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  H.B. No. 658
 
 
 
 
AN ACT
  relating to voting by voters with certain disabilities or voters
  who reside at a residential care facility.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Chapter 63, Election Code, is amended by adding
  Section 63.0013 to read as follows:
         Sec. 63.0013.  ACCEPTING VOTERS WITH CERTAIN DISABILITIES.
  (a) In this section, "mobility problem that substantially impairs a
  person's ability to ambulate" has the meaning assigned by Section
  681.001, Transportation Code.
         (b)  An election officer may accept a person with a mobility
  problem that substantially impairs a person's ability to ambulate
  who is offering to vote before accepting others offering to vote at
  the polling place who arrived before the person.
         (c)  Notice of the priority given to persons with a mobility
  problem that substantially impairs a person's ability to ambulate
  shall be posted:
               (1)  at one or more locations in each polling place
  where it can be read by persons waiting to vote;
               (2)  on the Internet website of the secretary of state;
  and
               (3)  on each Internet website relating to elections
  maintained by a county.
         (d)  The notice required by Subsection (c) must read:
  "Pursuant to Section 63.0013, Election Code, an election officer
  may give voting order priority to individuals with a mobility
  problem that substantially impairs the person's ability to move
  around. A person assisting an individual with a mobility problem
  may also, at the individual's request, be given voting order
  priority. Disabilities and conditions that may qualify you for
  voting order priority include paralysis, lung disease, the use of
  portable oxygen, cardiac deficiency, severe limitation in the
  ability to walk due to arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic
  condition, wheelchair confinement, arthritis, foot disorder, the
  inability to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest, or use of a
  brace, cane, crutch, or other assistive device."
         (e)  A person assisting a voter in accordance with Section
  64.032(c) may be accepted to vote concurrently with a person
  accepted under Subsection (b) of this section at the voter's
  request. 
         SECTION 2.  Section 86.003, Election Code, is amended by
  amending Subsections (a) and (b) and adding Subsection (e) to read
  as follows:
         (a)  The balloting materials for voting by mail shall be
  provided to the voter by mail, unless the ballot is delivered to a
  voter for early voting under Chapter 107. A ballot provided by any
  other method may not be counted.
         (b)  Subject to Subsection (c), the balloting materials
  shall be addressed to the applicable address specified in the
  voter's application.  The election officer providing the ballot may
  not knowingly deliver [mail] the materials to an address other than
  that prescribed by this section.
         (e)  A voter who makes an application to vote early by mail on
  the grounds of age or disability requesting that the ballot be sent
  to the address of a residential care facility, as defined by Chapter
  107, is required to vote as provided by that chapter if five or more
  applications for ballots to be voted by mail are made by residents
  of the same facility who request that the ballots be sent to that
  facility.
         SECTION 3.  Section 86.004, Election Code, is amended by
  amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsection (c) to read as
  follows:
         (a)  Except as provided by Subsection (b) or (c), the
  balloting materials for voting by mail shall be mailed to a voter
  entitled to vote by mail not later than the seventh calendar day
  after the later of the date the clerk accepts the voter's
  application for a ballot to be voted by mail or the date the ballots
  become available for mailing, except that if that mailing date is
  earlier than the 45th day before election day, the balloting
  materials shall be mailed not later than the 38th day before
  election day.
         (c)  An application to vote early by mail on the grounds of
  age or disability requesting that the ballot be sent to the address
  of a residential care facility, as defined by Chapter 107, shall be
  held until the earlier of:
               (1)  the date on which five or more applications for
  ballots to be voted by mail made by residents of the same facility
  who request that the ballots be sent to that facility have been
  received, in which case ballots may not be mailed to the voters and
  voting shall be conducted under Chapter 107; or
               (2)  the last day on which an application for a ballot
  to be voted by mail may be received, after which the ballot shall
  promptly be mailed to the voter.
         SECTION 4.  Subtitle B, Title 7, Election Code, is amended by
  adding Chapter 107 to read as follows:
  CHAPTER 107. EARLY VOTING AT A RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITY
         Sec. 107.001.  PURPOSE. This chapter is enacted to
  facilitate voting in a nursing home, other long-term care facility,
  or retirement center in which a significant number of occupants,
  patients, or residents lack adequate transportation to an
  appropriate polling place, need assistance in voting, are 65 years
  of age or older or are disabled, or are indefinitely confined.
         Sec. 107.002.  DEFINITION. In this chapter, "residential
  care facility" means a facility licensed and regulated under
  Chapter 242 or 247, Health and Safety Code, with more than 10 beds.
         Sec. 107.003.  APPLICABILITY OF EARLY VOTING BY PERSONAL
  APPEARANCE PROVISIONS. To the extent applicable and not in
  conflict with this chapter, Chapter 85 applies to voting at a
  residential care facility under this chapter.
         Sec. 107.004.  EARLY VOTING AT RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITY
  REQUIRED. (a)  A voter residing in a residential care facility who
  has applied to vote early by mail on the grounds of age or
  disability and who requested that the ballot be sent to the address
  of the facility, must vote as provided by this chapter if five or
  more applications for ballots to be voted by mail were made by
  residents of the same facility who requested that the ballots be
  sent to the facility.
         (b)  If a residential care facility has fewer than five
  residents qualified to vote under this chapter on January 1 of each
  calendar year, the secretary of state may exempt a residential care
  facility from the requirements of this chapter. For this exemption
  to apply, the Department of State Health Services and the facility
  director must provide written confirmation that the exemption
  applies to the residential care facility. The secretary of state
  shall adopt rules to implement this subsection. 
         Sec. 107.005.  ELECTION JUDGES; QUALIFICATIONS; OATH.
  (a)  Additional election judges shall be selected to serve at a
  residential care facility in the same manner as election judges are
  selected to serve at a polling place for early voting by personal
  appearance under Chapter 32. The county chair of a political party
  shall indicate on the list of names of persons whether a person is
  willing to serve as an election judge under this chapter.
         (b)  An election judge serving at a residential care facility
  may be a volunteer, an employee of the authority conducting the
  election, or compensated by the authority conducting the election
  in the same manner as an election judge for a polling place for
  early voting by personal appearance.
         (c)  A person may not serve as an election judge for a
  residential care facility if at any time during the two years
  preceding the election, the person has been employed at a
  residential care facility in the county where the person seeks to
  serve as an election judge.
         (d)  Before beginning the duties of an election judge under
  this chapter, each individual appointed to serve as an election
  judge at a residential care facility shall sign and date this oath:
         I swear (or affirm) that I will not in any manner request or
  seek to persuade or induce any voter to vote for or against any
  candidate or measure to be voted on, and that I will faithfully
  perform my duty as an officer of the election and guard the purity
  of the election.
         I have read the statutes and training materials provided and
  will conduct this election accordingly.
         I understand that failing to follow procedures exactly may
  result in invalidation of the voter's ballot.
         I will not unduly influence or pressure a person to
  participate or cast a ballot in the election.
         I will not influence the choice of a voter to choose a
  particular primary ballot, vote in a particular race or election,
  or vote on a particular proposition.
         Signed this ___ day of ____, 20__.
         Date:  ________________________
         (e)  The secretary of state shall provide training for an
  election judge serving under this section.
         Sec. 107.006.  VOTING LOCATION. (a)  The administrator of
  the residential care facility shall make available an area located
  in a common area of the facility for the purposes of voting under
  this chapter. The area shall allow a voter to cast a secret ballot.
         (b)  The facility administrator shall allow posting of
  required notices during the period that voting is conducted under
  this chapter.
         (c)  An election judge may enter the private room of a voter
  who requests that balloting materials be brought to the voter.
         Sec. 107.007.  NOTICE OF ELECTION IN RESIDENTIAL CARE
  FACILITY; DETERMINATION OF TIME FOR VOTING. (a)  If early voting
  at a residential care facility is required under this chapter, the
  early voting clerk shall give notice that early voting will occur at
  the facility and appoint election judges for the purpose of
  conducting voting under this chapter.
         (b)  Not later than 5 p.m. on the sixth business day before
  election day, the election judges shall, with the input of the
  administrator of the residential care facility, designate one or
  more times for voting to be conducted. Voting may be conducted not
  earlier than the 29th day before election day and not later than the
  fourth day preceding election day.
         (c)  Notice of the time or times for conducting the election
  shall be posted at the residential care facility by the election
  judge and on the appropriate county's Internet website as soon as
  practicable after determining the time and not later than the fifth
  day before the first day on which voting will be conducted at the
  facility.
         (d)  The early voting clerk shall maintain a public list of
  all residential care facilities in the clerk's jurisdiction at
  which voting is conducted under this chapter. The list must be
  available on the website of the authority conducting the election
  or posted at the location where public notices are posted in the
  county courthouse or authority public building, as applicable, and
  for each facility state:
               (1)  the name of the facility;
               (2)  the address of the facility;
               (3)  the dates and times for voting at the facility; and
               (4)  the names of the election judges for the facility.
         (e)  The secretary of state with the assistance of the
  Department of State Health Services shall create a list of all
  residential care facilities eligible under this chapter on January
  1 of each calendar year in an early voting clerk's jurisdiction.
  The secretary of state shall provide the list to the early voting
  clerk.
         (f)  At any time during the year and regardless of whether
  five or more voters at a residential care facility have requested
  ballots to be voted by mail, the early voting clerk may post notice
  of the dates on which voting will be conducted at the facility under
  this chapter for each election. If the early voting clerk posts
  notice under this subsection, the names of the election judges and
  the hours during which voting will be conducted must be posted at
  least 48 hours before voting is conducted at the facility,
  notwithstanding Subsection (c).
         Sec. 107.008.  CONDUCT OF ELECTION. (a)  In an election
  conducted under this chapter, the early voting clerk shall deliver
  to the election judges for a residential care facility the
  balloting materials for any qualified voters who have requested a
  mail ballot for an election that would have been otherwise mailed to
  the voter at the facility under Chapter 86.
         (b)  The election judges for a residential care facility
  shall deliver the balloting materials to the voter at the facility.
         (c)  The voter shall mark and seal the ballot in the same
  manner as a voter voting under Chapter 86.
         (d)  Both election judges for the residential care facility
  shall sign the carrier envelope as witnesses. In the space for the
  address of the witness, each election judge shall write in
  "Residential Care Facility Election Judge."
         (e)  The election judges shall accept the carrier envelope
  and place the envelope in a secure bag or ballot container for
  transport to the early voting clerk's office.
         (f)  Ballots voted at a residential care facility shall be
  processed for counting in the manner provided by Chapter 86 for a
  ballot voted by mail.
         Sec. 107.009.  VOTING BY ADDITIONAL QUALIFIED VOTERS.
  (a)  The early voting clerk shall produce a list of all additional
  qualified voters who reside and are registered to vote at a
  residential care facility where voting is conducted under this
  chapter.
         (b)  The clerk shall supply the election judges for the
  residential care facility with sufficient additional ballots and
  voting materials to allow any additional qualified voter who
  resides at the facility to vote under this chapter. During the
  voting period, any registered voter who resides at the facility may
  complete an application to request a mail ballot as if they were
  voting by mail. An election judge for the facility shall serve as a
  witness for any person who is unable to sign their name and may
  witness multiple applications.
         (c)  An election judge for the residential care facility must
  accept a properly completed application for a ballot made under
  this section, and shall provide a ballot to the voter. The election
  judge shall make a notation on an application that it was made under
  this section.
         (d)  A voter who applies for a ballot under this section
  shall vote in the manner provided by Section 107.008, except that
  the voter's ballot must be stored with the voter's application, and
  the voter's ballot may not be counted if the voter was not a
  qualified voter for the election as demonstrated from the
  information contained in the voter's application.
         (e)  An election judge at the residential care facility may
  assist and witness a ballot received by a voter who resides at the
  facility and is not registered to vote at the facility while the
  election judge is present at the facility.
         (f)  The secretary of state may prescribe an application for
  a voter to request a ballot under Subsection (b).
         Sec. 107.010.  RETENTION OF RECORDS. (a)  The election
  judges for the residential care facility shall record the number of
  ballots voted. Both of the election judges for each facility and
  the early voting clerk shall sign and attest to the number of
  ballots issued.
         (b)  On completion of voting under this chapter, the election
  judges must record the number of:
               (1)  completed ballots;
               (2)  spoiled ballots; and
               (3)  unused returned ballots.
         Sec. 107.011.  PROOF OF IDENTIFICATION PRESENTED AT
  RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITY. (a)  Notwithstanding Section 63.0101
  or any other law, a voter voting under this chapter may submit a
  statement as proof of identification signed by both election judges
  for the residential care facility that:
               (1)  contains the name and address of the voter; and
               (2)  verifies that the voter is a resident of the
  facility and appears on the list of registered voters.
         (b)  The election judges shall enclose the statement in the
  carrier envelope.
         Sec. 107.012.  ASSISTING VOTER; NOTICE. (a)  On written
  request to the early voting clerk by a relative of a registered
  voter in a residential care facility, the clerk may notify the
  relative of the time or times at which election judges will conduct
  voting at the facility. The relative may be present at the facility
  while voting is conducted.
         (b)  A voter may receive assistance in the same manner as
  provided by Subchapter B, Chapter 64.
         (c)  An election judge shall seal a ballot if the voter
  receives assistance from a person who is not an election judge.
         Sec. 107.013.  SECURITY OF BALLOTS AND MATERIALS. (a)  On
  completion of the voting each day on which voting is conducted at a
  residential care facility under this chapter, the election judges
  for the facility shall seal the ballot envelopes and any absentee
  ballot applications inside a secure envelope and shall seal the
  envelope and sign the seal.  The election judges shall place the
  envelope inside a ballot bag or container.
         (b)  As soon as possible after conducting voting at a
  residential care facility, but not later than 18 hours after
  leaving the facility, the election judges shall deliver the ballot
  bag or container to the early voting clerk.
         Sec. 107.014.  PROVISION OF MAIL BALLOT TO CERTAIN VOTERS.
  (a)  If a qualified voter residing at a residential care facility
  and seeking to vote at the facility under this chapter is not able
  to cast a ballot during any time when voting is conducted at the
  facility, the election judges for the facility shall inform the
  early voting clerk not later than the fourth day before election
  day. The clerk shall mail the ballot to the voter not later than the
  fourth day before election day.
         (b)  Any registered voter who did not cast a ballot at the
  residential care facility may cast a ballot by:
               (1)  voting in person on election day; or
               (2)  voting by mail. 
         (c)  An election judge shall leave a ballot package for a
  voter who:
               (1)  requested a ballot to be voted by mail and was not
  present during the scheduled time for early voting at the
  residential care facility; and 
               (2)  is expected to return to the residential care
  facility before the deadline for returning a ballot by mail.
         (d)  If a voter who requested a ballot to be voted by mail
  under this chapter is temporarily located at another location,
  including by hospitalization:
               (1)  the early voting clerk may mail the ballot to the
  voter's temporary address, if known; or
               (2)  the election judge may personally deliver the
  ballot package to the voter's temporary address, if known.
         (e)  If an election judge personally delivers a ballot
  package under Subsection (d), the election judge may:
               (1)  allow the ballot to be returned by mail; or 
               (2)  accept the marked ballot personally.
         Sec. 107.015.  WATCHERS. (a)  In an election held under
  this chapter, a watcher may observe the process of ballot
  distribution in the common areas of a residential care facility in a
  manner consistent with Chapter 33.
         (b)  A political party entitled to have the names of its
  nominees placed on the general election ballot may appoint a
  watcher to accompany the election judges to a residential care
  facility.
         (c)  A political party seeking to appoint a watcher to serve
  at a residential care facility shall submit the name of the watcher
  to the county election officer of the county in which the facility
  is located, not later than the close of business on the last
  business day before the date the watcher seeks to observe the
  conduct of the election under this chapter.
         (d)  A watcher must present the watcher's certificate of
  appointment to an election judge for the residential care facility
  on arrival at the facility.
         (e)  A watcher has access to the same areas of the
  residential care facility as an election judge.
         Sec. 107.016.  LIMITATIONS ON APPLICABILITY OF CHAPTER.
  (a)  The early voting clerk is not required to send election judges
  to conduct an election at a residential care facility unless there
  are at least five registered voters who are residents of the
  facility.
         (b)  This chapter does not prevent a registered voter from:
               (1)  voting early by personal appearance;
               (2)  voting on election day; or
               (3)  voting by mail from an address other than the
  residential care facility, including from the address of a family
  member designated under Section 84.002.
         Sec. 107.017.  RULES. The secretary of state shall adopt
  rules and prescribe procedures for voting at a residential care
  facility in accordance with this chapter.
         SECTION 5.  Subchapter A, Chapter 242, Health and Safety
  Code, is amended by adding Section 242.0181 to read as follows:
         Sec. 242.0181.  COMPLIANCE WITH CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS
  REGARDING EARLY VOTING. An institution must comply with Chapter
  107, Election Code.
         SECTION 6.  Subchapter A, Chapter 247, Health and Safety
  Code, is amended by adding Section 247.008 to read as follows:
         Sec. 247.008.  COMPLIANCE WITH CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS
  REGARDING EARLY VOTING. An assisted living facility must comply
  with Chapter 107, Election Code.
         SECTION 7.  Sections 242.0181 and 247.008, Health and Safety
  Code, as added by this Act, apply only to a license issued or
  renewed on or after the effective date of this Act. A license
  issued or renewed before that date is governed by the law in effect
  on the date the license was issued or renewed, and the former law is
  continued in effect for that purpose.
         SECTION 8.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2017.
 
 
  ______________________________ ______________________________
     President of the Senate Speaker of the House     
 
 
         I certify that H.B. No. 658 was passed by the House on May 9,
  2017, by the following vote:  Yeas 145, Nays 0, 2 present, not
  voting; and that the House concurred in Senate amendments to H.B.
  No. 658 on May 24, 2017, by the following vote:  Yeas 130, Nays 14,
  3 present, not voting.
 
  ______________________________
  Chief Clerk of the House   
 
         I certify that H.B. No. 658 was passed by the Senate, with
  amendments, on May 22, 2017, by the following vote:  Yeas 30
  , Nays
  0.
 
  ______________________________
  Secretary of the Senate   
  APPROVED: __________________
                  Date       
   
           __________________
                Governor