163-165.3. Responsibilities for preparing official ballots.

(a) State Board Responsibilities. - The State Board of Elections shall certify the official ballots and voter instructions to be used in every election that is subject to this Article. In conducting its certification, the State Board shall adhere to the following:

(1) No later than January 31 of every calendar year, the State Board shall establish a schedule for the certification of all official ballots and instructions during that year. The schedule shall include a time for county boards of elections to submit their official ballots and instructions to the State Board for certification and times for the State Board to complete the certification.

(2) The State Board of Elections shall compose model ballot instructions, which county boards of elections may amend subject to approval by the State Board as part of the certification process. The State Board of Elections may permit a county board of elections to place instructions elsewhere than on the official ballot itself, where placing them on the official ballot would be impractical.

(3) With regard only to multicounty ballot items on the official ballot, the State Board shall certify the accuracy of the content on the official ballot.

(4) With regard to the entire official ballot, the State Board shall certify that the content and arrangement of the official ballot are in substantial compliance with the provisions of this Article and standards adopted by the State Board.

(5) The State Board shall proofread the official ballot of every county, if practical, prior to final production.

(6) The State Board is not required to certify or review every official ballot style in the county but may require county boards to submit and may review a composite official ballot showing races that will appear in every district in the county.

The State Board shall be responsible for oversight of all ballot coding. In order to produce the data necessary for equipment programming, each county shall either contract with a qualified vendor certified by the State Board or be certified by the State Board to produce the data.

(b) County Board Responsibilities. - Each county board of elections shall prepare and produce official ballots for all elections in that county. The county board of elections shall submit the format of each official ballot and set of instructions to the State Board of Elections for review and certification in accordance with the schedule established by the State Board. The county board of elections shall follow the directions of the State Board in placing candidates, referenda, and other material on official ballots and in placing instructions.

(c) Late Changes in Ballots. - The State Board shall promulgate rules for late changes in ballots. The rules shall provide for the reprinting, where practical, of official ballots as a result of replacement candidates to fill vacancies in accordance with G.S. 163-114 or other late changes. If an official ballot is not reprinted, a vote for a candidate who has been replaced in accordance with G.S. 163-114 will count for the replacement candidate.

(d) Special Ballots. - The State Board of Elections, with the approval of a county board of elections, may produce special official ballots, such as those for disabled voters, where production by the State Board would be more practical than production by the county board. (2001-460, s. 3; 2007-391, s. 24(a); 2008-187, s. 33(a); 2009-541, s. 18(a).)