuing injunctive and any other ancillary equitable relief directly from the Superior Court by the filing of a complaint;

(9) To refer to the Attorney General evidence pertaining to any ruling which the commission finds to be in error made by election officials in connection with any election, primary or referendum. Those remedies and procedures available to parties claiming to be aggrieved under the provisions of sections 9-323, as amended by this act, 9-324, 9-328 and 9-329a, as amended, shall apply to any complaint brought by the Attorney General as a result of the provisions of this subdivision;

(10) To consult with the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney for Connecticut on any investigation pertaining to a violation of this section, section 9-12, as amended, subsection (a) of section 9-17 or section 9-19b, 9-19e, 9-19g, 9-19h, 9-19i, 9-20, 9-21, 9-23a, 9-23g, as amended, 9-23h, as amended, 9-23j to 9-23o, inclusive, 9-26, 9-31a, 9-32, 9-35, as amended, 9-35b, 9-35c, 9-40a, 9-42, as amended, 9-43, 9-50a, 9-56 or 9-59 and to refer to said department and attorney evidence bearing upon any such violation for prosecution under the provisions of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, P. L. 103-31, as amended from time to time;

(11) To inspect reports filed with the Secretary of the State and with town clerks pursuant to chapter 150 and refer to the Chief State's Attorney evidence bearing upon any violation of law therein if such violation was committed knowingly and wilfully;

(12) To intervene in any action brought pursuant to the provisions of sections 9-323, as amended by this act, 9-324, 9-328 and 9-329a, as amended, upon application to the court in which such action is brought when in the opinion of the court it is necessary to preserve evidence of possible criminal violation of the election laws;

(13) To adopt and publish regulations pursuant to chapter 54 to carry out the provisions of section 9-7a, this section and chapter 150; to issue upon request and publish advisory opinions in the Connecticut Law Journal upon the requirements of chapter 150, and to make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning suggested revisions of the election laws;

(14) To the extent that the Elections Enforcement Commission is involved in the investigation of alleged or suspected criminal violations of any provision of the general statutes pertaining to or relating to any such election, primary or referendum and is engaged in such investigation for the purpose of presenting evidence to the Chief State's Attorney, the Elections Enforcement Commission shall be deemed a law enforcement agency for purposes of subdivision (3) of subsection (b) of section 1-210, as amended, provided nothing in this section shall be construed to exempt the Elections Enforcement Commission in any other respect from the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, as defined in section 1-200;

(15) To enter into such contractual agreements as may be necessary for the discharge of its duties, within the limits of its appropriated funds and in accordance with established procedures; [and]

(16) To provide the Secretary of the State with notice and copies of all decisions rendered by the commission in contested cases, advisory opinions and declaratory judgments, at the time such decisions, judgments and opinions are made or issued;

(17) To receive and determine complaints filed under the Help America Vote Act, P.L. 107-252, as amended from time to time, by any person who believes there is a violation of any provision of Title III of P.L. 107-252, as amended. Any complaint filed under this subdivision shall be in writing, notarized and signed and sworn by the person filing the complaint. At the request of the complainant, there shall be a hearing on the record, conducted in accordance with sections 4-167e to 4-184, inclusive. The commission shall make a final determination with respect to a complaint prior to the expiration of the ninety-day period beginning on the date the complaint is filed, unless the complainant consents to a longer period for making such determination. If the commission fails to meet the applicable deadline under this subdivision with respect to a complaint, the commission shall resolve the complaint within sixty days after the expiration of such ninety-day period under an alternative dispute resolution procedure established by the commission.

(b) In the case of a refusal to comply with an order of the commission issued pursuant to subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section, the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford, on application of the commission, may issue a further order to comply. Failure to obey such further order may be punished by the court as a contempt thereof.

Approved May 10, 2004