We have received several questions from our county committee members as well as received and observed communication that indicates some confusion regarding the process of vote certification and the impact on potential challenges and review of voting information. In addition, issues related to the new Voter ID law raise questions about how counties and the state executive committee should deal with potential practical timing conflicts created by the new law.
1. County Certification Process: Under Section 23-15-597, each county executive committee should have already met to certify the returns. If you have not completed that process, you should do so Monday, orTuesday morning at the latest.
There are two reasons for this. First, section 23-15-911 requires counties to transmit your results to the state committee, and the same statute requires the state committee to meet on Tuesday, July 1 at 2pm, to canvass the results from the 82 counties. The statute left the state committee no discretion about when to meet.
Second, section 23-15-911 allows persons who may want to challenge the results to have access to the ballot boxes only after the county committees have completed the certification process.
This is written in this manner because of a practical reason: the committees need those boxes to complete the work required by statute, and two sets of people can’t be working with the ballots at the same time.
Each party has 12 days from county certification to review the poll books and other ballot information. Notice of 3 days is required however in the event one campaign wants to review the materials so that the other campaign may have a representative present. The circuit clerk and not the county party oversees this review.
2. Impact of new voter ID law: We will simply use the same process outlined below for dealing with these timing challenges under the new Voter ID law as we used for the state executive committee meeting held after the June 3 primary. There were no complaints about this process after the first primary, and we need to be consistent with our process.
You should report your results immediately, whether or not your county still has outstanding ballots under the new voter identification act which have not been verified by a voter coming to the courthouse to present his identification. Since the voter identification act did not amend the time limits in section 23-15-597, the county committees must still complete the certification and transmit the numbers before the state committee meets on Tuesday July 1 at 2pm.
If your county has no unverified ballots under the voter identification act, there is no problem and no additional information to report.
If your county has some unverified ballots, and if voters come to the courthouse with proof of identity after you send your results to the state committee, then simply be sure that your circuit clerk counts any newly verified ballots and transmits the results to the state committee.
The state chairman will include those votes in your county’s final totals that will be transmitted to the Secretary of State on Monday, July 7, as required by section 23-15-599.
3. Challenge Process: Many people have asked questions about the process of challenging the runoff results. Under 23-15-923, a complaint may be filed with the state committee after we finish the process of reporting the vote to the Secretary of State on July 7. Some have said that the meeting on Tuesday July 1 ends the time for which a complaint may be filed but that is not the case.
4. State Executive Committee meeting: The purpose of the state executive committee meeting on Tuesday July 1 at 2pm is to simply add the certified totals received from the counties and pass them on to the Secretary of State by the July 7 deadline. This meeting is not a “certification” of any totals and as stated above a complaint may be filed with the committee after the July 7 deadline has passed.
This is basic information but very important so that everyone understands the significance or lack thereof of some of the events of this week. If you notice anything in this memo which you feel is incorrect please let us know so we can correct or explain it. Thanks.