Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Texas Voter Reform Extends PEVL to Military

A new voter reform bill passed a Senate floor vote and was received by the House in the Texas State Legislature will change PEVL timelines and extend early voting to military members stationed outside the state.

The Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL) is maintained by the Texas Secretary of State's office. It lists registered voters qualified to vote early, by mail.

Military Service Members often retain voter registration in their Home of Record. A Home of Record is the residence the military member lived on the day they entered military service. Others change their state of residence later in their careers due to intentions to separate of retire to the new state once their service obligation is completed.

Many service members change their state of residence to Texas for a variety of reasons. One is that Texas has no state income tax. Others purchase land in Texas while stationed at one of the numerous military bases in the state such as Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston, or Fort Bliss.

The new bill, if passed, would extend PEVL registration to military service members. In the past few elections, military absentee ballots have raised controversies in several states. Some states have encountered problems issuing the ballots in a timely manner. Others fail to tally the ballots before the election results are certified, leaving military absentee ballots essentially uncounted.

Changing military service members from an absentee ballot status to the PEVL will better insure their ballots are received in time and their choices are tallied in a given election.

SB 904 reduces many of the grace periods currently established for absentee and early ballots. This further decreases the opportunities for ballots to be altered or fraudulently cast. The time limits give unscrupulous individuals far less time to alter the ballots. This could assist in decreasing instances of fraudulent or altered ballots.

Here is an excerpt from the lengthy bill:



A BILL TO BE ENTITLED 
AN ACT 
relating to the adoption of certain voting procedures and the modification of certain election deadlines, including those necessary to implement the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act. 
       BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: 
       SECTION 1.  Section 101.007, Election Code, is amended by adding Subsection (d) to read as follows: 
       (d)  The secretary of state shall make a checklist or similar guidelines available for optional use by early voting clerks in processing an application and providing balloting materials under this chapter. 
       SECTION 2.  Subsection (b), Section 101.107, Election Code, is amended to read as follows: 
       (b)  A voter who receives a ballot under this subchapter must return the ballot in the same manner as required under Section 101.057 except that a voter who completes a signature sheet is not required to complete a carrier envelope. Except [and, except] as provided by Chapter 105, the voter may not return the ballot by electronic transmission. 
       SECTION 3.  Subsection (a), Section 145.092, Election Code, is amended to read as follows: 
       (a)  Except as otherwise provided by this section, a candidate may not withdraw from an election after 5 p.m. of the fifth [third] day after the deadline for filing the candidate's application for a place on the ballot. 
       SECTION 4.  Subsections (a) and (b), Section 172.054, Election Code, are amended to read as follows: 
       (a)  The deadline for filing an application for a place on the general primary election ballot is extended as provided by this section if a candidate who has made an application that complies with the applicable requirements: 
             (1)  dies on or after the fifth day before the date of the regular filing deadline and on or before the first [79th] day after the date of the regular filing deadline [before general primary election day]; 
             (2)  holds the office for which the application was made and withdraws or is declared ineligible on [or after] the date of the regular filing deadline [and on] or [before] the first [79th] day after the date of the regular filing deadline [before general primary election day]; or 
             (3)  withdraws or is declared ineligible during the period prescribed by Subdivision (2), and at the time of the withdrawal or declaration of ineligibility no other candidate has made an application that complies with the applicable requirements for the office sought by the withdrawn or ineligible candidate.
       (b)  An application for an office sought by a withdrawn, deceased, or ineligible candidate must be filed not later than 6 p.m. of the fifth day after the date of the regular filing deadline [81st day before general primary election day].  An application filed by mail with the state chair is not timely if received later than 5 p.m. of the fifth day after the date of the regular filing deadline [81st day before general primary election day]. 
       SECTION 5.  Section 172.057, Election Code, is amended to read as follows: 
       Sec. 172.057.  WITHDRAWN, DECEASED, OR INELIGIBLE CANDIDATE'S NAME OMITTED FROM GENERAL PRIMARY BALLOT.  A candidate's name shall be omitted from the general primary election ballot if the candidate withdraws, dies, or is declared ineligible on or before the first [79th] day after the date of the regular filing deadline [before general primary election day].
       SECTION 6.  Subsection (a), Section 172.058, Election Code, is amended to read as follows: 
       (a)  If a candidate who has made an application for a place on the general primary election ballot that complies with the applicable requirements dies or is declared ineligible after the first [79th] day after the date of the regular filing deadline [before general primary election day], the candidate's name shall be placed on the ballot and the votes cast for the candidate shall be counted and entered on the official election returns in the same manner as for the other candidates. 
       SECTION 7.  Subsections (a) and (c), Section 202.004, Election Code, are amended to read as follows: 
       (a)  A political party's nominee for an unexpired term must be nominated by primary election if: 
             (1)  the political party is making nominations by primary election for the general election in which the vacancy is to be filled; and
             (2)  the vacancy occurs on or before the fifth [62nd] day before the date of the regular deadline for candidates to file applications for a place on the general primary ballot [general primary election day]. 
       (c)  If the vacancy occurs after the 10th day before the date of the regular filing deadline, an application for the unexpired term must be filed not later than 6 [5] p.m. of the fifth day after the date of the regular filing deadline [15th day after the date the vacancy occurs or 5 p.m. of the 60th day before general primary election day, whichever is earlier].