PRIOR PRINTER'S NO. 1548

PRINTER'S NO.  2170

  

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA

  

SENATE BILL

 

No.

1255

Session of

2011

  

  

INTRODUCED BY ROBBINS, ALLOWAY, BAKER, BOSCOLA, BROWNE, COSTA, ERICKSON, FOLMER, FONTANA, HUGHES, MENSCH, ORIE, PIPPY, RAFFERTY, SCHWANK, SOLOBAY, TOMLINSON, VOGEL, WAUGH, D. WHITE, YUDICHAK, GREENLEAF, TARTAGLIONE, BRUBAKER, FERLO AND FARNESE, SEPTEMBER 20, 2011

  

  

SENATOR MCILHINNEY, STATE GOVERNMENT, AS AMENDED, MAY 8, 2012   

  

  

  

AN ACT

  

1

Amending Title 25 (Elections) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated

2

Statutes, enacting the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters

3

Act.

4

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

5

hereby enacts as follows:

6

Section 1.  Title 25 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated

7

Statutes is amended by adding a chapter to read:

8

CHAPTER 35

9

UNIFORM MILITARY AND OVERSEAS VOTERS

10

Sec.

11

3501.  Short title of chapter.

12

3502.  Definitions.

13

3503.  Duties and responsibilities of secretary.

14

3504.  (Reserved).

15

3505.  Registering to vote.

16

3506.  Methods of applying for military-overseas ballot.

17

3507.  Timeliness and scope of ballot application.

 


1

3508.  Transmission of unvoted ballots.

2

3509.  Timely casting of ballot.

3

3510.  Federal write-in absentee ballot.

4

3511.  Receipt of voted ballot.

5

3512.  Confirmation of receipt of application and voted ballot.

6

3513.  (Reserved).

7

3514.  Election notices.

8

3515.  Prohibition of nonsubstantive requirements.

9

3516.  Equitable relief.

10

3517.  Uniformity of application and construction.

11

3518.  Relation to Electronic Signatures in Global and National

12

Commerce Act.

13

3519.  Construction.

14

§ 3501.  Short title of chapter.

15

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Uniform

16

Military and Overseas Voters Act.

17

§ 3502.  Definitions.

18

The following words and phrases when used in this chapter

19

shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the

20

context clearly indicates otherwise:

21

"Active uniformed-service voter."  A uniformed-service voter

22

who meets all of the following paragraphs:

23

(1)  Is:

24

(i)  a member of the active or reserve components of

25

the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard of

26

the United States; or

27

(ii)  a member of the National Guard or the

28

Pennsylvania National Guard.

29

(2)  Is on active duty.

30

(3)  Maintains a voting residence in this Commonwealth.

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1

(4)  Otherwise satisfies the voter eligibility

2

requirements of the Commonwealth.

3

"County election board."  Officials having jurisdiction over

4

the conduct of elections in a county under the act of June 3,

5

1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), known as the Pennsylvania Election

6

Code.

7

"Covered voter."  All of the following:

8

(1)  A uniformed-service voter who is registered to vote

9

in this Commonwealth.

10

(2)  An overseas voter who is registered to vote in this

11

Commonwealth.

12

(3)  A uniformed-service voter who is not registered to

13

vote in this Commonwealth but who otherwise satisfies the

14

voter eligibility requirements of this Commonwealth.

15

(4)  An overseas voter who is not registered to vote in

16

this Commonwealth but who otherwise satisfies the voter

17

eligibility requirements of this Commonwealth, including

18

residency requirements.

19

"Dependent."  An individual recognized as a dependent by a

20

uniformed service.

21

"Election."  A general election, municipal election, special

22

election or primary election.

23

"Election Code."  The act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320),

24

known as the Pennsylvania Election Code, and the provisions of

25

this title other than this chapter.

26

"Election district."  A district, division or precinct

27

established under the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320),

28

known as the Pennsylvania Election Code, in which all qualified

29

electors are eligible to vote in the same polling place.

30

"Federal postcard application."  The application prescribed

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1

under section 101(b)(2) of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens

2

Absentee Voting Act (Public Law 99-410, 42 U.S.C. § 1973ff(b)

3

(2)). The term includes the application's electronic equivalent.

4

"Federal write-in absentee ballot."  The ballot described in

5

section 103 of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee

6

Voting Act (Public Law 99-410, 42 U.S.C. § 1973ff-2).

7

"FWAB declaration."  The declaration which accompanies the

8

Federal write-in absentee ballot.

9

"General election."  The election which the Constitution of

10

Pennsylvania requires to be held in even-numbered years.

11

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

12

(1)  A Federal write-in absentee ballot.

13

(2)  A ballot specifically prepared or distributed for

14

use by a covered voter in accordance with this chapter.

15

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

16

this chapter.

17

"Municipal election."  The election which the Constitution of

18

Pennsylvania requires to be held in odd-numbered years.

19

"Overseas voter."  A qualified elector who is outside the

20

United States.

21

"Primary election."  An election held for the purpose of

22

nominating candidates for public offices to be voted for at a

23

general election or a municipal election.

24

"Qualified elector."  An individual who:

25

(1)  possesses all of the qualifications for voting

26

prescribed by the Constitution of Pennsylvania and the laws

27

of this Commonwealth; or

28

(2)  being otherwise qualified by continued residence in

29

the individual's election district, obtains qualifications

30

under paragraph (1) before the next ensuing election.

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1

"Secretary."  The Secretary of the Commonwealth.

2

"Special election."  An election authorized by law, other

3

than a general election, a municipal election or a primary

4

election.

5

"State."  A state of the United States, the District of

6

Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands or any territory or

7

insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United

8

States.

9

"State declaration."  The declaration prescribed by the

10

secretary under section 3503(c)(4) (relating to duties and

11

responsibilities of secretary).

12

"Uniformed service."  All of the following:

13

(1)  Active and reserve components of the Army, Navy, Air

14

Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard of the United States.

15

(2)  The United States merchant marine, the Commissioned

16

Corps of the Public Health Service of the Department of

17

Health and Human Services or the Commissioned Corps of the

18

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United

19

States.

20

(3)  The National Guard and the Pennsylvania National

21

Guard.

22

"Uniformed-service voter."  A qualified elector who is one of

23

the following:

24

(1)  A member of the active or reserve components of the

25

Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard of the

26

United States who is on active duty.

27

(2)  A member of the United States merchant marine, the

28

Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service of the

29

Department of Health and Human Services or the Commissioned

30

Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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1

of the United States.

2

(3)  A member on activated status of the National Guard

3

or Pennsylvania National Guard.

4

(4)  A spouse or dependent of an individual referred to

5

in paragraph (1), (2) or (3).

6

(5)  A veteran of a uniformed service who is bedridden or

7

hospitalized due to illness or physical disability.

8

"United States."  When used in the territorial sense, the

9

several states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the

10

Virgin Islands and any territory or insular possession subject

11

to the jurisdiction of the United States.

12

§ 3503.  Duties and responsibilities of secretary.

13

(a)  Responsible official.--The secretary is the official in

14

the Commonwealth responsible for implementing this chapter and

15

the Commonwealth's responsibilities under the Uniformed and

16

Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (Public Law 99-410, 42

17

U.S.C. § 1973ff et seq.).

18

(b)  Information to covered voters.--The secretary shall make

19

available to covered voters information regarding voter

20

registration procedures for covered voters and procedures for

21

casting military-overseas ballots.

22

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

23

following:

24

(1)  Establish an electronic transmission system through

25

which a covered voter may apply for and receive voter

26

registration materials, military-overseas ballots and other

27

information under this chapter.

28

(2)  Develop standardized absentee-voting materials and

29

their electronic equivalents, authentication materials and

30

voting instructions to be used with the military-overseas

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1

ballot of a voter authorized to vote in any jurisdiction in

2

this Commonwealth.

3

(3)  To the extent reasonably possible, coordinate with

4

other states to carry out the provisions of this subsection.

5

(4)  Prescribe the form and content of a declaration for

6

use by a covered voter who does not use the Federal write-in

7

absentee ballot in accordance with the following:

8

(i)  The declaration shall require the covered voter

9

to swear or affirm, under penalty of perjury, specific

10

representations pertaining to the voter's:

11

(A)  identity;

12

(B)  eligibility to vote;

13

(C)  status as a covered voter; and

14

(D)  timely and proper completion of a military-

15

overseas ballot.

16

(ii)  The declaration shall be based on the FWAB

17

declaration, as modified to be consistent with this

18

chapter.

19

(iii)  The secretary shall ensure that a form for the

20

execution of the declaration, including an indication of

21

the date of execution of the declaration, is a prominent

22

part of all balloting materials for which the declaration

23

is required.

24

§ 3504.  (Reserved).

25

§ 3505.  Registering to vote.

26

(a)  General rule.--A covered voter who desires to vote in an

27

election but who is not registered must register to vote within

28

the time periods required by the Election Code. Notwithstanding

29

the provisions of subsection (b)(2) or any other law, neither an

30

active uniformed-service voter nor a veteran of a uniformed

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1

service who is bedridden or hospitalized due to illness or

2

physical disability shall be required to register to vote prior

3

to or simultaneous with the submission of a military-overseas

4

ballot.

5

(b)  Simultaneous registration.--

6

(1)  A covered voter may use the Federal postcard

7

application to register to vote and to apply for a military-

8

overseas ballot at the same time.

9

(2)  A uniformed-service voter may use the Federal write-

10

in absentee ballot to register to vote and to vote at the

11

same time.

12

(3)  The use of the Federal postcard application under

13

paragraph (1) and the Federal write-in absentee ballot under

14

paragraph (2) to register to vote is in addition to any other

15

registration method allowed by law.

16

(c)  Electronic transmission system.--The secretary shall

17

ensure that the electronic transmission system described in

18

section 3503(c) (relating to duties and responsibilities of

19

secretary) is capable of accepting a Federal postcard

20

application and any other approved electronic registration

21

application sent to the appropriate county election board. The

22

voter may use the electronic transmission system or any other

23

approved method to register to vote.

24

(d)  Construction.--Nothing in this section shall require a

25

covered voter to register to vote, prior to or concurrently with

26

voting, if the covered voter is otherwise entitled under

27

applicable provisions of the Election Code or any other statute

28

to vote without registering.

29

§ 3506.  Methods of applying for military-overseas ballot.

30

(a)  Registered voters.--A covered voter who is registered to

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1

vote in this Commonwealth may apply for a military-overseas

2

ballot using either the absentee ballot application provided

3

under the Election Code or the Federal postcard application.

4

(b)  Nonregistered voters.--A covered voter who is not

5

registered to vote in this Commonwealth may use a Federal

6

postcard application to simultaneously register to vote under

7

section 3505 (relating to registering to vote) and to apply for

8

a military-overseas ballot.

9

(c)  Electronic transmission system.--

10

(1)  The secretary shall ensure that the electronic

11

transmission system described in section 3503(c) (relating to

12

duties and responsibilities of secretary) is capable of

13

accepting the submission of both a Federal postcard

14

application and any other approved electronic

15

military-overseas ballot application sent to the appropriate

16

county election board.

17

(2)  The covered voter may use the electronic

18

transmission system or any other approved method to apply for

19

a military-overseas ballot.

20

(d)  Use of Federal write-in absentee ballot.--A

21

uniformed-service voter may use the Federal write-in absentee

22

ballot to apply for a military-overseas ballot and to vote at

23

the same time.

24

(e)  Status of a covered voter.--To receive the benefits of

25

this chapter, a covered voter must inform the appropriate county

26

election board that the voter is a covered voter. Methods of

27

informing the appropriate county election board that a voter is

28

a covered voter include all of the following:

29

(1)  The use of a Federal postcard application or Federal

30

write-in absentee ballot.

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1

(2)  The use of an overseas address on an approved voter

2

registration application or ballot application.

3

(3)  The inclusion on an approved voter registration

4

application or ballot application of other information

5

sufficient to identify the voter as a covered voter.

6

(f)  Construction.--Nothing in this chapter shall preclude a

7

covered voter from voting absentee under applicable provisions

8

of the Election Code.

9

§ 3507.  Timeliness and scope of ballot application.

10

(a)  General rule.--A covered voter may apply at any time

11

before an election for a military-overseas ballot.

12

(b)  Standing request.--

13

(1)  An application for a military-overseas ballot for a

14

primary election shall be considered a standing request for a

15

military-overseas ballot for a special election, a general

16

election or a municipal election, occurring subsequent to the

17

primary election in the same calendar year.

18

(2)  A county election board shall provide a military-

19

overseas ballot to a voter who makes a standing request for

20

each election to which the request is applicable.

21

(c)  E-mail address information.--

22

(1)  A county election board shall provide an opportunity

23

for each covered voter who registers to vote after the

24

effective date of this section to furnish the county election

25

board with an e-mail address, unless the information has

26

already been provided by the covered voter. A separate

27

mailing shall not be required for the county election board

28

to comply with this paragraph. Any contact the county

29

election board has with a covered voter who registers to vote

30

after the effective date of this section in which the voter's

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1

e-mail address is requested is sufficient.

2

(2)  An e-mail address provided by a covered voter may

3

not be made available to the public or any individual or

4

organization other than an authorized agent of the county

5

election board and shall be exempt from disclosure under the

6

act of February 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the Right-

7

to-Know Law.

8

(3)  The e-mail address may be used only for official

9

communication with the voter about the voting process,

10

including transmitting military-overseas ballots and ballot

11

materials, if the voter has requested electronic

12

transmission, and verifying the voter's mailing address and

13

physical location.

14

(4)  A special request for an e-mail address shall

15

describe the purposes for which the e-mail address may be

16

used and include a statement that any other use or disclosure

17

of the e-mail address is prohibited.

18

§ 3508.  Transmission of unvoted ballots.

19

(a)  General rule.--Subject to subsection (b), for an

20

election for which the Commonwealth has not received a waiver

21

under section 102(g)(2) of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens

22

Absentee Voting Act (Public Law 99-410, 42 U.S.C. § 1973ff-1(g)

23

(2)), the following apply:

24

(1)  Except as set forth in paragraph (2), not later than

25

45 days before the election, the county election board in

26

each jurisdiction participating in the election shall

27

transmit a ballot and balloting materials to all covered

28

voters who by that date submit a valid military-overseas

29

ballot application. Notwithstanding 1 Pa.C.S. § 1908

30

(relating to computation of time), if the 45th day before the

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1

election is a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, the ballot and

2

materials shall be transmitted not later than the business

3

day preceding the 45th day.

4

(2)  If the calling of a special election would make it

5

impossible to comply with paragraph (1), the county election

6

board shall transmit the ballot and balloting materials

7

within five days following receipt of the county election

8

board's receipt of the information necessary to prepare the

9

ballots and materials.

10

(b)  Covered voters in extremely remote or isolated areas.--

11

(1)  Except as set forth in paragraph (2), not later than

12

50 days before a primary election and not later than 70 days

13

before a general election or a municipal election, the county

14

election board in each jurisdiction participating in the

15

election shall transmit a ballot and balloting materials to

16

all covered voters in extremely remote or isolated areas, as

17

those terms are defined or used by the Department of Defense,

18

who by that date submit a valid military-overseas ballot

19

application. Notwithstanding 1 Pa.C.S. § 1908, if the 50th

20

day or the 70th day preceding the applicable election is a

21

weekend or holiday, ballots and materials shall be

22

transmitted not later than the business day preceding the

23

50th or 70th day, respectively.

24

(2)  If the calling of a special election would make it

25

impossible to comply with paragraph (1), the county election

26

board shall transmit the ballot and balloting materials

27

within five days following receipt of the county election

28

board's receipt of the information necessary to prepare the

29

ballots and materials.

30

(c)  Method of transmission.--A covered voter may request

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1

that a ballot and balloting materials be sent to the voter by

2

mail or by Internet delivery. The county election board shall

3

transmit the ballot and balloting materials to the voter using

4

the means of transmission chosen by the voter.

5

(d)  Receipt of additional applications.--If a ballot

6

application from a covered voter arrives after the county

7

election board begins transmitting ballots and balloting

8

materials to voters, the county election board shall transmit a

9

ballot and ballot materials to the voter not later than 48 hours

10

after the application is received.

11

§ 3509.  Timely casting of ballot.

12

To be valid:

13

(1)  a military-overseas ballot must be received by the

14

appropriate county election board not later than the close of

15

the polls; or

16

(2)  the voter must submit the ballot for mailing or

17

other authorized means of delivery not later than 11:59 p.m.

18

at the place where the voter completes the ballot on the date

19

immediately preceding the date of the election.

20

§ 3510.  Federal write-in absentee ballot.

21

A covered voter may use a Federal write-in absentee ballot to

22

vote for all offices and ballot measures in an election.

23

§ 3511.  Receipt of voted ballot.

24

(a)  Delivery governs.--A valid military-overseas ballot cast

25

under section 3509 (relating to timely casting of ballot) shall

26

be counted if it is delivered by 5 p.m. on the seventh day

27

following the election to the address that the appropriate

28

county election board has specified.

29

(b)  Rule regarding postmarks.--If, at the time of completing

30

a military-overseas ballot and balloting materials, the voter

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1

has declared under penalty of perjury that the ballot was timely

2

submitted, the ballot may not be rejected on the basis that it

3

has a late postmark, an unreadable postmark or no postmark.

4

§ 3512.  Confirmation of receipt of application and voted

5

ballot.

6

The secretary, in coordination with county election boards,

7

shall implement an electronic free-access system by which a

8

covered voter may determine by telephone, e-mail or Internet

9

website whether:

10

(1)  the voter's Federal postcard application or other

11

registration or military-overseas ballot application has been

12

received and accepted; and

13

(2)  the voter's military-overseas ballot has been

14

received and the current status of the ballot.

15

§ 3513.  (Reserved).

16

§ 3514.  Election notices.

17

(a)  Preparation of notice.--At least 90 days before an

18

election other than a special election and as soon as

19

practicable before a special election, the county election board

20

in each jurisdiction participating in the election shall prepare

21

an election notice for that jurisdiction to be used in

22

conjunction with a Federal write-in absentee ballot. The

23

election notice shall contain all of the following:

24

(1)  A list of all of the ballot measures and Federal,

25

Commonwealth and local offices which, as of the date of the

26

notice, the county election board expects to be on the ballot

27

on the date of the election.

28

(2)  Specific instructions for how a covered voter is to

29

indicate on the Federal write-in absentee ballot the voter's

30

choice for each office to be filled and for each ballot

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1

measure to be contested.

2

(b)  Request for notice.--A covered voter may request a copy

3

of an election notice prepared under subsection (a). The county

4

election board shall send the notice to the covered voter by

5

facsimile, e-mail, over the Internet or by regular mail, as the

6

voter requests.

7

(c)  Updated notices.--The county election board shall update

8

the notice prepared under subsection (a) with the names of the

9

candidates for each office and the specific information about

10

ballot questions, promptly upon becoming aware of the existence

11

of the candidates and ballot questions, and shall make the

12

updated notice publicly available.

13

(d)  Availability of notice.--A county election board that

14

maintains a publicly accessible Internet website shall make the

15

election notice prepared under subsection (a) and updated

16

versions of the election notice available on the Internet

17

website.

18

§ 3515.  Prohibition of nonsubstantive requirements.

19

(a)  Mistake, omission or failure to satisfy.--None of the

20

following shall invalidate a document submitted under this

21

chapter:

22

(1)  A voter's mistake or omission in the completion of a

23

document under this chapter as long as the mistake or

24

omission does not prevent determining whether a covered voter

25

is eligible to vote.

26

(2)  Failure to satisfy a nonsubstantive requirement,

27

such as using paper or envelopes of a specified size or

28

weight.

29

(b)  Write-in ballots.--In a write-in ballot authorized by

30

this chapter or in a vote for a write-in candidate on a regular

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1

ballot used by a covered voter, if the intention of the voter is

2

discernable under the standards that define what constitutes a

3

valid vote developed pursuant to section 204(h) of the act of

4

June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), known as the Pennsylvania

5

Election Code, an abbreviation, misspelling or other minor

6

variation in the form of the name of a candidate or a political

7

party shall be accepted as a valid vote.

8

(c)  Notarization.--Notarization is not required for the

9

execution of a document to be submitted under this chapter. An

10

authentication, other than the state declaration or the FWAB

11

declaration, is not required for execution of a document under

12

this chapter. The state declaration and FWAB declaration, and

13

any information in either declaration, may be compared with

14

information on file to ascertain the validity of the document.

15

§ 3516.  Equitable relief.

16

A court may issue an injunction or grant equitable relief

17

appropriate to ensure substantial compliance with, or enforce,

18

this chapter on application by any of the following:

19

(1)  A covered voter alleging a grievance under this

20

chapter.

21

(2)  An authorized officer or agent of a county election

22

board.

23

§ 3517.  Uniformity of application and construction.

24

In applying and construing this chapter, consideration shall

25

be given to the need to promote uniformity of the law with

26

respect to its subject matter among states that enact it.

27

§ 3518.  Relation to Electronic Signatures in Global and

28

National Commerce Act.

29

To the extent permitted by section 102 of the Electronic

30

Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (Public Law

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1

106-229, 15 U.S.C. § 7002), this chapter may modify or supersede

2

provisions of that act.

3

§ 3519.  Construction.

4

This chapter is intended to be read in concert with the

5

Election Code. Unless otherwise specifically provided in this

6

chapter, if any provision of this chapter is inconsistent with a

7

provision of the Election Code, the provisions of this chapter

8

shall prevail.

9

Section 2.  This act shall apply to elections which occur

<--

10

after January 1, 2013.

11

Section 2.  This act shall apply as follows:

<--

12

(1)  Except as provided in paragraph (2), this act shall

13

apply to elections which occur after January 1, 2013.

14

(2)  The addition of 25 Pa.C.S. § 3514 shall apply to

15

elections following a date to be determined by the Department

16

of State. Once determined, the department shall publish such

17

date in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and post it on the

18

department's publicly accessible Internet website.

19

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

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