OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1311 (File 513, as amended by Senate "A" and "B")*

AN ACT CONCERNING THE INTEGRITY AND SECURITY OF THE VOTING PROCESS.

SUMMARY:

This bill requires registrars of voters to randomly audit votes after any election or primary, permits expanded audits when discrepancies are found, and permits the secretary of the state to adopt regulations to implement random auditing and establish guidelines for expanded audits.

The bill requires a recount when there is a discrepancy in the votes for a federal, state, or local office that could affect the outcome of the election or primary.

The bill gives candidates or electors aggrieved by an audit the right to file a complaint within seven days after the audit closes ( 2-5).

This bill makes changes to state election laws affecting voter registration, nominations and certifications, election officials, voting methods, election procedures, and minor parties.

The bill generally makes registrars of voters responsible for conducting elections by removing duties from other municipal officials, particularly town clerks. It also eliminates a requirement for registrars to be stationed at the polling place during polling hours.

The bill makes several procedural changes to reflect the change from (lever) voting machines to (optical scan) voting tabulators. These include adapting election officials' process for examining the voting tabulators before the polls open and canvassing the votes after they close. Similarly, the bill makes technical changes in light of the new voting tabulators. For example, it substitutes “voting tabulator technician” for “voting machine mechanic” and uses “write-in vote” instead of “write-in ballot” because voting tabulators use paper ballots.

The bill allows the secretary of the state to bind engrossed bills after each session of the General Assembly in suitable volumes, rather than requiring her to bind them into one volume. It also requires the secretary to establish a code of ethics for poll workers and authorizes her to establish two training programs: one on ethics and the other on polling-place accessibility for people with disabilities.

It establishes a new procedure for resolving a tie vote in a primary for state and local office.

It adds a notice requirement for minor party meetings held to nominate candidates and requires certain minor parties to file with the secretary of the state their party rules.

The bill repeals the statute concerning damaged voting machines whereby the registrars of voters either replace such a machine or authorize the use of emergency paper ballots.

Finally, the bill makes several technical and conforming changes.

*Senate Amendment “A”

1. deletes the provision prohibiting the use of lever voting machines;

2. allows the secretary of the state to use HAVA funds to reimburse towns for audit costs;

3. requires, rather than allows, the secretary to examine and recertify machines under certain conditions;

4. permits the secretary to enter agreements with state universities;

5. limits the time municipal officers and justices of the peace have to submit an audit complaint;

6. adds the provisions on the centralized voter registry system, nominations, election officials, voting methods and election procedures, voter registration, minor parties, and tie votes; and

7. repeals the statute concerning damaged voting machines.

*Senate Amendment “B” deletes the provisions on petitioning candidates.

EFFECTIVE DATE: From passage, except the provisions addressing (1) cross endorsement, (2) challenge ballots, (3) registrars' duties, (4) optical scan voting machines and election procedures, (5) paper ballot elections, (6) the political activities of individuals who change their party affiliation or apply for transfer or removal from a party's list, (7) minor party notice requirements, and (8) a tie vote in a primary, which are effective October 1, 2007.

1 & 6 — RANDOM AUDITS

The bill requires the registrars of voters to conduct a manual audit of at least 10% of the state's voting districts, selected through random drawing. The registrars must give advance notice of the audit and conduct it between the 15th day after any federal, state, or local election or primary and the second business day before the canvass of votes. The audit must be open for public observation.

The bill requires municipalities to compensate the registrars at the standard rate of pay established for elections or primaries, as appropriate. It permits the secretary of the state to use Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds, to the extent allowed under federal law, to reimburse the municipalities up to the standard rate of pay for each poll worker assisting in each audit.

Selecting the Districts to Audit

The bill requires the secretary of the state to select the districts subject to the audit at a random drawing that is open to the public. The offices subject to the audit are:

1. in a presidential or gubernatorial election, all offices required to be audited by federal law, plus one additional office selected in a random drawing by the secretary of the state, but in no case fewer than three offices;

2. in the case of a municipal election, three offices or 20% of the offices on the ballot, whichever is greater, selected at random by the town clerk; and

3. in the case of a primary election, all offices required to be audited by federal law, plus one additional office, if any, but at least 20% of the offices on the ballot, selected in a random drawing by the town clerk.

If a selected district has an office that is subject to recanvass or an election or primary contest, the bill requires the secretary to select an alternate district following the same selection process.

Conducting the Audit and Audit Report

The audit consists of a manual tally of the paper ballots cast and counted by each voting machine subject to the audit. The registrars must carefully preserve the individual paper ballots used at an election or primary and return them in their designated receptacle in accordance law. This means the ballots must be returned to the ballot box, securely sealed, and locked. The secretary of the state has access to the code in any voting machine whenever any problem is discovered as a result of the audit.

The registrars must compare their results to those reported by the machine. The registrars must report the audit results on a form prescribed by the secretary of the state that includes the total number of ballots counted, the total votes each candidate for the audited offices received, and the total number of votes broken down by whether the ballot was properly completed. For the purpose of the bill, a ballot is not properly completed if (1) the voter marks outside the vote targets; (2) the voter uses a manual marking device that the voting system cannot read; or (3) in the registrar judgment, the voter marked the ballot in a way that the voting machine may not have read the mark as a vote.

The registrars must file the report with the secretary, who must immediately forward it to UConn for analysis. The university must describe any discrepancies it finds in a written report to the secretary of the state. The secretary must file the report with the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC).

The audit report is open to public inspection and may be used as prima facie evidence (1) of a discrepancy in any challenge to the conduct of an election or (2) for any other cause of action arising from the election or primary.

Expanded Audits

The bill requires the secretary of the state to have a machine examined and recertified if (1) the UConn report indicates that a system failed to record votes accurately and in the manner provided by law or (2) the registrars are unable to reconcile any discrepancies between their manual count and the electronic tabulation. The bill specifies that it does not prohibit the secretary from requiring a machine examined or recertified. Any recertification resulting from audit discrepancies must be preceded by an investigation of the voting machine. The secretary of the state or her designee conducts the examination and recertification. The secretary must file any investigation report with SEEC, which may initiate additional investigations to determine any election law violations. The secretary may also decertify a machine that she finds, after an investigation, produced erroneous results.

1 — RECOUNTS IN THE CASE OF DISCREPANCIES

The bill requires the secretary of the state to order a recount when there is a discrepancy in the votes for a federal, state, or local office that could affect the outcome of the election or primary. However, if the secretary of the state is a candidate on the ballot that is subject to an audit, the SEEC must order the recount.

Current law gives election moderators the authority to recanvass (recount) results within three days after an election if it appears that there is a discrepancy in the returns. The bill adds a recanvass in the event of a suspected discrepancy when the secretary's audit reveals a difference between the machine and hand counts greater than 0. 5%. Under the bill, registrars conduct a manual audit of votes between the 15th day after an election or primary and the second business day before the canvass of votes (the final tally and declaration of results). The canvass deadlines for various offices in current law are shown in the table below. The bill's schedule for an audit for a municipal office occurs after the final results must be reported to the secretary of the state. Apparently, the secretary or town clerk could recertify different results after an audit. Table 1 shows canvass deadlines by office.

TABLE 1: CANVASS DEADLINES BY OFFICE

Office

Canvass Deadline

CGS

Federal office

The last Wednesday of November

9-315

State office

Within 30 days of the election

9-318

Legislator and judge of probate

During the month of November

9-319

Municipal office

Within 10 days after the election

9-320

1 — MACHINE AUDITS

By law, voting machines must be locked for 14 days after an election or primary unless a court or SEEC orders them locked for a longer period. Similarly, the bill allows them to be locked for a longer period when the secretary of the state orders it. It permits either the court or the secretary to designate someone to audit the machines, except during a recanvass when only SEEC may order an audit. If the machines are optical scan voting systems, any order to lock them includes the tabulator, memory card, and all other components and processes used to program them.

7 — AGREEMENTS WITH UCONN OR OTHER STATE UNIVERSITIES ON VOTING

The bill permits the secretary to enter into an agreement with UConn or a member of the Connecticut State University System, solely or with others, to:

1. complete any technical review, testing, or research associated with certifying or decertifying voting equipment;

2. develop standards for using voting equipment during any election, primary, or referenda;

3. develop standards to ensure the accuracy of voting equipment;

4. develop standards and procedures for securing, setting-up and storing voting equipment;

5. develop standards, procedures, and oversight of post-election audits;

6. develop standards to ensure the accuracy and reliability of recanvass procedures;

7. develop standards and procedures for the testing, security, and use of an election management system;

8. develop standards and procedures for programming ballots and voting equipment;

9. research and analyze data formats for programming ballots and election-related electronic data; and

10. develop any other standards necessary to protect the integrity of voting equipment.

8 & 11 — CENTRALIZED VOTER REGISTRATION SYSTEM

The bill changes registrars of voters' reporting requirements with respect to voter registration statistics because of the CVRS. It removes a requirement for them to submit to the secretary of the state the number of total of electors, affiliated electors for each party, and unaffiliated electors on the active and inactive registry lists. Instead, it requires the secretary to issue a report with the same information within one week after the last voter registration session before an election. As under current law, the secretary must omit electors who died and include those who registered to vote since the last-completed registry list.

The bill also requires registrars to update the voter history on the CVRS promptly after each election or primary, indicating whether eligible voters voted and if so, whether in person or by absentee ballot.

NOMINATIONS

12 — Minor Parties

The bill requires minor parties nominating candidates for elective office to make the nominations and certify the list of candidates by the 62nd, rather than the 55th day before the election. It also requires minor parties to file nominations for single-town district legislative candidates and judges of probate with the secretary of the state, instead of the town clerk. The law already requires them to file nominations for state and multi-town district legislative candidates with the secretary.

13 — Vacancies

The bill changes the period of time during which political parties may fill vacancies for nominated candidates before an election. Under current law, a primary may be held if a candidate withdraws or becomes disqualified to hold office more than 10 days before the election. The bill extends this period to 24 days before an election. The bill requires vacancy nominations to be certified with the secretary of the state or town clerk by the 21st, rather than the 7th, day before the election. (The law requires state and district office candidates, including all candidates for state senator or state representative, to file with the secretary. Other municipal office candidates file with their town clerk. )

Similarly, under current law, if a candidate dies between 10 days and 24 hours before an election, the party may fill the vacancy. The bill extends this period to between 24 days and 24 hours beforehand. By law, if a candidate dies within 24 hours of an election, his or her name remains on the ballot. If the candidate wins, a vacancy exists in the office and the party fills it in the manner prescribed by law.

15 — Noticing Municipal Candidate Endorsements for Primaries

The bill establishes an earlier deadline for town clerks to notice candidate endorsements for municipal primaries held during state election years (for legislative candidates in single-town districts). Under current law, the deadline for parties to endorse municipal office candidates and town committee members is the same day that petitions are available, the 49th day before the primary, thereby precluding would-be candidates from petitioning onto the ballot.

During any state election year, the bill requires town clerks to notice the candidate endorsements on the 76th day preceding the primary to allow candidates time to circulate petitions. The notice must indicate that party endorsements can be made for the primary and that a list of endorsed candidates will be on file in the clerk's office after that occurs. Current law requires a clerk who does not receive a party endorsement by the specified deadline to publish this information in the notice. Given the earlier schedule, the bill specifies that this requirement does not apply.

16 — Cross-Endorsements

Current law prohibits a nominated major or minor party candidate from appearing on the ballot as a petitioning candidate for the same office. The bill lifts this prohibition under certain circumstances. Under the bill, a party that has not attained minor party status for the office in question, but has for at least one other office on that ballot, may cross-endorse a nominated major or minor party candidate by petitioning such candidate's name onto the ballot.

ELECTION OFFICIALS

The bill makes changes to the numbers of election officials and other individuals who may be lawfully present at a polling place during voting hours. It accomplishes this by (1) requiring the secretary of the state to appoint election and primary day polling place observers, (2) giving the registrars of voters the option to appoint one or two individuals for certain positions, and (3) authorizing registrars to appoint additional election officials.

Table 2 shows the difference between the number of election officials and other individuals who may be present at a polling place under current law and the bill.

TABLE 2: CHANGES TO THE NUMBER OF ELECTION OFFICIALS AND OTHER INDIVIDUALS ALLOWED AT POLLING PLACES

Position

Required Number Under Current Law

Permissible Number Under the Bill

Ballot clerks

2†

1 or 2

Ballot clerks

N/A

1 or 2

Official checkers*

2

1 or 2

Booth tenders

2

1 or 2

Box tenders

1

1 or 2

Substitute box tenders

1 or 2

none

Election and primary day polling place observers

N/A

Unspecified

Additional election officials, as needed

N/A

As both registrars deem appropriate

N/A means not applicable.

† Applies to paper ballot elections.

*Applies when the registrars determine there is a need for an additional line of electors.

With respect to election officials, the bill also:

1. eliminates the requirement that two ballot clerks be from different political parties;

2. replaces voting machine tenders with voting tabulator tenders;

3. prohibits an election official from appearing at any political party's headquarters before 8: 00 p. m. on Election Day; and

4. allows a municipality with more than one voting district to hire poll workers who do not reside there, as long as they are state electors (it retains the in-town residency requirement for poll workers, other than voting tabulator technicians, in single-town districts).

9 — Polling Place Observers and Additional Election Officials

The bill authorizes the registrars of voters to appoint additional election officials on Election Day, or any day after, if they both agree it is necessary (1) because a poll worker is unable to serve, (2) to accommodate the public, or (3) to improve a primary's or election's administration.

In addition, the bill establishes election and primary day polling place observers and specifies that they must be state electors. It requires the secretary of the state, upon receiving a written request from a certified candidate in any election or primary and after consultation with the registrars of voters, to appoint the observers. One must accompany and observe the moderator, without limitation. The written request must be received no later than 30 days before the election or primary.

During a primary or election, the polling place observers must record the names and other identifying information of individuals involved in any voting irregularities or violations and report this information to the secretary of the state, or her designee. The secretary must forward the observer's information, together with the names of the candidates who appear on the ballot, to the SEEC. The observers also must immediately report to the secretary when the irregularity or violation involves someone prohibited from voting. The secretary must (1) inform the relevant registrar of voters and the moderator and (2) require immediate and appropriate corrective action.

The bill requires the secretary to establish duties, responsibilities, and a curriculum, training program, and certification process for the observers. The training program and certification process must cover (1) procedures for counting and recording absentee ballots, (2) voting machines, (3) voting when a name does not appear on a voting list, and (4) the moderator's duties. The secretary may adopt regulations to administer the program.

Under the bill, the secretary assigns each polling place observer to a specific polling place or places. The observers can enter and leave their assigned polling places freely during an election or primary. However the moderator has the ability to remove any observer who disrupts the voting process. An observer who willfully, knowingly or recklessly interferes with the orderly process of voting is subject to a penalty of up to five years imprisonment. The bill prohibits candidates and their immediate family members from being observers at polling places where the candidate's name may appear on the ballot.

18-19, 21-24, 27-33, & 40 — Registrars of Voters

The bill generally makes registrars of voters responsible for conducting elections by removing several responsibilities from town clerks and, in some cases, other municipal officials or boards of selectmen. For example, it makes the registrars, or assistant registrars, responsible for:

1. disseminating necessary supplies to the moderator the day before an election, including the official checklist and the Moderator's Return;

2. determining if an additional line for electors is needed at a polling place;

3. establishing two shifts of election officials for polling places;

4. authorizing the use of paper ballots in an election when there are insufficient voting tabulators;

5. providing necessary items for a paper ballot election, including (a) the ballot box, lock, and keys, (b) a location and voting booths, and (c) an additional box for voting stubs;

6. receiving the moderators' returns, together with the voting tabulator keys, after the polls close; and

7. ensuring that the voting tabulators remain locked for 14 days following an election unless a court or the State Elections Enforcement Commission orders them open.

The bill eliminates a requirement for registrars to be stationed at the polling place during polling hours. If they are at the polling place, it requires them to (1) be available by telephone and notify all registrars' of voters offices in the state of their phone number, (2) be connected to the CVRS, and (3) have all voter-card files in the polling place for reference. It is unclear whether this requirement applies to both single-town and multi-town districts, or single-town districts only.

The bill also eliminates references to towns that have a pair of registrars for each voting district. It is unclear how this would affect a town that has registrars for each district.

10 — Town Clerks

By law, town clerks must file nominating petitions within two weeks after receiving them. The bill establishes a $ 50 late fee for town clerks who fail to file these petitions on time with the secretary of the state.

39 — Absentee Ballot Counters and Moderators

The law requires absentee ballot counters to participate in a training session during which they review the applicable manual by the secretary of the state. For municipalities with both an absentee ballot moderator (undefined by the bill) and a polling place moderator, the bill specifies that the absentee moderator, participates in the training session. It also eliminates a requirement for town clerks to participate.

9 — Training on the Code of Ethics and Accessibility for People with Disabilities

The bill requires the secretary of the state to establish a code of ethics by September 1, 2007 for registrars of voters, polling place observers, and poll workers. The code must be conspicuously posted in each polling place and in registrars of voters' offices. In addition, the bill authorizes the secretary to establish a training program on the code of ethics and another training program on polling-place accessibility for people with disabilities.

VOTING METHODS AND ELECTION PROCEDURES

18-21, 23-27, 36-38, and 40 — Voting Tabulators

The bill makes several technical and procedural changes to reflect the change from (lever) voting machines to (optical scan) voting tabulators. For example, it eliminates provisions requiring:

1. three sets of ballot labels for each voting machine;

2. separate voting booths at primaries where unaffiliated voters are authorized to vote for some, but not all, of the offices and thus cast partial ballots; and

3. a paper roll for write-in votes in a regular election and a depository envelope entitled "Write-in Ballots," since voting tabulators' regular ballots have a space for write-in candidates.

The bill also changes polling place configuration in light of the new voting tabulators. It changes the required number of voting machines (voting tabulators under the bill) for each polling place from one that is based on the number of registered voters to one that the secretary of the state approves. It (1) eliminates a requirement for railings to separate the voting machines and election officials (“voting area”) from the rest of the polling place; (2) stations the ballot clerk's table at least four feet from the voting tabulator, rather than beside the entrance to the voting machine, and makes the officials responsible for electors submitting their ballots properly; and (3) allows more than one elector to be in the voting area at a time (since each polling place has multiple voting booths).

In addition, the bill prohibits the use of any voting tabulator that does not comply with the voluntary performance and test standards for voting systems that the Election Assistance Commission adopts pursuant to the HAVA.

23, 27, & 36 — Moderator's Duties

The law requires moderators and other election officials to examine the voting machines before the polls open and canvass the votes after they close. With respect to these duties, the bill eliminates most procedures associated with lever voting machines and replaces them with procedures for optical scan voting tabulators. For example, the bill:

1. requires the moderator and the registrars or assistant registrars of voters to examine the number on the seal of the tabulator and indicate on the moderator's return the tabulator's delivery and the number on its seal;

2. requires the moderator and the registrars or assistant registrars of voters to produce a zero tape indicating the counter is set at zero;

3. specifies that the tabulator's seal must remain unbroken but that if it breaks, the registrars of voters must be notified immediately and the tabulator tape must be produced;

4. bans the use of a tabulator if its tape does not show all zeros; and

5. requires the moderator to seal the tabulator after the canvass of the vote, place it in a tabulator bag, and seal the bag.

In addition, the bill increases, from at least two to three, the number of election officials who must meet before opening the polls to examine the numbers on the seal of the tabulator (currently, the number on the voting machine's seal, protective counter, and envelope containing the keys). Under current law, one election official from each of two political parties must be present. Under the bill, the moderator and either the registrars or the assistant registrars must be present.

In addition, the bill reduces from three to one the number of sample ballots and accompanying instructions moderators must post in polling places. Since voting tabulators' regular ballots are paper, it eliminates the requirement for moderators to receive extra paper ballots before an election for use by certain voters with disabilities or if a voting machine is damaged.

Finally, the bill eliminates the requirement for moderators to produce a duplicate return and the reference to a storage compartment for the duplicate at the back of the voting machine. It requires moderators to file their original returns with the registrars of voters, rather than the town clerk.

24 — Voter Instruction

If an individual asks for instruction on how to vote after entering the voting machine, current law requires two election officials from different political parties to provide it while standing outside the machine. The bill lifts the requirement for officials from different parties to provide the instruction. It specifies that an official who provides voter instruction may not look at the ballot in such a way so as to see the markings.

24& 30 — Challenge Procedure

The bill allows anyone who is lawfully present at a polling place to challenge a voter at a primary, election, or referendum in which voting tabulators are used. Under current law, only election officials may do so. The bill does not make the same change to a primary, election, or referendum in which paper ballots are used due to insufficient tabulators.

17 — Challenge Ballot

The bill changes the procedure official checkers must follow when an elector votes by challenge ballot. By law, individuals may vote by challenge ballot when their names appear on the registry list but someone challenges their qualifications to vote.

Under existing law, checkers cross off the voter registry list people voting by challenge ballot and add their names and addresses to the end of the list with the designation “Challenged Ballot” and a serial number. The bill eliminates the requirement for checkers to cross the voter's name off the list and instead requires them to write in front of it in red ink “CB.

The bill also requires challenge ballots to be regular, not absentee, ballots. When a voter casts a challenge ballot, he or she must deliver the envelope containing it to the head moderator. The bill requires the head moderator to file those envelopes with the town clerk and town clerk to retain them until they may be destroyed, which is 180 days after the election by law.

24 — Incapacitated Elector

The bill authorizes the registrars or assistant registrars of voters to bring a ballot to an elector who requests one because he or she has become temporarily incapacitated at the polling place. The registrar or assistant registrar must take the ballot together with a privacy sleeve to the elector and allow that person to mark the ballot, in private, after he or she shows appropriate identification. The elector must place the ballot back in the privacy sleeve. The election officials must indicate on the official voter list that the elector voted, deliver the privacy sleeve to the voting tabulator, and insert the ballot. The bill requires the moderator to keep a record of the incident in his or her diary.

28-34 — Paper Ballot Elections

In addition to making the registrars of voters, not the board of selectmen, responsible for an election that uses paper ballots because of insufficient voting tabulators, the bill specifies that the municipality must cover associated costs including the room, booths, ballot boxes, and their locks and keys. It makes it illegal to tamper with votes in the ballot box at any point after such an election, not only for 180 days. By law, a person who is guilty of tampering with such votes is subject to a penalty of up to $ 500, between six months and two years imprisonment, and disenfranchisement. The bill also removes a $ 500 maximum penalty against a candidate who acts as a moderator or box tender, or counts ballots, in an election when paper ballots are used.

22 — Two Shifts of Election Officials

If the registrars or assistant registrars establish a second shift of election officials, the bill specifies that all of the second shift's members, but none of the first's, must remain until the polls close and the paperwork is complete. Current law requires the members of both shifts who sign returns at the end of the night to remain.

VOTER REGISTRATION

41 – Bona Fide Resident

By law, citizens must be bona fide residents of the town in which they apply to vote in order to be admitted as electors. The bill specifies that for voter registration purposes, individuals are “bona fide” residents if their dwelling unit is located within the boundaries of the town in which they apply for admission.

42 — Late Mail-In Voter Registration Applications

The bill allows registrars of voters to contact, by telephone or mail, people whose mail-in voter registration applications do not meet the deadline for admission to vote in the next election or primary. Under the bill, registrars may notify such people of the deadline for applying in person. By law, an applicant may be eligible to vote by applying in person up to seven days before an election or, with one exception, 12: 00 p. m. on the last business day before a primary (see BACKGROUND). The law prohibits an affiliated voter who erases his or her name from one party's registration list or transfers to another's during the three months preceding a primary from voting for any party in that primary.

43 — Transferring Political Parties

The bill restricts the permissible political activities of individuals who (1) transfer from one political party to another or (2) apply for transfer or removal from a party's list. For a period of three months after transferring or making an application for removal, it prohibits such individuals from participating in any party's caucus or primary. It also bans them from (1) appointing members to any political board or commission or (2) accepting such an appointment. Current law, unchanged by the bill, specifies that these individuals are not entitled to the privileges accompanying party enrollment in any political party during the three-month period.

44& 45 — MINOR PARTIES

The bill adds a notice requirement for minor party meetings held to nominate candidates for public office. It requires the presiding officer to publish a notice, at least five days before the meeting, in a general circulation newspaper serving the municipality for the office.

It also requires any minor party that changed its party designation with the secretary of the state on or before January 1, 1988 to file a copy of its party rules regulating (1) candidate nominations and (2) the selection of town committee members and convention delegates. A minor party to which this requirement applies must submit to the secretary the applicable rules within 60 days after the bill's passage (see BACKGROUND).

The law already requires minor parties to submit these rules but only (1) to have a candidate's name appear on the general election ballot or (2) for their selection of town committee members and convention delegates to be valid.

46 — TIE VOTE IN A PRIMARY

The bill changes the procedure for resolving a tie vote in a primary between two or more candidates for statewide, legislative, or municipal office, or town committee, or slates of candidates for justice of the peace. If any such candidates or slates of candidates tie in a primary under current law, the secretary of the state or registrar of voters, depending on the office, chooses the nominee by drawing lots. Under the bill, the primary stands adjourned and a run-off primary between the candidates or slates of candidates who tied is held three weeks later.

The run-off primary must be conducted in the same manner, and begin at the same hour, as the first primary. The bill requires the ballot labels for the run-off to be in the same format as the original ballot labels, listing every candidate's name, even though only the candidates who tied may be voted on. For offices with multiple openings, however, it specifies that only the names' of candidates who tied may be listed.

The bill requires the town clerk for any municipality in which the run-off will occur to immediately after the first primary provide the secretary of the state with (1) ballot labels and (2) an accurate list of the candidates who tied and will be voted on. The clerk must also publish notice of the run-off, at least three days before, providing its day, hours, place, and purpose in a general circulation newspaper serving the municipality.

Under the bill, the run-off primary is not held if all but one of the candidates die, withdraw, or become disqualified to hold office. In that case, the remaining candidate becomes the party's lawful nominee and the secretary of the state immediately notifies the town clerk in any municipality where the run-off would have occurred that it is no longer necessary. A candidate who withdraws from the run-off must file a signed letter with the secretary or town clerk, depending on the office, in order for the withdrawal to be valid. The bill requires single-town district legislative candidates to file their letter of withdrawal with the clerk even though current law requires them to submit their filings to the secretary of the state.

If the run-off primary results in a tie, the secretary of the state or the registrar of voters, depending on the office, must choose the nominee by drawing lots, following the procedure current law establishes for resolving a tied primary. Afterwards, he or she must certify the dissolution of the tie and the winning candidate or slate of candidates.

BACKGROUND

Mail-In Voter Registration Deadlines

By law, a mail-in voter registration application must be postmarked or hand-delivered to the office of the registrars no later than the 14th day before an election or the 5th day before a primary for the applicant to be eligible to vote in the next election or primary, whichever is applicable.

Minor Parties

The law allows 25 electors to file a written statement with the secretary of the state and apply to reserve a political party designation. Public Act 87-472 prohibits the use of the words “none,” unaffiliated,” “unenrolled,” or any word with a similar meaning as a party name. A party or organization qualified for minor party status with a reserved name prohibited under the act was required to choose a permissible name and file a certificate of changed party designation with the secretary by January 1, 1988, or lose its minor party status.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

13

Nay

0

(03/30/2007)

Appropriations Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

41

Nay

0

(04/30/2007)

Planning and Development Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

20

Nay

0

(05/24/2007)