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RELATING TO REFORM OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA ELECTION LAWS BY ENACTING THE "SOUTH CAROLINA ELECTION REFORM ACT"; TO AMEND SECTION 7-13-710 OF THE 1976 CODE SO AS TO REQUIRE PHOTOGRAPH IDENTIFICATION TO VOTE, PERMITTING FOR PROVISIONAL BALLOTS IF THE IDENTIFICATION CANNOT BE PRODUCED AND PROVIDE AN EXCEPTION FOR A RELIGIOUS OBJECTION TO BEING PHOTOGRAPHED; TO AMEND SECTION 56-1-3350, SO AS TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES TO PROVIDE FREE IDENTIFICATION CARDS UPON REQUEST; TO AMEND SECTION 7-13-25, SO AS TO PROVIDE FOR AN EARLY VOTING PERIOD BEGINNING FIFTEEN DAYS BEFORE A STATEWIDE PRIMARY OR GENERAL ELECTION AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE HOURS AND EARLY VOTING LOCATION; TO AMEND SECTION 7-3-20, SO AS TO REQUIRE THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE STATE ELECTIONS COMMISSION TO MAINTAIN IN THE MASTER FILE A SEPARATE DESIGNATION FOR ABSENTEE AND EARLY VOTERS IN A GENERAL ELECTION; TO AMEND SECTION 7-1-25, SO AS TO LIST FACTORS TO CONSIDER FOR DOMICILE; TO AMEND SECTION 7-5-230, SO AS TO REFERENCE REVISIONS TO SECTION 7-1-25; TO ADD SECTION 7-5-675, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE ELECTION COMMISSION WILL ISSUE VOTER REGISTRATION CARDS WITH A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE VOTER; TO PROVIDE FOR A VOTER EDUCATION PROGRAM CONCERNING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS BILL.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 7-13-710 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 459 of 1996, is further amended to read:
"Section 7-13-710. (A) When
any a person presents himself to vote, he shall produce his a valid and current:
(1) South Carolina driver's license;
(2) other form of identification containing a photograph issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles;
,if he is not licensed to drive, or the written notification of registration provided for by Sections 7-5-125 and 7-5-180 if the notification has been signed by the elector
(4) military identification containing a photograph issued by the federal government;
(5) employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter, which is issued by the federal government or this State; or
(6) South Carolina voter registration card containing a photograph of the voter pursuant to Section 7-5-675.
If the elector loses or defaces his registration notification, he may obtain a duplicate notification from his county board of registration upon request in person, or by telephone or mail.
(B) After presentation of the required identification described in subsection (A),
his the elector's name must be checked by one of the managers on the margin of the page opposite his name upon the registration books, or copy of the books, furnished by the board of registration. One of the managers also shall compare the photograph contained on the required identification with the person presenting himself to vote. The manager shall verify that the photograph is that of the person seeking to vote. The managers shall keep a poll list which must contain one column headed 'Names of Voters'. Before any a ballot is delivered to a voter, the voter shall sign his name on the poll list, which must be furnished to the appropriate election officials by the State Election Commission. At the top of each page the voter's oath appropriate to the election must be printed. The signing of the poll list or the marking of the poll list is considered to be an affirmation of the oath by the voter. One of the managers shall compare the signature on the poll list with the signature on the voter's driver's license, registration notification, or other identification and may require further identification of the voter and proof of his right to vote under this title as he considers necessary. If the voter is unable to write or if the voter is prevented from signing by physical handicap, he may sign his name to the poll list by mark with the assistance of one of the managers.
(C)(1) If the elector cannot produce the identification as required in subsection (A), he may cast a provisional ballot that is counted only if the elector brings a valid and current photo identification to the county board of registration and elections prior to certification of the election by the county board of canvassers.
(2) If the manager disputes that the photograph contained on the required identification is the person presenting himself to vote, the elector may cast a provisional ballot. A determination of that provisional ballot must be made in accordance with Section 7-13-830.
(D)(1)(a) If an elector does not produce a valid and current photograph identification due to a religious objection to being photographed, he may complete an affidavit under penalty of perjury at the polling place and affirm that the elector: (i) is the same individual who personally appeared at the polling place; (ii) cast the provisional ballot on election day; and (iii) has a religious objection to being photographed. Upon completion of the affidavit, the elector may cast a provisional ballot. The affidavit must be submitted with the provisional ballot envelope and be filed with the county board of registration and elections prior to certification of the election by the county board of canvassers.
(b) If an elector does not produce a valid and current photograph identification because the elector suffers from a reasonable impediment that prevents the elector from obtaining photograph identification, he may complete an affidavit under the penalty of perjury at the polling place and affirm that the elector: (i) is the same individual who personally appeared at the polling place; (ii) cast the provisional ballot on election day; and (iii) the elector suffers from a reasonable impediment that prevents him from obtaining photograph identification. The elector must also list the impediment, unless otherwise prohibited by state or federal law. Upon completion of the affidavit, the elector may cast a provisional ballot. The affidavit must be submitted with the provisional ballot envelope and be filed with the county board of registration and elections prior to certification of the election by the county board of canvassers.
(2) If the county board of registration and elections determines that the voter was challenged solely for the inability to provide proof of identification and the required affidavit is submitted, the county board of registration and elections shall find that the provisional ballot is valid, unless the board has grounds to believe the affidavit is false.
(3) If the county board of registration and elections determines that the voter has been challenged for a cause other than the inability to provide proof of identification as required by subsection (A), the county board of registration and elections shall:
(a) note on the envelope containing the provisional ballot that the voter complied with the proof of identification requirement; and
(b) proceed to determine the validity of the remaining challenges before ruling on the validity of the provisional ballot.
(E) The purpose of the identification required pursuant to subsection (A) is to confirm the person presenting himself to vote is the elector on the poll list. Any address listed on the identification is not determinative of an elector's domicile for the purpose of voting. An elector's domicile for the purpose of voting is determined pursuant to the provisions of Section 7-1-25.
SECTION 2. Section 7-5-125 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 7-5-125. (A) Any person who applies for registration to vote and is found to be qualified by the county board of registration to whom application is made must be issued a written notification of registration. This notification must be on a form prescribed and provided by the State Election Commission.
(B) If an elector loses or defaces his registration notification, he may obtain a duplicate notification from his county board of registration upon request in person, or by telephone or mail."
SECTION 3. Section 56-1-3350 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 277 of 2010, is further amended to read:
"Section 56-1-3350. (A) Upon application by any person ten years of age or older who is a resident of South Carolina, the Department of Motor Vehicles shall issue a special identification card, as long as:
(1) the application is made on a form approved and furnished by the department; and
(2) the applicant presents to the person issuing the identification card a birth certificate or other evidence acceptable to the department of his name and date of birth.
(B)(1) The fee for the issuance and renewal of the special identification card is five dollars for a person between the ages of ten and sixteen years.
(2) An identification card must be free to a person aged seventeen years or older.
and the The identification card expires five years from the date of issuance. The renewal fee is also five dollars. Issuance and renewal fees are waived for indigent persons who are mentally ill, mentally retarded, homeless, or who are on public assistance as the sole source of income. As used in this section "indigent" means a person who is qualified for legal assistance which is paid for with public funds. For purposes of this section, a homeless person is an individual who lacks a fixed and regular nighttime residence or an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is:
(a) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations, including congregated shelters and transitional housing;
(b) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or
(c) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, regular sleeping accommodations for human beings.
The term does not include any individual imprisoned or otherwise detained pursuant to an act of Congress. Annually, the director of a facility which provides care or shelter to homeless persons must certify this fact to the department. The department must maintain a list of facilities which are approved by the department, and only letters from the directors of these approved facilities are considered to comply with the provisions of this section. To have the issuance or renewal fee waived for an identification card, a homeless person must present a letter to the department from the director of a facility that provides care or shelter to homeless persons certifying that the person named in the letter is homeless. The letter may not be older than thirty days.
(D) Special identification cards issued to persons under the age of twenty-one must be marked, stamped, or printed to readily indicate that the person to whom the card is issued is under the age of twenty-one.
(E) The fees collected pursuant to this section must be credited to the Department of Transportation State Non-Federal Aid Highway Fund
as provided in the following schedule based on the actual date of receipt by the Department of Motor Vehicles:
Fees and Penalties General Fund Department of
Collected After of the State Transportation
State Non-Federal Aid
June 30, 2005 60 percent 40 percent
June 30, 2006 20 percent 80 percent
June 30, 2007 0 percent 100 percent."
SECTION 4. Article 1, Chapter 13, Title 7 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 7-13-25. (A) Notwithstanding the provision of this chapter or Chapter 5 of this title, the authority charged by law with conducting an election shall establish a procedure by which a qualified elector may cast his ballot, without excuse, during an early voting period for all elections. The qualified elector may cast a ballot during an early voting period pursuant to this section.
(B) Early voting centers must be established and maintained to ensure that voters may cast only one ballot.
(C) A qualified elector may cast his ballot at an early voting center in the county in which he resides.
(D) Each county board of registration and elections must establish at least one early voting center and may establish up to three early voting centers. The early voting center must be supervised by election commission employees who will serve as poll managers.
(E) The early voting period begins fifteen days before an election and ends three days prior to the election.
(F) The county board of registration and elections must determine the hours of operation and location for an early voting center. However, the early voting center must be open at least one Saturday within the early voting period for statewide primaries and general elections.
"(G) A sign must be posted prominently in an early voting center and must have printed on it, 'VOTING MORE THAN ONCE IS A MISDEMEANOR AND, UPON CONVICTION, A PERSON MUST BE FINED IN THE DISCRETION OF THE COURT OR IMPRISONED NOT MORE THAN THREE YEARS'."
SECTION 5. Section 7-3-20(C) of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 253 of 2006, is further amended to read:
"(C) The executive director shall:
(1) maintain a complete master file of all qualified electors by county and by precincts;
(2) delete the name of any elector:
(a) who is deceased;
(b) who is no longer qualified to vote in the precinct where currently registered;
(c) who has been convicted of a disqualifying crime;
(d) who is otherwise no longer qualified to vote as may be provided by law; or
(e) who requests in writing that his name be removed;
(3) enter names on the master file as they are reported by the county registration boards;
(4) furnish each county registration board with a master list of all registered voters in the county, together with a copy of all registered voters in each precinct of the county, at least ten days prior to each election. The precinct copies shall be used as the official list of voters;
(5) maintain all information furnished his office relating to the inclusion or deletion of names from the master file for four years;
(6) purchase, lease, or contract for the use of such equipment as may be necessary to properly execute the duties of his office, subject to the approval of the State Election Commission;
(7) secure from the United States courts and federal and state agencies available information as to persons convicted of disqualifying crimes;
(8) obtain information from any other source which may assist him in carrying out the purposes of this section;
(9) perform such other duties relating to elections as may be assigned him by the State Election Commission;
(10) furnish at reasonable price any precinct lists to a qualified elector requesting them;
(11) serve as the chief state election official responsible for implementing and coordinating the state's responsibilities under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993;
(12) serve as the chief state election official responsible for implementing and enforcing the state's responsibilities under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), as set forth in the United States Code, Title 42, Section 1973ff, et seq; and
(13) enter into the master file a separate designation each for voters casting absentee ballots and early ballots in a general election."
SECTION 6. Section 7-15-320 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 7-15-320 .(A) Any qualified elector may vote during the early voting period pursuant to Section 7-13-25.
(B) A qualified elector in any of the following categories must be permitted to vote by absentee ballot in all elections when he is absent from his county of residence on election day during the hours the polls are open, to an extent that it prevents him from voting in person except that physically disabled persons, certified poll watchers, poll managers, county voter registration board members and staff, and county election commission members and staff working on election day, a person admitted to a hospital as an emergency patient on the day of an election or within a four day period before an election, and persons whose employment obligations required that they be at their place of employment during the hours that the polls are open and present written certification of that obligation to the county registration board, and persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial may vote by absentee ballot whether or not absent from their county of residence:
(1) students, their spouses, and dependents residing with them;
(2) members of the Armed Forces and Merchant Marines of the United States, their spouses, and dependents residing with them;
(3) persons serving with the American Red Cross or with the United Service Organizations (USO) who are attached to and serving with the Armed Forces of the United States, their spouses, and dependents residing with them;
(4) persons in employment;
(5) physically disabled persons;
(6) governmental employees, their spouses, and dependents residing with them;
(7) electors with a death or funeral in the family within a three day period before the election;
(8) persons on vacation (who by virtue of vacation plans will be absent from their county of residence on election day);
(9) certified poll watchers, poll managers, county voter registration board members and staff, county and state election commission members and staff working on election day;
(10) overseas citizens;
(11) persons attending sick or physically disabled persons;
(12) persons admitted to hospitals as emergency patients on the day of an election or within a four day period before the election;
(13) persons who will be serving as jurors in a state or federal court on election day;
(14) persons sixty-five years of age or older;
(15) persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial
(C) A person may vote by a paper absentee ballot at any time during the absentee ballot period. Alternatively, a person may cast an absentee ballot by a voting machine in the county in which he resides from thirty days before an election through the day immediately preceding an election. Each county board of registration must establish the location of only one absentee ballot center. Absentee ballot centers must be maintained to ensure that voters may cast only one ballot. The absentee ballot center must be supervised by employees of the election commission or voter registration board."
SECTION 7. Section 7-15-330 of the 1976 Code of Laws is amended to read:
"Section 7-15-330. (A) To vote by absentee ballot, a qualified elector or a member of his immediate family as defined by Section 7-15-310(8), must request an application to vote by absentee ballot in person, by telephone, or by mail from the county registration board, or at an extension office of the board of registration as established by the county governing body, for the county of the voter's residence. A person who is an authorized representative of a qualified elector, as defined by Section 7-15-310(7), may request
ing an application for a qualified elector as the qualified elector's authorized representative must request an application to vote by absentee ballot in person or by mail only and must himself be a registered voter and must sign an oath to the effect that he fits the statutory definition of a representative. This signed oath must be kept on file with the board of registration until the end of the calendar year or until all contests concerning a particular election have been finally determined, whichever is later.
(B) A candidate or a member of a candidate's paid campaign staff, including volunteers reimbursed for time expended on campaign activity, is not allowed to request applications for absentee voting for any person designated in this section unless the person is a member of the immediate family.
(C) A request for an application to vote by absentee ballot may be made anytime during the calendar year in which the election in which the qualified elector desires to be permitted to vote by absentee ballot is being held. However, completed applications must be returned to the county registration board in person or by mail before
five P.M. 5:00 p.m. on the fourth day before the day of the election. Applications must be accepted by the county board of registration until 5:00 p.m. on the day immediately preceding the election for those who appear in person and are qualified to vote absentee pursuant to Section 7-15-320. A member of the immediate family of a person who is admitted to a hospital as an emergency patient on the day of an election or within a four day period before the election may obtain an application from the registration board on the day of an election, complete it, receive the ballot, deliver it personally to the patient who shall vote, and personally carry the ballot back to the board of registration.
(D) The board of registration shall serially number each absentee ballot application form and keep a record
book in which must be recorded of the number of the form, the name, home address, and absentee mailing address of the person for whom the absentee ballot application form is requested; the name, address, voter registration number, and relationship of the person requesting the form, if other than the applicant; the date upon which the form is requested; and the date upon which the form is issued. This information becomes a public record at nine A.M. 9:00 a.m. on the day immediately preceding the election, except that forms issued for emergency hospital patients must be made public by 9:00 a.m. on the day following an election.
(E) A person who violates the provisions of this section is subject to the penalties provided in Section 7-25-170."
SECTION 8. Section 7-15-385 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 7-15-385. (A) Upon receipt of the ballot or ballots, the absentee ballot applicant must mark each ballot on which he wishes to vote and place each ballot in the single envelope marked 'Ballot Herein', which in turn must be placed in the return-addressed envelope. The applicant must then return the return-addressed envelope to the board of registration by mail, by personal delivery, or by authorizing another person to return the envelope for him. The authorization must be given in writing on a form prescribed by the State Election Commission and must be turned in to the board of registration at the time the envelope is returned. The voter must sign the form, or in the event the voter cannot write because of a physical handicap or illiteracy, the voter must make his mark and have the mark witnessed by someone designated by the voter. The authorization must be preserved as part of the record of the election, and the board of registration must
note record the authorization and the name of the authorized returnee in the record book as required by Section 7-15-330.
(B) A candidate or a member of a candidate's paid campaign staff including volunteers reimbursed for time expended on campaign activity is not permitted to serve as an authorized returnee for any person unless the person is a member of the voter's immediate family as defined in Section 7-15-310.
(C) The oath set forth in Section 7-15-380 must be signed and witnessed on each returned envelope. The board of registration must record,
in the record book as required by Section 7-15-330, the date the return-addressed envelope with witnessed oath and enclosed ballot or ballots is received by the board.
(D) The board must securely store the envelopes in a locked box within the office of the registration board."
SECTION 9. Section 7-1-25 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 7-1-25. (A) A person's residence is his domicile. 'Domicile' means a person's fixed home where he has an intention of returning when he is absent. A person has only one domicile.
(B) For voting purposes, a person has changed his domicile if he (1) has abandoned his prior home and (2) has established a new home, has a present intention to make that place his home, and has no present intention to leave that place.
(C) For voting purposes, a spouse may establish a separate domicile.
(D) For voting purposes, factors to consider in determining a person's intention regarding his domicile include, but are not limited to:
(1) a voter's address reported on income tax returns;
(2) a voter's real estate interests, including the address for which the legal residence tax assessment ratio is claimed pursuant to Section 12-43-220(C);
(3) a voter's physical mailing address;
(4) a voter's address on driver's license or other identification issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles;
(5) a voter's address on legal and financial documents;
(6) a voter's address utilized for educational purposes, such as public school assignment and determination of tuition at institutions of higher education;
(7) a voter's address on an automobile registration;
(8) a voter's address utilized for membership in clubs and organizations;
(9) the location of a voter's personal property;
(10) residence of a voter's parents, spouse, and children; and
(11) whether a voter temporarily relocated due to medical care for the voter or for a member of the voter's immediate family.
SECTION 10. Section 7-5-230 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"Section 7-5-230. (A) The boards of registration to be appointed under Section 7-5-10 shall be the judges of the legal qualifications of all applicants for registration. The board is empowered to require proof of these qualifications as it considers necessary.
Once a person is registered, challenges of the qualifications of any elector, except for challenges issued at the polls pursuant to Sections 7-13-810, 7-13-820, and 7-15-420 must be made in writing to the board of registration in the county of registration. The board must, within ten days following the challenge and after first giving notice to the elector and the challenger, hold a hearing, accept evidence, and rule upon whether the elector meets or fails to meet the qualifications set forth in Section 7-5-120.
(B) When a challenge is made regarding the residence or domicile of an elector, the board
may must consider the provisions of Section 7-1-25(D) following proof to establish residence including, but not limited to, income tax returns; real estate interests; mailing address; address on driver's license; official papers and documents requiring the statement of residence address; automobile registration; checking and savings accounts; past voting record; membership in clubs and organizations; location of personal property; and the elector's statements as to his intent.
(C) Any person denied registration or restoration of his name on the registration books shall have the right of appeal from the decision of the board of registration denying him registration or such restoration to the court of common pleas of the county or any judge thereof and subsequently to the Supreme Court."
SECTION 11. Chapter 5, Title 7 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 7-5-675. The State Elections Commission will implement a system in order to issue voter registration cards with a photograph of the elector."
SECTION 12. The State Elections Commission must establish an aggressive voter education program concerning the provisions contained in this legislation. The State Elections Commission must educate the public as follows:
(1) Post information concerning changes contained in this legislation in a conspicuous location at each county board of registration and elections, each satellite office, the State Elections Commission office, and their respective websites.
(2) Train poll managers and poll workers at their mandatory training sessions to answer questions by electors concerning the changes in this legislation.
(3) Require documentation describing the changes in this legislation to be disseminated by poll managers and poll workers at every election held following preclearance by the United States Department of Justice or approval by a declaratory judgment issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, whichever occurs first.
(4) Coordinate with each county board of registration and elections so that at least two seminars are conducted in each county prior to December 15, 2011.
(5) Coordinate with local and service organizations to provide for additional informational seminars at a local or statewide level.
(6) Place an advertisement describing the changes in this legislation in South Carolina newspapers of general circulation by no later than December 15, 2011.
(7) Coordinate with local media outlets to disseminate information concerning the changes in this legislation.
(8) Notify each registered elector who does not have a South Carolina issued driver's license or identification card a notice of the provisions of this act by no later than December 1, 2011. This notice must include the requirements to vote absentee, early, or on election day and a description of voting by provisional ballot. It must also state the availability of a free South Carolina identification card pursuant to Section 56-1-3350.
In addition to the items above, the State Elections Commission may implement additional educational programs in its discretion.
SECTION 13. The State Election Commission is directed to create a list containing all registered voters of South Carolina who are otherwise qualified to vote but do not have a South Carolina driver's license or other form of identification containing a photograph issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles as of December 1, 2011. The list must be made available to any registered voter upon request. The Department of Motor Vehicles must provide the list of persons with a South Carolina driver's license or other form of identification containing a photograph issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles at no cost to the commission. The commission may charge a reasonable fee for the provision of the list in order to recover associated costs of producing the list.
SECTION 14. The General Assembly finds that all the provisions contained in this act relate to one subject as required by Article III, Section 17 of the South Carolina Constitution in that each provision relates directly to or in conjunction with other sections to the subject of election reform as stated in the title. The General Assembly further finds that a common purpose or relationship exists among the sections, representing a potential plurality but not disunity of topics, notwithstanding that reasonable minds might differ in identifying more than one topic contained in this act.
SECTION 15. The provisions of this act are not severable. If any section, subsection, item, subitem, paragraph, sentence, clause, phrase, or word of this act is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, it is to be conclusively presumed that the General Assembly would not have enacted any section, subsection, item, subitem, paragraph, sentence, clause, phrase or word of this act without the other provisions in this act and therefore this act in its entirety will be deemed invalid.
SECTION 16. SECTIONS 14 and 15 are effective upon approval by the Governor.
SECTION 17. SECTIONS 2, 9, 10, 12, and 13 are effective upon preclearance approval by the United States Department of Justice or approval by a declaratory judgment issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, whichever occurs first.
SECTION 18. SECTION 3 is effective on July 1, 2011.
SECTION 19. SECTIONS 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are effective on January 2, 2012.
SECTION 20. SECTION 11 takes effect upon preclearance approval by the United States Department of Justice or approval by a declaratory judgment issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, whichever occurs first. However, the implementation of the procedures provided for in this SECTION is contingent upon the State Election Commission's receipt of funds necessary to implement these provisions. Until the provisions of this SECTION are fully funded and executed, implementation of the provisions of this SECTION shall not prohibit the State Election Commission from issuing voter registration cards by the methods allowed prior to the implementation of this SECTION.
This web page was last updated on December 1, 2010 at 12:43 PM