5. A real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election.
6. A residential lease, unless the person registered to vote by mail.
7. A university, college, or technical college fee or identification card bearing a photograph of the card holder.
8. A utility bill for the period commencing not earlier than 90 days before election day.
9. A bank statement.
10. A paycheck.
11. A check or other document issued by a unit of government.
The bill provides that a university, college, or technical college fee or identification card which does not contain the address of the student bearing the card may still be considered acceptable proof of residence if the university, college, or technical college that issued the card provides to the municipal clerk before the election a certified and current list of students who reside in housing sponsored by the university, college, or technical college showing the current address of the students and if the poll worker verifies that the student presenting the card is included on the list.
Deadline for Registration
Under current law, registration for any election must close at 5 p.m. on the second Wednesday preceding the election. Registration may be accepted after this deadline if the municipal clerk determines that the registration list can be revised to incorporate the registration in time for the election. A person may also register to vote after the official date for the close of registration. Generally, a person may register late by filing with the municipal clerk a registration form completed by the person and acceptable proof of residence or corroboration of residence by one other elector of the municipality. The registration form must be filed in person no later than 5 p.m. or the close of business, whichever is later, on the day before the election. Unless the clerk determines that the registration list can be updated in time for the election, the municipal clerk must issue to the late-registering person a certificate addressed to the inspectors of the proper ward directing that the elector be permitted to vote. The certificate must be presented by the person to the inspectors when he or she arrives at the polling place.
The bill changes the registration deadline from the 2nd Wednesday preceding the election to the 3rd Wednesday preceding the election. Under the bill, registration after this deadline is limited to persons registering in person in the office of the municipal clerk, persons registering at the polls on election day, and hospitalized persons registering via an agent.
Locations for Voter Registration; "Roving" Special Registration Deputies
Under current law, individuals may register to vote at the office of the municipal clerk, at other locations designated by the clerk, at high schools, and at the register of deeds office. In addition, current law authorizes the municipal clerk and the elections board to appoint special registration deputies for the purpose of registering electors of a municipality anywhere throughout the municipality—the so-called "roving registration deputies". Current law also authorizes the appointment of special registration deputies to assist in registering voters at the polls on election day and requires the appointment of special registration deputies at other locations designated for registration by the municipal clerk.
The bill requires "roving" special registration deputies to be trained and to print and sign their names on all registration forms they accept. In addition, the bill subjects all registration forms accepted by such deputies to a letter or postcard audit by the municipal clerk. Under the bill, the municipal clerk and the elections board must maintain a record of the names and addresses of all individuals appointed by the clerk or board as "roving" special registration deputies.
The bill also creates an exemption from requiring the clerk to appoint special registration deputies for registration locations established by the municipal clerk when the clerk and deputy clerks can sufficiently staff the locations. In addition, the bill eliminates the statutory requirement that registration be available at the office of the register of deeds and instead requires that registration be available at the office of the county clerk.
Prohibition on Certain Payment for Voter Registration
The bill prohibits any person from compensating any person who obtains voter registrations at a rate that varies in relation to the number of voter registrations obtained. Violators are guilty of a misdemeanor and are subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both, for each offense.
Verification of Pre-Election Voter Registration
Under current law, when a municipal clerk receives a voter registration form by mail, the clerk must examine the form for sufficiency. If the form is insufficient to accomplish registration or if the clerk knows or has reliable information that the proposed elector is not qualified, the clerk must notify the proposed elector and request that the elector appear at the clerk's office or other registration center to complete a proper registration or substantiate the information presented. Similarly, if the form is submitted after the close of registration, the clerk must attempt to notify the elector that registration may be completed in the clerk's office or at the polls on election day.
Under current law, if the form is sufficient and the clerk has no reliable information to believe that the proposed elector is not qualified, the clerk must enter the person's name on the registration list and transmit a first class letter or postcard to the registrant identifying the registrant's proper ward or aldermanic district and polling place. If the letter or postcard is returned, the clerk must change the registrant's status to ineligible.
The bill specifies that the clerk must mail the letter or postcard within 10 days of receiving the registration.
Fee for Copy of Registration List
Under current law, the fee for a copy of a public record may not exceed the actual, necessary, and direct cost of reproduction, unless a fee is otherwise specifically established or authorized to be established by law.
The bill directs the elections board to establish a fee for receiving a copy of the statewide voter registration list. The fee must be established by rule after consultation with county and municipal election officials. The amount of the fee must be set to cover the cost of reproduction and the cost of maintaining the list. The rules must also specify how revenues from the fees will be shared between the state and municipalities (or counties if they perform registration functions on behalf of municipalities). The bill also authorizes the board to promulgate emergency rules to be in effect until permanent rules are promulgated.
Same-Day Voter Registration and Double Voting Audits by Elections Board
Under current law, after each election the municipal clerk receives a list of all electors who registered to vote on election day. Upon receipt of the list, the clerk is required to make an audit of all such electors. The audit is to be made by 1st class postcard, which is to be marked in such a way so that it will be returned to the clerk if the elector named on the card does not reside at the address given on the postcard. If the postcard is returned undelivered, the clerk is required to change the status of the elector on the registration list from eligible to ineligible and mail the elector a notice of the change in status and provide the name to the district attorney for the county where the polling place is located. Also under current law, the municipal clerk must determine if any elector appears to have voted more than once and must attempt to contact each such elector.
The bill authorizes the state elections board to perform these audit functions in lieu of the municipal clerk.
Out-of-State Driver's License Holders
This bill provides that whenever an elector registers to vote in the general election after the close of registration, and the elector presents a valid driver's license issued by another state, the registering official must record the license number, issuing state, and expiration date of any license presented. The information would not be available for general public inspection. In addition, the bill requires the elections board, following each general election, to contact the chief election official in each other state that has issued a valid driver's license to an elector presenting that license who voted in the election and to inquire whether the elector had voted in that election in that state.
Currently, there are no such requirements,
Uniform registration forms
Currently, the elections board prescribes the content of registration forms in accordance with statutory requirements. This bill requires the board to create uniform registration forms that must be used throughout the state for purposes of registration.
Requesting an Absentee Ballot by Fax or Email
Under current law, any elector who is unable or unwilling to appear at the polling place in his or her ward on election day may vote by absentee ballot. An elector seeking to vote by absentee ballot must generally make a written application to the municipal clerk. An application may be made by one of the following methods: (1) by mail; (2) in person at the office of the municipal clerk; (3) by signing a statement indicating the elector is indefinitely confined or disabled; (4) by agent when the elector is hospitalized; or (5) by delivering an application to a special voting deputy when the elector is an occupant of a nursing home and similar facilities.
The bill authorizes a registered elector, including a registered "overseas elector", or an elector who qualifies as a "military elector", who is unable or unwilling to appear at the polling place in his or her ward on election day to apply for an absentee ballot by making a written application to the municipal clerk by facsimile transmission (fax) or electronic mail (email). The application must contain a copy of the applicant's original signature. When the absentee ballot is returned, the elector must enclose a copy of the absentee ballot request bearing an original signature of the elector along with the ballot. Ballots cast in contravention of this procedure are not to be counted.
Deadline for Requesting Absentee Ballot by Mail
Under current law, requests for absentee ballots made by an elector by mail must be received by the municipal clerk by 5 p.m. on the Friday preceding the election. The bill changes the deadline for such requests to no later than 5 p.m. on the 5th day immediately preceding the election, except for applications submitted by mail by military electors and indefinitely confined electors. Under the bill, applications by mail from these electors retain the current deadline of 5 p.m. on the Friday before the election.
Absentee Ballots for Military Electors - Permanent Ballots
Under current law, "military electors" are defined to be any of the following:
1. Members of a uniformed service (i.e., the U.S. army, navy, air force, marine corps, or coast guard, the commissioned corps of the federal public health service, or the national oceanic and atmospheric administration).
2. Members of the U.S. merchant marine.
3. Civilian employees of the U.S. and civilians officially attached to a uniformed service who are serving outside the U.S.
4. Peace corps volunteers.
5. Spouses and dependents of the above who reside with or accompany them.
In general, and with some exceptions, a military elector is to vote in the ward or election district for the address of his or her residence prior to becoming a military elector. In general, military electors are not required to register as a prerequisite to voting in any election.
A military elector may request an absentee ballot for any election, or for all elections until the individual otherwise requests or until the person no longer qualifies as a military elector. An absentee ballot application from a military elector may be received at any time. In general, as an alternative to a regular absentee ballot request form, a federal postcard registration and absentee ballot request form may be used to apply for an absentee ballot by a military elector if the municipal clerk can determine that the applicant is qualified to vote in the election district where he or she seeks to vote and that the applicant is qualified to receive an absentee ballot as a military elector.
For military electors who are in the uniformed service and on active duty, members of the merchant marine, and the spouse and dependents of such persons who are absent because of the duty or service of the member, current law also provides that such electors may request an absentee ballot for the next 2 general elections. A municipal clerk must comply with such a request except that no absentee ballot may be sent for a succeeding general election if the elector's name appeared on the registration list for a previous general election and no longer appears on the registration list for the succeeding general election. Further, if the elector's address for the succeeding general election is in a municipality that is different from the municipality in which the elector resided for the first general election, current law requires the clerk to forward the request to the clerk of the municipality where the elector resides.
Currently, a municipal clerk must send a ballot, as soon as available, to each military elector who requests a ballot. However, the clerk may not send a ballot for an election if the application is received later than 5 p.m. on the Friday preceding that election. Whenever absentee ballots are sent to military electors, they must be prepared and mailed to make use of the federal free postage laws.
The bill modifies current law to provide that every request by any military elector must be treated as a request for an absentee ballot for all subsequent elections. Under the bill, if a municipal clerk receives a request for an absentee ballot from a military elector, the municipal clerk must send an absentee ballot to the elector for all elections that occur after the request is received. The bill allows a military elector to provide an alternate address on the absentee ballot application and requires the municipal clerk to send an absentee ballot to that alternate address if a ballot sent to the elector's primary address is returned as undeliverable.
The bill authorizes a municipal clerk to stop sending a ballot to a military elector in the following situations: (1) if 2 successive general elections go by and a military elector fails to return an absentee ballot for any election during that time period; (2) if the clerk is reliably informed that the elector is no longer a military elector or no longer resides in the municipality; (3) if the elector is subject to a registration requirement and his or her name no longer appears on the registration list as an eligible elector; or (4) if the elector so requests. Prior to discontinuing sending ballots to a military elector solely for the failure to return absentee ballots, the municipal clerk must notify the elector by mail that no future ballots will be sent unless the elector renews his or her absentee ballot request within 30 days. The bill also requires the municipal clerk to notify a military elector of any action to discontinue sending ballots to the elector not taken at the elector's request within 5 days of taking that action, if possible.
Late-Arriving Absentee Ballots From Military Electors
Under current law, absentee ballots must be returned to the municipal clerk in time for delivery to the polls before the polls close. Any ballot not delivered by this deadline may not be counted.
The bill provides that a vote cast on a ballot cast by a "military elector", as defined above, that is received by the municipal clerk after the close of the polls may, in some situations, still be counted. Under the bill, a vote cast on a ballot that is received after the polls close is considered a valid ballot if it is received by the clerk by the deadline for requesting a recount for the office for which the vote is cast and if it contains a postal service cancellation mark dated on or before the election day for which the ballot was cast. However, under the bill these ballots will not be counted unless a recount occurs.
Under the bill, a certificate envelope sent to a military elector must be clearly labeled so that when it is returned the clerk will know that it is from a military elector. If a certificate envelope that is returned by a military elector after the polls close but before the deadline for the return of such ballots has an illegible postmark, or no postmark, it is presumed that the envelope was timely mailed, unless established otherwise.
The bill directs the municipal clerk to post in his or her office on election night and on an internet site a statement announcing the number of absentee ballots that have not been returned by military electors by the closing of the polls. However, the posting may not include the names or addresses of any military electors.
Under the bill, if a recount petition is filed, the municipal clerk must immediately notify the appropriate board of canvassers as to the number of absentee ballots that were timely received after the polls closed and whether any absentee ballots that were sent to military electors have not been returned. If there are unreturned ballots at the time a recount petition has been filed, the bill provides that the recount may not proceed until all timely returned ballots are delivered by the clerk or 9 a.m. on the day following the last day for filing a recount petition, whichever occurs first.
As soon as practicable after receiving the last late-arriving ballot but in no case later than 9 a.m. on the day following the last day for filing a recount petition, the clerk must transmit to the appropriate board of canvassers all of the late-arriving ballots of military electors received by the clerk.
When the board of canvassers conducting a recount receives late-arriving absentee ballots cast by military electors, the board must first open and record the names of the military electors whose ballots have been received. If the late-arriving ballot cast by a military elector is otherwise valid, the board of canvassers must count the ballot and adjust the original statements, certifications, and determinations. After doing so, the board of canvassers may begin the recount.
Witness for Absentee Ballots
Under current law, military and overseas voters who cast absentee ballots must have a witness who is an adult U.S. citizen. All other absentee ballots must have a witness, but the age and nationality of the witness is not specified. The bill requires all absentee ballots to be witnessed by an adult U.S. citizen.
Elimination of Prepaid Return Postage and Notice of Hours
Generally, under current law, if the municipal clerk sends an absentee ballot to an elector, the ballot must include sufficient return postage to return the ballot from anywhere within the United States. The bill specifies that if the absentee ballot is mailed from outside the United States, the elector must affix sufficient postage for return of the ballot unless the ballot qualifies for mailing free of postage under federal law. The bill also modifies the notice that a clerk must post to include the hours that an elector can cast an absentee ballot in the clerk's office or an alternate site.
Opening Absentee Ballots in Public
Under current law, absentee ballot envelopes must be opened at the polling place during poll hours and the ballots placed in the ballot box without disclosing how the voter voted. When the envelopes are opened, the inspector is required to publicly announce the names or serial numbers of the absent electors casting the ballots.
The bill adds language to ensure that this opening process is done so that election observers may hear and see the process.
Observation of Absentee Voting in Certain Nursing Homes and Other Facilities
Under current law, there is a separate procedure for absentee voting by residents of nursing homes, and certain community-based residential facilities and retirement homes. If a resident of such a facility requests an absentee ballot, the clerk will arrange a time to send 2 special deputies to the facility to facilitate absentee voting by the residents. The time that the deputies visit the home or facility is not announced prior to the visit.
The bill requires the municipal clerk to maintain a list, available to the public, of all of the facilities where an absentee ballot has been requested and when the special deputies will be visiting the facility. In addition, the clerk must post a notice at the facility indicating when the special deputies will be visiting. The bill also allows one observer from each of the recognized political parties whose candidate for governor or president received the greatest numbers of votes in the municipality at the most recent general election to accompany the deputies to observe the distribution of absentee ballots in the common areas of the facility. The deputies are given the same authority as the chief election inspector to monitor this observer's conduct.
Alternate Absentee Ballot Site
Under current law, persons may apply for and vote an absentee ballot at the municipal clerk's office prior to election day. In addition, absentee ballots that are not voted at the clerk's office are to be returned to the clerk's office in time for delivery to the polls before the polls close on election day.
The bill authorizes the governing body of a municipality (city, village, or town) to establish an alternate absentee ballot voting site in lieu of the municipal clerk's office to facilitate absentee ballot applications, voting of absentee ballots, and the return of absentee ballots prior to the close of the polls. Generally, the decision to move the absentee ballot functions to this alternate site must be made and the location of the alternate location must be established no later than 14 days prior to the time when absentee ballots are available for voting at a primary, if a primary is required (generally 30 days before a September primary and 21 days before other primaries, including the Spring primary) and the site must be used until at least the day after the election following the primary. No absentee ballot functions that are to take place at this alternate site may be conducted at the municipal clerk's office so long as the alternate site is used. The bill requires notice of the alternate site to be prominently displayed in the office of the municipal clerk beginning on the date that the site is selected and continuing during the time that absentee ballots are available and requires a notice of the alternate site to be published in a newspaper along with other absentee ballot information required under current law and on an Internet site if one is maintained by the municipal clerk. The bill requires the alternate site to be staffed by the municipal clerk or by employees of the clerk. The alternate site must be accessible and located as near as practicable to the office of the clerk, but may not be located so as to afford an advantage to any political party. Observation and electioneering laws would apply to alternate locations established under the bill.
Under current law, any member of the public may be present at any polling place for the purpose of observing an election, except a candidate at that election. The chief inspector at the polling place is authorized to "reasonably limit" the number of persons representing the same organization who are permitted to observe an election at the same time. In addition, the chief inspector is authorized to restrict the location of observers to certain areas at a polling place. Such an area is to be clearly designated as an observation area. Observation areas must be positioned to allow observers to readily observe all public aspects of the voting process. The statutes authorize a chief inspector to order the removal from a polling place of any observer who commits an overt act which disrupts the operation of the polling place or who engages in electioneering in violation of the law.
Under the statutes, an observer may not view the confidential portion of a registration list relating to an individual who has obtained a confidential listing based on domestic abuse. However, the poll workers must disclose to an observer, upon request, the existence of such a list, the number of electors whose names appear on the list, and the number of those electors who have voted at any point during the election. In addition, an observer may not view the certificate of an absent elector who has obtained such a confidential listing. Current law prohibits any person from refusing to obey a lawful order of a poll worker made for the purpose of enforcing the election laws; engaging in disorderly behavior at or near a polling place; or interrupting or disturbing the voting or canvassing proceedings. A person violating this prohibition may be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both.
The bill applies the above observation provisions to the municipal clerk's office or an alternate absentee ballot site authorized by the governing body of a municipality on any day that absentee ballots may be cast in that office. However, the observation provisions created by the bill would only apply to offices of municipal clerks that are located in public buildings. Accordingly, these provisions would not apply to clerks whose offices are located in their primary residences. In addition, the prohibition on a "candidate at that election" being an observer is clarified to apply to a candidate whose name appears on the ballot at the polling place or on an absentee ballot to be cast at the clerk's office or alternate site.
Current law prohibits an election official from engaging in "electioneering" on election day. In addition, the law prohibits any person from engaging in "electioneering" during polling hours on any public property on election day within 100 feet of an entrance to a building containing a polling place. This restriction, though, does not apply to the placement of any material on the bumper of a motor vehicle that is located on such property on election day. A municipal clerk, poll worker, or law enforcement officer is authorized to remove posters or other advertising that violates the prohibitions on "electioneering".
The law defines "electioneering" as any activity that is intended to influence voting at an election. Persons who violate the above prohibitions on electioneering may be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both. In addition, any election official who is convicted of violating the electioneering prohibitions is disqualified from acting as an election official for a term of 5 years from the time of the conviction.
The bill extends the prohibitions on electioneering to the municipal clerk's office or an alternate absentee ballot site authorized by the governing body of a municipality during times when absentee voting may be conducted in the office or at the alternate site. Specifically, the bill prohibits the clerk, or an employee of the clerk, from engaging in electioneering activities at those locations during the hours that absentee ballots may be cast. In addition, the bill prohibits any person from engaging in electioneering activities during the hours that absentee ballots may be cast in the municipal clerk's office or at an alternate absentee ballot site on any public property within 100 feet of an entrance to a building that contains the clerk's office or the alternate site. Violations of these provisions are subject to the same penalties as provided under current law for electioneering at a polling place.
Option to Count Absentee Ballots at a Central Location
Currently, each absentee ballot must be received at the polling place serving an elector's residence no later than 8 p.m. on election night for the ballot to be counted. The municipal clerk or board of election commissioners delivers all absentee ballots received by the clerk or board to the appropriate polling places. The inspectors (poll workers) canvass the absentee ballots, together with the other ballots, publicly on election day by marking the names of the absentee electors on the same poll list that is used to mark the names of the electors who vote in person. Any member of the public may observe the proceedings. Any elector may challenge for cause any absentee ballot that the elector knows or suspects is not cast by a qualified elector, whether the absentee ballot is cast in person at the office of a municipal clerk or board of election commissioners or the ballot is received in some other manner. Unless an absentee ballot is challenged or voted provisionally, it is not identifiable once it is counted, except that an absentee ballot may be distinguished from another ballot because it carries the initials of the municipal clerk or executive director of the board of election commissioners or a designated deputy. The inspectors at each polling place announce the results of each election when the canvass is completed on election night. Each municipal canvass must be completed by 2 p.m. on the day after each election, and each county canvass must begin no later than 9 a.m. on the Thursday following an election.
The bill permits the governing body of any municipality, by ordinance, to discontinue the canvassing of absentee ballots at polling places. Before enacting such an ordinance, a municipality must notify and consult with the Elections Board concerning the alternative procedure for canvassing absentee ballots that will be used. Under the bill, if absentee ballots are not canvassed at polling places, a municipal board of absentee ballot canvassers, appointed by the municipal clerk, must publicly convene any time after the polls open and before 10 p.m. on election day for the purpose of counting absentee ballots. To assist the board of absentee ballot canvassers, a municipality that canvasses absentee ballots at a central location may appoint additional inspectors in accordance with the same procedure that is used to appoint inspectors at polling places. Any inspectors so appointed are under the direction and supervision of the board of absentee ballot canvassers. Under the bill, the board of absentee ballot canvassers does not announce the results of its count until the canvass of all absentee ballots is completed. The bill provides for the board of absentee ballot canvassers to conduct a cross-check of absentee ballots for any potential duplication by electors who also cast ballots in person. To accomplish the cross-check, the board of absentee ballot canvassers numbers each absentee ballot as it is counted, and if the elector who casts the ballot also casts a ballot in person, the absentee ballot is not counted. The bill permits any elector to challenge any absentee ballot for cause. The bill extends the time for completion of the municipal canvass by 2 hours but does not extend the time by which the county canvass must begin.
Qualifications of Circulators of Nomination Papers and Petitions
Under current law, each nomination paper and petition for an election must be circulated by a qualified elector of the jurisdiction or district in which the paper or petition is circulated. However, in Frami v. Ponto, 255 F. Supp. 962 (W.D. Wis. 2003), a federal district court ruled that this residency requirement is unconstitutional and prevented the state from enforcing the statutory requirement.
The bill removes the residency requirement by providing that a circulator of a nomination paper or petition must be a qualified elector of this state or a U.S. citizen age 18 or over who, if he or she were a resident of the state, would not be disqualified from voting because he or she is incompetent, a felon whose right to vote has not been restored, or involved in a wager or bet depending upon the result of the election.
Notice of School District Referendum
Currently, proposed constitutional amendments and other measures or questions to be submitted to a vote of the people must be filed with the official or agency responsible for preparing the ballots for the election no later than 42 days prior to the election at which the amendment, measure, or question will appear on the ballot.