Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 441

    February Session, 2018

Substitute House Bill No. 5422

House of Representatives, April 12, 2018

The Committee on Government Administration and Elections reported through REP. FOX of the 148th Dist., Chairperson of the Committee on the part of the House, that the substitute bill ought to pass.

AN ACT CONCERNING VOTING RIGHTS AND PRIMARY DAY ELECTOR REGISTRATION.

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

Section 1. Section 9-19j of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) As used in [this subsection and subsections (b) to (i), inclusive, of] this section, "election day" means the day on which a regular election, as defined in section 9-1, is held, "primary day" means the day on which a primary, as defined in section 9-372 or 9-463, as applicable, is held, "election day registration" means admission as an elector on election day and "primary day registration" means both admission as an elector and enrollment in a political party holding a primary on primary day.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter, a person who (1) is (A) not an elector, or (B) an elector registered in a municipality who wishes to change his or her registration to another municipality pursuant to the provisions of subdivision (2) of subsection (e) of this section, and (2) meets the eligibility requirements under subsection (a) of section 9-12, may apply for admission as an elector on election day, or for both admission as an elector and enrollment in a political party holding a primary on primary day, pursuant to the provisions of [subsections (a) to (i), inclusive, of] this section.

(c) (1) The registrars of voters shall designate a location for the completion and processing of election day registration applications on election day and primary day registration applications on primary day, provided the registrars of voters have access to the state-wide centralized voter registration system from such location.

(2) The registrars of voters may appoint one or more election officials or primary officials, as applicable, to serve at such location and may delegate to such election or primary officials any of the responsibilities assigned to the registrars of voters. The registrars of voters shall supervise such election or primary officials and train such election or primary officials to be election day registration election officials or primary day registration primary officials.

(d) Any person applying [to register] for admission as an elector on election day, or for both admission as an elector and enrollment in a political party holding a primary on primary day, under the provisions [of subsections (a) to (i), inclusive,] of this section shall make application in accordance with [the provisions of] section 9-20, provided (1) on election day or primary day, the applicant shall appear in person at the location designated by the registrars of voters for election day registration or primary day registration, (2) an applicant who is a student enrolled at an institution of higher education may submit a current photo identification card issued by [said] such institution in lieu of the identification required by section 9-20, and (3) the applicant shall declare under oath that the applicant has not previously voted in [the] any election or primary held that day. If the information that the applicant is required to provide under section 9-20 and [subsections (a) to (i), inclusive, of] this section does not include proof of the applicant's residential address, the applicant shall also submit identification that shows the applicant's bona fide residence address, including, but not limited to, a learner's permit issued under section 14-36 or a utility bill that has the applicant's name and current address and that has a due date that is not later than thirty days after the election or primary, as applicable, or, in the case of a student enrolled at an institution of higher education, a registration or fee statement from such institution that has the applicant's name and current address.

(e) If the registrars of voters determine that an applicant satisfies the application requirements set forth in subsection (d) of this section, the registrars of voters shall check the state-wide centralized voter registration system before admitting such applicant as an elector on election day, or before both admitting such applicant as an elector and enrolling such applicant in a political party holding a primary on primary day.

(1) If the registrars of voters determine that the applicant is not already an elector, the registrars of voters shall admit the applicant as an elector and the privileges of an elector shall attach immediately. On primary day, the registrars of voters shall also enroll the applicant in the political party holding a primary of such applicant's preference and the privileges of party enrollment shall attach immediately.

(2) If the registrars of voters determine that such applicant is an elector in another municipality and such applicant states that he or she wants to change the municipality in which the applicant is an elector, notwithstanding the provisions of section 9-21, the registrars of voters of the municipality in which such elector now seeks to register shall immediately notify the registrars of voters in such other municipality that such elector is changing the municipality in which the applicant is an elector. The registrars of voters in such other municipality shall notify the election officials in such municipality to remove such elector from the official voter list and, if applicable, any enrollment list of such municipality. Such election officials shall cross through the elector's name on such official voter list and, if applicable, enrollment list and mark "off" next to such elector's name on such official voter list and, if applicable, enrollment list.

(A) If it is reported that such applicant already voted in such other municipality, the registrars of voters of such other municipality shall immediately notify the registrars of voters of the municipality in which such elector now seeks to register. In such event, such elector shall not receive an election day registration ballot or a primary day registration ballot, as applicable, from the registrars of voters of the municipality in which such elector now seeks to register. For any such elector, the election day registration or primary day registration process shall cease in the municipality in which such elector now seeks to register and such matter shall be reviewed by the registrars of voters in the municipality in which such elector now seeks to register. After completion of such review, if a resolution of the matter [can not] cannot be made, such matter shall be reported to the State Elections Enforcement Commission which shall conduct an investigation of the matter.

(B) If there is no such report that such applicant already voted in the other municipality, the registrars of voters of the municipality in which the applicant seeks to register shall admit the applicant as an elector and the privileges of an elector shall attach immediately. On primary day, the registrars of voters shall also enroll the applicant in the political party holding a primary of such applicant's preference and the privileges of party enrollment shall attach immediately.

(f) If the applicant is admitted as an elector on election day, or both admitted as an elector and enrolled in a political party holding a primary on primary day, the registrars of voters shall provide the elector with an election day registration or primary day registration ballot and [election day registration] envelope and shall make a record of such issuance. The elector shall complete an affirmation imprinted upon the back of the envelope for an election day registration or primary day registration ballot and shall declare under oath that the applicant has not previously voted in [the] any election or primary held that day. The affirmation shall be in the form substantially as follows and signed by the voter:

AFFIRMATION: I, the undersigned, do hereby state, under penalty of false statement, (perjury) that:

1. I am the person admitted here as an elector in the town indicated.

2. I am eligible to vote in the election or primary indicated for today in the town indicated.

3. The information on my voter registration card is correct and complete.

4. I reside at the address that I have given to the registrars of voters.

5. If previously registered at another location, I have provided such address to the registrars of voters and hereby request cancellation of such prior registration.

6. I have not voted in person or by absentee ballot and I will not vote otherwise than by this ballot at this election or primary.

7. I completed an application for an election day registration or primary day registration ballot and received an election day registration or primary day registration ballot.

.... (Signature of voter)

(g) The elector shall forthwith mark the election day registration or primary day registration ballot in the presence of the registrars of voters in such a manner that the registrars of voters shall not know how [the election day registration] such ballot is marked. The elector shall place [the election day registration] such ballot in the election day registration or primary day registration ballot envelope provided, and deposit such envelope in a secured election day registration or primary day registration ballot depository receptacle. At the time designated by the registrars of voters and noticed to election officials, the registrars of voters shall transport such receptacle containing [the election day registration] such ballots to the area, either district or central, where absentee ballots are counted and such election day registration or primary day registration ballots shall be counted by the election or primary officials present at such location. A section of the head moderator's return shall show the number of election day registration or primary day registration ballots received from electors. The registrars of voters shall seal a copy of the vote tally for [election day registration] such ballots in a depository envelope with [the election day registration] such ballots and store such [election day registration] depository envelope with the other election or primary results materials. [The] Each election day registration or primary day registration depository envelope shall be preserved by the registrars of voters for the period of time required to preserve counted ballots for elections or primaries, as applicable.

(h) The provisions of the general statutes and regulations concerning procedures relating to the custody, control and counting of absentee ballots shall apply as nearly as possible, to the custody, control and counting of election day registration and primary day registration ballots under [subsections (a) to (i), inclusive, of] this section.

(i) After the acceptance of an election day registration or a primary day registration, the registrars of voters shall forthwith send a registration confirmation notice to the residential address of each applicant who is admitted as an elector on election day, or both admitted as an elector and enrolled in a political party holding a primary on primary day, as applicable, under [subsections (a) to (i), inclusive, of] this section. Such confirmation shall be sent by first class mail with instructions on the envelope that it be returned if not deliverable at the address shown on the envelope. If a confirmation notice is returned undelivered, the registrars shall forthwith take the necessary action in accordance with section 9-35 or 9-43, as applicable, notwithstanding the May first deadline in section 9-35.

(j) No person shall solicit in behalf of or in opposition to the candidacy of another or himself or herself or in behalf of or in opposition to any question being submitted at the election, or loiter or peddle or offer any advertising matter, ballot or circular to another person within a radius of seventy-five feet of any outside entrance in use as an entry to the registrars' of voters designated location for election day registration or primary day registration balloting or in any corridor, passageway or other approach leading from any such outside entrance to such registrars' of voters designated location or in any room opening upon any such corridor, passageway or approach.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

from passage

9-19j

Statement of Legislative Commissioners:

In Subsec. (c)(1), "primary day registrations" was changed to "primary day registration applications" for consistency and accuracy; in Subsecs. (e) and (f), after "as an elector", "on election day," was inserted for consistency; in Subsec. (e), "holding a primary, if applicable" was changed to "holding a primary on primary day" for accuracy; in Subsec. (f), after "holding a primary", "on primary day" was inserted for consistency; and in Subsec. (i), after "election day" a comma was inserted and before "primary day" "both admitted as an elector and enrolled in a political party holding a primary on" was inserted for consistency.

GAE

Joint Favorable Subst.

 

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

FY 19 $

FY 20 $

Elections Enforcement Commission

GF - Potential Revenue Gain

Less than $5,000

Less than $5,000

Note: GF=General Fund

Municipal Impact:

Municipalities

Effect

FY 19 $

FY 20 $

Various Municipalities

Potential Cost

See Below

See Below

Explanation

The bill: 1) establishes Primary Day Registration (PDR), allowing eligible individuals to register to vote, enroll in a political party, and cast a ballot on primary day, and 2) extends Election Day Registration (EDR) procedures to PDR. Certain municipalities may incur minimal costs associated with hiring additional staff to handle PDRs. This potential cost will vary depending on the number of individuals who participate in PDR.

The bill also extends the State Elections Enforcement Commission's (SEEC) ability to enforce compliance authority to PDR, including investigating complaints and levying civil penalties. This may result in a minimal revenue gain, estimated at less than $5,000.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future subject to additional staffing levels required in municipalities and penalties imposed.

OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5422

AN ACT CONCERNING VOTING RIGHTS AND PRIMARY DAY ELECTOR REGISTRATION.

SUMMARY

This bill establishes Primary Day Registration (PDR). Principally, it uses existing Election Day Registration (EDR) procedures to allow eligible people to register to vote and cast a ballot on primary day. Under existing law and the bill, “primary day” means the day of a regular state or municipal primary, or a presidential preference primary.

The bill prohibits electors who are already registered, but unaffiliated with a political party, from enrolling with a party and voting under the PDR procedures (see BACKGROUND). Currently, the deadline for registering to vote in a primary is noon the day beforehand (CGS 9-23a).

By law, the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) is responsible for enforcing compliance with EDR. The bill extends SEEC's enforcement authority to PDR, which means that the commission must investigate complaints alleging a PDR violation. It may levy a civil penalty of up to $2,000 per offense against violators (CGS 9-7b(a)(2)). In addition, anyone who fraudulently votes or registers under the bill's provisions is guilty of perjury, which is a class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

The bill makes several technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

PDR PROCEDURES AND REQUIREMENTS

The bill extends existing law's EDR procedures to PDR. Generally, the bill:

Application Procedures and Identification Requirements

The bill applies existing EDR application procedures and identification (ID) requirements to PRD. Thus, under the bill, people who want to register to vote and cast a ballot on primary day must do so by applying in person at the designated PDR location and declaring under oath that they have not previously voted in the primary. They must complete the voter registration form and provide the same information the law requires from anyone seeking to become an elector in this state. This means they must provide their birth certificate, driver's license, or Social Security card. The bill allows college and university students to instead present a current photo ID issued by their higher education institution.

If an applicant's information does not include proof of residential address, he or she must also submit another form of ID showing the address. The additional ID may include a motor vehicle learner's permit; utility bill due no later than 30 days after the primary; or, for a college or university student, a current college or university registration or fee statement.

Checking Eligibility

Registrars of voters must check the CVRS before admitting an applicant as an elector under the bill's PDR procedures, just as they must under the law's EDR procedures. If they determine an applicant is qualified to register and has not already voted, they must admit that person and enroll him or her in the political party he or she prefers. The person's electoral privileges attach immediately.

If the registrars determine that the applicant is registered in another municipality but he or she wants to change his or her registration location, they must immediately notify the registrars in the municipality where the applicant is currently registered and request that they remove the elector's name from their official registry list and any enrollment list. The primary officials in that municipality must cross through the elector's name on the list and mark “off” next to it.

If the applicant has already voted in the other municipality, the registrars of that municipality must immediately notify the registrars of the municipality where the elector wants to register. The registrars must deny the applicant a ballot, cease the registration process, and review the matter. If the matter cannot be resolved on review, the registrars must report it to the SEEC for investigation.

Voting Procedures

Just as with EDR, registrars of voters must give a PDR ballot and envelope to an applicant whom they admit as an elector and record its issuance. The elector must (1) declare under oath that he or she did not previously vote in the primary and (2) sign an affirmation that is printed on the back of the security envelope and is substantially similar to the following:

AFFIRMATION: I, the undersigned, do hereby state, under penalty of false statement, (perjury) that:

The newly admitted elector must secretly mark the ballot in the presence of the registrars, place it in the PDR envelope, and deposit the envelope in a secured PDR ballot depository receptacle.

Counting Procedures

Under the bill, the law's procedures relating to the custody, control, and counting of absentee ballots must apply as nearly as possible to the custody, control, and counting of PDR ballots, just as the procedures apply to EDR ballots. Among other things, this means that at the time designated by registrars and noticed to primary officials, registrars must transport the receptacle for ballot counting to the same area (district or central location) where absentee ballots are counted. It also means:

Confirmation Procedures

Registrars of voters must immediately send a registration confirmation notice by first-class mail to the residential address of each PDR applicant they admit, just as they do with EDR applicants. The envelope must have instructions for returning any confirmation notice that cannot be delivered to the address shown. If the confirmation is returned as undelivered, the registrars must take other actions required by law to verify the address. However, they must take these actions immediately and cannot wait until the May 1st deadline that otherwise applies to verifying names on the registry. If the address cannot be verified, registrars must place the elector's name on the inactive list and remove it after four years, unless during this period the elector applies for restoration to the active list or votes.

BACKGROUND

Closed Primaries

By law, primaries are open to unaffiliated voters only if a political party's rules authorize participation. Current Republican and Democratic state party rules do not allow these voters to participate in their primary elections (CGS 9-431).

75-Foot Rule

The “75-foot rule” generally prohibits anyone from soliciting support for or opposition to a candidate or a ballot question within a 75-foot radius of the outside entrance to a polling place, in a hallway or other approach leading from the entrance, or in a room opening upon any such hallway or approach, with certain exceptions (e.g., parent-teacher organization bake sales).

Eligibility to Register to Vote

By law, a person is eligible to register and vote if he or she is (1) a U.S. citizen, (2) age 18 or older, and (3) a bona fide resident of the municipality in which he or she applies for admission as an elector. Mentally incompetent people cannot be admitted as electors, and people convicted of a felony and committed to the custody of the commissioner of correction forfeit their electoral rights while incarcerated or on parole.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

9

Nay

8

(03/23/2018)

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