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§ 3146.8. Canvassing of official absentee ballots

Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated StatutesTitle 25 P.S. Elections & Electoral DistrictsEffective: March 14, 2012

Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated Statutes
Title 25 P.S. Elections & Electoral Districts (Refs & Annos)
Chapter 14. Election Code (Refs & Annos)
Article XIII. Voting by Qualified Absentee Electors (Refs & Annos)
Effective: March 14, 2012
25 P.S. § 3146.8
§ 3146.8. Canvassing of official absentee ballots
(a) The county boards of election, upon receipt of official absentee ballots in such envelopes, shall safely keep the same in sealed or locked containers until they distribute same to the appropriate local election districts in a manner prescribed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Except as provided in section 1302.1(a.2),1 the county board of elections shall then distribute the absentee ballots, unopened, to the absentee voter's respective election district concurrently with the distribution of the other election supplies. Absentee ballots shall be canvassed immediately and continuously without interruption until completed after the close of the polls on the day of the election in each election district. The results of the canvass of the absentee ballots shall then be included in and returned to the county board with the returns of that district. Except as provided in section 1302.1(a.2) and subsection (g), no2 absentee ballot shall be counted which is received in the office of the county board of election later than five o'clock P.M. on the Friday immediately preceding the primary or November election.
(b) Watchers shall be permitted to be present when the envelopes containing official absentee ballots are opened and when such ballots are counted and recorded.
(b.1) In all election districts in which electronic voting systems are used, absentee ballots shall be opened at the election district, checked for write-in votes in accordance with section 1113-A3 and then either hand-counted or counted by means of the automatic tabulation equipment, whatever the case may be.
(c) Deleted by 1968, Dec. 11, P.L. 1183, No. 375, § 8.
(d) Whenever it shall appear by due proof that any absentee elector who has returned his ballot in accordance with the provisions of this act has died prior to the opening of the polls on the day of the primary or election, the ballot of such deceased elector shall be rejected by the canvassers but the counting of the ballot of an elector thus deceased shall not of itself invalidate any nomination or election.
(e) At such time the local election board shall then further examine the declaration on each envelope not so set aside and shall compare the information thereon with that contained in the “Registered Absentee Voters File,” the absentee voters' list and the “Military Veterans and Emergency Civilians Absentee Voters File.” If the local election board is satisfied that the declaration is sufficient and the information contained in the “Registered Absentee Voters File,” the absentee voters' list and the “Military Veterans and Emergency Civilians Absentee Voters File” verifies his right to vote, the local election board shall announce the name of the elector and shall give any watcher present an opportunity to challenge any absentee elector upon the ground or grounds (1) that the absentee elector is not a qualified elector; or (2) that the absentee elector was within the municipality of his residence on the day of the primary or election during the period the polls were open, except where he was in military service or except in the case where his ballot was obtained for the reason that he was unable to appear personally at the polling place because of illness or physical disability; or (3) that the absentee elector was able to appear personally at the polling place on the day of the primary or election during the period the polls were open in the case his ballot was obtained for the reason that he was unable to appear personally at the polling place because of illness or physical disability. Upon challenge of any absentee elector, as set forth herein the local election board shall mark “challenged” on the envelope together with the reason or reasons therefor, and the same shall be set aside for return to the county board unopened pending decision by the county board and shall not be counted. All absentee ballots not challenged for any of the reasons provided herein shall be counted and included with the general return of paper ballots or voting machines, as the case may be as follows. Thereupon, the local election board shall open the envelope of every unchallenged absentee elector in such manner as not to destroy the declaration executed thereon. All of such envelopes on which are printed, stamped or endorsed the words “Official Absentee Ballot” shall be placed in one or more depositories at one time and said depository or depositories well shaken and the envelopes mixed before any envelope is taken therefrom. If any of these envelopes shall contain any extraneous marks or identifying symbols other than the words “Official Absentee Ballot,” the envelopes and the ballots contained therein shall be set aside and declared void. The local election board shall then break the seals of such envelopes, remove the ballots and record the votes in the same manner as district election officers are required to record votes. With respect to the challenged ballots, they shall be returned to the county board with the returns of the local election district where they shall be placed unopened in a secure, safe and sealed container in the custody of the county board until it shall fix a time and place for a formal hearing of all such challenges and notice shall be given where possible to all absentee electors thus challenged and to every attorney, watcher or candidate who made such challenge. The time for the hearing shall not be later than seven (7) days after the date of said challenge. On the day fixed for said hearing, the county board shall proceed without delay to hear said challenges and, in hearing the testimony, the county board shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence. The testimony presented shall be stenographically recorded and made part of the record of the hearing. The decision of the county board in upholding or dismissing any challenge may be reviewed by the court of common pleas of the county upon a petition filed by any person aggrieved by the decision of the county board. Such appeal shall be taken, within two (2) days after such decision shall have been made, whether reduced to writing or not, to the court of common pleas setting forth the objections to the county board's decision and praying for an order reversing same. Pending the final determination of all appeals, the county board shall suspend any action in canvassing and computing all challenged ballots irrespective of whether or not appeal was taken from the county board's decision. Upon completion of the computation of the returns of the county, the votes cast upon the challenged official absentee ballots shall be added to the other votes cast within the county.
(f) Any person challenging an application for an absentee ballot or an absentee ballot for any of the reasons provided in this act shall deposit the sum of ten dollars ($10.00) in cash with the local election board, in cases of challenges made to the local election board and with the county board in cases of challenges made to the county board for which he shall be issued a receipt for each challenge made, which sum shall only be refunded if the challenge is sustained or if the challenge is withdrawn within five (5) days after the primary or election. If the challenge is dismissed by any lawful order then the deposit shall be forfeited. All deposit money received by the local election board shall be turned over to the county board simultaneously with the return of the challenged ballots. The county board shall deposit all deposit money in the General Fund of the county.
Notice of the requirements of subsection (b) of section 13064 shall be printed on the envelope for the absentee ballot.
(g) (1) An absentee ballot cast by any absentee elector as defined in section 1301(a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g) and (h)5 which is received in the office of the county board of elections after five o'clock P.M. on the Friday immediately preceding the election and no later than five o'clock P.M. on the seventh day following an election shall be canvassed in accordance with this subsection if the absentee ballot is postmarked no later than the day immediately preceding the election.
(2) The county board of elections shall meet on the eighth day following the election to canvass the absentee ballots received under this subsection and subsection (h)(2). One authorized representative of each candidate in an election and one representative from each political party shall be permitted to remain in the room in which the absentee ballots are canvassed. Representatives shall be permitted to challenge any absentee elector in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (3).
(3) When the county board meets to canvass absentee ballots under paragraph (2), the board shall examine the declaration on the envelope of each ballot not set aside under subsection (d) and shall compare the information thereon with that contained in the “Registered Absentee Voters File,” the absentee voters' list and/or the “Military Veterans and Emergency Civilians Absentee Voters File,” whichever is applicable. If the county board has verified the proof of identification as required under this act and is satisfied that the declaration is sufficient and the information contained in the “Registered Absentee Voters File,” the absentee voters' list and/or the “Military Veterans and Emergency Civilians Absentee Voters File” verifies his right to vote, the county board shall announce the name of the elector and shall give any candidate representative or party representative present an opportunity to challenge any absentee elector upon the ground or grounds: (i) that the absentee elector is not a qualified elector; or (ii) that the absentee elector was within the municipality of his residence on the day of the primary or election during the period the polls were open, except where he was in the military service or except in the case where his ballot was obtained for the reason that he was unable to appear personally at the polling place because of illness or physical disability; or (iii) that the absentee elector was able to appear personally at the polling place on the day of the primary or election during the period the polls were open in the case his ballot was obtained for the reason that he was unable to appear personally at the polling place because of illness or physical disability. Upon challenge of any absentee elector, as set forth herein, the board shall mark “challenged” on the envelope together with the reasons therefor, and the same shall be set aside unopened pending final determination of the challenge according to the procedure described in paragraph (5).
(4) All absentee ballots not challenged for any of the reasons provided in paragraph (3) shall be counted and included with the returns of the applicable election district as follows. The county board shall open the envelope of every unchallenged absentee elector in such manner as not to destroy the declaration executed thereon. If any of the envelopes on which are printed, stamped or endorsed the words “Official Absentee Ballot” contain any extraneous marks or identifying symbols, the envelopes and the ballots contained therein shall be set aside and declared void. The county board shall then break the seals of such envelopes, remove the ballots and record the votes.
(5) With respect to the challenged ballots, they shall be placed unopened in a secure, safe and sealed container in the custody of the county board until it shall fix a time and place for a formal hearing of all such challenges, and notice shall be given where possible to all absentee electors thus challenged and to every individual who made a challenge. The time for the hearing shall not be later than five (5) days after the date of the challenge. On the day fixed for said hearing, the county board shall proceed without delay to hear said challenges, and, in hearing the testimony, the county board shall not be bound by the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence. The testimony presented shall be stenographically recorded and made part of the record of the hearing.
(6) The decision of the county board in upholding or dismissing any challenge may be reviewed by the court of common pleas of the county upon a petition filed by any person aggrieved by the decision of the county board. The appeal shall be taken, within two (2) days after the decision was made, whether the decision was reduced to writing or not, to the court of common pleas setting forth the objections to the county board's decision and praying for an order reversing the decision.
(7) Pending the final determination of all appeals, the county board shall suspend any action in canvassing and computing all challenged ballots received under this subsection irrespective of whether or not appeal was taken from the county board's decision. Upon completion of the computation of the returns of the county, the votes cast upon the challenged official absentee ballots that have been finally determined to be valid shall be added to the other votes cast within the county.
(h) For those absentee ballots for which proof of identification has not been received or could not be verified:
(1) If the proof of identification is received and verified by the county board of elections prior to the distribution of the absentee ballots to the local election districts, then the county shall distribute the absentee ballots for which proof of identification is received and verified, along with the other absentee ballots, to the absentee voter's respective election district. If the county board of elections does not receive or is not able to verify the proof of identification for an elector prior to the absentee ballots' being sent to the appropriate local election districts, the county board shall keep the absentee ballot and follow the procedures set forth in paragraph (2) or (3), whichever is applicable.
(2) If the proof of identification is received and verified after the absentee ballots have been distributed to the appropriate local election districts, but prior to the sixth calendar day following the election, then the county board of elections shall canvass the absentee ballots under this subsection in accordance with subsection (g)(2), unless the elector appeared to vote at the proper polling place for the purpose of casting a ballot, then the absentee ballot cast by that elector shall be declared void.
(3) If an elector fails to provide proof of identification that can be verified by the county board of elections by the sixth calendar day following the election, then the absentee ballot shall not be counted.
(i) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, a qualified absentee elector shall not be required to provide proof of identification if the elector is entitled to vote by absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (Public Law 99-410, 100 Stat. 924)6 or by an alternative ballot under the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act (Public Law 98-435, 98 Stat. 1678).7

Credits

1937, June 3, P.L. 1333, art. XIII, § 1308, added 1951, March 6, P.L. 3, § 11. Amended 1963, Aug. 13, P.L. 707, § 24, effective Jan. 1, 1964; 1968, Dec. 11, P.L. 1183, No. 375, § 8; 1980, July 11, P.L. 600, No. 128, § 6, imd. effective; 1998, Feb. 13, P.L. 72, No. 18, § 16, imd. effective; 2002, Dec. 9, P.L. 1246, No. 150, § 16, effective in 60 days; 2006, May 11, P.L. 178, No. 45, § 12, effective July 1, 2006; 2006, Nov. 9, P.L. 1330, No. 137, § 3, imd. effective; 2012, March 14, P.L. 195, No. 18, § 7, imd. effective.
HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES
Act 1998-18 legislation
The 1998 amendment, in subsec.(e), substituted “municipality” for “county”.
Act 2002-150 legislation
Act 2002-150, § 16, rewrote subsec. (b.1), which prior thereto read:
“In the event that an electronic voting system provides for central tabulations of ballots, such absentee ballots shall be opened and deposited in the ballot box without being counted except as to the number of absentee ballots cast. The absentee ballots shall be counted along with the other ballots from the election district at the location and in the manner specified by the county board of elections and provided for by the electronic voting system utilized.”
Act 2006-45 legislation
Act 2006-45, § 12, in subsec. (a), in the second paragraph, substituted “Except as provided in subsection (g), no” for “No”; and added subsec. (g).
Act 2006-137 legislation
Act 2006-137, § 3, in subsec. (a), in the first sentence of the undesignated paragraph, inserted “Except as provided in section 1302.1(a.2),” and made a nonsubstantive change, and in the third sentence of the undesignated paragraph, inserted “section 1302.1(a.2) and”.
Section 5 of 2006, Nov. 9, P.L. 1330, No. 137, imd. effective, provides that “[t]he amendment of sections 1302.1, 1306(a) and 1308(a) of the act shall apply to elections held on or after January 1, 2007.”
Act 2012-18 legislation
Act 2012-18, § 7, in subsec. (g)(2), inserted “and subsection (h)(2)”; in subsec. (g)(3), inserted “has verified the proof of identification as required under this act,”; and added subsecs. (h) and (i).
Section 11 of 2012, March 14, P.L. 195, No. 18, imd. effective, provides that “[t]he amendment of sections 102, 1210, 1302, 1302.2, 1305, 1308 and 1309 of the act [25 P.S. §§ 2602, 3050, 3146.2, 3146.2b, 3146.5, 3146.8, 3146.9] shall apply to elections held after September 17, 2012.”

Footnotes

25 P.S. § 3146.2a.
“Except as provided in section 1302.1(a.2) and subsection (g.1), no” in enrolled bill.
25 P.S. § 3031.13.
25 P.S. § 3146.6.
25 P.S. § 3146.1.
52 U.S.C.A. § 20301 et seq.
52 U.S.C.A. § 20101 et seq.
25 P.S. § 3146.8, PA ST 25 P.S. § 3146.8
Current through 2018 Regular Session Acts 1 to 87, 89 to 94, 97, 105, 107, 108, 111, 115, 124, 128, 131 to 133, 145, 153, 156, 158, 159, 161, 163 and 164
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