Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 449

    February Session, 2018

Substitute House Bill No. 5459

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 ELECTIONS AND REFERENDA.

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

Section 1. Subsection (a) of section 9-236 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) On the day of any primary, referendum or election, no person shall solicit on behalf of or in opposition to the candidacy of another or himself or on behalf of or in opposition to any question being submitted at the election or referendum, 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 any polling place or in any corridor, passageway or other approach leading from any such outside entrance to such polling place or in any room opening upon any such corridor, passageway or approach. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit (1) parent-teacher associations or parent-teacher organizations from holding bake sales or other fund-raising activities on the day of any primary, referendum or election in any school used as a polling place, provided such sales or activities shall not be held in the room in which the election booths are located, (2) the registrars of voters from directing the officials at a primary, referendum or election to distribute, within the restricted area, adhesive labels on which are imprinted the words "I Voted Today", [or] (3) members of the public from using a public restroom in the building where any such polling place is located, subject to the restrictions set forth in this subsection, except that in the case of a school, no member of the public may use such restroom pursuant to this subdivision when such school is in session, or (4) the registrars of voters in a primary, election or referendum from jointly permitting nonpartisan activities to be conducted in a room other than the room in which the election booths are located. The registrars may jointly impose such conditions and limitations on such nonpartisan activity as deemed necessary to ensure the orderly process of voting. The moderator shall evict any person who in any way interferes with the orderly process of voting.

Sec. 2. Section 9-254 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

Each municipal clerk shall, not later than the one hundred eightieth day prior to the day of any regular municipal election, file with the Secretary of the State, on a form approved by said Secretary, a list of the offices to be filled at such election and the terms thereof and the number of candidates for which each elector may vote. Said Secretary shall, [within] not later than seventy days [from] after the date of receipt of such list, return a copy of such list to the municipal clerk. Each municipal clerk shall, not later than ten days after the receipt of the returned list, mail a copy thereof to the chairman of the town committee of each major political party within the municipality.

Sec. 3. Section 9-310 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

As soon as the count is completed and the moderator's return required under the provisions of section 9-259 has been executed, the moderator shall place the sealed tabulator in the tabulator bag, and so seal the bag, and the tabulator shall remain so sealed against voting or being tampered with for a period of fourteen days, except as provided in section 9-309 or 9-311 or pursuant to an order issued by the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If it is determined that a recanvass is required pursuant to section 9-311 or 9-311a, immediately upon such determination the tabulators, write-in ballots, absentee ballots, moderators' returns and all other notes, worksheets or written materials used at the election shall be impounded at the direction of the Secretary of the State. Such package shall be preserved for one hundred eighty days after such election and may be opened and its contents examined in accordance with section 9-311 or upon an order of a court of competent jurisdiction. At the end of one hundred eighty days, unless otherwise ordered by the court, such package and its contents may be destroyed. Except as provided in section 9-309 for moderators temporarily interrupting a canvass, any person who unlocks the voting or operating mechanism of the tabulator or the counting compartment after it has been locked as above directed or breaks or destroys or tampers with the seal after it has been affixed as above directed or changes the indication of the counters on any voting tabulator [within] earlier than fourteen days after the election or within any longer period during which the tabulator is kept locked as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction or by the State Elections Enforcement Commission in any special case, except as provided in section 9-311, shall be imprisoned for not more than five years. Any tabulator may be released in less than fourteen days, for use in another election, by order of a court, if there is no disagreement as to the returns from such machine and no order directing impoundment has been issued by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Sec. 4. Section 9-316 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

The Treasurer, Secretary of the State and Comptroller shall, [within] not later than thirty days after a vacancy election for a senator in Congress or representative in Congress, subject to the provisions of section 9-323, publicly count the votes returned, and declare what person is elected, and the Secretary of the State shall forthwith notify him by mail of his election. The Secretary of the State shall enter the returns in tabular form in books kept by him for that purpose and present a copy of the same, with the name of, and the total number of votes received by, each of the candidates for said office, to the Governor [within] not later than ten days thereafter.

Sec. 5. Section 9-318 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

The votes for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of the State, Treasurer, Comptroller and Attorney General shall be canvassed by the persons authorized to receive and count the same, [within] not later than thirty days [next] after they were cast, unless a complaint under the provisions of section 9-324 is pending, in which case such canvass shall not be made until after the third Monday of December next after they were cast. In making such canvass, the votes upon the returns made by presiding officers shall be counted in conformity to the decision of the judge of the Superior Court or of the Supreme Court, as the case may be, and such canvass shall be in conformity to such decision, and a fair list of such votes made to conform to the original returns of the presiding officers, as corrected or affected by the finding or decision of such judge, with the original returns of the presiding officers and certified copies of the decision of such judge, shall, on the first day of the session, be laid before the General Assembly, which shall declare who are elected to said offices respectively.

Sec. 6. Section 9-319 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

The votes for state senators, state representatives and judges of probate, as returned by the moderators, shall be canvassed, during the month in which they are cast, by the Treasurer, Secretary of the State and Comptroller, and they shall declare, except in case of a tie vote, who is elected senator in each senatorial district, representative in each assembly district and judge of probate in each probate district. The Secretary of the State shall, [within] not later than three days after such declaration, give notice by mail to each person chosen state senator, state representative or judge of probate of his election.

Sec. 7. Subsection (a) of section 9-320 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) The clerk of each municipality shall, [within] not later than ten days after the municipal election, return to the Secretary of the State a statement of the name, post-office address and term of each person elected to office in such election. If an elected town clerk is registrar of vital statistics, ex officio, such return shall so indicate. Each municipal clerk neglecting to make such return shall be fined not more than twenty-five dollars.

Sec. 8. Section 9-325 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

If, upon any such hearing by a judge of the Superior Court, any question of law is raised which any party to the complaint claims should be reviewed by the Supreme Court, such judge, instead of filing the certificate of his finding or decision with the Secretary of the State, shall transmit the same, including therein such questions of law, together with a proper finding of facts, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who shall thereupon call a special session of said court for the purpose of an immediate hearing upon the questions of law so certified. A copy of the finding and decision so certified by the judge of the Superior Court, together with the decision of the Supreme Court, on the questions of law therein certified, shall be attested by the clerk of the Supreme Court, and by him transmitted to the Secretary of the State forthwith. The finding and decision of the judge of the Superior Court, together with the decision of the Supreme Court on the questions of law thus certified, shall be final and conclusive upon all questions relating to errors in the rulings of the election officials and to the correctness of such count and shall operate to correct the returns of the moderators or presiding officers so as to conform to such decision of said court. Nothing in this section shall be considered as prohibiting an appeal to the Supreme Court from a final judgment of the Superior Court. The judges of the Supreme Court may establish rules of procedure for the speedy and inexpensive hearing of such appeals [within] not later than fifteen days [of] after such judgment of a judge of the Superior Court.

Sec. 9. Subsection (a) of section 9-369c of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) Whenever a referendum, as defined in subdivision (2) or (3) of subsection (n) of section 9-1, is to be held on any question or proposal, the question or proposal shall be submitted to the municipal clerk in the form in which it will appear on the ballot at least three weeks prior to the date on which the referendum is to be held, and the municipal clerk shall make absentee ballots available for use at the referendum in accordance with the provisions of this section, provided, if any other provision of the general statutes, a special act, a charter provision or an ordinance specifically authorizes a referendum to be held with less than three weeks' notice, absentee ballots shall be made available for each such referendum [within] not later than four business days after the question or questions which are to be voted on at the referendum are finalized. Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes to the contrary, a municipal clerk may only provide an absentee ballot for such referendum held with less than three weeks' notice to a person who applies in person at the office of the municipal clerk for an absentee ballot (1) for himself or (2) for a prospective applicant who designates such person for such purpose. The designee may be a licensed physician, registered or practical nurse or any other person who is caring for the applicant because of the applicant's illness, a member of the applicant's family or a police officer, registrar of voters or deputy registrar of voters in the municipality in which the applicant resides. The designee may also return the ballot in person to the municipal clerk not later than the close of the polls.

Sec. 10. Section 9-371 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

Whenever any town, city or borough has conducted a referendum in accordance with the provisions of any special act, or on the question of the acceptance of such act, or on the question of the adoption of any home rule charter or charter revision or amendment thereto, the clerk of such municipality shall, [within] not later than fifteen days after such referendum, notify the Secretary of the State, in writing, of the result of such referendum.

Sec. 11. Section 9-371b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

Any person (1) claiming to have been aggrieved by any ruling of any election official in connection with a referendum, (2) claiming that there has been a mistake in the count of votes cast for a referendum, or (3) claiming to be aggrieved by a violation of any provision of section 9-355, 9-357 to 9-361, inclusive, 9-364, 9-364a or 9-365 in the casting of absentee ballots at a referendum, may bring a complaint to any judge of the Superior Court for relief from such ruling, mistake or violation. In any action brought pursuant to the provisions of this section, the complainant shall send a copy of the complaint by first class mail, or deliver a copy of the complaint by hand, to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made prior to such referendum, such judge shall proceed expeditiously to render judgment on the complaint and shall cause notice of the hearing to be given to the Secretary of the State and the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made subsequent to such referendum, it shall be brought [within] not later than thirty days after such referendum to any judge of the Superior Court, in which the person shall set out the claimed errors of the election official, the claimed errors in the count or the claimed violations of said sections. Such judge shall forthwith order a hearing to be held upon such complaint, upon a day not more than five or less than three days from the making of such order, and shall cause notice of not less than three or more than five days to be given to any person who may be affected by the decision upon such hearing, to such election official, the Secretary of the State, the State Elections Enforcement Commission and to any other party or parties whom such judge deems proper parties to the hearing, of the time and place for the hearing upon such complaint. Such judge shall, on the day fixed for such hearing and without unnecessary delay, proceed to hear the parties. If sufficient reason is shown, such judge may order any voting tabulators to be unlocked or any ballot boxes to be opened and a recount of the votes cast, including absentee ballots, to be made. Such judge shall, if such judge finds any error in the rulings of the election official or any mistake in the count of the votes, certify the result of such judge's finding or decision to the Secretary of the State before the tenth day succeeding the conclusion of the hearing. Such judge may order a new referendum or a change in the existing referendum schedule. Such certificate of such judge's finding or decision shall be final and conclusive upon all questions relating to errors in the ruling of such election officials, to the correctness of such count, and, for the purposes of this section only, such claimed violations, and shall operate to correct the returns of the moderators or presiding officers, so as to conform to such finding or decision, except that this section shall not affect the right of appeal to the Supreme Court and it shall not prevent such judge from reserving such questions of law for the advice of the Supreme Court as provided in section 9-325, as amended by this act. Such judge may, if necessary, issue a writ of mandamus, requiring the adverse party and those under such judge to deliver to the complainant the appurtenances of such office, and shall cause such judge's finding and decree to be entered on the records of the Superior Court in the proper judicial district.

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

Section 1

from passage

9-236(a)

Sec. 2

from passage

9-254

Sec. 3

from passage

9-310

Sec. 4

from passage

9-316

Sec. 5

from passage

9-318

Sec. 6

from passage

9-319

Sec. 7

from passage

9-320(a)

Sec. 8

from passage

9-325

Sec. 9

from passage

9-369c(a)

Sec. 10

from passage

9-371

Sec. 11

from passage

9-371b

Statement of Legislative Commissioners:

In Section 1(a)(3), "public restrooms" was changed to "a public restroom" for consistency, and "pursuant to this subdivision" was inserted after "such restroom" for clarity; and in Section 2, "seventy days from" was changed to "seventy days [from] after" for consistency and clarity.

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: None

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill, which allows members of the public to use a public restroom in certain public polling places, has no fiscal impact.

The Out Years

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 5459

AN ACT CONCERNING ELECTIONS AND REFERENDA.

SUMMARY

Existing law 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).

This bill specifies that this prohibition does not prevent members of the public from using public restrooms in a building where a polling place is located, with one exception. The bill prohibits the public from using a public restroom in a school that is in session and being used as a polling place.

The bill also makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

COMMITTEE ACTION

Government Administration and Elections Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

17

Nay

0

(03/23/2018)

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