SENATE BILL 283
G1, F2 1lr0789
(PRE–FILED) CF HB 156
By: Senator Elfreth
Requested: September 30, 2020
Introduced and read first time: January 13, 2021
Assigned to: Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs
A BILL ENTITLED
1 AN ACT concerning
2 Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act
3 FOR the purpose of requiring a local board of elections to contact and obtain input from
4 certain large residential institutional communities when establishing precinct
5 boundaries and designating the location of polling places; requiring the State Board
6 of Elections to maintain a page on its website that includes certain information about
7 and links regarding voter registration and voting by students enrolled in institutions
8 of higher education; requiring the State Board to establish a process for an individual
9 to submit a certain federal post card application electronically and use a certain
10 common access card to sign a certain federal post card application; requiring a public
11 institution of higher education to designate a staff member as the student voting
12 coordinator; requiring the student voting coordinator to develop and implement a
13 student voting plan to increase student voter registration and voting in collaboration
14 with certain persons at the institution; requiring the student voting plan to cover a
15 certain period and be updated at a certain time; requiring the student voting plan to
16 include certain elements relating to dissemination of information about voter
17 registration and voting, provision of voter registration materials on campus,
18 accommodation of early voting centers and precinct polling places on campus,
19 encouragement of student organizations engaged in voter registration and voting
20 activities, and a policy allowing a student to be excused from class or absent from a
21 job with the institution for the purpose of voting; requiring a public institution of
22 higher education to make the student voting plan available to the public and provide
23 the plan to the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the State Board;
24 applying the requirement that a public institution of higher education provide a
25 certain link to the online voter registration system from a certain online student
26 portal to private nonprofit institutions of higher education that receive funding from
27 the State; requiring public institutions of higher education and private institutions
28 of higher education that receive funding from the State to relocate a certain link to
29 the online voter registration system and take certain steps if there are fewer than a
30 certain number of clicks on the link in any calendar year; requiring public
EXPLANATION: CAPITALS INDICATE MATTER ADDED TO EXISTING LAW.
[Brackets] indicate matter deleted from existing law.
*sb0283*
2 SENATE BILL 283
1 institutions of higher education to include certain information in a certain report if
2 there were fewer than a certain number of clicks on a certain link to the online voter
3 registration system in the preceding calendar year; requiring certain private
4 nonprofit institutions of higher education that receive funding from the State to
5 submit a certain report to the Maryland Independent College and University
6 Association regarding voter registration on or before a certain date each year;
7 requiring the Maryland Independent College and University Association to submit
8 a certain report summarizing information regarding voter registration at certain
9 private nonprofit institutions of higher education to certain committees of the
10 General Assembly on or before a certain date each year; defining certain terms;
11 making conforming changes; and generally relating to voter registration and voting.
12 BY repealing and reenacting, without amendments,
13 Article – Election Law
14 Section 1–101(a) and 3–204(a)
15 Annotated Code of Maryland
16 (2017 Replacement Volume and 2020 Supplement)
17 BY adding to
18 Article – Election Law
19 Section 1–101(bb–1), 3–103, 3–202.1, 3–204(c), and 3–204.2(f)
20 Annotated Code of Maryland
21 (2017 Replacement Volume and 2020 Supplement)
22 BY repealing and reenacting, with amendments,
23 Article – Election Law
24 Section 1–101(bb–1), 2–303(a), and 3–204(b)
25 Annotated Code of Maryland
26 (2017 Replacement Volume and 2020 Supplement)
27 BY repealing
28 Article – Election Law
29 Section 3–204(c)
30 Annotated Code of Maryland
31 (2017 Replacement Volume and 2020 Supplement)
32 SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF MARYLAND,
33 That the Laws of Maryland read as follows:
34 Article – Election Law
35 1–101.
36 (a) In this article the following words have the meanings indicated unless a
37 different meaning is clearly intended from the context.
SENATE BILL 283 3
1 (BB–1) “INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION” HAS THE MEANING
2 STATED IN § 10–101 OF THE EDUCATION ARTICLE.
3 [(bb–1)] (BB–2) “Legislative party caucus committee” means a political
4 committee that is established to promote the election of candidates of a single political party
5 to one of the two Houses of the General Assembly.
6 2–303.
7 (a) (1) Subject to [paragraph] PARAGRAPHS (2) AND (3) of this subsection, as
8 it deems it expedient for the convenience of voters, a local board may:
9 (i) create and alter the boundaries for precincts in the county;
10 (ii) designate the location for polling places in any election district,
11 ward, or precinct in the county; and
12 (iii) combine or abolish precincts.
13 (2) (i) Except as provided under subparagraph (iii) of this paragraph, a
14 local board shall establish a separate precinct on campus or within one–half mile of the
15 campus to specifically serve a public or private institution of higher education if the local
16 board determines that at least 500 students, faculty, and staff who attend or work at the
17 institution are registered voters in the precinct in which the institution is located.
18 (ii) If, in accordance with subparagraph (i) of this paragraph, a
19 polling place is established at an institution of higher education that receives State funds,
20 that institution shall:
21 1. provide without charge to the local board a facility for use
22 as a polling place that meets all applicable requirements under this article and as
23 established by the State Board; and
24 2. provide assistance to the local board in recruiting election
25 judges to staff the polling place.
26 (iii) A local board may not be required to establish a separate precinct
27 as provided under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph if there is an established precinct
28 within one–half mile of the public or private institution of higher education’s campus that
29 serves the voters who attend or work at the public or private institution of higher education.
30 (3)
WHEN A LOCAL BOARD IS ESTABLISHING PRECINCT BOUNDARIES
31 AND DESIGNATING THE LOCATION OF POLLING PLACES, THE LOCAL BOARD SHALL
32 CONTACT AND OBTAIN INPUT FROM LARGE RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTIONAL
33 COMMUNITIES INCLUDING INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION, CONTINUING
4 SENATE BILL 283
1 CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES, SENIOR COMMUNITIES, AND MILITARY
2 INSTALLATIONS.
3 3–103.
4 THE STATE BOARD SHALL MAINTAIN A PAGE ON ITS WEBSITE THAT:
5 (1) EXPLAINS IN PLAIN, EASILY UNDERSTANDABLE LANGUAGE THE
6 REQUIREMENTS FOR STUDENTS ENROLLED IN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER
7 EDUCATION TO REGISTER TO VOTE IN THE STATE; AND
8 (2)
INCLUDES LINKS TO INFORMATION REGARDING VOTER
9 REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS AND VOTING BY ABSENTEE BALLOT IN OTHER
10 STATES IN WHICH STUDENTS ENROLLED IN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION
11 MAY RESIDE.
12 3–202.1.
13 (A) (1) IN THIS SECTION THE FOLLOWING WORDS HAVE THE MEANINGS
14 INDICATED.
15 (2)
“COMMON ACCESS CARD” MEANS THE IDENTIFICATION CARD
16 ISSUED BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE TO ACTIVE–DUTY MILITARY
17 PERSONNEL, ELIGIBLE RESERVE PERSONNEL, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CIVILIAN
18 EMPLOYEES, AND ELIGIBLE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CONTRACTOR PERSONNEL.
19 (3)
“FEDERAL POST CARD APPLICATION” MEANS THE FORM
20 PRESCRIBED UNDER 52 U.S.C. § 20301(B)(2) THAT MAY BE USED BY ABSENT
21 UNIFORMED SERVICES VOTERS AND OVERSEAS VOTERS TO SIMULTANEOUSLY
22 APPLY TO REGISTER TO VOTE AND APPLY FOR AN ABSENTEE BALLOT.
23 (B) THE STATE BOARD SHALL ESTABLISH A PROCESS FOR AN INDIVIDUAL
24 TO:
25 (1)
SUBMIT THE FEDERAL POST CARD APPLICATION
26 ELECTRONICALLY; AND
27 (2) USE A COMMON ACCESS CARD TO SIGN THE FEDERAL POST CARD
28 APPLICATION.
29 3–204.
SENATE BILL 283 5
1 (a) (1) The State Board shall designate public agencies and nongovernmental
2 agencies as voter registration agencies where qualified individuals may apply to register to
3 vote.
4 (2) The State Board shall designate the following offices as voter
5 registration agencies:
6 (i) all offices in the State that provide public assistance;
7 (ii) all offices in the State that provide State–funded programs
8 primarily engaged in providing services to individuals with disabilities;
9 (iii) all public institutions of higher education in the State; and
10 (iv) all one–stop career centers in the Maryland Department of
11 Labor.
12 (3) The State Board and the Secretary of Defense shall jointly develop and
13 implement procedures for persons to apply to register to vote at recruitment offices of the
14 armed forces of the United States, which shall be deemed voter registration agencies.
15 (b) Except for a public institution of higher education in the State, which
16 institution shall comply with the requirements of subsection (c) of this section AND §
17 3–204.2(F) OF THIS SUBTITLE, each voter registration agency, as provided in subsection
18 (a)(2) and (3) of this section, shall:
19 (1) distribute a voter registration application approved by the State Board
20 or the Federal Election Commission with each application for service or assistance it
21 renders and with each recertification, renewal, or change of address form relating to such
22 service or assistance;
23 (2) provide a document to prospective registrants that includes:
24 (i) the question, “If you are not registered to vote where you live
25 now, would you like to apply to register to vote here today?”;
26 (ii) if the agency provides public assistance, the statement,
27 “Applying to register or declining to register to vote will not affect the amount of assistance
28 that you will be provided by this agency.”;
29 (iii) boxes for the applicant to check to indicate whether the applicant
30 would like to register or declines to register to vote together with the statement (in close
31 proximity to the boxes and in prominent type), “If you do not check either box, you will be
32 considered to have decided not to register to vote at this time.”;
6 SENATE BILL 283
1 (iv) the statement, “If you would like help in filling out the voter
2 registration application form, we will help you. The decision whether to seek or accept help
3 is yours. You may fill out the application form in private.”;
4 (v) the statement, “If you believe that someone has interfered with
5 your right to register or to decline to register to vote, your right to privacy in deciding
6 whether to register or in applying to register to vote, or your right to choose your own
7 political party or other political preference, you may file a complaint with the State Board
8 of Elections.”; and
9 (vi) the address and toll free telephone number of the State Board;
10 (3) provide each applicant who does not decline to register to vote and who
11 accepts assistance the same degree of assistance with regard to completion of the
12 registration application as is provided by the office with regard to the completion of its own
13 applications, unless the applicant refuses such assistance;
14 (4) ensure that each application for service or assistance from the agency
15 and each recertification, renewal, or change of address form relating to the service or
16 assistance may not be completed until the applicant has indicated whether the applicant
17 wishes to register to vote and is informed that if the applicant does not select a political
18 party affiliation, the individual will be designated as not affiliated with a political party
19 and will be unable to vote in a party primary election; and
20 (5) accept the completed voter registration application for transmittal to
21 the appropriate election board.
22 [(c) (1) (i) In this subsection the following words have the meanings
23 indicated.
24 (ii) “Commission” means the Maryland Higher Education
25 Commission.
26 (iii) “Institution of higher education” has the meaning stated in §
27 10–101(h) of the Education Article.
28 (2) (i) On or before July 1, 2017, a public institution of higher education
29 shall provide a link to the online voter registration system on the home page of the online
30 portal used by students to register for course work.
31 (ii) The link to the online voter registration system shall be
32 prominently placed on the home page in a location where it may be easily viewed by
33 students registering for course work.
34 (3) On or before January 1, 2019, and each year thereafter, a public
35 institution of higher education shall submit a report to the Commission that describes:
SENATE BILL 283 7
1 (i) the number of students who are residents of the State and
2 registered for course work in the preceding calendar year at the public institution of higher
3 education and the number of those students who clicked on the link required under
4 paragraph (2) of this subsection; and
5 (ii) any efforts the public institution of higher education plans to
6 make to improve access to voter registration for students at the institution.
7 (4) On or before January 15, 2019, and each year thereafter, the
8 Commission shall compile and summarize the information reported by public institutions
9 of higher education under paragraph (3) of this subsection, in a single report and submit
10 the report to the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee and the
11 House Committee on Ways and Means, in accordance with § 2–1257 of the State
12 Government Article.]
13 (C) (1) A
PUBLIC INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION SHALL
14 DESIGNATE A STAFF MEMBER AS THE STUDENT VOTING COORDINATOR.
15 (2) THE STUDENT VOTING COORDINATOR SHALL DEVELOP AND
16 IMPLEMENT A STUDENT VOTING PLAN TO INCREASE STUDENT VOTER
17 REGISTRATION AND VOTING IN COLLABORATION WITH FACULTY, STAFF,
18 RECOGNIZED STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS, AND OTHER APPROPRIATE
19 STAKEHOLDERS AT THE INSTITUTION.
20 (3) THE STUDENT VOTING PLAN SHALL:
21 (I) COVER THE 2–YEAR PERIOD IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING
22 EACH STATEWIDE GENERAL ELECTION; AND
23 (II) BE UPDATED AFTER EACH STATEWIDE GENERAL ELECTION.
24 (4) THE STUDENT VOTING PLAN SHALL INCLUDE:
25 (I)
WIDE DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION ABOUT VOTER
26 REGISTRATION AND VOTING OPPORTUNITIES TO ALL STUDENTS, INCLUDING:
27 1. THE VOTER REGISTRATION PROCESS AND
28 DEADLINES;
29 2.
THE PROCESS AND DEADLINES FOR REQUESTING AND
30 RETURNING A BALLOT BY MAIL;
31 3. LOCATIONS AND DATES FOR EARLY VOTING AND
32 ELECTION DAY VOTING, INCLUDING TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS TO THE VOTING
33 LOCATIONS;
8 SENATE BILL 283
1 4.
INFORMATION ABOUT VOTER REGISTRATION AT
2 EARLY VOTING CENTERS UNDER § 3–305 OF THIS TITLE AND VOTER REGISTRATION
3 AT PRECINCT POLLING PLACES ON ELECTION DAY UNDER § 3–306 OF THIS TITLE;
4 AND
5 5.A LINK FROM THE INSTITUTION’S ONLINE STUDE