FSMC, TITLE 9.  NATIONAL ELECTIONS
 
 
Chapter 7:  Procedure for Absentee Voters

701.     Voter and ballot defined.
702.     Confined persons.
703.     Request for ballot.
704.     Marking and return of ballot Voting at polls.
705.     Disposition of ballots.
706.     Voting at another polling place.

      701.  Voter and ballot defined.

     (1)     Any registered voter qualified to vote at any general or special election shall be entitled and enabled to vote by absentee ballot if:

     (a)     he is confined to his home or hospital by reason of such illness or physical disability as will prevent him from attending the polls, or

     (b)     he is prevented from voting by reason of being at sea, absent from the State in which he is registered, or obstructed by natural barrier making it highly impractical or extremely difficult for him to arrive at his place of voting in time to cast his ballot.

     (2)     An absentee ballot is an official ballot which is authorized by this title to be voted outside of any designated polling place or prior to the date of the election.

Source:  PL 2-73 701; amended by PL 5-70 12.

      702.  Confined persons.
     Any registered voter qualified to vote at any general or special election who is confined to his home or hospital by reason of such illness or physical disability as will prevent him from attending the polls shall be entitled to vote in such manner as may be prescribed by rules and regulations which shall be promulgated by the national election commissioner of the State concerned.  Such rules and regulations shall provide for voting by such persons in such manner as to ensure secrecy of ballot and to preclude tampering with the ballots of such voters and other election frauds; provided, that any voter who by reason of physical disability is unable to mark his ballot shall be authorized to receive assistance in the marking thereof.  Such rules and regulations may require affidavits, certificates, and other written statements under oath.

Source: PL 2-73 702.

      703.  Request for ballot.

     (1)     Any registered voter qualified to vote in any election may request and cast an absentee ballot with the national election commissioner, provided he meets the requirements as set forth in section 701 of this chapter.
 
     (2)     Any registered voter qualified to vote by absentee ballot may, not more than 120 days before the close of the polling place on the day of the election, request the national election commissioner in writing for an absentee ballot to be voted at the election; provided, that an otherwise qualified voter who requested who requested to cast an absentee ballot outside of the State in which he intends to vote is solely responsible for ensuring that his request for an absentee ballot shall be received by the national election commissioner of the State concerned no later than 60 days before the election, and any such request for an absentee ballot received by the national election commissioner concerned later than 60 days before the election shall be rejected by the national election commissioner concerned, unless the request is postmarked and mailed before the 60 days and is received by the national election commissioner of the State concerned no later than 51 days before the election.  Delayed and lost mails for absentee ballot requests shall not create any obligation of the National Election Director and the national election commissioners of the States to provide absentee ballots at any time after the time periods set forth in this chapter have expired.  The request must be personally signed by the voter seeking to vote by absentee ballot, and it shall include information stating the voters voting precinct, election district, reasons for being absent, the address to which the voter wishes his ballot forwarded and establishing the voters right to a ballot. Only the person seeking to vote by absentee ballot may submit an absentee ballot request; absentee ballots may not be obtained by individuals on behalf of others.

Source:  PL 2-73 703; amended by PL 5-70 13 and PL 11-62 9, modified.

Case annotations:  Formalities involved in absentee election process are intended to safeguard electoral process from voter fraud.  Therefore a regulation rejecting absentee ballots if the signature on the request form is different from the signature on the statement accompanying an absentee ballot  is a reasonable exercise of the Natl Election Directors power to implement rules and regulations for absentee ballots.    Wiliander v. Mallarme, 7 FSM Intrm. 152, 160-61 (App. 1995).

Since the right to vote is personal one persons vote cannot be cast by another one persons request to vote absentee cannot be made by another.  Wiliander v. Mallarme, 7 FSM Intrm. 152, 160 (App. 1995).

      704.  Marking and return of ballot Voting at polls.

     (1)     The national election commissioner of each State or the board of election, as the case may be, shall, at least 50 days prior to an election, provide to any person who may be entitled to vote by absentee ballot outside of the State concerned, and who requests the same in accordance with section 703(2) of this chapter, an official ballot, a ballot envelope, an affidavit prescribed by the national election commissioner, and a covering reply envelope.  The absentee voter shall mark the ballot in the usual manner provided by law and in such manner that no person can see or know how the ballot is marked except as provided in section 702 of this chapter.  The absentee voter shall then deposit the ballot in the envelope and securely seal the same.  The absentee voter shall then complete and execute the affidavit. The ballot envelope and the affidavit shall then be enclosed and sealed in the covering reply envelope and shall be mailed to reach the national election commissioner of the State issuing the absentee ballot not later than the established closing hour of the polls on the day of the election except as provided in section 702 of this chapter.

     (2)     It is unlawful for any person who has voted an absentee ballot to cast a ballot at the polls on election day.

Source:  PL 2-73 704; amended by PL 5-70 14; PL 8-97 17, PL 11-62 10, modified.

Case annotations:  The formalities involved in the absentee election process are intended to safeguard the electoral process from voter fraud.  Therefore a regulation rejecting absentee ballots if the signature on the request form is different from the signature on the statement accompanying an absentee ballot  is a reasonable exercise of the National Election Directors power to implement rules and regulations for absentee ballots.  Wiliander v. Mallarme, 7 FSM Intrm. 152, 160-61 (App. 1995).

      705.  Disposition of ballots.

     (1)     Upon the receipt of the envelope marked Absentee ballot enclosed within the period prescribed in section 704 of this chapter from any person voting under the provisions of this title, the national election commissioner, or his appointee, shall open it, remove the ballot envelope, and examine the statement as to its proper execution, the persons qualifications to register as an elector, and to vote.  If the national election commissioner determines that the person is qualified to vote by absentee ballot, the ballot envelope shall be deposited unopened in a container retained for that purpose.  The container shall be securely sealed except for an opening sufficient to permit deposit of ballot envelopes and shall be marked with the name and official title of the national election commissioner or his appointee, and the words, This container holds absentee ballots and must be opened only pursuant to law. The national election commissioner or his appointee shall safely keep each container in his office until the day of election and at such time he shall publicly open the container, extract and segregate the ballot envelopes, and deliver such envelopes to the counting and tabulation committee.

Case annotations:  By statute, absentee ballots are to be examined when received, on or before Election Day, to determine if the voter is qualified to vote absentee, and the ballot envelope deposited unopened in container, and publicly delivered to counting and tabulating committee on Election Day.  Wiliander v. Mallarme, 7 FSM Intrm. 152, 156-57 (App. 1995).

     (2)     In case the statement is found to be insufficient or in case the signatures do not correspond, or in case the voter has not complied with the requirements of section 704 of this chapter or is not a duly qualified elector or the ballot envelope is open or has been opened and resealed, the ballot envelope shall not be opened and the national election commissioner or his appointee shall mark across its face Rejected, giving the reason therefor, and shall preserve the same in the manner provided by law.

Case annotations:  A timely received absentee ballot may be rejected if the accompanying statement is insufficient, the signatures do not correspond, the procedure for marking and returning the absentee ballot has not been complied with, the voter is not a qualified elector, or the ballot envelope has been tampered with.  Wiliander v. Mallarme, 7 FSM Intrm. 152, 156 n.6, 159 (App. 1995).

     (3)     If the ballot is received after the time fixed in section 704 of this chapter, the ballot envelope shall be endorsed by the national election commissioner or his appointee for the period of time required for the preservation of ballots used at such election, and shall then, without being opened, be destroyed in accordance with applicable law.

     (4)     If upon receiving the ballot envelope from the national election commissioner or his appointee it is found that the voter has already voted, the election inspectors shall immediately cancel the ballot envelope and write Rejected across its face, giving the reason therefor, and shall preserve the same in the manner provided by law.

Source:  PL 2-73 705; amended by PL 8-97 18, modified.

      706.  Voting at another polling place.

     (1)     A voter shall have the right to vote on election day at a polling place other than the polling place at which he is legally registered to vote if the following conditions are met:

     (a)     the voter is present in his State on the day of election;

     (b)     he is lawfully registered to vote in his representative or election district; and

     (c)     he notifies the national election commissioner in writing at least seven days before the election that he will not be voting in his proper voting place and that he requests to vote at a specific voting place.

     (2)     Upon receipt of voters request for a change in polling place, and no later than five days from such receipt if request is made seven days before the election, the national election commissioner shall immediately assign and notify the voter by any means of communication, including the use of radio, as to the place where the voter may vote.  Upon such notification, the voter shall be permitted to vote only at that polling place.

     (3)     The national election commissioner shall cause a mark to be placed next to the name of the voter in that part of the General State Register for the election precinct or the polling place where the voter would normally cast his ballot.  This mark shall indicate that the voter will be casting his ballot at another polling place  and that  he is prohibited from voting in  that election at his usual polling place.  The national election commissioner shall provide the proper ballot at the newly designated polling place for each voter who complies with the provisions of this section.

     (4)     The seven day notice requirement in subsection (1) of this section may be waived by the national election commissioner if the following conditions are met:

     (a)     the voter was unable to give sufficient notice because circumstances beyond his control made it impossible or extremely difficult to do so;

     (b)     the voter gives at least one days notice in writing; and

     (c)     the waiver would not prevent compliance with any other provision of this section.

Source:  PL 2-73 706; amended by PL 5-95 1.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
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