163-227.2. Alternate procedures for requesting application for absentee ballot; "one-stop" voting procedure in board office.

(a) Any voter eligible to vote by absentee ballot under G.S. 163-226 may request an application for absentee ballots, complete the application, and vote under the provisions of this section.

(a1) Repealed by Session Laws 2001-337, s. 2, effective January 1, 2002.

(b) (Effective until January 1, 2016) Not earlier than the second Thursday before an election, in which absentee ballots are authorized, in which a voter seeks to vote and not later than 1:00 P.M. on the last Saturday before that election, the voter shall appear in person only at the office of the county board of elections, provided in subsection (g) of this section. A county board of elections shall conduct one-stop voting on the last Saturday before the election until 1:00 P.M. That voter shall enter the voting enclosure at the board office through the appropriate entrance and shall at once state his or her name and place of residence to an authorized member or employee of the board. In a primary election, the voter shall also state the political party with which the voter affiliates and in whose primary the voter desires to vote, or if the voter is an unaffiliated voter permitted to vote in the primary of a particular party under G.S. 163-119, the voter shall state the name of the authorizing political party in whose primary he wishes to vote. The board member or employee to whom the voter gives this information shall announce the name and residence of the voter in a distinct tone of voice. After examining the registration records, an employee of the board shall state whether the person seeking to vote is duly registered. If the voter is found to be registered that voter may request that the authorized member or employee of the board furnish the voter with an application form as specified in G.S. 163-227. The voter shall complete the application in the presence of the authorized member or employee of the board, and shall deliver the application to that person.

(b) (Effective January 1, 2016) Not earlier than the second Thursday before an election, in which absentee ballots are authorized, in which a voter seeks to vote and not later than 1:00 P.M. on the last Saturday before that election, the voter shall appear in person only at the office of the county board of elections, except as provided in subsection (g) of this section. A county board of elections shall conduct one-stop voting on the last Saturday before the election until 1:00 P.M. That voter shall enter the voting enclosure at the board office through the appropriate entrance and shall at once state his or her name and place of residence to an authorized member or employee of the board and present photo identification in accordance with G.S. 163-166.13. In a primary election, the voter shall also state the political party with which the voter affiliates and in whose primary the voter desires to vote, or if the voter is an unaffiliated voter permitted to vote in the primary of a particular party under G.S. 163-119, the voter shall state the name of the authorizing political party in whose primary he wishes to vote. The board member or employee to whom the voter gives this information shall announce the name and residence of the voter in a distinct tone of voice. After examining the registration records, an employee of the board shall state whether the person seeking to vote is duly registered. If the voter is found to be registered that voter may request that the authorized member or employee of the board furnish the voter with an application form as specified in G.S. 163-227. The voter shall complete the application in the presence of the authorized member or employee of the board, and shall deliver the application to that person.

(c) If the application is properly filled out, the authorized member or employee shall enter the voter's name in the register of absentee requests, applications, and ballots issued and shall furnish the voter with the ballots to which the application for absentee ballots applies. The voter thereupon shall vote in accordance with subsection (e) of this section.

All actions required by this subsection shall be performed in the office of the board of elections, except that the voting may take place in an adjacent room as provided by subsection (e) of this section. The application under this subsection shall be signed in the presence of the chair, member, director of elections of the board, or full-time employee, authorized by the board who shall sign the application and certificate as the witness and indicate the official title held by him or her. Notwithstanding G.S. 163-231(a), in the case of this subsection, only one witness shall be required on the certificate.

(d) Only the chairman, member, employee, or director of elections of the board shall keep the voter's application for absentee ballots in a safe place, separate and apart from other applications and container-return envelopes. If the voter's application for absentee ballots is disapproved by the board, the board shall so notify the voter stating the reason for disapproval by first-class mail addressed to the voter at that voter's residence address and at the address shown in the application for absentee ballots; and the board shall enter a challenge under G.S. 163-89.

(e) The voter shall vote that voter's absentee ballot in a voting booth in the office of the county board of elections, and the county board of elections shall provide a voting booth for that purpose, provided however, that the county board of elections may in the alternative provide a private room for the voter adjacent to the office of the board, in which case the voter shall vote that voter's absentee ballot in that room. A voter at a one-stop site shall be entitled to the same assistance as a voter at a voting place on election day under G.S. 163-166.8. The State Board of Elections shall, where appropriate, adapt the rules it adopts under G.S. 163-166.8 to one-stop voting.

(e1) (Effective until January 1, 2018) If a county uses a voting system with retrievable ballots, that county's board of elections may by resolution elect to conduct one-stop absentee voting according to the provisions of this subsection. In a county in which the board has opted to do so, a one-stop voter shall cast the ballot and then shall deposit the ballot in the ballot box or voting system in the same manner as if such box or system was in use in a precinct on election day. At the end of each business day, or at any time when there will be no employee or officer of the board of elections on the premises, the ballot box or system shall be secured in accordance with a plan approved by the State Board of Elections, which shall include that no additional ballots have been placed in the box or system. Any county board desiring to conduct one-stop voting according to this subsection shall submit a plan for doing so to the State Board of Elections. The State Board shall adopt standards for conducting one-stop voting under this subsection and shall approve any county plan that adheres to its standards. The county board shall adhere to its State Board-approved plan. The plan shall provide that each one-stop ballot shall have a ballot number on it in accordance with G.S. 163-230.1(a2), or shall have an equivalent identifier to allow for retrievability. The standards shall address retrievability in one-stop voting on direct record electronic equipment where no paper ballot is used.

(e1) (Effective January 1, 2018) If a county uses a voting system with retrievable ballots, that county's board of elections may by resolution elect to conduct one-stop absentee voting according to the provisions of this subsection. In a county in which the board has opted to do so, a one-stop voter shall cast the ballot and then shall deposit the ballot in the ballot box or voting system in the same manner as if such box or system was in use in a precinct on election day. At the end of each business day, or at any time when there will be no employee or officer of the board of elections on the premises, the ballot box or system shall be secured in accordance with a plan approved by the State Board of Elections, which shall include that no additional ballots have been placed in the box or system. Any county board desiring to conduct one-stop voting according to this subsection shall submit a plan for doing so to the State Board of Elections. The State Board shall adopt standards for conducting one-stop voting under this subsection and shall approve any county plan that adheres to its standards. The county board shall adhere to its State Board-approved plan. The plan shall provide that each one-stop ballot shall have a ballot number on it in accordance with G.S. 163-230.1(a2), or shall have an equivalent identifier to allow for retrievability.

(e2) A voter who has moved within the county more than 30 days before election day but has not reported the move to the board of elections shall not be required on that account to vote a provisional ballot at the one-stop site, as long as the one-stop site has available all the information necessary to determine whether a voter is registered to vote in the county and which ballot the voter is eligible to vote based on the voter's proper residence address. The voter with that kind of unreported move shall be allowed to vote the same kind of absentee ballot as other one-stop voters.

(f) Notwithstanding the exception specified in G.S. 163-36, counties which operate a modified full-time office shall remain open five days each week during regular business hours consistent with daily hours presently observed by the county board of elections, commencing with the date prescribed in G.S. 163-227.2(b) and continuing until 5:00 P.M. on the Friday prior to that election and shall also be open on the last Saturday before the election. A county board may conduct one-stop absentee voting during evenings or on weekends, as long as the hours are part of a plan submitted and approved according to subsection (g) of this section. The boards of county commissioners shall provide necessary funds for the additional operation of the office during that time.

(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a county board of elections by unanimous vote of all its members may provide for one or more sites in that county for absentee ballots to be applied for and cast under this section. Every individual staffing any of those sites shall be a member or full-time employee of the county board of elections or an employee of the county board of elections whom the board has given training equivalent to that given a full-time employee. Those sites must be approved by the State Board of Elections as part of a Plan for Implementation approved by both the county board of elections and by the State Board of Elections which shall also provide adequate security of the ballots and provisions to avoid allowing persons to vote who have already voted. The Plan for Implementation shall include a provision for the presence of political party observers at each one-stop site equivalent to the provisions in G.S. 163-45 for party observers at voting places on election day. A county board of elections may propose in its Plan not to offer one-stop voting at the county board of elections office; the State Board may approve that proposal in a Plan only if the Plan includes at least one site reasonably proximate to the county board of elections office and the State Board finds that the sites in the Plan as a whole provide adequate coverage of the county's electorate. If a county board of elections has considered a proposed Plan or Plans for Implementation and has been unable to reach unanimity in favor of a Plan, a member or members of that county board of elections may petition the State Board of Elections to adopt a plan for it. If petitioned, the State Board may also receive and consider alternative petitions from another member or members of that county board. The State Board of Elections may adopt a Plan for that county. The State Board, in that plan, shall take into consideration factors including geographic, demographic, and partisan interests of that county. Any plan adopted by either the county board of elections or the State Board of Elections under this subsection shall provide for the same days of operation and same number of hours of operation on each day for all sites in that county for that election. The requirement of the previous sentence does not apply to the county board of elections office itself nor, if one-stop voting is not conducted at the county board of elections office, to the reasonably proximate alternate site approved under this subsection.

(g1) The State Board of Elections shall not approve, either in a Plan approved unanimously by a county board of elections or in an alternative Plan proposed by a member or members of that board, a one-stop site in a building that the county board of elections is not entitled under G.S. 163-129 to demand and use as an election-day voting place, unless the State Board of Elections finds that other equally suitable sites were not available and that the use of the sites chosen will not unfairly advantage or disadvantage geographic, demographic, or partisan interests of that county. In providing the site or sites for one-stop absentee voting under this section, the county board of elections shall make a request to the State, county, city, local school board, or other entity in control of the building that is supported or maintained, in whole or in part, by or through tax revenues at least 90 days prior to the start of one-stop absentee voting under this section. The request shall clearly identify the building, or any specific portion thereof, requested the dates and times for which that building or specific portion thereof is requested and the requirement of an area for election related activity. If the State, local governing board, or other entity in control of the building does not respond to the request within 20 days, the building or specific portion thereof may be used for one-stop absentee voting as stated in the request. If the State, local governing board, or other entity in control of the building or specific portion thereof responds negatively to the request within 20 days, that entity and the county board of elections shall, in good faith, work to identify a building or specific portion thereof in which to conduct one-stop absentee voting under this section. If no building or specific portion thereof has been agreed upon within 45 days from the date the county board of elections received a response to the request, the matter shall be resolved by the State Board of Elections.

(g2) Notwithstanding the requirements of subsection (g) and (g1) of this section, for any county board of elections that provided for one or more sites as provided in subsection (g) of this section during the 2010 or 2012 general election, that county shall provide, at a minimum, the following:

(1) The county board of elections shall calculate the cumulative total number of scheduled voting hours at all sites during the 2012 primary and general elections, respectively, that the county provided for absentee ballots to be applied for and voted under this section. For elections which include a presidential candidate on the ballot, the county shall ensure that at least the same number of hours offered in 2012 is offered for absentee ballots to be applied for and voted under this section through a combination of hours and numbers of one-stop sites during the primary or general election, correspondingly.

(2) The county board of elections shall calculate the cumulative total number of scheduled voting hours at all sites during the 2010 primary and general elections, respectively, that the county provided for absentee ballots to be applied for and voted under this section. For elections which do not include a presidential candidate on the ballot, the county shall ensure that at least the same number of hours offered in 2010 is offered for absentee ballots to be applied for and voted under this section through a combination of hours and numbers of one-stop sites during the primary or general election, correspondingly.

The State Board of Elections, to ensure compliance with this subsection, may approve a one-stop site in a building that the county board of elections is not entitled under G.S. 163-129 to demand and use as an election-day voting place, but may deny approval if a member of that board presents evidence that other equally suitable sites were available and the use of the sites chosen would unfairly advantage or disadvantage geographic, demographic, or partisan interests of that county.

(g3) A county board of elections by unanimous vote of the board, with all members present and voting, may submit a request to the State Board to reduce the number of hours established in subsection (g2) of this section for a primary or a general election. The reduction shall take effect for that primary or general election only if approved by unanimous vote of the State Board with all members present and voting.

(h) Notwithstanding the provisions of G.S. 163-89(a) and (b), a challenge may be entered against a voter at a one-stop site under subsection (g) of this section or during one-stop voting at the county board office. The challenge may be entered by a person conducting one-stop voting under this section or by another registered voter who resides in the same precinct as the voter being challenged. If challenged at the place where one-stop voting occurs, the voter shall be allowed to cast a ballot in the same way as other voters. The challenge shall be made on forms prescribed by the State Board of Elections. The challenge shall be heard by the county board of elections in accordance with the procedures set forth in G.S. 163-89(e).

(i) At any site where one-stop absentee voting is conducted, there shall be a curtained or otherwise private area where the voter may mark the ballot unobserved. (1973, c. 536, s. 1; 1975, c. 844, s. 12; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; c. 626, s. 1; 1979, c. 107, s. 14; c. 799, ss. 1-3; 1981, c. 305, s. 2; 1985, c. 600, s. 4; 1987, c. 583, s. 4; 1989, c. 520; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 991, s. 2; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 53; 1995, c. 243, s. 1; c. 509, ss. 117, 118; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 561, s. 4; 1997-510, s. 2; 1999-455, s. 6; 2000-136, s. 2; 2001-319, s. 5(a)-(c); 2001-337, s. 2; 2001-353, s. 9; 2003-278, s. 11; 2005-428, ss. 5(a), 6(a), 7; 2007-253, s. 3; 2007-391, s. 34(a); 2009-541, s. 23; 2013-381, ss. 2.7, 16.5, 25.1, 25.2, 25.3, 30.7.)