[HISTORY: Derived from Ch. 12 of the prior Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Any qualified voter of the Town who shall be unable to appear to cast his ballot at any annual municipal election at the regular polling place in the Town for any of the following reasons shall be entitled to cast an absentee ballot and to have his vote counted:
Because such person is in the public service of the United States or of this state;
Because such person will be unavoidably absent from the Town on the day of the annual municipal election;
Because such person is sick or has a physical disability;
Because such person is absent from the Town while on vacation;
Because such person is unable to vote at a certain time or on a certain day because of the tenets or teachings of his religion;
Because of the nature of such person's business or occupation, including the business or occupation of providing care to a parent, spouse or that person's child who is living at home and requires constant care due to illness or injury.
Any voter desiring to obtain an absentee ballot because of any of the reasons set forth in § 5-1 of this chapter shall file or cause to be filed with the Town Clerk an affidavit, subscribed and sworn to before an officer authorized to administer oaths, and dated not earlier than 30 days nor later than the day before the next ensuing annual municipal election, setting forth the reason why such person needs to vote by absentee ballot. Such affidavit shall be filed with the Town Clerk of the Town not later than 12:00 noon, prevailing time, on the day immediately preceding the day of the next ensuing annual municipal election before the Town Clerk shall mail or deliver to the voter the official ballot.
Upon receipt from a voter of the affidavit as required by the provisions of § 5-2 of this chapter, the Town Clerk, not more than 60 days nor less than four days prior to the annual municipal election and within three days after the ballots, envelopes and instructions for absentee voters become available, shall mail to the voter, postage prepaid, or deliver personally to the voter an official ballot enclosed in an official envelope and a copy of the instruction to absentee voters. Nothing contained in this section shall prevent the issuance of an absentee ballot to those lawfully entitled thereto prior to 12:00 noon, prevailing time, on the day prior to the annual municipal election.
Each applicant for an absentee ballot shall file an affidavit in substantially the following form:
Upon receipt by the Town Clerk of the affidavit in substantially the form set forth in § 5-4 of this chapter, the Town Clerk shall deliver or mail, with postage prepaid, to the voter who has applied for an absentee ballot an official ballot and an official envelope. There shall be printed on the face of the official envelope an affidavit in substantially the following form:
The absentee voter shall make and subscribe to the affidavit printed on the official envelope before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths, and such voter shall thereupon mark his ballot in such a manner that the officer cannot know how the ballot is marked, and the ballot shall then and in the presence of the officer be deposited by the voter in the official envelope and securely sealed. Thereupon, the official envelope containing the marked ballot shall be delivered to the Town Clerk or mailed to the Town Clerk with postage prepaid. In either case, the ballot must be received by the Town Clerk of the Town of Milton before the close of business on the day immediately preceding the day of the annual municipal election and not thereafter.
Any absentee ballot received by the Town Clerk of the Town after the close of business on the day before the annual municipal election shall not be forwarded to the Board of Election, but the Town Clerk shall endorse on the official envelope containing such ballot the time such was received and shall retain all such ballots unopened and so endorsed until the last day of June next after the annual municipal election and longer if directed to do so by proper authority.
Upon receipt of the official envelope from the absentee voter, the Town Clerk shall forthwith enclose the official envelope as received by him and unopened in a special carrier envelope, the Town Clerk having first written his usual signature on the special carrier envelope. The Town Clerk shall forthwith securely seal the special carrier envelope, and in ink the Town Clerk shall write his full name thereon in the proper place as indicated in this chapter and shall securely keep the same in his office until delivered as required in this chapter. Neither the Mayor nor any member of the Council of the Town nor any other person shall open or attempt to open the official envelope containing the ballot of the absentee voter or to change or alter, or attempt to do so, the envelope or any writing, printing or anything whatsoever thereon.
When an absentee voter's ballot is received by the Town Clerk, the official envelope containing the marked ballot, sealed in the special carrier envelope of the Town, shall be enclosed and sealed in a package and safely kept in his office until the day of the election and delivered to the Board of Election after the opening of the polls on the election and at least one hour before the closing of the polls. The Town Clerk shall deliver all such absentee voters' ballots separately enclosed in a special carrier envelope to the Board of Election at the polls taking their seat of the Board of Election for the delivery of such a ballot or ballots.
The Board of Election shall refuse to receive any absentee voter's ballot from any person other than the Town Clerk or a duly authorized agent of the Town Clerk and shall receive no other ballots other than those ballots enclosed in the sealed package delivered by the Town Clerk to the Board of Election and shall refuse to receive and act upon any such ballot that is not enclosed in an envelope bearing the signature, in ink, of the Town Clerk as required by this chapter.
At anytime between the opening and closing of the polls on the day of the annual municipal election, the inspector shall open the package delivered by the Town Clerk and ascertain the name of the absentee voter as appears by the executed affidavit of the absentee voter on the official envelope enclosing the marked ballot; whereupon he shall announce the absentee voter's name for the purpose of challenging and upon the determination that such person is a duly qualified voter of the Town and that such person has not voted in person at the annual municipal election , he shall open the official envelope containing such absentee voter's ballot in such a manner as not to deface or destroy the number thereof or the affidavit thereon and shall take therefrom the official ballot. The Clerk shall enter the name and address of the absentee voter on the poll list. The ballot shall then be voted by depositing same in the ballot box provided for receipt of absentee ballots and the proper notations of such vote shall then be recorded in the election records in the same manner as if the voter had appeared to cast his vote in person. All official envelopes from which ballots have been taken and voted and all official envelopes containing ballots which have been rejected or endorsed as provided by this chapter shall be preserved by the Board of Election and the close of the count shall be locked in the ballot box.
The vote of any absentee voter may be challenged for cause, and further the vote of any absentee voter may be challenged on the ground that the affidavit filed by the voter in accordance with the provisions of this chapter is false or that the voter who was allegedly absent from the Town was not absent from the Town for the entire time that the polls were open on the day of the annual municipal election . Upon challenge, proceedings shall be as in the case of other challenges.
In case the affidavit of the absentee voter is found to be insufficient or the absentee voter is not a duly qualified voter of the Town or the official envelope is opened or has been opened and resealed or it is evident that the official envelope has been tampered with or altered or such ballot has been forwarded to the polls by someone other than the Town Clerk of the Town or his duly authorized agent, such vote shall not be accepted or counted.
If the official envelope has not been opened at the time the Board of Election decides that the altered ballot contained therein should be rejected for any of the foregoing reasons, it shall not be opened by the Board of Election, but they shall endorse thereon "rejected" (giving the reason therefor) and that the official envelope has been opened and the ballot rejected; the official envelope containing the ballot shall be replaced in the same carrier envelope from which it was taken and the election officer shall endorse on that envelope "rejected" (giving reason therefor). Whenever it is made to appear by due proof to the Board of Election that any absentee voter who has marked and forwarded his ballot has died, the official envelope containing the ballot shall not be opened, but shall be marked "rejected, dead" and shall be preserved and disposed of as other rejected ballots.
Whoever willfully makes a false affidavit under the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $200 or imprisoned for a period of not more than 30 days, or both, and shall pay the costs of prosecution.
Whoever, other than the Board of Election on the day of the annual municipal election and at the polls, opens or attempts to open any sealed official envelope or whoever prints or causes to be printed in the envelope identical or purportedly similar to the official envelope or the special envelope from the Town Clerk, other than the printing of such envelopes by the official printer selected by the Town Council for the printing of such envelopes pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, or whoever abets or aids or attempts to abet or aid any fraud in connection with any vote cast or to be cast under the provisions of this chapter shall be imprisoned for a term of not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days.
Whoever fraudulently signs the name of a voter to the affidavit on any affidavit or official envelope or of the Town Clerk of the Town on any envelope provided for by this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $100 or imprisoned for a period of not more than 30 days, or both, and shall pay the costs of prosecution.
Whoever, being a member of the Board of Election or other public official of the Town of Milton, knowingly violates any of the provisions of this chapter and thereby aids in anyway the illegal casting of a vote or attempting to cast a vote or whoever connives to nullify any provision of this chapter in order that fraud may be perpetrated shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500 or imprisoned for a term not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days, or both, and shall pay the costs of prosecution.