Senate Bill No. 348

(By Senators Snyder, Caldwell, Fanning,

Hunter, Minard, Rowe, McKenzie and White)


[Introduced January 24, 2003;

referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]


A BILL to amend and reenact section eleven, article three, chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to altering absentee ballot signature requirements.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section eleven, article three, chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
§3-3-11. Preparation, number and handling of absent voters' ballots.

(a) Absent voters' ballots are to be in all respects like other ballots. Not less than seventy days before the date on which any primary, general or special election is to be held, unless a lesser number of days is provided for in any specific election law in which case the lesser number of days applies, the clerks of the circuit courts of the several counties shall estimate and determine the number of absent voters' ballots of all kinds which will be required in their respective counties for that election. The ballots for the election of all officers, or the ratification, acceptance or rejection of any measure, proposition or other public question to be voted on by the voters, are to be prepared and printed under the direction of the board of ballot commissioners constituted as provided in article one of this chapter. The several county boards of ballot commissioners shall prepare and have printed, in the number they may determine, absent voters' ballots that are to be printed under their directions as provided in this chapter and those ballots are to be delivered to the clerk of the circuit court of the county not less than forty-two days before the
day of the election at which they are to be used. Before any ballot is mailed or delivered, the clerk of the circuit court shall affix his or her official seal. and he or she The clerk of the circuit court and the other members of the board of ballot commissioners shall place their signatures near the lower left-hand corner on the back of the ballot by facsimile printing or by signing their original signatures. The clerks of the circuit courts are also authorized to have their signatures affixed by a facsimile printed on the back of absentee ballots, by a facsimile signature stamp or by signing their original signatures. An absent voter's ballot not containing the seal and signatures shall be challenged. If an accurate accounting is made for all ballots and applications in that precinct and no other valid challenge exists against the voter, the ballot shall be counted at the canvas.
(b) The official designated to supervise and conduct absentee voting shall be primarily responsible for the mailing, receiving, delivering and otherwise handling of all absent voters' ballots. He or she shall keep a record, as may be prescribed by the secretary of state, of all ballots so delivered for the purpose of absentee voting, as well as all ballots, if any, marked before him or her and shall deliver to the commissioner of election a certificate stating the number of ballots delivered or mailed to absent voters and those marked before him or her, if any, and the names of the voters to whom those ballots have been delivered or mailed or by whom they have been marked, if marked before him or her.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to remove the signature requirement that ballot commissioners sign each ballot allowing their signatures to be printed by facsimile.

This bill was recommended for introduction and passage by the Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.