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S05193 Summary:

Add §8-501, El L
Establishes a nonpartisan poll monitoring program.
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S05193 Memo:

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S05193 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2023-2024 Regular Sessions
                    IN SENATE
                                    February 27, 2023
        Introduced  by  Sens.  SKOUFIS,  BAILEY, BROUK, COMRIE, COONEY, JACKSON,
          MAY, MAYER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed  to  be
          committed  to the Committee on Elections -- recommitted to the Commit-
          tee on Elections in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee
          discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted
          to said committee  --  committee  discharged,  bill  amended,  ordered
          reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee
        AN  ACT to amend the election law, in relation to establishing nonparti-
          san poll monitors
          The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section  1.  The election law is amended by adding a new section 8-501
     2  to read as follows:
     3    § 8-501. Nonpartisan  poll  monitor.  1.  For  the  purposes  of  this
     4  section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
     5    (a)  "Civic  organization"  shall mean any corporation, unincorporated
     6  association, or organization that:
     7    (i) consists of citizens interested in providing voter information and
     8  education,  the  protection  of  individual  voters'  rights,  and   the
     9  promotion of free and equal election;
    10    (ii)  as  part  of  its  written articles of incorporation, bylaws, or
    11  charter or  by  separate  written  declaration,  has  among  its  stated
    12  purposes   the   provision  of  voter  information  and  education,  the
    13  protection of individual voters' rights,  and  the  promotion  of  free,
    14  fair, accessible and secure elections;
    15    (iii)  is  organized  or  primarily conducts its activities within the
    16  state of New York; and
    17    (iv) continuously maintains an office or business location within  the
    18  state  of  New York, together with a current listed telephone number for
    19  no less than one year prior to filing the statement specified in  subdi-
    20  vision four of this section.
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        S. 5193--B                          2
     1    (b)  "Ballot  issue committee" shall mean a political committee formed
     2  to promote the success or defeat of any ballot proposal.
     3    2.  In addition to the watchers appointed pursuant to section 8-500 of
     4  this title, nonpartisan poll monitors may be appointed by a civic organ-
     5  ization or a ballot issue committee.
     6    3. Each civic organization and each ballot issue  committee  shall  be
     7  entitled to appoint no more than two nonpartisan poll monitors per poll-
     8  ing place.
     9    4.  Not  less  than  thirty-two days and not more than forty-five days
    10  before the first election for which the organization or committee  plans
    11  to appoint nonpartisan poll monitors, the state board of elections shall
    12  receive  a  statement  from  any  organization or ballot issue committee
    13  desiring to appoint nonpartisan poll monitors setting forth  the  inten-
    14  tion  of the organization or committee to appoint nonpartisan poll moni-
    15  tors.
    16    (a) The statement shall be signed and sworn to by the chief  presiding
    17  officer,  the  secretary,  or  some other officer of the organization or
    18  committee and shall set forth:
    19    (i) the reason why the organization or committee claims the  right  to
    20  appoint nonpartisan poll monitors;
    21    (ii) the names and addresses of its principal officers;
    22    (iii)  a  statement  specifying the civic organization or ballot issue
    23  committee's office address, phone number  and  an  email  to  which  all
    24  future communications shall be addressed; and
    25    (iv)  verification  of  length of time it has maintained an office and
    26  phone in New York, if a civic organization or, if a ballot issue commit-
    27  tee, verifying that  it  has  satisfied  its  filing  obligations  under
    28  section 14-118 of this chapter.
    29    (b) Such statement shall also be accompanied by:
    30    (i)  a copy of the instructional materials the organization or commit-
    31  tee will use to train poll monitors regarding voters' rights, as well as
    32  basic election day and voting procedures under the election law;
    33    (ii) a copy of the volunteer pledge which the organization or  commit-
    34  tee  requires  its  poll  monitors to sign after receiving the training,
    35  which explains what it means to be a nonpartisan poll monitor,  acknowl-
    36  edges the obligation to strictly maintain nonpartisan status while serv-
    37  ing  as a poll monitor for the appointing organization or committee, and
    38  agrees to abide by the restrictions set forth in subdivision ten of this
    39  section;
    40    (iii) a written commitment to train its  volunteer  poll  monitors  in
    41  accordance with the provided instructional materials and retain a signed
    42  copy of each assigned poll monitor's volunteer pledge, executed pursuant
    43  to  subparagraph  (ii)  of  this paragraph, prior to assigning that poll
    44  monitor to a polling place, signed under penalty of perjury by a princi-
    45  pal officer; and
    46    (iv) a statement whether the requested approval is for the next  imme-
    47  diate  election  or  for all elections occurring in the current calendar
    48  year subsequent to the date of application.
    49    (c) The state board of elections may deny an organization or committee
    50  the authorization to appoint nonpartisan poll monitors if that organiza-
    51  tion or committee fails to furnish evidence satisfactory  to  the  state
    52  board  of elections that the organization or committee is devoted to the
    53  purposes enumerated or has maintained an office and a  publicized  phone
    54  number  in  New York state for no less than one year, for failure of the
    55  required instructional materials to  adequately  outline  basic  voters'
    56  rights  and  relevant  administrative provisions of the election law, or

        S. 5193--B                          3
     1  for failing to provide  a  volunteer  pledge  form  that  satisfies  the
     2  requirements of subparagraph (iii) of paragraph (b) of this subdivision.
     3    5.  Not  later  than two business days after receipt of a statement of
     4  intent to appoint nonpartisan poll monitors under  subdivision  four  of
     5  this section but in no event later than the twenty-eighth day before the
     6  upcoming  election,  the  executive  directors  of  the  state  board of
     7  elections shall  approve  or  deny  the  organization's  or  committee's
     8  authorization to appoint nonpartisan poll monitors and notify the organ-
     9  ization  or committee of that approval or denial via email and overnight
    10  delivery, which shall be deemed to have been received by the  day  after
    11  transmission.  Authorization  shall only be denied on the basis that the
    12  applying organization or committee fails to satisfy the requirements  of
    13  paragraphs  (a) and (b) of subdivision four of this section. If authori-
    14  zation is denied under this subdivision, an  organization  or  committee
    15  may  appeal  the  denial  with  the  commissioners of the state board of
    16  elections by email or overnight delivery. The appeal of the denial  must
    17  be received by the state board not later than two days after the date of
    18  the issue of the denial, but in no event later than the twenty-fifth day
    19  before  the  upcoming  election.  Not  later than twenty days before the
    20  upcoming election, the commissioners shall consider the  appeal  of  any
    21  denials.  The  commissioners'  consideration of any appeal shall be made
    22  solely by review  of  the  executive  directors'  denial,  the  original
    23  submission  made  by  the appealing organization and any further written
    24  submissions made with the appeal.  Based on such review, the commission-
    25  ers shall approve or deny the  organization's  or  committee's  authori-
    26  zation  to appoint monitors and notify the organization or committee and
    27  the executive directors of that decision by email. Such  review  may  be
    28  conducted remotely, subject to the requirements of the open meetings law
    29  for remote or hybrid meetings.
    30    6.  No  later than fifteen days before an election, the state board of
    31  elections shall send a list of all organizations or committee that  have
    32  been  approved to appoint nonpartisan poll monitors to all county boards
    33  of elections. Each organization or committee so approved  shall  provide
    34  the  board  of  elections  for  each county in which the organization or
    35  committee plans to place nonpartisan poll monitors with a  list  of  the
    36  individuals it has trained and will deploy no later than two days before
    37  the  start  of  early voting for the relevant election. Such list may be
    38  amended no later than noon on the Monday before  the  relevant  election
    39  day.
    40    7.  All  nonpartisan  poll  monitors shall be required to wear a badge
    41  with their name and the name of the civic organization or committee  the
    42  individual is representing, and to have proper credentials. Such creden-
    43  tials shall be issued by and under the facsimile signatures of the rele-
    44  vant  board  of elections and shall be available for distribution by the
    45  relevant board of elections at least ten days  prior  to  the  election.
    46  Such  credentials shall be authorized by the real or facsimile signature
    47  of the presiding officer of the civic organization or the chair  of  the
    48  ballot issue committee, as the case may be. The presiding officer of the
    49  civic  organization or the chair of the ballot issue committee shall not
    50  be required to submit the names or other information concerning  nonpar-
    51  tisan  poll monitors before making credentials available to such persons
    52  or organizations.
    53    8. For all elections, appointed nonpartisan poll monitors pursuant  to
    54  this  section shall be registered to vote in the county or city in which
    55  the polling place to which they are assigned as a nonpartisan poll moni-
    56  tor is located, except that residents aged sixteen and seventeen who are

        S. 5193--B                          4
     1  currently residing and enrolled in school in such  county  or  city  may
     2  serve as poll monitors.
     3    9.  No person shall be qualified for appointment as a nonpartisan poll
     4  monitor:
     5    (a) who is not a registered voter in the county or city in  which  the
     6  poll  site  or  sites they will monitor is located, except for residents
     7  aged sixteen and seventeen who are currently enrolled in school in  such
     8  county or city;
     9    (b) who is a candidate for any office to be voted for at the election;
    10    (c) who is a spouse, parent, child, brother or sister of any candidate
    11  to be voted for at the election;
    12    (d) who is married to a parent, child, brother or sister of any candi-
    13  date  to be voted for at the election or who is the parent of the spouse
    14  of any candidate to be voted for at the election;
    15    (e) who is a sheriff, deputy sheriff, marshal, deputy marshal or state
    16  or municipal police officer; or
    17    (f) who has failed to sign the volunteer pledge required  pursuant  to
    18  subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (b) of subdivision four of this section.
    19    10.  (a) A nonpartisan poll monitor appointed pursuant to this section
    20  is not permitted to do any of the following while inside a polling site:
    21    (i) query, solicit or interview voters.
    22    (ii) make audio or video recordings of any voter or ballot.
    23    (iii) in any manner intervene or interfere with the administration  of
    24  the election.
    25    (iv)  fail  to  comply with all instructions given to them by election
    26  officials even if they disagree with those instructions.
    27    (b) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a nonpartisan poll  monitor
    28  from  assisting a voter upon personal request of such voter and upon the
    29  nonpartisan poll monitor taking the oath required by  section  8-306  of
    30  this  article; provided however, a nonpartisan poll monitor shall not be
    31  required to take such oath unless  such  monitor  will  be  assisting  a
    32  voter,  and provided further, nothing in this section shall be construed
    33  to otherwise prevent non-electioneering communication with  voters  that
    34  occurs outside of a polling place.
    35    11.  A nonpartisan poll monitor appointed pursuant to this section may
    36  do one or more of the following:
    37    (a) observe the manner in which the duties of the election  inspectors
    38  are being performed.
    39    (b) bring to an election inspector's attention any of the following:
    40    (i) improper handling of a ballot by an elector or election inspector.
    41    (ii)  campaigning  or  electioneering  being  performed by an election
    42  inspector or other person in violation of this chapter.
    43    (iii) an election procedure that is not being properly performed.
    44    (iv) a violation of election law or other prescribed  election  proce-
    45  dure.
    46    (c)  remain  during  the  canvass  of votes and until the statement of
    47  returns is duly signed and made.
    48    (d) assist any voter upon request.
    49    (e) keep records of votes cast.
    50    12. Nonpartisan poll monitors shall present their  credentials  to  an
    51  election  inspector upon entering any polling place to which they may be
    52  assigned, which credentials shall  be  in  substantially  the  following
    53  form:
    54                          POLL MONITOR CREDENTIALS

        S. 5193--B                          5
     1  In  accordance  with the provisions of the Election Law, the undersigned
     2  is authorized to appoint __________ (name of poll monitor)  who  resides
     3  at ___________ (address) in the county of ___________, __________ (town-
     4  ship  or  municipality)  of ______________ (name), State of New York and
     5  who is duly registered to vote from this address, to act as a poll moni-
     6  tor,  at  the  polling  place(s)  located  in  the  (county  or city) of
     7  ___________ at the ___________(special, primary or general) election  to
     8  be held on (insert date).
     9  ___________________________________(Signature  of  Appointing Authority)
    10  ___________________________________TITLE (civic organization president,
    11                                     Ballot issue committee chair)
    12  Under penalty of perjury, the undersigned poll  monitor  certifies  that
    13  such  poll  monitor resides at _______________(address) in the county of
    14  _________ (township or municipality) of __________ (name), State of  New
    15  York, and is duly registered to vote in New York.
    16  __________________________         ___________________________
    17  (Election District & Assembly      (Signature of Poll Monitor)
    18  District in
    19  Which Poll Monitor Resides)
    20    13.  Nonpartisan poll monitor credentials properly executed and signed
    21  shall be proof of the qualifications of  the  nonpartisan  poll  monitor
    22  authorized  thereby.  After  presenting  such credentials to an election
    23  inspector, the credentials are retained by the monitor but turned in  to
    24  an  election  inspector  at  the  final polling location which a monitor
    25  visits and returned to the relevant board of elections at the end of the
    26  day of election with the other election materials.  A  nonpartisan  poll
    27  monitor  may  leave  and  reenter  the  polling place provided that such
    28  continuing action does not disrupt the conduct of the election.  Nonpar-
    29  tisan poll monitors may be substituted during the course of the day, but
    30  qualified civic organizations can have only  as  many  nonpartisan  poll
    31  monitors  at any given time as are authorized in this section. A substi-
    32  tute shall present their signed credential to the inspectors of election
    33  upon entering the polling place and shall wear the required badge.
    34    14. There shall be no more than two nonpartisan poll monitors from any
    35  organization or committee at any polling place at the same time. If more
    36  than one organization or committee assigns nonpartisan poll monitors  to
    37  the same polling place, then election inspectors may limit the number of
    38  nonpartisan  poll monitors, with only one monitor from each organization
    39  or committee within the polling place at the same time, up to a limit of
    40  four separate organizations or committees.
    41    § 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
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