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      RS 18:1313     

  

§1313. Tabulation and counting of absentee by mail and early voting ballots

            A. The parish board of election supervisors shall be responsible for the counting and tabulation of all absentee by mail and early voting ballots in the parish. The board may utilize parish board commissioners to count the absentee by mail and early voting ballots in the parish. If the board determines that parish board commissioners are necessary to count and tabulate the absentee by mail and early voting ballots, it shall select parish board commissioners in accordance with the provisions of R.S. 18:1314. If a majority of the members of the board are not present to count the absentee by mail and early voting ballots and no parish board commissioners were previously selected, the members present may select a sufficient number of parish board commissioners on election day to assist in the counting of absentee by mail and early voting ballots.

            B.(1) Absentee by mail and early voting ballots shall be counted at a public facility within the parish designated by the registrar of voters at a time fixed by the parish board of election supervisors, which time shall be on election day no later than 8:00 p.m.

            (2) Prior to the counting of absentee by mail and early voting ballots on election day, any person authorized by the secretary of state may assist the registrar of voters in the challenge removal process on the early voting machines, in the reading of the early voting machine results cartridges on the secretary of state's equipment, and in producing the early voting machine results report. All early voting machine results reports shall be placed in the special absentee by mail and early voting envelope or container.

            C.(1) If the counting and tabulation of absentee by mail and early voting ballots begins prior to the closing of the polls, such counting and tabulation shall be conducted in a location and manner to prevent disclosure of the results prior to the closing of the polls. Each person except a person providing security to the parish board of election supervisors or a person providing technical assistance pursuant to Paragraph (2) of this Subsection who enters the location in which the absentee by mail and early voting ballots are being counted and tabulated shall remain in that location and shall not be allowed to leave except temporarily, and then only when accompanied by a law enforcement officer, and shall not communicate with any person outside until the polls are closed. The parish board of election supervisors may take any action necessary to ensure that no information with respect to the counting and tabulation of absentee by mail and early voting ballots is transmitted from the location where the absentee by mail and early voting ballots are being counted and tabulated prior to the close of the polls on election day.

            (2) Any person authorized by the secretary of state may provide security or technical assistance including advice, analysis, diagnosis, or repair for voting machines at the location where absentee by mail and early voting votes are being counted and tabulated. Such security or technical assistance shall be provided only upon the request of the parish board of election supervisors or a team of parish board commissioners, and may be made in person at the location where absentee by mail and early voting votes are being counted and tabulated, or by telephone, or both. Any authorized person providing such security or technical assistance may enter and leave the location where absentee by mail and early voting votes are being counted and tabulated before the closing of the polls and during the process of counting and tabulation. No such person shall disclose any information with respect to the counting and tabulation of absentee by mail and early voting ballots prior to the close of the polls on election day.

            D. Candidates, their representatives, and qualified electors may be present during the counting and tabulation of absentee by mail and early voting ballots. If the counting and tabulation of absentee by mail and early voting ballots begin prior to the closing of the polls, the board shall give notice reasonably calculated to inform any person who wants to be present during the counting and tabulation that no person will be allowed to leave or to communicate with any other person outside, until such time as the polls are closed, nor shall any person who is present during the counting and tabulation of absentee by mail and early voting ballots possess a cellular telephone or electronic communication device.

            E. The board shall count the absentee by mail and early voting ballots and announce the results after the closing of the polls as the total number of absentee by mail and early voting votes cast in the election for each candidate and the total number cast for and against each proposition.

            F. The procedure for counting absentee by mail ballots shall be as follows:

            (1) A member of the board shall remove the certificates and special absentee by mail ballots and envelopes containing the absentee by mail ballots from the special absentee by mail and early voting ballot envelope or container.

            (2) The board shall announce the name of each absentee by mail voter and the ward and precinct where he is registered to vote, and shall compare the name on the certificate or on the flap of the envelope containing the absentee by mail ballot with the names on the absentee by mail voter report.

            (3) The board shall determine the validity of challenges filed in accordance with R.S. 18:1315.

            (4) If the board determines that an absentee by mail ballot is valid, a member of the board shall write the words "voted by mail" and his initials on the absentee by mail voter report beside the name of the voter as it appears on the report. If applicable, a member of the board shall tear the flap from the envelope containing the absentee by mail ballot and leave the envelope sealed.

            (5) If a majority of the members of the board determine that an absentee by mail ballot is invalid, the members shall leave the flap on the envelope containing the absentee by mail ballot, leave the envelope sealed, and a member of the board shall write the word "rejected", together with the reasons for rejecting the ballot, across the envelope containing the ballot or across the certificate attached to the special absentee by mail ballot. He shall also write the word "rejected" and his initials on the absentee by mail voter report beside the name of the voter as it appears in the report. The rejected absentee by mail ballots and certificates shall be replaced in the special absentee by mail and early voting ballot envelope or container. No rejected absentee by mail ballot shall be counted.

            (6) After the validity of all absentee by mail ballots has been determined, the members of the board shall place the valid certificates and the flaps removed from the valid absentee by mail ballots in the envelope or container provided for that purpose and seal the envelope or container. Two of the members shall execute the certificate on the envelope.

            (7) The members shall open the envelopes containing the valid absentee by mail ballots and remove the ballots.

            (8) The board shall, in accordance with the requirements of R.S. 18:1316, reject any ballot which contains a distinguishing mark or feature making the ballot susceptible of identification. However, a ballot shall not be rejected as containing a distinguishing mark if the ballot was transmitted electronically to a member of the United States Service, as defined in R.S. 18:1302, or a person residing outside the United States.

            (9) If a ballot is physically damaged or cannot properly be counted by the counting equipment and the vote cast by the voter is clearly discernible from a physical inspection of the defective ballot, the ballot may be counted by hand or a true duplicate may be made of the defective ballot in the presence of witnesses and substituted for the ballot. Any duplicate ballot shall be clearly labeled "duplicate", bear a ballot number which shall be recorded on the defective ballot, and be counted in lieu of the defective ballot. After a ballot has been duplicated, the defective ballot shall be placed in the special absentee by mail and early voting ballot envelope or container, and the duplicate ballot shall be counted with the other valid ballots.

            (10) The special absentee ballots cast by members of the United States Service or persons who reside outside of the United States shall be counted by hand.

            (11) Repealed by Acts 2017, No. 176, §5, eff. June 14, 2017.

            G. The procedure for counting early voting machine ballots and paper ballots voted during early voting shall be as follows:

            (1) A member of the board shall remove the early voting verification forms, early voting machine public counter logs, early voting confirmation sheets, paper ballots voted during early voting, early voter report, and all early voting machine results reports from the special absentee by mail and early voting ballot envelope or container.

            (2) The board shall review the early voting verification forms and early voting machine public counter logs and, if found to be acceptable to the board, sign each early voting verification form. If the board does not find an early voting verification form to be acceptable, it may review any early voting confirmation sheet and shall document its correction to the early voting verification form and then sign it.

            (3) The board shall announce the results from each early voting machine results report for the early voting ballots.

            (4) For each paper ballot voted during early voting, the board shall announce the name of the person who voted by paper ballot during early voting and the ward and precinct where he is registered to vote and shall compare the name on the flap of the envelope containing the early voting ballot with the names on the early voter report.

            (5) The board shall determine the validity of challenges made in accordance with R.S. 18:1315.

            (6) If the board determines that a paper ballot voted during early voting is valid, a member of the board shall write the words "voted early" and his initials on the early voter report beside the name of the voter as it appears on the report. A member of the board shall tear the flap from the envelope containing the paper ballot voted during early voting and leave the envelope sealed.

            (7) If a majority of the members of the board determine that a paper ballot voted during early voting is invalid, the members shall leave the flap on the envelope containing the ballot, leave the envelope sealed, and a member of the board shall write the word "rejected" together with the reasons for rejecting the ballot across the envelope containing the ballot. He shall also write the word "rejected" and his initials on the early voter report beside the name of the voter as it appears on the report. The rejected ballot shall be placed in the special absentee by mail and early voting ballot envelope or container. No rejected paper ballot voted during early voting shall be counted.

            (8) After the validity of all paper ballots voted during early voting has been determined, the members of the board shall place the valid early voting confirmation sheets and flaps removed from the valid paper ballots voted during early voting in the envelope or container provided for that purpose and seal the envelope or container. Two of the members shall execute the certificate on the envelope or container.

            (9) The members shall open the envelopes containing the valid paper ballots voted during early voting and remove the ballots.

            (10) The board shall, in accordance with the requirements of R.S. 18:1316, reject any ballot which contains a distinguishing mark or feature making the ballot susceptible of identification.

            (11) If a ballot is physically damaged or cannot properly be counted by the counting equipment and the vote cast by the voter is clearly discernible from a physical inspection of the defective ballot, the ballot may be counted by hand or a true duplicate may be made of the defective ballot in the presence of witnesses and substituted for the ballot. Any duplicate ballot shall be clearly labeled "duplicate", bear a ballot number which shall be recorded on the defective ballot, and be counted in lieu of the defective ballot. After a ballot has been duplicated, the defective ballot shall be placed in the special absentee by mail and early voting ballot envelope or container, and the duplicate ballot shall be counted with the other valid ballots.

            (12)(a) Prior to utilizing any absentee by mail and early voting counting equipment, the parish board of election supervisors shall generate a zero tally to ensure that the equipment's candidate and question counters are set at zero and that no votes have been cast for any candidate or for or against any proposition.

            (b) The board shall sign and certify to the correctness of each zero proof sheet and place all zero proof sheets in the special absentee by mail and early voting envelope or container.

            (13) The absentee by mail and early voting votes cast for a candidate and those cast for and against a proposition shall be counted and the total number of absentee by mail and early voting votes cast for a candidate and those cast for and against a proposition shall be announced in the order the offices and candidates and propositions are listed on the ballot. The members of the board shall enter the total number of votes on the final absentee by mail and early voting vote report and shall certify the results.

            H. The final absentee by mail and early voting vote report prepared by the parish board of election supervisors shall be transmitted to the clerk of court immediately upon completion of the tabulation of the absentee by mail and early voting ballots on election night. A copy of the record shall be transmitted immediately to the secretary of state, and a copy of the record shall be placed in the special absentee by mail and early voting envelope or container.

            I. When the absentee by mail and early voter reports have been returned to the registrar of voters, the registrar, based on the information contained in the reports, shall confirm that the words "voted by mail" or "voted early" are written in the proper space on the precinct register for each voter who voted early or absentee by mail.

            J.(1) Upon completion of the tabulation and counting of the absentee by mail and early voting ballots, the parish board of election supervisors shall return the absentee by mail and early voting ballots and electronic results report to the special absentee by mail and early voting ballot envelope or container, shall seal the envelope or container, and shall deliver the envelope or container to the registrar of voters. The registrar shall preserve the envelope or container and its contents inviolate and, except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction, shall not allow the absentee by mail and early voting documents to be inspected by anyone until the delay for filing an action contesting the election has lapsed. If an action contesting the election is commenced timely, the registrar shall continue to preserve the envelope or container and its contents inviolate, subject to the orders of the court, until the final judgment in the action has become definitive.

            (2)(a)(i) Notwithstanding the provisions of Paragraph (1) of this Subsection, if the number of absentee by mail and early voting ballots cast for all candidates for an office could make a difference in the outcome of the election for such office, upon the written request of a candidate for such office, the board shall recount the absentee by mail ballots by hand or scanning equipment and early voting ballots electronically, unless paper ballots were used for early voting and in such case, the ballots shall be recounted by hand for such office.

            (ii) Notwithstanding the provisions of Paragraph (1) of this Subsection, if the number of absentee by mail and early voting ballots cast for and against a proposition could make a difference in the outcome of the election, upon the written request of a person who voted in the proposition election, the board shall recount the absentee by mail ballots by hand or scanning equipment and early voting ballots electronically, unless paper ballots were used for early voting and in such case, the ballots shall be recounted by hand for such election.

            (b) All recounts of absentee by mail and early voting ballots shall be held at 10:00 a.m. or following the reinspection of voting machines on the fifth day after the election and at any time ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction. If the fifth day after the election falls on a holiday or weekend, such recount shall be held on the next working day at 10:00 a.m. or following the reinspection of voting machines. Any written request for recount of absentee by mail and early voting ballots shall be filed with the clerk of court. The deadline for filing a request for recount of absentee by mail and early voting ballots shall be 4:30 p.m. on the last working day prior to the date of the recount. Immediately upon receiving any request, the clerk of court shall prominently post in his office a notice of the time and place where the absentee by mail and early voting ballots will be recounted and the name of the candidate or the voter in the proposition election requesting the recount.

            (c) Upon completion of the recount of the absentee by mail and early voting ballots, the board shall return the absentee by mail and early voting documents to the special absentee by mail and early voting ballot envelope or container, shall reseal the envelope or container, and shall deliver the envelope or container and its contents to the registrar of voters who shall preserve the envelope or container and its contents in the manner provided for in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection.

            (d)(i) The candidate or the voter in the proposition election requesting the recount shall be responsible for all reasonable costs associated with such recount which shall be payable to the clerk of court. The costs shall be paid at the time the written request for the recount is filed with the clerk of court and shall be paid in cash or by certified or cashier's check on a state or national bank or credit union, United States postal money order, or money order issued by a state or national bank or credit union.

            (ii) If the recount changes the outcome of the election, the costs paid by the candidate or voter in the proposition election shall be refunded by the clerk of court, and the costs of the recount shall be a reimbursable election expense as provided in Chapter 8-A of this Title.

            (3) A candidate or his representative, in the presence of a majority of the parish board of election supervisors, shall be allowed to inspect the flaps removed from the valid absentee by mail ballots and the flaps removed from the valid early voting ballots when paper ballots are used for early voting. All such inspections shall be held at 10:00 a.m. or following the recount of absentee by mail and early voting ballots on the fifth day after the election and at any time ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction. If the fifth day after the election falls on a holiday or weekend, such inspection shall be held on the next working day at 10:00 a.m. or following the recount of absentee by mail and early voting ballots. Any written request for inspection shall be filed with the clerk of court. The deadline for filing a request for inspection shall be the last working day prior to the date of the inspection. Immediately upon receiving any request, the clerk of court shall prominently post in his office a notice of the time and place where the inspection will occur and the name of the candidate requesting the inspection. The candidate requesting the inspection shall be responsible for all reasonable costs associated with such inspection which shall be payable to the clerk of court. The costs shall be paid at the time the written request for the inspection is filed with the clerk of court and shall be paid in cash or by certified or cashier's check on a state or national bank or credit union, United States postal money order, or money order issued by a state or national bank or credit union.

            (4) The parish board of election supervisors shall be entitled to reimbursement at the rate established in R.S. 18:423(E) for attending the recount of absentee by mail and early voting ballots and inspection, but not both if they are conducted on the same day. However, such reimbursement shall not be counted toward the six-day limitation provided in R.S. 18:423(E). No member of the parish board of election supervisors shall be reimbursed for attending a recount of absentee by mail and early voting ballots or inspection if such member received reimbursement for attending the reinspection of voting machines which was conducted on the same day as the recount of the absentee by mail and early voting ballots or inspection.

            Acts 1976, No. 697, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1978. Amended by Acts 1980, No. 506, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1981; Acts 1982, No. 166, §1, eff. July 14, 1982; Acts 1983, No. 519, §1, eff. July 8, 1983; Acts 1984, No. 672, §1; Acts 1985, No. 755, §1; Acts 1986, No. 669, §1; Acts 1989, No. 179, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1990; Acts 1997, No. 1420, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Acts 1999, No. 254, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2000; Acts 2001, No. 451, §6, eff. Jan. 12, 2004; Acts 2001, No. 1181, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2002; Acts 2002, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 130, §1, eff. April 23, 2002; Acts 2004, No. 526, §2, eff. June 25, 2004; Acts 2005, No. 220, §§1, 4, eff. Jan. 1, 2006; Acts 2006, No. 403, §1, eff. June 15, 2006; Acts 2007, No. 240, §1; Acts 2008, No. 136, §1, eff. June 6, 2008; Acts 2010, No. 624, §1, eff. June 25, 2010; Acts 2012, No. 138, §1, eff. May 14, 2012; Acts 2013, No. 383, §1, eff. June 18, 2013; Acts 2013, No. 395, §§1, 2, eff. June 18, 2013; Acts 2014, No. 615, §1; Acts 2016, No. 281, §1, eff. May 31, 2016, §2, eff. Jan. 1, 2017; Acts 2017, No. 176, §§1, 5, eff. June 14, 2017.



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