REFERENCE TITLE: early, emergency voting; deficiencies
State of Arizona
House of Representatives
First Regular Session
amending sections 16-411, 16-542, 16-552 and 16-588.01, Arizona Revised Statutes; relating to conduct of elections.
(TEXT OF BILL BEGINS ON NEXT PAGE)
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1. Section 16-411, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
16-411. Designation of election precincts and polling places; voting centers; electioneering; wait times
A. The board of supervisors of each county, on or before December 1 of each year preceding the year of a general election, by an order, shall establish a convenient number of election precincts in the county and define the boundaries of the precincts. The election precinct boundaries shall be so established as included within election districts prescribed by law for elected officers of the state and its political subdivisions including community college district precincts, except those elected officers provided for in titles 30 and 48.
B. Not less than twenty days before a general or primary election, and at least ten days before a special election, the board shall designate one polling place within each precinct where the election shall be held, except that:
1. On a specific finding of the board, included in the order or resolution designating polling places pursuant to this subsection, that no suitable polling place is available within a precinct, a polling place for that precinct may be designated within an adjacent precinct.
2. Adjacent precincts may be combined if boundaries so established are included in election districts prescribed by law for state elected officials and political subdivisions including community college districts but not including elected officials prescribed by titles 30 and 48. The officer in charge of elections may also split a precinct for administrative purposes. The polling places shall be listed in separate sections of the order or resolution.
3. On a specific finding of the board that the number of persons who are listed as permanent early voters pursuant to section 16‑544 is likely to substantially reduce the number of voters appearing at one or more specific polling places at that election, adjacent precincts may be consolidated by combining polling places and precinct boards for that election. The board of supervisors shall ensure that a reasonable and adequate number of polling places will be designated for that election. Any consolidated polling places shall be listed in separate sections of the order or resolution of the board.
4. On a specific resolution of the board, the board may authorize the use of voting centers in place of or in addition to specifically designated polling places. A voting center shall allow any voter in that county to receive the appropriate ballot for that voter on election day and lawfully cast the ballot. Voting centers may be established in coordination and consultation with the county recorder, at other county offices or at other locations in the county deemed appropriate.
C. The board may not authorize, direct or allow a county recorder or other officer in charge of elections to operate a voting center after 5:00 p.m. on the Friday immediately preceding an election through the Monday immediately preceding the election, whether designated as an emergency voting center or otherwise.
C. D. If the board fails to designate the place for holding the election, or if it cannot be held at or about the place designated, the justice of the peace in the precinct, two days before the election, by an order, copies of which the justice of the peace shall immediately post in three public places in the precinct, shall designate the place within the precinct for holding the election. If there is no justice of the peace in the precinct, or if the justice of the peace fails to do so, the election board of the precinct shall designate and give notice of the place within the precinct of holding the election. For any election in which there are no candidates for elected office appearing on the ballot, the board may consolidate polling places and precinct boards and may consolidate the tabulation of results for that election if all of the following apply:
1. All affected voters are notified by mail of the change at least thirty‑three days before the election.
2. Notice of the change in polling places includes notice of the new voting location, notice of the hours for voting on election day and notice of the telephone number to call for voter assistance.
3. All affected voters receive information on early voting that includes the application used to request an early voting ballot.
D. E. The board is not required to designate a polling place for special district mail ballot elections held pursuant to article 8.1 of this chapter, but the board may designate one or more sites for voters to deposit marked ballots until 7:00 p.m. on the day of the election.
E. F. Except as provided in subsection F G of this section, a public school shall provide sufficient space for use as a polling place for any city, county or state election when requested by the officer in charge of elections.
F. G. The principal of the school may deny a request to provide space for use as a polling place for any city, county or state election if, within two weeks after a request has been made, the principal provides a written statement indicating a reason the election cannot be held in the school, including any of the following:
1. Space is not available at the school.
2. The safety or welfare of the children would be jeopardized.
G. H. The board shall make available to the public as a public record a list of the polling places for all precincts in which the election is to be held.
H. I. Except in the case of an emergency, any facility that is used as a polling place on election day or that is used as an early voting site during the period of early voting shall allow persons to electioneer and engage in other political activity outside of the seventy‑five foot limit prescribed by section 16‑515 in public areas and parking lots used by voters. This subsection shall not be construed to permit the temporary or permanent construction of structures in public areas and parking lots or the blocking or other impairment of access to parking spaces for voters. The county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall post on its website at least two weeks before election day a list of those polling places in which emergency conditions prevent electioneering and shall specify the reason the emergency designation was granted and the number of attempts that were made to find a polling place before granting an emergency designation. If the polling place is not on the website list of polling places with emergency designations, electioneering and other political activity shall be permitted outside of the seventy‑five foot limit. If an emergency arises after the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections' initial website posting, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall update the website as soon as is practicable to include any new polling places, shall highlight the polling place location on the website and shall specify the reason the emergency designation was granted and the number of attempts that were made to find a polling place before granting an emergency designation.
I. J. For the purposes of this section, a county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall designate a polling place as an emergency polling place and thus prohibit persons from electioneering and engaging in other political activity outside of the seventy‑five foot limit prescribed by section 16‑515 but inside the property of the facility that is hosting the polling place if any of the following occurs:
1. An act of God renders a previously set polling place as unusable.
2. A county recorder or other officer in charge of elections has exhausted all options and there are no suitable facilities in a precinct that are willing to be a polling place unless a facility can be given an emergency designation.
J. K. The secretary of state shall provide through the instructions and procedures manual adopted pursuant to section 16‑452 the maximum allowable wait time for any election that is subject to section 16‑204 and provide for a method to reduce voter wait time at the polls in the primary and general elections. The method shall consider at least all of the following for primary and general elections in each precinct:
1. The number of ballots voted in the prior primary and general elections.
2. The number of registered voters who voted early in the prior primary and general elections.
3. The number of registered voters and the number of registered voters who cast an early ballot for the current primary or general election.
4. The number of election board members and clerks and the number of rosters that will reduce voter wait time at the polls.
Sec. 2. Section 16-542, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
16-542. Request for ballot; civil penalties; violation; classification
A. Within ninety‑three days before any election called pursuant to the laws of this state, an elector may make a verbal or signed request to the county recorder, or other officer in charge of elections for the applicable political subdivision of this state in whose jurisdiction the elector is registered to vote, for an official early ballot. In addition to name and address, the requesting elector shall provide the date of birth and state or country of birth or other information that if compared to the voter registration information on file would confirm the identity of the elector. If the request indicates that the elector needs a primary election ballot and a general election ballot, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall honor the request. For any partisan primary election, if the elector is not registered as a member of a political party that is entitled to continued representation on the ballot pursuant to section 16‑804, the elector shall designate the ballot of only one of the political parties that is entitled to continued representation on the ballot and the elector may receive and vote the ballot of only that one political party, which also shall include any nonpartisan offices and ballot questions, or the elector shall designate the ballot for nonpartisan offices and ballot questions only and the elector may receive and vote the ballot that contains only nonpartisan offices and ballot questions. The county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall process any request for an early ballot for a municipal election pursuant to this subsection. The county recorder may establish on‑site early voting locations at the recorder's office, which shall be open and available for use beginning the same day that a county begins to send out the early ballots, except that the county recorder may not operate a voting center after 5:00 p.m. on the Friday immediately preceding the election through the Monday immediately preceding the election, whether designated as an emergency voting center or otherwise. The county recorder may also establish any other early voting locations in the county the recorder deems necessary.
B. Notwithstanding subsection A of this section, a request for an official early ballot from an absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter as defined in the uniformed and overseas citizens absentee voting act of 1986 (P.L. 99‑410; 52 United States Code section 20310) or a voter whose information is protected pursuant to section 16‑153 that is received by the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections more than ninety‑three days before the election is valid. If requested by the absent uniformed services or overseas voter, or a voter whose information is protected pursuant to section 16‑153, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall provide to the requesting voter early ballot materials through the next regularly scheduled general election for federal office immediately following receipt of the request unless a different period of time, which does not exceed the next two regularly scheduled general elections for federal office, is designated by the voter.
C. The county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall mail the early ballot and the envelope for its return postage prepaid to the address provided by the requesting elector within five days after receipt of the official early ballots from the officer charged by law with the duty of preparing ballots pursuant to section 16‑545, except that early ballot distribution shall not begin more than twenty-seven thirty-two days before the election. If an early ballot request is received on or before the thirty‑first thirty-sixth day before the election, the early ballot shall be distributed not earlier than the twenty-seventh thirty-second day before the election and not later than the twenty-fourth day before the election.
D. Only the elector may be in possession of that elector's unvoted early ballot. If a complete and correct request is made by the elector within twenty‑seven thirty-two days before the election, the mailing must be made within forty‑eight hours after receipt of the request. Saturdays, Sundays and other legal holidays are excluded from the computation of the forty‑eight hour period prescribed by this subsection. If a complete and correct request is made by an absent uniformed services voter or an overseas voter before the election, the regular early ballot shall be transmitted by mail, by fax or by other electronic format approved by the secretary of state within twenty‑four hours after the early ballots are delivered pursuant to section 16‑545, subsection B, excluding Sundays.
E. In order to be complete and correct and to receive an early ballot by mail, an elector's request that an early ballot be mailed to the elector's residence or temporary address must include all of the information prescribed by subsection A of this section and must be received by the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the eleventh day preceding the election. An elector who appears personally no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding the election at an on‑site early voting location that is established by the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall be given a ballot and permitted to vote at the on‑site location. If an elector's request to receive an early ballot is not complete and correct but complies with all other requirements of this section, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall attempt to notify the elector of the deficiency of the request.
F. Unless an elector specifies that the address to which an early ballot is to be sent is a temporary address, the recorder may use the information from an early ballot request form to update voter registration records.
G. The county recorder or other officer in charge of early balloting shall provide an alphabetized list of all voters in the precinct who have requested and have been sent an early ballot to the election board of the precinct in which the voter is registered not later than the day before the election.
H. As a result of an emergency occurring between 5:00 p.m. on the second Friday preceding the election and 5:00 p.m. on the Monday preceding the election, qualified electors may request to vote early in the manner prescribed by the county recorder of their respective county, except that the county recorder may not establish voting centers that operate after 5:00 p.m. On the Friday preceding the election through the Monday immediately preceding the election, whether designated as emergency voting centers or otherwise. For the purposes of this subsection, "emergency" means any unforeseen circumstances that would prevent the elector from voting at the polls.
I. A candidate, political committee or other organization may distribute early ballot request forms to voters. If the early ballot request forms include a printed address for return, the addressee shall be the political subdivision that will conduct the election. Failure to use the political subdivision as the return addressee is punishable by a civil penalty of up to three times the cost of the production and distribution of the request.
J. All original and completed early ballot request forms that are received by a candidate, political committee or other organization shall be submitted within six business days after receipt by a candidate, political committee or other organization or eleven days before the election day, whichever is earlier, to the political subdivision that will conduct the election. Any person, political committee or other organization that fails to submit a completed early ballot request form within the prescribed time is subject to a civil penalty of up to twenty‑five dollars per day for each completed form withheld from submittal. Any person who knowingly fails to submit a completed early ballot request form before the submission deadline for the election immediately following the completion of the form is guilty of a class 6 felony.
Sec. 3. Section 16-552, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
16-552. Early ballots; processing; challenges
A. In a jurisdiction that uses optical scan ballots, the officer in charge of elections may use the procedure prescribed by this section or may request approval from the secretary of state for a different method for processing early ballots. The request shall be made in writing at least ninety days before the election for which the procedure is intended to be used. After the election official has confirmed with the secretary of state that all election equipment passes the logic and accuracy test, the election official may begin to count early ballots. No early ballot results may be released except as prescribed by section 16‑551.
B. The early election board shall check the voter's affidavit on the envelope containing the early ballot. If it is found to be sufficient, the vote shall be allowed. If the affidavit is insufficient, the vote shall not be allowed. Except for votes that are challenged pursuant to subsection D of this section or for conditional provisional ballots for which the voter may provide supplemental forms of identification, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections may not allow a voter to correct or supplement an affidavit after 7:00 p.m. on election day.
C. The county chairman of each political party represented on the ballot, by written appointment addressed to the early election board, may designate party representatives and alternates to act as early ballot challengers for the party. No party may have more than the number of such representatives or alternates that were mutually agreed on by each political party to be present at one time. If such agreement cannot be reached, the number of representatives shall be limited to one for each political party.
D. An early ballot may be challenged on any grounds set forth in section 16‑591. All challenges shall be made in writing with a brief statement of the grounds before the early ballot is placed in the ballot box. A record of all challenges and resulting proceedings shall be kept in substantially the same manner as provided in section 16‑594. If an early ballot is challenged, it shall be set aside and retained in the possession of the early election board or other officer in charge of early ballot processing until a time that the early election board sets for determination of the challenge, subject to the procedure in subsection E of this section, at which time the early election board shall hear the grounds for the challenge and shall decide what disposition shall be made of the early ballot by majority vote. If the early ballot is not allowed, it shall be handled pursuant to subsection G of this section.
E. Within twenty‑four hours of receipt of a challenge, the early election board or other officer in charge of early ballot processing shall mail, by first class mail, a notice of the challenge including a copy of the written challenge, and also including the time and place at which the voter may appear to defend the challenge, to the voter at the mailing address shown on the request for an early ballot or, if none was provided, to the mailing address shown on the registration rolls. Notice shall also be mailed to the challenger at the address listed on the written challenge and provided to the county chairman of each political party represented on the ballot. The board shall meet to determine the challenge at the time specified by the notice but, in any event, not earlier than ninety‑six hours after the notice is mailed, or forty‑eight hours if the notifying party chooses to deliver the notice by overnight or hand delivery, and not later than 5:00 p.m. on the Monday following the election. The board shall provide the voter with an informal opportunity to make, or to submit, brief statements regarding the challenge. The board may decline to permit comments, either in person or in writing, by anyone other than the voter, the challenger and the party representatives. The burden of proof is on the challenger to show why the voter should not be permitted to vote. The fact that the voter fails to appear shall not be deemed to be an admission of the validity of the challenge. The early election board or other officer in charge of early ballot processing is not required to provide the notices described in this subsection if the written challenge fails to set forth at least one of the grounds listed in section 16‑591 as a basis for the challenge. In that event, the challenge will be summarily rejected at the meeting of the board. Except for election contests pursuant to section 16‑672, the board's decision is final and may not be appealed.
F. If the vote is allowed, the board shall open the envelope containing the ballot in such a manner that the affidavit thereon is not destroyed, take out the ballot without unfolding it or permitting it to be opened or examined and show by the records of the election that the elector has voted.
G. If the vote is not allowed, the affidavit envelope containing the early ballot shall not be opened and the board shall mark across the face of such envelope the grounds for rejection. The affidavit envelope and its contents shall then be deposited with the opened affidavit envelopes and shall be preserved with official returns. If the voter does not enter an appearance, the board shall send the voter a notice stating whether the early ballot was disallowed and, if disallowed, providing the grounds for the determination. The notice shall be mailed by first class mail to the voter's mailing address as shown on the registration rolls within three days after the board's determination.
H. Party representatives and alternates may be appointed as provided in subsection C of this section to be present and to challenge the verification of questioned ballots pursuant to section 16‑584 on any grounds permitted by this section. Questioned ballots that are challenged shall be presented to the early election board for decision under the provisions of this section.
Sec. 4. Section 16-558.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
16-558.01. Mailing of ballots
Not more than twenty‑seven thirty-two days before the election and not fewer than fifteen days before the election, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections for the special district shall send by nonforwardable mail all official ballots with printed instructions and a return envelope bearing a printed ballot affidavit as described in section 16‑547 to each qualified elector entitled to vote in the election. The envelope in which the ballot is mailed shall be clearly marked with the statement required by the postmaster to receive an address correction and notification. The district governing board shall determine whether the voter or the district governing board will pay for the postage for the return of electors' marked ballots. An elector who votes in a special district mail ballot election shall return the elector's marked ballot to the recorder or other officer in charge of the election or to a designated depository site as provided in section 16‑411 no later than 7:00 p.m. on the day of the election.