[HISTORY: Adopted by The Mayor and Council of New Castle: Art. I, 1-6-1987 by Ord. No. 290. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 1-6-1987 by Ord. No. 290]
Any qualified elector, duly registered, may cast his/her vote by absentee ballot in any city election, if he/she is unable to appear at the polling place in the city due to the following reasons:
Because such person is in the public service of the United States or of this state;
Because such person is in the armed forces of the United States or the merchant marine of the United States, or attached to and serving with the armed forces of the United States in the American Red Cross, Society of Friends or United Service Organizations;
Because such person is unavoidably absent from the city on the day of the election;
Because such person is sick or physically disabled;
Because such person is absent from the city while on vacation; or
Because such person is unable to vote at a certain time or on a certain day due to the tenets or teachings of his/her religion.
Any elector desiring to receive an absentee ballot because he/she qualifies under any of the reasons set forth in § 78-1 shall file an affidavit with the Absentee Ballot Clerk, who shall be appointed by City Council two months prior to any election subscribed and sworn to by him/her before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. The affidavit shall be dated not more than 45 days prior to the day of the election. It shall state the reason why he/she cannot appear at the regular polling place on the day of the election, his/her birthdate, social security number, his/her expected location, including his/her address and a telephone number (if available) to be used for the purpose of challenge on election day and, if sick or disabled, the name and address of a physician or Christian Science practitioner who can attest to the elector's inability to go to the polling place on the day of election. The Absentee Ballot Clerk shall mail or deliver the official ballot, envelopes and instructions to the elector as soon as possible after receiving the affidavit.
Nothing contained in this section shall prevent the issuance of an absentee ballot to any qualified elector serving in the armed forces of the United States, or the merchant marine in the United States, or attached to and serving with the armed forces of the United States in the American Red Cross, Society of Friends or United Service Organizations when such an elector is lawfully entitled to an absentee ballot and has made a request to the Absentee Ballot Clerk if, in the judgment of the Board of Elections, the elector has been reasonably unable to comply fully with the requirements for an affidavit set forth in Subsection A above.
Any elector who is qualified under § 78-1 to vote by absentee ballot and who desires to do so shall, not later than 12:00 noon of the day prior to any such election, request the Absentee Ballot Clerk for an official ballot to be voted at such election.
Upon receipt of a request from an elector, together with an affidavit if required by § 78-2, the Absentee Ballot Clerk shall mail to the elector, postage prepaid, an official ballot for the city enclosed in an official envelope along with a voucher envelope marked "voucher envelope," a copy of instructions to absentee voters and a mailing envelope marked "mailing envelope."
There shall be printed on the face of each voucher envelope an affidavit in substantially the following form:
The voucher envelope shall be of the type known as a security mailing envelope and shall be of such as to securely protect the contents thereof from tampering, removal or substitution without detection. Such envelopes shall be successively numbered beginning with Number 1 printed in red ink in the upper right-hand corner thereof.
The mailing envelope shall be large enough to carry the voucher envelope.
A list of instructions to assist an absentee voter in properly marking and returning his/her ballot shall be prepared by the Absentee Ballot Clerk which shall be known as "instructions to absentee voter."
The absentee voter shall make and subscribe to the affidavit printed on the voucher envelope, before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths, and such voter shall thereupon in the presence of such officer, and of no other person, mark such ballot but in such manner that the officer cannot know how the ballot is marked, and the ballot shall then in the presence of the officer be deposited by the voter in the official envelope. The official envelope containing the ballot shall then be deposited in the voucher envelope, and the voucher envelope shall be securely sealed by the voter. Thereupon the voucher envelope containing the marked ballot shall be enclosed in the mailing envelope received by the voter from the city and, after the voter has enclosed the voucher containing the marked ballot in the mailing envelope, he/she shall securely seal the mailing envelope and mail it, postage prepaid, to the city, or if more convenient, it may be delivered to the city in person, to be received in either case by the city before 12:00 noon of the day before the election and not thereafter.
The absentee voter shall return his/her marked ballot enclosed in the voucher envelope to the city before 12:00 noon of the day before election; and any absentee ballot received by the city after 12:00 noon of the day before election shall not be forwarded to the polls, but the city shall endorse on the voucher envelope containing such ballot the time such was received and shall retain all such envelopes unopened and so endorsed, with the election returns.
Upon receipt of the mailing envelope from the absentee voter, the Absentee Ballot Clerk shall open only the mail envelope and take therefrom the voucher envelope containing the ballot of the absentee voter and shall deposit the voucher envelope in the special envelope for the Board of Elections when all ballots are received. When all ballots are received, on the day of the election, they shall be placed in an envelope and turned over to the Board of Elections.
The election officers shall refuse to receive any absentee voter's ballot from any person other than the Absentee Ballot Clerk.
At any time between the opening and the closing of the polls on election day the Board of Elections shall open the outer or carrier envelope only and ascertain the name of the absentee voter as appears by the executed affidavit of the absentee voter on the voucher envelope enclosing the marked ballot, whereupon he/she shall announce the absentee voter's name for the purpose of challenges and upon the determination that such person is a duly registered voter by comparing the voter's signature upon the voucher envelope with the signature of the voter appearing in the Registration Record, and that such elector has not voted in person at the election. He/She shall open the voucher 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 take therefrom the official envelope containing the marked ballot, and without opening or permitting the official envelope to be opened or the contents examined, shall cause two Election Clerks to write their names on the official envelope, and the Clerks shall enter the name and address of the absentee voter on the poll lists. The ballot shall then be voted by depositing the same (still in its official envelope) 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 fashion as if the voter had appeared to cast his/her vote in person.
All voucher envelopes from which ballots have been taken and voted and all voucher envelopes containing ballots which have been rejected and endorsed as provided in § 78-9 of this chapter, shall be preserved by the inspector, and at the close of the count shall be placed in the ballot box. The judges shall see to it that a voter signature card marked with the absentee voter's name and permanent significant registration number and bearing a notation that the person has voted absentee shall be placed with the voter signature cards of all those persons who have cast their ballot on the voting machine.
The vote of any absentee voter may be challenged for the same causes and in the same manner as provided for other voters. In addition, the vote of an absentee voter may be challenged on the ground that the affidavit filed by the voter in compliance with § 78-2 is false.
In case the affidavit of the absentee voter is found to be insufficient, or the absentee voter is not a duly registered elector in the city, or the voucher envelope is open, or has been opened and resealed, or it is evident that the voucher envelope has been tampered with or altered, or such ballot has been forwarded to the polls by someone other than the Absentee Ballot Clerk, such vote shall not be accepted or counted. If the voucher envelope has not been opened at the time the election officers decide that the offered ballot contained therein should be rejected for any of the foregoing reasons, it shall not be opened by the election officers, but they shall endorse thereon, "REJECTED," giving reason therefor, and if the voucher envelope has been opened and the ballot is rejected, the official envelope containing the ballot shall be replaced in the same voucher envelope from which it was taken, and the election officers shall endorse on the voucher envelope, "REJECTED," giving reason therefor.
Whenever it is made to appear by due proof to the inspector and judges of election that any absentee voter, who has marked and forwarded his/her ballot, has died, the voucher 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.
Whenever a ballot has not been counted but has been rejected for any reason, the election officers shall make the required notation on the absentee ballot tally sheet and shall note the number of ballots so rejected on the certificates of election.
Any affidavit required under this chapter may be taken before any person with authority to administer oaths and affirmations in the place where such affidavit may be taken, and whenever taken outside this state, the authority of such person shall be conclusively presumed.
Any affidavit required under this chapter, when made by an elector in the armed forces or merchant marine of the United States, or by persons serving with the American Red Cross, the Society of Friends and the United Service Organizations who are attached to and serving with the armed forces of the United States, may be taken before a commissioned or noncommissioned officer not below the rank of sergeant, or petty officer in the armed forces of the United States, or any member of the merchant marine of the United States properly designated for such purpose, or any other person authorized to administer and attest oaths or affirmations, and whenever taken outside the state, the authority of such person shall be conclusively presumed.
The Absentee Ballot Clerk shall maintain records providing for the prevention of fraud and to make possible the tracing and detection of any attempt to do so. Such records shall include the following entries: The name of the elector; the address at which he/she is registered; the address where the ballot is to be mailed; the date the affidavit is received by the Absentee Ballot Clerk; the voucher number; the date the ballot is mailed or delivered to the elector; the date the ballot is returned; the names of any physicians executing affidavits for sick or disabled person; and the names of all officers administering oaths for all affidavits received.
The Absentee Ballot Clerk shall compile a list of names and addresses of all applicants for absentee ballots and shall make sure the lists are available to all candidates.