Senate File 53 - IntroducedA Bill ForAn Act 1relating to the electronic delivery of ballots to
2persons with certain physical disabilities.
1   Section 1.  Section 53.2, subsection 2, Code 2021, is amended
2by adding the following new paragraph:
3   NEW PARAGRAPH.  d.  Absentee ballot applications shall
4include a space for a registered voter with a physical
5disability that prevents the registered voter from reading
6or marking a printed ballot without assistance from another
7person to request that an absentee ballot be delivered to the
8registered voter electronically. A voter requesting that an
9absentee ballot be delivered electronically shall explain
10why the voter cannot read or mark a physical absentee ballot
11without assistance from another person. The state commissioner
12shall adopt rules regarding the form of electronic absentee
14   Sec. 2.  Section 53.8, subsection 1, paragraph a, unnumbered
15paragraph 1, Code 2021, is amended to read as follows:
   16Upon receipt of an application for an absentee ballot
17and immediately after the absentee ballots are printed,
18but not more than twenty-nine days before the election, the
19commissioner shall mail an absentee ballot to the applicant
20within twenty-four hours, except as otherwise provided in
21subsection 3 or 4. When the United States post office is
22closed in observance of a federal holiday and is not delivering
23mail on the twenty-ninth day before the election, the first day
24to mail absentee ballots is the next business day on which mail
25delivery is available. The absentee ballot shall be sent to
26the registered voter by one of the following methods:
27   Sec. 3.  Section 53.8, subsection 3, paragraph c, Code 2021,
28is amended to read as follows:
   29c.  Nothing in this subsection nor in section 53.22
30shall be construed to prohibit a registered voter who is a
31hospital patient or resident of a health care facility, or who
32anticipates entering a hospital or health care facility before
33the date of a forthcoming election, from casting an absentee
34ballot in the manner prescribed by section 53.10 or 53.11, or
35from completing an electronic absentee ballot in the manner
-1-1prescribed by subsection 4
2   Sec. 4.  Section 53.8, Code 2021, is amended by adding the
3following new subsection:
4   NEW SUBSECTION.  4.  a.  (1)  When an application for an
5absentee ballot is received by the commissioner from a voter
6who has indicated that the voter has a physical disability that
7prevents the voter from reading or marking a printed ballot
8without assistance from another person, the commissioner shall
9determine whether the voter qualifies to receive an electronic
10absentee ballot. If the commissioner determines that the
11voter qualifies to receive an electronic absentee ballot, the
12commissioner shall transmit an electronic absentee ballot to
13the voter in a form that allows the voter to electronically
14read and mark the ballot on a personal computer without the
15assistance of another person. An electronic absentee ballot
16shall not be transmitted prior to the mailing of physical
17absentee ballots. In addition to an electronic absentee
18ballot, the commissioner shall mail all physical materials
19other than an absentee ballot as provided in subsections 1 and
   21(2)  If the commissioner determines that the voter does
22not qualify to receive an electronic absentee ballot, the
23commissioner shall inform the voter by the best means available
24that the voter does not qualify to receive an electronic
25absentee ballot, the reason for the rejection, and that the
26voter shall be mailed a physical absentee ballot.
   27b.  An electronic absentee ballot completed pursuant to
28paragraph “a” shall be printed by the voter and returned to
29the commissioner as provided in section 53.17, using the same
30method as required for physical absentee ballots in that
31election. An electronic absentee ballot shall not be returned
   33c.  The state commissioner shall adopt rules for the
34transmission and marking of electronic absentee ballots.
35   Sec. 5.  Section 53.22, subsection 2, paragraph a,
-2-1subparagraph (1), Code 2021, is amended to read as follows:
   2(1)  A registered voter who has applied for an absentee
3ballot, in a manner other than that prescribed by section
453.10 or 53.11, or by section 53.8, subsection 4, and who
5is a resident, tenant, or patient in a health care facility,
6assisted living program, or hospital located in the county to
7which the application has been submitted shall be delivered
8the appropriate absentee ballot by two special precinct
9election officers, one of whom shall be a member of each of the
10political parties referred to in section 49.13, who shall be
11appointed by the commissioner from the election board panel
12for the special precinct established by section 53.20. The
13special precinct election officers shall be sworn in the manner
14provided by section 49.75 for election board members, shall
15receive compensation as provided in section 49.20, and shall
16perform their duties during the ten calendar days after the
17ballots are printed if the commissioner so elects, during the
18fourteen calendar days preceding the election, and on election
19day if all ballots requested under section 53.8, subsection 3,
20have not previously been delivered and returned.
22The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with
23the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly.
   24This bill relates to the electronic delivery of absentee
25ballots to certain persons. The bill requires the state
26commissioner of elections to include a space on absentee ballot
27request forms for a voter to indicate that the voter wants to
28receive an electronic absentee ballot because the voter has a
29physical disability that prevents the voter from reading and
30marking a physical ballot without the assistance of another
31person. If, upon receipt of an absentee ballot request form,
32the county commissioner of elections determines that the voter
33qualifies to receive an electronic absentee ballot, the county
34commissioner shall transmit an electronic absentee ballot
35to the voter at the time that physical absentee ballots are
-3-1mailed. If the county commissioner determines that the voter
2does not qualify to receive an electronic absentee ballot, the
3county commissioner shall inform the voter of the rejection,
4the reason therefore, and that the voter will receive a
5physical absentee ballot.
   6The bill requires an electronic absentee ballot to be
7transmitted in a form that allows the voter to read and mark
8the ballot using a personal computer. The bill then requires
9the voter to print the absentee ballot and return it in the
10same manner as prescribed for physical absentee ballots. The
11bill does not allow a voter to return an absentee ballot
12electronically. The bill requires the state commissioner of
13elections to adopt rules regarding the form, transmission, and
14marking of electronic absentee ballots.