BILL ANALYSIS C.S.H.B. 2241 By: Danburg 05-01-95 Committee Report (Substituted) BACKGROUND Current law requires the paper original of all voter registration information to be retained. Recent advances in technology make this an outdated requirement. New technology allows for space and cost reductions relative to records retention without loss of historical information. Current law states that when a potential candidate wishes to have their name placed on a ballot that that person must pay a filing fee or collect a certain number of petition signatures. Some potential candidates find the form for an application for a place on the ballot or a petition filed in connection with an election to be ambiguous. Currently a county election officer/administrator may not be personally compensated for election services performed under an election services contract. They may, however, charge a fee for general supervision of up to 5% of the total amount of the contract. Any election requires a minimal amount of work at the outset, including time to do layouts, printing, coordination and preparation of supplies and forms, etc. This amount is inadequate to cover actual costs to the state or county. Current law allows commissioner's courts to appoint alternate judges without any guidelines. Typically, the alternate judge that is selected is of the same party affiliation as the judge. During previous legislative sessions, the Legislature imposed a requirement to recount electronic voting system ballots manually to verify the system's accuracy. This can be done in a more timely manner by determining select races or ballot propositions to target for a recount. Currently in the code, there is no cut-off period for ending the manual recount process, so technically it could go on forever. There is the technical definition of a day which coincides with a 24 hour time period and an election day definition that more appropriately corresponds to the period when the polls are open. Affiliation with a party is registered by one's election day activity by the close of polls, but the day is not legally concluded until twelve midnight. To make the Election Code definition of a day coincide with the intended affiliation criteria, it is necessary to eliminate the 5 hour gap between the time the polls close and when a day technically ends. The expense of a run-off election for a county and/or precinct chairman race is hard to justify if another method of settling the contest can be implemented. In some cases, an undeclared write-in candidate (for either precinct or county chairman) that technically is the top vote getter may not wish to accept the position for various reasons, yet they presently have no say in the matter. PURPOSE This legislation is intended to give the repository of voter registration applications a compact and reliable medium for storing them while being able to retrieve and reconstruct the records in as expeditious and accurate a manner as possible. As proposed, CSHB 2241 makes the forms that the Secretary of State prescribes to be furnished to potential candidates contain certain information that would clarify some of the ambiguity. CSHB 2241 would allow compensation up to 10% and a minimum fee of $75.00 for any election. As proposed, CSHB 2241 would direct the commissioners court to appoint both a judge and alternate judge for each election precinct with the proviso that where possible when a Democrat is judge, a Republican be alternate judge and vice versa. CSHB 2241 provides a more timely, less comprehensive yet equally as effective method for validating the results of an electronic voting system by restricting ballot races and propositions being manually recounted to a maximum of three each for the three precincts to be designated by the Secretary of State. Provisions for notification of and observer participation in, along with a recount cut-off point, are clearly specified. CSHB 2241 is intended to remove the ambiguity about political party affiliation by making the conclusion of the general primary election day coincide with the close of the polls after 7 p.m. CSHB 2241 permits the state executive committee to provide for the election of county and precinct chair by a plurality vote. This would allow the state party to cut election costs by eliminating run-offs for party offices. Write-in candidate either for county or precinct chair who receive the votes required for election must file a written declaration of acceptance of the office with the county executive committee not later than the third day after the date of the local canvass. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the Committee's opinion that CSHB 2241 expressly grants rulemaking authority to the Secretary of State in SECTION 2 (Section 13.104 of the Election Code) of the substitute. SECTION 24 of the substitute (Section 127.201 of the Election Code) requires the Secretary of State to designate offices and propositions to be counted in relation to the partial count of electronic voting system ballots. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Section 1.012 (c) to conform the cite to the Open Records Act in the Government Code. SECTION 2. Amends Subchapter D, Chapter 13, Election Code, by adding Section 13.104 OPTICAL STORAGE METHOD. which: (a) allows the voter registrar to store voter registration documentation on an optical disk or other computer storage medium approved by the secretary of state; (b) requires the record to be reproducible by the storage medium; (c) allows the Secretary of State to prescribe rules necessary for the implementation of this section. SECTION 3. Amends Section 16.031 (b), Election Code, to conform the cite to the Nepotism Act in the Government Code. SECTION 4. Amends Section 31.002 (a), Election Code, to require all forms prescribed by the Secretary of State in connection with an election must be designed to enhance the ability of a person to understand the form. SECTION 5. Amends Section 31.0021 (a), Election Code, to conform the cite to the Nepotism Act in the Government Code. SECTION 6. Amends Section 31.045 (e) to conform the cite to the administrative procedure law. SECTION 7. Amends Section 31.100 (d), Election Code, by changing from 5% to 10% the maximum amount that can be assessed against the election services contract by the county election officer for general supervision of an election. There also is added language stipulating that the minimum fee cannot be less than $75.00. SECTION 8. Amends Sections 32.002 (c) which prescribes procedure for the commissioners court to select election precinct judges and alternate judges. This procedure is such that the judge is from the party whose gubernatorial candidate won the last general election in that precinct and the alternate presiding judge be appointed from the party with the second highest number of votes in that precinct; and (d) which provides the process for which the commissioners court is to appoint an election judge in the event that a vacancy occurs. SECTION 9. Amends Section 32.007 (a) and (b) to prescribe procedures for the appointment of election officials in the event that neither the election judge and alternate judge are not able to serve and a last second appointment is necessary. SECTION 10. Amends Section 32.054 (a), Election Code, to conform the cite to the Nepotism Act in Government Code. SECTION 11. Amends Section 32.091, Election Code, to allow election judges and clerks to be paid for making required changes to the list of registered voters. SECTION 12. Amends Section 32.094 (a), Election Code, to permit the activity of making required changes to the list of registered voters at a location other than the election day polling place. SECTION 13. Amends Section 33.002 (a), Election Code, to allow candidates whose names appear on the list of write-in candidates to appoint poll watchers. SECTION 14. Amends Section 33.004 (a), Election Code, to clarify that a group of registered voters may appoint a poll watcher on behalf of a write-in candidate in an election in which the declaration of write-in candidacy is not required. SECTION 15. Amends Sections 33.00 (b) and (c) to include watchers appointed in the name of a write-in candidate to the certificate of appointment. SECTION 16. Amends Section 33.033 (a), Election Code, to conform the cite of the Nepotism Act in the Government Code. SECTION 17. Amends Section 34.001 (c), Election Code, which makes requests for election inspectors not available to the public until the day after the election day. SECTION 18. Amends Section 52.061 (a), Election Code, to require that ballots be printed in black ink on white or light colored paper and to not be the same color as the sample ballot. SECTION 19. Amends Section 62.014, Election Code, to allow election officers to make changes to the list of registered voters at locations other than the polling place. SECTION 20. Amends Section 67.004 (c), Election Code, to delete the requirement that the canvassing authority must tabulate the early votes by precinct by early voting polling place. This section was declared unconstitutional in 1991. SECTION 21. Amends Section 87.1231, Election Code, to remove the number of votes by precinct by polling place from the reports that the early voting clerk must report to the canvassing authority. SECTION 22. Amends Section 102.003 (c), Election Code, to conform the cite to the Nepotism Act in the Government Code. SECTION 23. Amends Section 103.001 (a), Election Code, to conform the cite to the Nepotism Act in the Government Code. SECTION 24. Amends Section 127.201, Election Code, to impose a deadline to complete off the manual recount process by the 21st day after the election, unless special circumstances dictate otherwise. While retaining the current precinct identification procedure, the new provisions would direct the Secretary of State to specify the office and propositions (neither to exceed three) that shall be manually recounted. A requirement to post the recount parameters (date, location, time, offices and/or ballot propositions and precincts), as well as require a certificate of appointment for observers of the manual count. SECTION 25. Amends Section 141.031, Election Code, to conform the cite to the Nepotism Act in the Government Code. SECTION 26. Amends Sections 141.032 (c), Election Code, to provide that the petition is not considered a part of the application to be placed on the ballot for purposes of curing deficiencies in either of the documents; and (d) which codifies current interpretation of the law and provides that an application for a place on a ballot may not be challenged for form, content, and procedure by anyone after the day before early voting begins. SECTION 27. Amends Section 141.063, Election Code, by adding Subsections b, c, and d which make the signature the only thing on the petition that has to be in the signers handwriting, allows ditto marks, allows for the omission of the signer's state address as long as the political subdivision from which the signature is obtained is not situated in more than one state, and allows the omission of the zip code. SECTION 28. Amends Chapter 142, Election Code, by adding Section 142.0021 to prohibit filing a declaration of intent for two or more offices that are not permitted by law to be held by the same person and that are to be voted on the same day. SECTION 29. Amends Section 142,010 (c), Election Code, to prohibit a candidate's name from being certified if the declaration of intent was found to be invalid. SECTION 30. Amends Section 162.008 (a), Election Code, to clarify that, for political party affiliation purposes, the general primary election day ends after the polls close at 7 PM. SECTION 31. Amends Section 171.022 (b), Election Code, to allow a political party to elect by plurality a county or precinct chair if the state executive committee grants a county that option by rule. SECTION 32. Amends Subchapter B, Chapter 171, Election Code, by adding Section 171.0221 to require write-in candidates who receive the vote required for election to officially accept the position in writing. SECTION 33. Amends Section 212.005, Election Code, to provide that if multiple methods of recount are requested, only one method may be used according to the following preference: manual recount, electronic recount with corrected program, and thirdly, electronic count with same program. SECTION 34. Amends Section 212.0241, Election Code, to allow only a candidate that is not elected or nominated to obtain an initial recount of electronic voting system results based on no grounds, and this does not affect the scope of the recount. SECTION 35. Amends Sections 212.081, 212.083, and 212.085, Election Code, to eliminate the multiple filing deadlines for an expedited recount or amending a petition in an expedited recount. SECTION 36. Amends Section 212.113, Election Code, to provide that if multiple recount methods are requested, the requestor whose method of recount is not chosen, shall have his deposit returned. SECTION 37. Amends Section 232.008, Election Code, by adding Subsection (d) to require a person who is contesting an election to deliver a copy of the petition to the Secretary of State. SECTION 38. Amends Section 233.006, Election Code, by adding Subsection (c) to require a person who is contesting an election to deliver a copy of the petition to the Secretary of State. SECTION 39. Amends Section 243.007 (b), Election Code, to conform the cite to the Nepotism Act in the Government Code. SECTION 40. Amends Section 243.011 (c), Election Code to conform the cite to the Administrative Procedure Law. SECTION 41. Adds Section 271.0071 to authorize different methods of voting in the same polling place in a joint election. SECTION 42. Amends Section 277.002 (d), Election Code, to state that the omission of the zip code does not invalidate the signature. SECTION 43. Effective date. SECTION 44. Emergency clause. COMPARISON OF ORIGINAL TO SUBSTITUTE HB 2241 as filed, was a shell bill. The bill was drafted by taking some of the legislation that Representative Danburg filed that could fall under the caption and meshing them into one bill. These particular pieces of legislation did not have any relation to the deliberations the Subcommittee on Election Processes and Procedures had in developing the omnibus CSHB 2241. For this reason, the substitute is entirely different than the original bill. It is important to note that, while the original bill had a fiscal note, the substitute does not. The substitute incorporates the various non-controversial portions of bills heard in the Committee. The bills, or portions of bills, included in this omnibus bill include: HB 192 (Madden), HB 193 (Madden), HB 261 (Madden), HB 542 (Danburg), HB 545 (Danburg), HB 1949 (Danburg), HB 2024 (Madden) and HB 2552 (Madden). The substitute also includes several clean-up amendments from the Secretary of State's office. SUMMARY OF COMMITTEE ACTION HB 2241 was considered in a public hearing by the Committee on Elections in a public hearing on April 19, 1995. HB 2241 was referred to the Subcommittee on Processes and Procedures, chaired by Representative Staples and consisting of Representatives Ehrhardt and Jones. After being recalled from subcommittee, HB 2241 was considered by the Committee in a public hearing on April 26, 1995. The Committee considered a complete substitute to HB 2241. Eight amendments were offered to the substitute. Seven of those amendments were adopted without objection. The substitute as amended was adopted without objection. The Chair instructed the staff to incorporate the amendments into the substitute. The following person testified neutrally on CSHB 2241: Ann McGeehan representing the Secretary of State, Tony Garza. HB 2241 was reported favorably as substituted, with the recommendation that it do pass and be printed by a record vote of: 9 AYES, 0 NAYS, 0 PNV, 0 ABSENT. CSHB 2241 was considered in a formal meeting by the Committee on April 27, 1995. The vote by which CSHB 2241 was reported favorably on April 26 was reconsidered without objection. The vote by which Committee amendment No. 7 to CSHB 2241 was adopted on April 26 was reconsidered without objection. Committee Amendment No. 7 was withdrawn without objection. One amendment was offered to CSHB 2241. The amendment was adopted without objection. The Chair instructed the staff to incorporate the amendment into the substitute. HB 2241 was reported favorably as substituted with the recommendation that it do pass and be printed, by a record vote of 7 AYES, 0 NAYS, 0 PNV, 2 ABSENT.