§ 17-20-10. Certification of applications Issuance of ballots Marking of lists Mailing address.
(a) Upon receipt of the application, the local board shall immediately examine it and determine whether it complies with each of the requirements set forth by this chapter and compare the signature on the ballot application with the signature contained on the original registration card, except as may be otherwise provided by law, to satisfy itself that the applicant is a qualified voter. Upon determining that it does meet each requirement of this chapter and that the signature appears to be the same, the local board shall mark the application "accepted" and record in the space provided on the ballot application the senatorial, representative, and voting district in which the applicant should vote.
(b) The local board shall also record the city or town code and district information in the mailing label section of the mail ballot application. The local board shall also print or type the name of the elector and the complete mailing address in that section. If the local board does not accept the application, the local board shall return the application to the elector, together with a form prescribed by the secretary of state, specifying the reason or reasons for the return of the application.
(c) Not later than 4:00 p.m. on the eighteenth (18th) day before the day of any election referred to in this chapter or within seven (7) days of receipt by the local board, whichever occurs first, the local board shall certify the applications to the secretary of state through the CVRS system as this procedure is prescribed by the secretary of state. Upon the certification of a mail ballot application to the secretary of state, the local board shall enter on the voting list the fact that a mail ballot application for the voter has been certified and shall cause the delivery of the certified mail ballot applications together with the signed certified listing thereof in sealed packages to the state board of elections.
(d)(1) Upon the ballots becoming available, the secretary of state shall immediately issue and mail, by first-class mail, postage prepaid, a mail ballot to each eligible voter who has been certified. With respect to voters who have applied for these mail ballots under the provisions of § 17-20-2(1), the secretary of state shall include with the mail ballots a stamped, return envelope addressed to the board of elections.
(2) The secretary of state shall include on the mail ballot envelope a numerical or alphabetical code designating the city or town where the voter resides. The secretary of state shall immediately thereafter indicate on the voter's record that the secretary of state has sent mail ballots; provided that this mark shall serve solely to indicate that a mail ballot has been issued and shall not be construed as voting in the election.
(e) Prior to each election, the secretary of state shall also furnish to the chairperson of the state committee of each political party a list of the names and residence addresses of all persons to whom mail ballots have been issued. The secretary of state shall also furnish to a candidate for political office, upon request, a list of the names and residence addresses of all persons to whom mail ballots have been issued within his or her district.
(f) If a ballot is returned to the secretary of state by the postal service as undeliverable, the secretary of state shall consult with the appropriate local board to determine the accuracy of the mailing address, and the secretary of state shall be required to remail the ballot to the voter using the corrected address provided by the local board. If the local board is unable to provide a different address than that to which the ballot was originally mailed, the ballot shall be reissued by the secretary of state to the board of canvassers in the city or town where the voter resides utilizing the numerical or alphabetical code established in subsection (d) of this section. The board shall then attempt to notify the voter at his or her place of residence that the ballot has been returned as undeliverable. The ballot must be voted and witnessed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
(g) The acceptance of a mail ballot application by the board of canvassers and the issuance of a mail ballot by the secretary of state shall not create any presumption as to the accuracy of the information provided by the applicant or as to the applicant's compliance with the provisions of this chapter. Any inaccuracy in the provided information or irregularity in the application may be raised as a challenge to the ballot before the board of elections at the time of certification. If the challenge raised at that time is meritorious, the ballot shall be voided.
(h) Within two (2) business days of receipt by the local board, the board shall certify emergency mail ballot applications and shall cause the delivery of the emergency mail ballot applications, and certification sheet in sealed packages to the state board of elections.
(P.L. 1978, ch. 258, § 2; P.L. 1979, ch. 269, § 1; P.L. 1980, ch. 407, § 1; P.L. 1983, ch. 172, § 12; P.L. 1984, ch. 309, § 1; P.L. 1989, ch. 468, § 1; P.L. 1990, ch. 466, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 172, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 56, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 121, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 119, § 2; P.L. 2005, ch. 167, § 2; P.L. 2006, ch. 314, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 459, § 1; P.L. 2011, ch. 190, § 1; P.L. 2011, ch. 217, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 415, § 3; P.L. 2015, ch. 127, § 1.)