REFERENCE TITLE: early ballots; Friday deadline

 

 

 

 

State of Arizona

House of Representatives

Fifty-sixth Legislature

First Regular Session

2023

 

 

 

HB 2096

 

Introduced by

Representative Bliss: Senator Bennett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Act

 

amending sections 16-411, 16-547 and 16-548, Arizona Revised Statutes; amending section 16-550, Arizona Revised Statutes, as amended by Laws 2022, chapter 271, section 2; amending sections 16-551 and 16-563, Arizona Revised Statutes; repealing sections 16-579.01 and 16-579.02, Arizona Revised Statutes; relating to early voting.

 

 

(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:

START_STATUTE16-411. Designation of election precincts and polling places; voting centers; electioneering; wait times

A. The board of supervisors of each county, on or before October 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 as follows:

1. The election precinct boundaries shall be established so as to be 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.

2. If after October 1 of the year preceding the year of a general election the board of supervisors must further adjust precinct boundaries due to the redistricting of election districts as prescribed by law and to comply with this subsection, the board of supervisors shall adjust these precinct boundaries as soon as is practicable.

B. At least 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 early voters pursuant to section 16-544 and who are not expected to have their ballots tabulated at the polling place as prescribed in section 16-579.02 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 after presenting identification as prescribed in section 16-579 and to 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.

5. On a specific resolution of the board of supervisors that is limited to a specific election date and that is voted on by a recorded vote, the board may authorize the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections to use emergency voting centers as follows:

(a) The board shall specify in the resolution the location and the hours of operation of the emergency voting centers.

(b) A qualified elector voting at an emergency voting center shall provide identification as prescribed in section 16-579, except that notwithstanding section 16-579, subsection A, paragraph 2, for any voting at an emergency voting center, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections may allow a qualified elector to update the elector's voter registration information as provided for in the secretary of state's instructions and procedures manual adopted pursuant to section 16-452.

(c) If an emergency voting center established pursuant to this section becomes unavailable and there is not sufficient time for the board of supervisors to convene to approve an alternate location for that emergency voting center, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections may make changes to the approved emergency voting center location and shall notify the public and the board of supervisors regarding that change as soon as practicable. The alternate emergency voting center shall be as close in proximity to the approved emergency voting center location as possible.

C. 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. 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. Except as provided in subsection F 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. 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. 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. 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 does not allow 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 allowed 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. 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. 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 registered voters whose early ballots were tabulated on-site as prescribed in section 16-579.02 in the prior primary and general elections.

5. 4. The number of election board members and clerks and the number of rosters that will reduce voter wait time at the polls. END_STATUTE

Sec. 2. Section 16-547, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE16-547. Ballot affidavit; form

A. The early ballot shall be accompanied by an envelope bearing on the front the name, official title and post office address of the recorder or other officer in charge of elections and on the other side a printed affidavit in substantially the following form:

I declare the following under penalty of perjury: I am a registered voter in ___________ county Arizona, I have not voted and will not vote in this election in any other county or state, I understand that knowingly voting more than once in any election is a class 5 felony and I voted the enclosed ballot and signed this affidavit personally unless noted below.

If the voter was assisted by another person in marking the ballot, complete the following:

I declare the following under penalty of perjury: At the registered voter's request I assisted the voter identified in this affidavit with marking the voter's ballot, I marked the ballot as directly instructed by the voter, I provided the assistance because the voter was physically unable to mark the ballot solely due to illness, injury or physical limitation and I understand that there is no power of attorney for voting and that the voter must be able to make the voter's selection even if they cannot physically mark the ballot.

Name of voter assistant: _____________________________

Address of voter assistant: __________________________

B. The face of each envelope in which a ballot is sent to a federal postcard applicant or in which a ballot is returned by the applicant to the recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall be in the form prescribed in accordance with the uniformed and overseas citizens absentee voting act of 1986 (P.L. 99-410; 52 United States Code section 20301). Otherwise, the envelopes shall be the same as those used to send ballots to, or receive ballots from, other early voters.

C. The officer charged by law with the duty of preparing ballots at any election shall ensure that the early ballot is sent in an envelope that states substantially the following:

If the addressee does not reside at this address, mark the unopened envelope "return to sender" and deposit it in the United States mail.

D. The county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall supply printed instructions to early voters that direct them to sign the affidavit, mark the ballot and return both in the enclosed self-addressed envelope that complies with section 16-545. The instructions shall include the following statement:

Except as otherwise provided by the Uniformed and overseas citizens absentee voting act or Arizona Revised Statutes section 16-549, in order to be valid and counted, the ballot and affidavit must be delivered by mail to the office of the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections or may be deposited at any polling place in the county no not later than 7:00 p.m. on election day or must be delivered in person to the office of the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections or to a polling place or other voting location in the county not later than 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before election day. The ballot will not be counted without the voter's signature on the envelope.

(WARNING It is a felony to offer or receive any compensation for a ballot.) END_STATUTE

Sec. 3. Section 16-548, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE16-548. Preparation and transmission of ballot

A. The early voter shall make and sign the affidavit and shall then mark his the ballot in such a manner that his the early voter's vote cannot be seen. The early voter shall fold the ballot, if a paper ballot, so as to conceal the vote and deposit the voted ballot in the envelope provided for that purpose, which shall be securely sealed and, together with the affidavit, delivered or mailed to received by mail by the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections of the political subdivision in which the elector is registered or deposited by the voter or the voter's agent at any polling place in the county not later than 7:00 p.m. on election day except as otherwise provided by the Uniformed and overseas citizens ABSENTEE voting act (P.L. 99-410; 52 United States code section 20301) or section 16-549 or, in order to be counted and valid, the ballot must be received by the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections or deposited at any polling place on-site or other early voting location that is ESTABLISHED by the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections in the county no not later than 7:00 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before election day.

B. If the early voter is an overseas citizen, a qualified elector absent from the United States or in the United States service, a spouse or dependent residing with the early voter or a qualified elector of a special district mail ballot election as provided in article 8.1 of this chapter, the early voter may subscribe to the affidavit before and obtain the signature and military identification number or passport number, if available, of any person who is a United States citizen eighteen years of age or older. END_STATUTE

Sec. 4. Section 16-550, Arizona Revised Statutes, as amended by Laws 2022, chapter 271, section 2, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE16-550. Receipt of voter's ballot; cure period

A. Except for early ballots tabulated as prescribed in section 16-579.02, On receipt of the envelope containing the early ballot and the ballot affidavit, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall compare the signatures thereon with the signature of the elector on the elector's registration record. If the signature is inconsistent with the elector's signature on the elector's registration record, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall make reasonable efforts to contact the voter, advise the voter of the inconsistent signature and allow the voter to correct or the county to confirm the inconsistent signature. The county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall allow signatures to be corrected not later than the fifth business day after a primary, general or special election that includes a federal office or the third business day after any other election. If the signature is missing, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall make reasonable efforts to contact the elector, advise the elector of the missing signature and allow the elector to add the elector's signature not later than 7:00 p.m. on election day. If satisfied that the signatures correspond, the recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall hold the envelope containing the early ballot and the completed affidavit unopened in accordance with the rules of the secretary of state.

B. The recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall thereafter safely keep the affidavits and early ballots in the recorder's or other officer's office and may deliver them for tallying pursuant to section 16-551. Tallying of ballots may begin immediately after the envelope and completed affidavit are processed pursuant to this section and delivered to the early election board.

C. The county recorder shall send a list of all voters who were issued early ballots to the election board of the precinct in which the voter is registered.

D. This section does not apply to:

1. A special taxing district that is authorized pursuant to section 16-191 to conduct its own elections.

2. A special district mail ballot election that is conducted pursuant to article 8.1 of this chapter. END_STATUTE

Sec. 5. Section 16-551, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE16-551. Early election board; violation; classification

A. The board of supervisors or the governing body of the political subdivision shall appoint one or more early election boards to serve at places to be designated by the board of supervisors or the governing body to canvass and tally early election ballots. Members of early election boards shall be selected in accordance with the provisions for selecting members of regular election boards as provided in section 16-531.

B. If an electronic voting system is in use for early voting, the early election board shall consist of at least one inspector and two judges who shall perform the processing requirements in accordance with the rules issued by the secretary of state. The inspector and judges shall be appointed in the same manner by party as provided in section 16-531.

C. All early ballots received by mail by the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections before 7:00 p.m. on election day and the original affidavit of the voter shall be delivered to the early election boards for processing as provided in the rules of the secretary of state. The office of the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall remain open until 7:00 p.m. on election day for the purpose of receiving mailed early ballots but may not accept early ballots delivered by hand to polling places or other voting locations after 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before election day. Partial or complete tallies of the early election board shall not be released or divulged before all precincts have reported or one hour after the closing of the polls on election day, whichever occurs first. Any person who unlawfully releases information regarding vote tallies or who possesses a tally sheet or summary without authorization from the recorder or officer in charge of elections is guilty of a class 6 felony.

D. If practicable, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall count the number of early ballots that are returned at voting locations by mail on election day and shall post on its website those totals with the last unofficial results that are released on election night pursuant to section 16-622. Beginning with the day following the election, the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall enter into the county's ballot tracking system, if established, early ballots that were returned at the voting location received by mail on election day.

E. The necessary printed blanks for poll lists, tally lists, lists of voters, ballots, oaths and returns, together with envelopes in which to enclose the returns, shall be furnished by the board of supervisors or the governing body of the political subdivision to the early election board for each election precinct at the expense of the county or the political subdivision. END_STATUTE

Sec. 6. Section 16-563, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE16-563. Posting sample ballots, instruction cards and notice to voters before opening polls

Before opening the polls the inspector of elections shall direct the following postings:

1. One of the sample ballots provided for in section 16-510, one of the cards of instructions provided for in section 16-513 and one of the "right to vote a provisional ballot" notices provided for in section 16-513.01 in plain view in the room where the ballots are cast. At least one other sample ballot, card of instruction and "right to vote a provisional ballot" notice shall be posted in a conspicuous place in and around the polling place.

2. Three seventy-five foot limit notices approximately seventy-five feet in different directions from the main outside entrance being used by voters to enter the building in which the election is being held.

3. In each voting booth, a notice to voters provided in section 16-514 at general elections only.

4. Any notices necessary for complying with early ballot on-site tabulation procedures as prescribed in sections 16-579.01 and 16-579.02.END_STATUTE

Sec. 7. Repeal

Sections 16-579.01 and 16-579.02, Arizona Revised Statutes, are repealed.