Bill Text: NH SB7 | 2019 | Regular Session | Amended


Bill Title: Establishing the secure modern accurate registration act (SMART ACT).

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 9-0)

Status: (Engrossed) 2019-09-18 - Subcommittee Work Session: 09/24/2019 10:00 am Legislative Office Building 307 [SB7 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2019-SB7-Amended.html

SB 7-FN-LOCAL - AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE

 

03/14/2019   0849s

03/28/2019   1157s

2019 SESSION

19-0890

11/05

 

SENATE BILL 7-FN-LOCAL

 

AN ACT establishing the secure modern accurate registration act (SMART ACT).

 

SPONSORS: Sen. Levesque, Dist 12; Sen. Sherman, Dist 24; Sen. Hennessey, Dist 5; Sen. Rosenwald, Dist 13; Sen. Kahn, Dist 10; Sen. Fuller Clark, Dist 21; Rep. Buchanan, Merr. 15; Rep. Bergeron, Hills. 29; Rep. Lane, Merr. 12

 

COMMITTEE: Election Law and Municipal Affairs

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill establishes the secure modern accurate registration act (SMART ACT).

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

03/14/2019   0849s

03/28/2019   1157s 19-0890

11/05

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen

 

AN ACT establishing the secure modern accurate registration act (SMART ACT).

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  New Subdivision; Secure Modern Accurate Registration Technology Act.  Amend RSA 654 by inserting after section 15 the following new subdivision:

Secure Modern Accurate Registration Technology Act

654:15-a  Voter Registration at the Division of Motor Vehicles.

I.  The secretary of state, pursuant to an interagency contract and jointly-adopted criteria, shall establish a secure data transfer program that satisfies the requirements of this section and any other applicable law.

II.  Any time a person applies for a driver's license, a nondriver's picture identification card, or a record change to a driver's license or nondriver's picture identification card with the division of motor vehicles, as specified below, during which he or she demonstrates that he or she is a United States citizen, 18 years of age or older, and a resident of New Hampshire, he or she shall, without taking any other action, automatically apply to register to vote unless he or she declines to submit such registration application under the procedures outlined in paragraph IV.

III.  The division of motor vehicles shall electronically transmit to the secretary of state certain information as outlined in RSA 654:15-b about every eligible voter applying pursuant to this section.  Such transmission shall be in a format that can be uploaded into the statewide centralized database and reviewed by election officials.  The division of motor vehicles shall also transmit any updates to addresses or names to ensure that the voter checklists are kept up-to-date.

IV.  The division of motor vehicles shall add a voter registration section to those online or paper forms used in connection with applying for a driver's license, a nondriver's picture identification card, or a record change related to a driver's license or nondriver's picture identification card, which shall collect information required for voter registration not already collected in such division of motor vehicles forms.  The top of the voter registration section shall include a statement that reads:  "If you are a victim of domestic violence or stalking, you may not wish to register to vote, as registration information is considered public information.  NH Domestic Violence Hotline:  1-866-644-3574."  The voter registration section shall also include the following preprinted statement:  "Your application to register to vote shall be submitted unless you decline to apply to register below.  By signing and submitting this application, you are authorizing the division of motor vehicles to transmit this application to the secretary of state for voter registration purposes.  YOU MAY DECLINE TO APPLY TO REGISTER.  Both the location of the office through which you submit this application and your decision of whether or not to apply to register to vote will remain confidential and will be used for voter registration purposes only."  A check box shall appear below such preprinted statement and next to the following statement:  "Do not register me to vote or update my voter registration.  I decline to register to vote or update my voter registration."

V.  Upon receiving the electronic record of the applicant's information, the secretary of state shall send a mailing to each eligible applicant, including a pre-paid return to be sent to the voter's town or city hall, which shall include the following:

(a)  The process used to adopt a political party affiliation.

(b)  The registrant's polling location.

(c)  A check box with a statement next to it that reads: "Do not register me to vote or update my voter registration. I decline to register to vote or update my voter registration."

VI.  The registration process described in this section shall incorporate required voter data in order to comply with the voter registration requirements described in RSA 654:7 and RSA 654:12.

VII.  An applicant who applies to register to vote pursuant to this section is entitled to provide any of the forms, affidavits, and documents listed in RSA 654:12 to establish his or her voter qualifications.  

VIII.  An application that complies with the requirements of this section shall constitute a completed voter registration unless the city or town clerk or supervisor of the checklist finds an error in the voter registration application pursuant to paragraph IX.

IX.  If, during the review of the information sent by the secretary of state, the city or town clerk or supervisor of the checklist deems there to be an error in the voter registration application, such local election official shall promptly inform the applicant that his or her registration has not been processed, and shall provide such applicant a reasonable opportunity to cure such error.

X.  The division of motor vehicles shall maintain a record of the documentation that the applicant provided regarding voter registration in a database that is audited for accuracy on a regular basis by the secretary of state.

XI.  Any person applying to register to vote pursuant to this section within 30 calendar days immediately preceding an election shall be advised to apply to register to vote with a city or town clerk or supervisor of the checklist pursuant to this chapter.

654:15-b  Electronic Transmission of Voter Registration Data.

I.  The division of motor vehicles shall transmit, via a secure electronic transmission, data collected relevant to voter registration, including data relating to age, residency, citizenship, and identity, as well as a signature image, for every citizen who applies to register to vote in accordance with RSA 654:15-a to the secretary of state.  Such transmission shall be in a format that can be uploaded to the statewide centralized voter registration database, and that allows the city or town clerk or supervisor of the checklist to print the information on an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper.  Notwithstanding RSA 294-E and any other law to the contrary, the secretary of state, state agencies, and political subdivisions shall accept, use, and permit the use of the applicant's signature image for purposes of this subdivision.

II.  The city or town clerk or supervisor of the checklist shall be alerted when a new eligible voter has been entered into the statewide centralized voter registration database.

III.  The secretary of state shall also transmit for review by election officials any address or name updates to their records to ensure that the voter checklists are kept up-to-date and remove voters’ registration from the previous address, in accordance with state and federal law.

654:15-c  Voter Registration Data Privacy and Security.

I.  The division of motor vehicles and the secretary of state shall regularly upgrade data security for the voter registration system, such that the system adheres to up-to-date security processes and protocols.  

II.  The secretary of state shall ensure the privacy of the information collected pursuant to this subdivision by prohibiting:

(a)  Public disclosure of an individual’s decision not to apply to register to vote, which shall be exempt from the provisions of RSA 91-A.

(b)  Agencies from transmitting to election officials information other than that required for voter registration or specified information relevant to the administration of elections.

(c)  The division of motor vehicles from sharing citizenship or information regarding a person's country of origin with any federal agency unless pursuant to a valid court order or other federal law.

(d)  The disclosure of information relating to persons in categories designated confidential by federal or state law, including victims of domestic violence or stalking, prosecutors and law enforcement personnel, and participants in a witness protection program.

(e) Any other disclosure of information collected pursuant to this subdivision that is prohibited by federal or state law.

654:15-d  Designation of Other Automatic Voter Registration Assistance Agencies.

I.  Each year, the secretary of state shall conduct a review of each agency that offers public services or assistance and which is not already designated as a voter registration assistance agency in order to determine whether such designation is appropriate.

II.  The secretary of state shall designate each such agency that collects information or documents that would provide proof of eligibility to vote as an automatic voter registration assistance agency unless the secretary of state determines that compelling reasons exist for why automatic voter registration is not feasible at the agency.  If the secretary of state makes such a determination, he or she shall prepare and submit a report explaining those reasons to the president of the senate, speaker of the house of representatives, and minority leaders of both the house and senate by the end of the calendar year in which that determination is made.

III.  The secretary of state shall, after consultation with the head of each state agency authorized to process voter registrations pursuant to this section, adopt criteria to implement and administer a system that automatically updates or registers to vote any citizen who applies for state services or assistance at such agency at the same time the citizen applies for state services or assistance.  Such criteria shall comply with RSA 654:15-a through RSA 654:15-c and shall:

(a)  Permit the transfer of applications for services or assistance and voter registration information from the agencies to the election officials.

(b)  Respect all rules and statutes of this state concerning the confidentiality of information from applications for services or assistance.

(c)  Provide for the reasonable accommodation of applicants with disabilities during the application and registration process.

(d)  Provide for appropriate measures to educate the public about automatic voter registration under this section.

654:15-e  Unauthorized Registration.  The record and signature of an ineligible applicant that is transmitted through an electronic system by a government agency to any elections or voter registration authority shall not constitute a completed voter registration form, and that applicant shall not be considered to have registered to vote.

654:15-f  Requests for Removal from the Checklist.  Any person who applies to register to vote pursuant to this subdivision may, prior to the certification of the checklist pursuant to RSA 654:28 and RSA 654:29, request that he or she be removed from the checklist by submitting such request in person at his or her town or city hall.

2  New Paragraph; Access to Governmental Records and Meetings; Exemptions.  Amend RSA 91-A:5 by inserting after paragraph X the following new paragraph:

XI.  An individual's decision not to apply to register to vote under RSA 654:15-a.

3  New Paragraph; Motor Vehicles; Records and Certification.  Amend RSA 260:14 by inserting after paragraph III-d the following new paragraph:

III-e.  Motor vehicle records relevant to voter registration shall be provided to the secretary of state pursuant to RSA 654:15-b.  These records may be further transferred or otherwise made available to city or town clerks and supervisors of the checklist for purposes of voter registration.

4  Funding.  Funding for implementation of this act shall be provided by grants received pursuant to the 2018 Help America Vote Act Election Security Award and section 101 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, Public Law 107-252.

5  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.

 

LBAO

19-0890

1/28/19

 

SB 7-FN-LOCAL- FISCAL NOTE

AS INTRODUCED

 

AN ACT establishing the secure modern accurate registration act (SMART ACT).

 

FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None

 

 

 

Estimated Increase / (Decrease)

STATE:

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

   Appropriation

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Revenue

$0

$0

$0

$0

   Expenditures

Potential Increase of $2,700,000+

Potential Increase of $1,300,000+

Potential Increase of $1,400,000+

Potential Increase of $1,400,000+

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [ X ] Other - Restricted Cost of Collections*

*Pursuant to Part II, article 6-a of the New Hampshire constitution, any costs associated with the collection and administration of Highway Funds by the Department of Safety shall be deducted by the Department before such funds are credited to the Highway Fund as unrestricted revenue.

 

METHODOLOGY:

This bill establishes the Secure Modern Accurate Registration Technology Act (SMART).  It requires automatic voter registration of citizens when there is a transaction with the Department of Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles, unless they choose to opt out.   

 

The DMV is required to electronically transmit voter registration information, including digital signatures and updates, to the Secretary of State for upload into the statewide computerized voter registration database.  The DMV will notify the local clerk or supervisor(s) of the checklist when a new voter is registered.

 

Once transmitted information is received, the Secretary of State shall send information and a pre-paid return to each eligible individual with instructions on how to adopt a political party affiliation within 30 days and the registrant's polling location.  Each year, the office shall conduct a review of each agency that collects information or documents that would provide proof of eligibility to vote.  Such agency shall be designated as an automatic voter registration agency unless the Secretary of State determines a compelling reason exists for why such registration is not feasible at that agency.  The Secretary of State shall consult with the head of each state agency authorized to process voter registrations and shall adopt criteria to implement and administer an automatic registration process.

 

The Department of Safety states DMV would require development of an interface with the Secretary of State's Office to verify that an individual is not already registered to vote.  Reprogramming of the existing driver license and vehicle registration systems would be needed to capture and transmit information and electronic signatures.  These transactions involve real time checklist verification and response to voter registration questions, which the Department anticipates will be time-consuming.  In order to minimize wait times, the Department would need additional full-time staff for most locations, including 17 counter clerks and one program assistant to coordinate the program.  Staff would require additional and ongoing training to answer basic voter registration, residency, and domicile related questions.  It is anticipated this training would take place outside of normal business hours and would total 10 hours per employee in the first year and 5 hours for each year thereafter.  Maintenance and support of information technology would be coordinated through the Department of Information Technology.  Equipment such as servers, electronic storage, and  signature pads would also be needed.  Estimated costs for DMV only are outlined below:

 

Estimated Transmittal Expenditures

Type of Expenditure

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022

FY 2023

Additional Staffing (17 FTE)

$    986,000

$ 1,003,000

$ 1,054,000

$ 1,105,000

Additional Staffing (1 FTE)

$      57,000

$      58,000

$      61,000

$      64,000

Training of Staff-OT

$      45,000

$      22,500

$      22,500

$      22,500

DoIT Resources

$    200,000

$    200,000

$    200,000

$    200,000

Software Upgrade

$    600,000

$               -

$               -

$               -

Equipment

$    300,000

$               -

$               -

$               -

Printed Material

$    450,000

$               -

$               -

$               -

Total

$2,638,000

$1,283,500

$1,337,500

$1,391,500

 

The Division of Motor Vehicles is funded with cost of collection and administration revenue associated with the collection of highway funds pursuant to RSA 9:9-a and the New Hampshire Constitution (Part II, Art 6-a).  The bill does not specify how voter registration expenditures incurred by the Division of Motor Vehicles will be funded, but the Department states funding from highway funds may be in conflict with state law and the New Hampshire constitution.

 

The Secretary of State's Office states this bill would require the Division of Motor Vehicles and other state agencies that offer public services or assistance to become automatic voter registration agencies.  The bill would appear to bypass the responsibility to approve a voter registration before the voter is added to the checklist and would require the Secretary of State to mail a postcard to those voters automatically registered giving them an opportunity to opt out of voter registration and/or declare a party affiliation.  The Office indicates at any given time, 4% of the voter eligible population is not registered to vote representing approximately 40,000 individuals.  A percentage of those are individuals that decline to register to vote.  This bill would require a secure system to transmit voter registration data from the DMV and other designated voter registration agencies to the statewide voter registration database.  The Office assumes this would require it to hire additional elections staff to maintain and manage the transmission of data, to send out and process the required mailings to automatically registered voters, and to  train staff from other agencies on the requirements of accepting voter registrations.  The Office states the cost has not yet been determined, but would be significant.

 

The New Hampshire Municipal Association assumes more voters will be registered, but fewer will do so in person at the clerk's office, or at supervisor of the checklist sessions, or at the polls on election day.  It is unlikely such changes will cause any significant increase or decrease in municipal expenditures and there will be no effect on municipal revenues.

 

 

AGENCIES CONTACTED:

Department of Safety, Department of State, and New Hampshire Municipal Association

 

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