PRINTER'S NO. 1389

VOTEALLEGHENY PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO SENATE BILL OR TEMPLATE FOR HOUSE BILL

PRINTER'S NO. 1204

 

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA

SENATE BILL

No. 1052
Session of 2015

 

INTRODUCED BY INTRODUCED BY STEFANO, GORDNER, MENSCH, PILEGGI, EICHELBERGER,
GREENLEAF, VOGEL, BAKER, WARD, HUTCHINSON, RAFFERTY,
VULAKOVICH, BARTOLOTTA, COSTA, SCHWANK, DINNIMAN, YUDICHAK,
FONTANA, TARTAGLIONE, FARNESE, TEPLITZ AND SABATINA,
NOVEMBER 10, 2015

 

SENATOR SMUCKER, STATE GOVERNMENT, AS AMENDED, JUNE 11, 2013

 

AN ACT

Amending Title 25 (Elections) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in uniform military and overseas voters, further providing for definitions, for duties and responsibilities of secretary and for registering to vote.

 

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:

 

Section 1. The definition of "military-overseas ballot" in section 3502 of Title 25 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, added October 24, 2012 (P.L.1490, No.189), is amended and the section is amended by adding a definition to read:

 

§ 3502. Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

* * *

"Electronic ballot." A vote cast and transmitted through electronic means which include, but are not limited to, e-mail or facsimile.

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"Military-overseas ballot." All of the following:

(1) A Federal write-in absentee ballot.

(2) A ballot specifically prepared or distributed for use by a covered voter in accordance with this chapter.

(3) A ballot cast by a covered voter in accordance with this chapter.

(4) An electronic ballot.

 

         "Covered voter" means:

(a)     A uniformed-service voter or an overseas voter who is registered to vote in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;

(b)     A uniformed-service voter defined in subsection (9)(a) of this section whose voting residence is in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and who otherwise satisfies the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s voter eligibility requirements;

(c)     An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, was last eligible to vote in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and, except for his or her absence from the state, otherwise satisfies the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s voter eligibility requirements;

(d)     An overseas voter who, before leaving the United States, would have been last eligible to vote in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had the voter then been of voting age and, except for his or her absence from the state, otherwise satisfies the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's voter eligibility requirements; or

(e)     An overseas voter who was born outside the United States, is not described in paragraph (c) or (d) of this subsection, and, except for his or her absence from the state, otherwise satisfies the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's voter eligibility requirements, if:

1.      The last place where a parent or legal guardian of the voter was, or under this chapter would have been, eligible to vote before leaving the United States is within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and

2.      The voter has not previously registered to vote in any other state;

 

         "Dependent" means an individual recognized as a dependent by a uniformed service;

 

         "Federal postcard application" means the application prescribed under Section 101(b)(2) of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C. sec. 1973ff(b)(2);

 

         "Federal write-in absentee ballot" means the ballot described in Section 103 of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C. sec. 1973ff-2;

 

         "Military-overseas ballot" means:

(a)     A federal write-in absentee ballot;

(b)     A ballot specifically prepared or distributed for use by a covered voter in accordance with this chapter; or

(c)     A ballot cast by a covered voter in accordance with this chapter;

 

         "Overseas voter" means a United States citizen who is outside the United States;

 

         "State" means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States;

 

         "Uniformed service" means:

(a)     Active and reserve components of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard of the United States;

(b)     The Merchant Marine, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, or the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States; or

(c)     The National Guard and state militia;

 

         "Uniformed-service voter" means an individual who is qualified to vote and is:

(a)     A member of the active or reserve components of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard of the United States who is on active duty;

(b)     A member of the Merchant Marine, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, or the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States;

(c)     A member on activated status of the National Guard or state militia; or

(d)     A spouse or dependent of a member referred to in this subsection; and

 

         "United States," used in the territorial sense, means the several states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

 

* * *

Section 2. Sections 3503(c) and 3505(c) of Title 25, added October 24, 2012 (P.L.1490, No.189), are amended to read:

 

§ 3503. Duties and responsibilities of secretary.

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(c) Other duties.--The secretary shall do all of the following:

(1) Establish an electronic transmission system through which a covered voter may apply for and receive voter registration materials, military-overseas ballots and other information under this chapter.

 

(2) Develop standardized absentee-voting materials and their electronic equivalents, authentication materials and voting instructions to be used with the military-overseas ballot of a voter authorized to vote in any jurisdiction in this Commonwealth.

(3) To the extent reasonably possible, coordinate with other states to carry out the provisions of this subsection.

(4) Prescribe the form and content of a declaration for use by a covered voter who does not use the Federal write-in absentee ballot in accordance with the following:

 (i) The declaration shall require the covered voter to swear or affirm, under penalty of perjury, specific representations pertaining to the voter's:

(A) identity;

(B) eligibility to vote;

(C) status as a covered voter; and

(D) timely and proper completion of a militaryoverseas ballot.

(ii) The declaration shall be based on the FWAB declaration, as modified to be consistent with this chapter.

(iii) The secretary shall ensure that a form for the execution of the declaration, including an indication of the date of execution of the declaration, is a prominent part of all balloting materials for which the declaration is required.

(5) Establish an electronic transmission system in which a covered voter under this chapter may cast an electronic vote. The electronic transmission system shall be operational by January 1, 2017. 

Implement Title 25, Chapter 35, Section 3505. 

(i)            The Secretary of State is the state official responsible for implementing this chapter and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s responsibilities under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C. sec. 1973ff et seq.

(ii)           The Secretary of State may delegate to the State Board of Elections responsibilities under this chapter, including but not limited to the promulgation of administrative regulations necessary to implement this chapter.

(iii)         The Secretary of State shall make available to covered voters information regarding voter registration procedures for covered voters and procedures for casting military-overseas ballots.

(iv)          The Secretary of State shall establish an electronic transmission system through which a covered voter may apply for and receive voter registration materials, military-overseas ballots, and other information authorized under this chapter.

(v)           The Secretary of State shall:

(vi)          Develop standardized absentee-voting materials, including privacy and transmission envelopes and their electronic equivalents, authentication materials, and voting instructions, to be used with the military-overseas ballot of a voter authorized to vote in any jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and

(vii)         To the extent reasonably possible, coordinate with other states to carry out this section.

(viii)       The Secretary of State shall prescribe the form and content of a declaration for use by a covered voter to swear or affirm specific representations pertaining to the voter’s identity, eligibility to vote, status as a covered voter, and timely and proper completion of a military-overseas ballot. The declaration shall be based on the declaration prescribed to accompany a federal write-in absentee ballot, as modified to be consistent with this chapter. The Secretary of State shall ensure that a form for the execution of the declaration, including an indication of the date of execution of the declaration, is a prominent part of all balloting materials for which the declaration is required.

 

 

 

 

§ 3505. Registering to vote.

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(c) Electronic transmission system.--The secretary shall ensure that the electronic transmission system described in section 3503(c) (relating to duties and responsibilities of secretary) is capable of accepting a Federal postcard application, military-overseas ballot and any other approved electronic registration application sent to the appropriate county election board. The voter may use the electronic transmission system or any other approved method to register to vote detailed hereunder.

 

(i)       Application of the Voting Procedures in this Chapter.

 

The voting procedures in this chapter apply to:

 

(a)       A primary, regular, or special election for federal office;

 

(b)       A primary, regular, or special election for statewide or state office or concerning a state ballot measure; and

 

(c)       A primary, regular, or special election for county or local government office, judicial office, property valuation administrator, school board members, and circuit clerk or concerning a local ballot measure for which in-person or mail-in absentee voting is available for other qualified voters.

 

(ii)     Address for which to Register to Vote.

 

(a)       In registering to vote, an overseas voter who is eligible to vote in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shall use and shall be assigned to the voting precinct of the address of the last place of residence of the voter in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or, in the case of a voter described by subsection (1)(e) of Section 2 of this Act, the address of the last place of residence in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of the parent or legal guardian of the voter. If that address is no longer a recognized residential address, the voter shall be assigned an address for voting purposes.

 

(b)       The Secretary of State shall promulgate administrative regulations covering the procedures for assigning an address for voting purposes for an overseas voter whose last place of residence is no longer a recognized residential address, provided that any regulations promulgated under this section shall specify that the overseas voter's assigned address shall be located in the same voting precinct as the overseas voter's last place of residence would have been located if the address were still a recognized residential address.

 

(iii)    Applying to Register to Vote.

 

(a)       To apply to register to vote, in addition to any other approved method, a covered voter may use a federal postcard application, or the application’s electronic equivalent.

 

(b)       A covered voter may use the declaration accompanying a federal write-in absentee ballot to apply to register to vote simultaneously with the submission of the federal write-in absentee ballot, if the declaration is received during the period registration is open. If the declaration is received after the last day of registration, it shall be treated as an application to register to vote for subsequent elections.

 

(c)       The Secretary of State shall ensure that the electronic transmission system described in this Act is capable of accepting both a federal postcard application and any other approved electronic registration application sent to the appropriate election official. The voter may use the electronic transmission system or any other approved method to register to vote.

 

(iv)     Choice of Ballot Format.

 

(a)       A covered voter who is registered to vote in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may apply for a military-overseas ballot using either the regular absentee ballot application in use in the voter’s jurisdiction or the federal postcard application or the application’s electronic equivalent.

 

(b)       A covered voter who is not registered to vote in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may use a federal postcard application or the application’s electronic equivalent to apply simultaneously to register to vote under paragraph (ii) above and for a military-overseas ballot.

 

(c)       The Secretary of State shall ensure that the electronic transmission system described in this Act is capable of accepting the submission of both a federal postcard application and any other approved electronic military-overseas ballot application sent to the appropriate election official. The covered voter may use the electronic transmission system or any other approved method to apply for a military-overseas ballot.

 

[(d)     A covered voter may use the declaration accompanying a federal write-in absentee ballot as an application for a military-overseas ballot simultaneously with the submission of the federal write-in absentee ballot, if the declaration is received by the appropriate elections official by the close of business hours seven (7) days before the election.]

 

(e)       To receive the benefits of this chapter, a covered voter shall inform the appropriate election official that the voter is a covered voter. Methods of informing the appropriate election official that a voter is a covered voter include:

 

(i)        The use of a federal postcard application or federal write-in absentee ballot; and

 

(ii)       The use of the electronic transmission system established under this Act.

 

(iii)     This chapter does not preclude a covered voter from voting using the regular absentee ballot provisions hereunder.

 

(v)         Timeliness.

 

An application for a military-overseas ballot is timely if received by the close of business hours seven (7) days before the election. An application for a military-overseas ballot for a primary, whether or not timely, is effective as an application for a military-overseas ballot for the regular election.

 

(a)       For an election described in paragraph (i) above, not later than forty-five (45) days before the election or, if the forty-fifth day before the election is a weekend or holiday, not later than the business day preceding the forty-fifth day, the election official in each jurisdiction charged with distributing a ballot and balloting materials shall transmit a ballot and balloting materials to all covered voters who by that date submit a valid military-overseas ballot application.

 

(b)       A covered voter who requests that a ballot and balloting materials be sent to the voter by electronic transmission may choose facsimile transmission or the electronic transmission system established under this Act. The election official in each jurisdiction charged with distributing a ballot and balloting materials shall transmit the ballot and balloting materials to the voter using the means of transmission chosen by the voter.

 

(c)       If a ballot application from a covered voter arrives fewer than forty-five (45) days before the election, the official charged with distributing a ballot and balloting materials shall transmit them to the voter not later than three (3) business days after the application arrives.

 

 (vi)      Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot Use.

 

A covered voter may use a federal write-in absentee ballot to vote for all offices and ballot measures in an election described in Paragraph (i) of this Section.

 

(vii)      Validity.

 

A valid military-overseas ballot cast in accordance with Paragraph (v) of this Section shall be counted if it is received by the appropriate local election official not later than the time established by the election laws generally for the closing of the polls, which time shall not include the extra hour during which those voters may vote who were waiting in line to vote at the scheduled poll closing time, and the ballot may not be rejected on the basis that it has a late postmark, an unreadable postmark, or no postmark.

 

(viii)     Validity.

 

A military-overseas ballot shall include or be accompanied by a declaration signed by the voter that a material misstatement of fact in completing the ballot may be grounds for a conviction of perjury under the laws of the United States or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

 

(ix)       Electronic Free-Access System.

 

The Secretary of State, in coordination with local election officials, shall implement an electronic free-access system by which a covered voter may determine by telephone, electronic mail, or Internet whether:

 

(a)       The voter’s federal postcard application or other registration or military-overseas ballot application has been received and accepted; and

 

(b)       The voter’s military-overseas ballot has been received.

 

 

(x)        Email.

 

 (a)      The local election official shall request an electronic mail address from each covered voter who applies to register to vote after the effective date of this Act. An electronic mail address provided by any voter may not be made available to the public or any individual or organization other than an authorized agent of the local election official and is exempt from disclosure under the Pennsylvania’s New Right to Know Law (Act 3 or 2008). The address may be used only for official communication with the voter about the voting process, including transmitting military-overseas ballots and election materials if the voter has requested electronic transmission, and verifying the voter’s mailing address and physical location. The request for an electronic mail address shall describe the purposes for which the electronic mail address may be used and include a statement that any other use or disclosure of the electronic mail address is prohibited.

 

(b)       A covered voter who provides an electronic mail address may request that the voter’s application for a military-overseas ballot be considered a standing request for electronic delivery of a ballot for all elections held after the date of the application through the next regular election or December 31 of the year of the application, whichever is later, or another shorter period the voter specifies. An election official shall provide a military-overseas ballot to a voter who makes a standing request for each election to which the request is applicable. A covered voter who is entitled to receive a military-overseas ballot for a primary under this subsection is entitled to receive a military-overseas ballot for the regular election.

 

(xi)       Sample Ballot.

 

 (a)      At least fifty (50) days before a regularly scheduled election and forty-five (45) days before an election not regularly scheduled, an official in each jurisdiction charged with printing and distributing ballots and balloting material shall make available a sample ballot that includes all of the ballot measures and federal, state, and local offices provided in Paragraph (i) above that will be on the ballot on the date of the election, and shall provide an electronic copy of the sample ballot to the Secretary of State.

 

(b)       The Secretary of State and any local election jurisdiction that maintains an Internet Web site shall make the sample ballot required under subsection (1) of this section available on their Web sites.

 

(c)       A covered voter may request a copy of a sample ballot from either the Secretary of State or the local election official, who shall send the sample ballot to the voter by facsimile, electronic mail, or regular mail, as the voter requests, and shall make the various sample ballots individually accessible through a website.

 

(xii)      Voter Errors; Declarations.

 

(a)       If a voter’s mistake or omission in the completion of a document under this chapter does not prevent determining whether a covered voter is eligible to vote, the mistake or omission does not invalidate the document. Failure to satisfy a nonsubstantive requirement, such as using paper or envelopes of a specified size or weight, does not invalidate a document submitted under this chapter. In a write-in ballot authorized by this chapter or in a vote for a write-in candidate on a regular ballot, if the intention of the voter is discernible, an abbreviation, misspelling, or other minor variation in the form of the name of a candidate or a political party shall be accepted as a valid vote.

 

(b)       Notarization is not required for the execution of a document under this chapter. An authentication, other than the declaration specified in this Act or the declaration on the federal postcard application and federal write-in absentee ballot, is not required for execution of a document under this chapter. The declaration and any information in the declaration may be compared with information on file to ascertain the validity of the document.

 

(xiii)    Court Action.

 

A court may issue an injunction or grant other equitable relief appropriate to ensure substantial compliance with, or enforce, this chapter on application by:

 

(a)      A covered voter alleging a grievance under this chapter; or

 

(b)      An election official in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

 

(xiv)     Construction.

 

In applying and construing this uniform act, consideration shall be given to the need to promote uniformity of the law with respect to its subject matter among states that enact it.

 

(xv)      Electronic Signature.

 

To the extent permitted by Section 102 of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, Public Law 106-229, 15 U.S.C. sec. 7002, this chapter may modify or supersede provisions of that act.

 

(xvi)     Casting the Vote.

 

A resident of Pennsylvania who is aCovered Voter as defined hereunder who has received an absentee ballot transmitted by facsimile machine or by means of the electronic transmission system established hereunder shall transmit the voted ballot to the local elections official by mail only, conforming with ballot security requirements that may be promulgated by the Commonwealth.

 

 

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Section 3. This act shall take effect in 60 days.