PA 07-194—sSB 1311

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Appropriations Committee

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE INTEGRITY AND SECURITY OF THE VOTING PROCESS

SUMMARY: This act 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, manual auditing and establish guidelines for expanded audits when there are differences between manual and machine counts.

The act 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.

It gives candidates or electors the right to file a complaint in response to an audit within seven days after the audit closes. It does not preclude them from seeking additional remedies.

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

It 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 act allows the secretary of the state to bind engrossed acts 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 their party rules with the secretary of the state.

The act repeals the statute concerning damaged voting machines whereby the registrars of voters either replaced such a machine or authorized the use of emergency paper ballots.

Finally, the act makes several procedural, conforming, and technical changes, including those that reflect the change from lever voting machines to optical scan voting tabulators.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon 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) bona fide residence, (8) minor party notice requirements, and (9) a tie vote in a primary, which are effective October 1, 2007.

1 & 6 — RANDOM AUDITS

The act requires the registrars of voters to conduct a manual audit of at least 10% of the state's voting districts, selected through a 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 canvass deadlines differ for various offices and are prescribed by law as Table 1 shows.

TABLE 1: CANVASS DEADLINES BY OFFICE

Office

Canvass Deadline

CGS

Federal office

The last Wednesday of November

9-315

Statewide 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

The act requires municipalities to compensate election officials who administer or conduct the audits at the standard rate of pay established for elections or primaries, as appropriate. For the 2007 municipal election, 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 act 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 elective offices subject to the audit in the selected districts 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 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 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 (recount) or an election or primary contest, the secretary must 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 with the 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 act, 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 registrars' 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 the University of Connecticut (UConn) for analysis. The university must describe any discrepancies it finds in a written report to the secretary. 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. No audit precludes or inhibits a candidate's or elector's right to contest an election or primary, or to file a complaint.

Expanded Audits

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

1— RECOUNTS IN THE CASE OF DISCREPANCIES

The act requires the secretary to order a recount if there is a (1) discrepancy in the votes for a federal, state, or local office that could affect the outcome of the election or primary and (2) difference between the machine and manual counts greater than 0. 5% that cannot be resolved by adding or subtracting ballots that were not properly marked. 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. Under existing law and the act, election moderators may recount results within three days after an election if it appears that there is a discrepancy in the returns.

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 act 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 act 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 (a) accuracy of voting equipment and (b) accuracy and reliability of recanvass procedures;

4. develop standards and procedures for (a) securing, setting-up, and storing voting equipment; (b) testing, securing, and using an election management system; and (c) programming ballots and voting equipment;

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

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

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

8 & 11 — CENTRALIZED VOTER REGISTRATION SYSTEM (CVRS)

The act 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 total number 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 based on the same information the registrars report on the CVRS within one week after the last voter registration session before an election. The secretary must continue to omit electors who died and include those who registered to vote since the last-completed registry list.

The act also requires registrars to update 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 act 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 probate judges 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 act changes the period of time during which political parties may fill vacancies for nominated candidates before an election. Under prior law, a primary could be held if a candidate withdrew or became disqualified to hold office up to 10 days before the election. The act extends this period to 24 days before an election. The act requires vacancy nominations to be certified with the secretary 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 prior law, if a candidate died between 10 days and 24 hours before an election, the party could fill the vacancy. The act 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 act establishes an earlier deadline for town clerks to publish notice of candidate endorsements for municipal primaries held during state election years (for legislative candidates in single-town districts). Under prior law, the deadline for parties to endorse municipal office candidates and town committee members was 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 act requires town clerks to notice the candidate endorsements by 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. Prior law required a clerk who did not receive a party endorsement by the specified deadline to publish this information in the notice. Given the earlier schedule, the act specifies that this requirement does not apply.

16 — Cross-Endorsements

Prior law prohibited a nominated major or minor party candidate from appearing on the ballot as a petitioning candidate for the same office. The act lifts this prohibition under certain circumstances. Under the act, 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 that candidate's name onto the ballot.

ELECTION OFFICIALS

The act makes changes to the number 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 under certain circumstances, (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 changes to the number of election officials and other individuals who may be present at a polling place under prior law and the act.

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

Position

Required Number Under Prior Law

Permissible Number Under the Act

Official checkers

2

1 or 2

Ballot clerks †

2

1 or 2

Ballot clerks

N/A

1 or 2

Voting tabulator tenders (voting machine tenders under prior law)*

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 act also:

1. eliminates the requirement that the 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, for single-town districts).

In addition, the act prohibits candidates from serving as election officials or at the polls on Election Day in any capacity, other than incumbents running for town clerk or registrar of voters who may perform their official duties. For purposes of this ban, it specifies that appointed head moderators, central counting moderators, absentee ballot counters, and voting tabulator technicians are considered election officials.

9 — Polling Place Observers and Additional Election Officials

The act authorizes the registrars of voters to appoint additional election officials on the day of a primary or election, or any day thereafter, 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. If they do, they must file their reasons with the town clerk.

In addition, the act 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. The written request must be received no later than 30 days before the election or primary.

One polling place observer must be allowed to accompany and observe the moderator, without limitation. During a primary or election, the 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 observers' 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, or her designee, 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 act requires the secretary to establish duties and 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 act, 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 act prohibits a candidate and his or her immediate family members from being observers at a polling place where the candidate's name may appear on the ballot.

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

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

1. disseminating the necessary supplies to the moderator the day before an election, including the official checklist, the Moderator's Return, and keys for each voting tabulator that will be used;

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 SEEC orders them open.

The act 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.

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

39 — Absentee Ballot Counters and Moderators

The law requires individuals who are appointed to count absentee ballots to participate in a training session. For municipalities with both an absentee ballot moderator and a polling place moderator, the act specifies that the absentee moderator participates in the training session during which the registrars and the moderator review the instructional manual that the secretary of the state provides. It also eliminates a requirement for town clerks to participate.

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

The act requires the secretary of the state to establish a code of ethics by September 1, 2007 for polling place observers, registrars of voters, and poll workers. The code must be conspicuously posted in each polling place and in registrars of voters' offices.

In addition, the act authorizes the secretary to establish two training programs: one on the code of ethics and another on polling-place accessibility for people with disabilities.

VOTING METHODS AND ELECTION PROCEDURES

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

The act 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 act also changes polling place configuration in light of the new voting tabulators. It changes the required number of voting tabulators (voting machines under prior law) 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 election officials and voting machines (“voting area”) from the rest of the polling place; (2) places the table for ballot clerks at least four feet from the voting tabulator, rather than beside the entrance to the voting machine, and makes the clerks responsible for electors submitting their ballots properly; and (3) allows more than one elector to be in the voting area at a time (since polling places have multiple voting booths).

In addition, the act prohibits the use of voting machines that the secretary of the state determines do not comply with the voluntary performance and test standards for voting systems that the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) adopts pursuant to HAVA. This prohibition may effectively ban the use of lever voting machines in this state (see BACKGROUND).

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 act eliminates most procedures associated with lever voting machines and replaces them with procedures for optical scan voting tabulators. For example, the act:

1. requires the moderator and 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 before the polls open;

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

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 act 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 (formerly the voting machine's seal, protective counter, and envelope containing the keys). Under prior law, one election official from each of two political parties had to be present. Under the act, the moderator and either the registrars or the assistant registrars must be present.

In addition, the act 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 before an election extra paper ballots for use by certain voters with disabilities or because a voting machine is damaged.

It eliminates a requirement that checkers certify on the moderator's return the total number of votes cast for each office, nominated candidate, and write-in candidate. It retains the requirement for the registrars or assistant registrars of voters, whichever is applicable, and the moderator.

Finally, the act 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, prior law required two election officials from different political parties to provide it while standing outside the machine. The act lifts the requirement for officials from different parties to provide the instruction. It specifies that an official who provides instruction may not look at the ballot in such a way so as to see the voter's ballot markings.

17 — Challenge Ballot

The act changes the procedure election officials 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 prior law, official checkers crossed off the voter registry list the names of people voting by challenge ballot and added them, together with their addresses, to the end of the list with the designation “Challenged Ballot” and a serial number. The act eliminates the requirement for checkers to cross the voter's name off the list. Instead, it requires the registrars of voters or their assistants to write in front of the voter's name in red ink “CB.

The act also requires challenge ballots to be regular, not absentee, ballots that a voter casts and delivers to the head moderator in a serially-numbered envelope. The act eliminates the requirement for the secretary of the state to prescribe, and the town clerks to provide, the larger envelope in which each voter's individual envelope is stored. It instead specifies that the registrars of voters provide the envelope that holds the individual envelopes. Finally, it requires the head moderator to file those envelopes with the town clerk and the town clerk to retain them until they may be destroyed, which by law is 180 days after the election.

24 — Incapacitated Elector

The act authorizes the registrars or assistant registrars of voters to bring a ballot to an elector who requests one because he or she becomes 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 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 act 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 due to insufficient voting tabulators, the act 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 just 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 act 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 act 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. Prior law required 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 act 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 act allows registrars of voters to contact, by telephone or mail, people whose mail-in voter registration applications are not received by the deadline for admission to vote in the next election or primary. Under the act, registrars may notify such people of the later 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's candidate in that primary.

43 — Changing Political Party Status

The act 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 enrollment 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. The law, unchanged by the act, specifies that these individuals are not entitled to the privileges accompanying party enrollment in any political party during the three-month period; it specifically prohibits voting in a party's caucus or primary.

44 & 45 — MINOR PARTIES

The act adds a publication requirement for minor party meetings held to nominate candidates for public office in addition to the notice the party must give to the secretary of the state or the town clerk, depending on the office, under existing law. 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 subject to this requirement must submit to the secretary the applicable rules within 60 days after the act's passage.

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 act changes the procedure for resolving a tie vote in a primary between (1) two or more candidates for statewide, legislative, or municipal office or town committee, or (2) slates of candidates for justice of the peace. If any such candidates or slates of candidates tied in a primary under prior law, the secretary of the state or registrar of voters, depending on the office, chose the nominee by drawing lots. Under the act, 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 act 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 act 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 act, 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 act requires single-town district legislative candidates to file their letter of withdrawal with the clerk even though the 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 under prior law 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

Use of Lever Machines

Congress passed HAVA in 2002 as a package of federally ordered election improvements. Under HAVA (P. L. 107-252, 301), the technology and administration of every voting system used in federal elections must meet uniform and nondiscriminatory requirements. Beginning January 1, 2006, all voting systems must:

1. produce a permanent paper record for the voting system that can be manually audited and is available as an official record for recounts;

2. provide individuals with disabilities accessibility to voting while maintaining voter privacy and ballot confidentiality;

3. provide alternative language accessibility, as required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and

4. comply with the error rate standards in the federal voting system standards in effect on October 29, 2002.

The EAC has concluded that lever voting systems have significant barriers that make HAVA compliance difficult and unlikely (EAC Advisory Opinion 2005-005).

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.

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