WEST virginia legislature
2020 regular session
House Bill 4593
By Delegate Higginbotham
[Introduced January 29, 2020; Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §3-1-5 and §3-1-30 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to authorizing the assignment of poll workers to serve more than one precinct when those precinct polling places are located in the same building or facility.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
ARTICLE 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS AND DEFINITIONS.
§3-1-5. Voting precincts and places established; number of voters in precincts; precinct map; municipal map.
(a) The precinct is the basic territorial election unit. The county commission shall divide each magisterial district of the county into election precincts, shall number the precincts, shall determine and establish the boundaries thereof and shall designate one voting place in each precinct, which place shall be established as nearly as possible at the point most convenient for the voters of the precinct. Each magisterial district shall contain at least one voting precinct and each precinct shall have but one voting place therein.
Each precinct within any urban center shall contain not less than three hundred nor more than one thousand five hundred registered voters. Each precinct in a rural or less thickly settled area shall contain not less than two hundred nor more than seven hundred registered voters. A county commission may permit the establishment or retention of a precinct less than the minimum numbers allowed in this subsection upon making a written finding that to do otherwise would cause undue hardship to the voters. If, at any time the number of registered voters exceeds the maximum number specified, the county commission shall rearrange the precincts within the political division so that the new precincts each contain a number of registered voters within the designated limits: Provided, That any precincts with polling places that are within a one mile radius of each other on or after July 1, 2014, may be consolidated, at the discretion of the county clerk and county commission into one or more new precincts that contain not more than three thousand registered voters in any urban center, nor more than one thousand five hundred registered voters in a rural or less thickly settled area: Provided, however, That no precincts may be consolidated pursuant to this section if the consolidation would create a geographical barrier or path of travel between voters in a precinct and their proposed new polling place that would create an undue hardship to voters of any current precinct.
If a county commission fails to rearrange the precincts as
required, any qualified voter of the county may apply for a writ of mandamus to
compel the performance of this duty: Provided, That when in the
discretion of the county commission, there is only one place convenient to vote
within the precinct and when there are more than seven hundred registered
voters within the existing precinct, the county commission may designate two or
more precincts with the same geographic boundaries and which have voting places
located within the same building. The county commission shall designate
alphabetically the voters who are eligible to vote in each precinct so created.
Each precinct shall be operated separately and independently with separate
voting booths, ballot boxes, election commissioners and clerks, and whenever
possible, in separate rooms. No two
the precincts may use the same counting standard receiving board,
notwithstanding the provisions of §3-1-30(j) of this code.
(b) In order to facilitate the conduct of local and special elections and the use of election registration records therein, precinct boundaries shall be established to coincide with the boundaries of any municipality of the county and with the wards or other geographical districts of the municipality except in instances where found by the county commission to be wholly impracticable so to do. Governing bodies of all municipalities shall provide accurate and current maps of their boundaries to the clerk of any county commission of a county in which any portion of the municipality is located.
(c) To facilitate the federal and state redistricting process, precinct boundaries shall be comprised of intersecting geographic physical features or municipal boundaries recognized by the U. S. Census Bureau. For purposes of this subsection, geographic physical features include streets, roads, streams, creeks, rivers, railroad tracks and mountain ridge lines. The county commission of every county shall modify precinct boundaries to follow geographic physical features or municipal boundaries and submit changes to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance by June 30, 2007, and by June 30, every ten calendar years thereafter. The county commission shall also submit precinct boundary details to the U.S. Census Bureau upon request.
(d) The county commission shall keep available at all times during business hours in the courthouse at a place convenient for public inspection a map or maps of the county and municipalities with the current boundaries of all precincts.
§3-1-30. Nomination and appointment of election officials and alternates; notice of appointment; appointment to fill vacancies in election boards.
(a) For any primary, general or special election held throughout a county, poll clerks and election commissioners may be nominated as follows:
(1) The county executive committee for each of the two major political parties may, by a majority vote of the committee at a duly called meeting, nominate one qualified person for each team of poll clerks and one qualified person for each team of election commissioners to be appointed for the election;
(2) The appointing body shall select one qualified person as the additional election commissioner for each board of election officials;
(3) Each county executive committee shall also nominate qualified persons as alternates for at least 10 percent of the poll clerks and election commissioners to be appointed in the county and is authorized to nominate as many qualified persons as alternates as there are precincts in the county to be called upon to serve in the event any of the persons originally appointed fail to accept appointment or fail to appear for the required training or for the preparation or execution of their duties;
(4) When an executive
committee nominates qualified persons as poll clerks, election commissioners or
alternates, the committee, or its
chairman chair or secretary on
its behalf, shall file in writing with the appointing body, no later than the
70th day before the election, a list of those persons nominated and the
positions for which they are designated.
(b) For any municipal primary, general or special election, the poll clerks and election commissioners may be nominated as follows:
(1) In municipalities which have municipal executive committees for the two major political parties in the municipality, each committee may nominate election officials in the manner provided for the nomination of election officials by county executive committees in subsection (a) of this section;
(2) In municipalities which do not have executive committees, the governing body shall provide by ordinance for a method of nominating election officials or shall nominate as many eligible persons as are required, giving due consideration to any recommendations made by voters of the municipality or by candidates on the ballot.
(c) The governing body responsible for appointing election officials is:
(1) The county commission for any primary, general or special election ordered by the county commission and any joint county and municipal election;
(2) The board of education for any special election ordered by the board of education conducted apart from any other election;
(3) The municipal governing body for any primary, general or special municipal election ordered by the governing body.
(d) The qualifications for persons nominated to serve as election officials may be confirmed prior to appointment by the clerk of the county commission for any election ordered by the county commission or for any joint county and municipal election and by the official recorder of the municipality for a municipal election.
(e) The appropriate governing body shall appoint the election officials for each designated election board no later than the 49th day before the election as follows:
(1) Those eligible persons whose nominations for poll clerk and election commissioner were timely filed by the executive committees and those additional persons selected to serve as an election commissioner are to be appointed;
(2) The governing body shall fill any positions for which no nominations were filed.
(f) At the same time as the appointment of election officials or at a subsequent meeting the governing body shall appoint persons as alternates. However, no alternate may be eligible for compensation for election training unless the alternate is subsequently appointed as an election official or is instructed to attend and actually attends training as an alternate and is available to serve on election day. Alternates shall be appointed and serve as follows:
(1) Those alternates nominated by the executive committees shall be appointed;
(2) The governing body may appoint additional alternates who may be called upon to fill vacancies after all alternates designated by the executive committees have been assigned, have declined to serve or have failed to attend training; and
(3) The governing body may determine the number of persons who may be instructed to attend training as alternates.
(g) The clerk of the county commission shall appoint qualified persons to fill all vacancies existing after all previously appointed alternates have been assigned, have declined to serve or have failed to attend training.
(h) Within seven days following appointment, the clerk of the county commission shall notify, by first-class mail, all election commissioners, poll clerks and alternates of the fact of their appointment and include with the notice a response notice form for the appointed person to return indicating whether or not he or she agrees to serve in the specified capacity in the election.
(i) The position of any person notified of appointment who fails to return the response notice or otherwise confirm to the clerk of the county commission his or her agreement to serve within 14 days following the date of appointment is considered vacant and the clerk shall proceed to fill the vacancies according to the provisions of this section.
(j) If the governing body and the clerk of the county commission are unable to nominate a sufficient number of qualified persons agreeing to serve on a standard receiving board for each precinct, the clerk may assign members of one precinct’s standard receiving board to serve simultaneously on the standard receiving board of another precinct where the polling places of both precincts are located within the same physical building or facility: Provided, That no more than three precincts within the same building or facility may share board members in this manner.
(j) (k) If an appointed election official fails to
appear at the polling place by 45 minutes past five o’clock a.m. on election
day, the election officials present shall contact the office of the clerk of
the county commission for assistance in filling the vacancy. The clerk shall
proceed as follows:
(1) The clerk may attempt to contact the person originally appointed, may assign an alternate nominated by the same political party as the person absent if one is available or, if no alternate is available, may appoint another eligible person;
(2) If the election officials present are unable to contact the clerk within a reasonable time, they shall diligently attempt to fill the position with an eligible person of the same political party as the party that nominated the person absent until a qualified person has agreed to serve;
(3) If two teams of election officials, as defined in §3-1-29 of this code, are present at the polling place, the person appointed to fill a vacancy in the position of the additional commissioner may be of either political party.
(k) (l) In a municipal election, the recorder or
other official designated by charter or ordinance to perform election
responsibilities shall perform the duties of the clerk of the county commission
as provided in this section.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide greater flexibility in the assignment of poll workers by allowing poll workers to serve up to three precincts when those precinct polling places are located within the same building.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.