(1) The registrar shall enclose with each ballot provided to an absent elector separate printed instructions furnished by the registrar containing the following:
(a) All absentee voters, excepting those with temporary or permanent physical disabilities or those who are sixty-five (65) years of age or older, who mark their ballots in the county of the residence shall use the registrar of that county as the witness. The absentee voter shall come to the office of the registrar and neither the registrar nor his or her deputy shall be required to go out of the registrar's office to serve as an attesting witness.
(b) Upon receipt of the enclosed ballot, you will not mark the ballot except in view or sight of the attesting witness. In the sight or view of the attesting witness, mark the ballot according to instructions.
(c) After marking the ballot, fill out and sign the “ELECTOR'S CERTIFICATE” on the back of the envelope so that the signature is across the flap of the envelope to ensure the integrity of the ballot. All absent electors shall have the attesting witness sign the “ATTESTING WITNESS CERTIFICATE” across the flap on the back of the envelope. Place the necessary postage on the envelope and deposit it in the post office or some government receptacle provided for deposit of mail so that the absent elector's ballot, excepting presidential absentee ballots, will reach the registrar in which your precinct is located not later than 5:00 p.m. on the day preceding the date of the election.
Any notary public, United States postmaster, assistant United States postmaster, United States postal supervisor, clerk in charge of a contract postal station, or other officer having authority to administer an oath or take an acknowledgment may be an attesting witness; provided, however, that in the case of an absent elector who is temporarily or permanently physically disabled, the attesting witness may be any person eighteen (18) years of age or older and such person is not required to have the authority to administer an oath. If a postmaster, assistant postmaster, postal supervisor, or clerk in charge of a contract postal station acts as an attesting witness, his or her signature on the elector's certificate must be authenticated by the cancellation stamp of their respective post offices. If an officer having authority to administer an oath or take an acknowledgement acts as attesting witness, his or her signature on the elector's certificate, together with his or her title and address, but no seal, shall be required. Any affidavits made by an absent elector who is in the Armed Forces may be executed before a commissioned officer, warrant officer, or noncommissioned officer not lower in grade than sergeant rating or any person authorized to administer oaths.
(d) When the application accompanies the ballot it shall not be returned in the same envelope as the ballot but shall be returned in a separate preaddressed envelope provided by the registrar.
(e) A candidate for public office, or the spouse, parent or child of a candidate for public office, may not be an attesting witness for any absentee ballot upon which the candidate's name appears, unless the voter is related within the first degree to the candidate or the spouse, parent or child of the candidate.
(f) Any voter casting an absentee ballot who declares that he or she requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, temporary or permanent physical disability or inability to read or write, shall be entitled to receive assistance in the marking of his or her absentee ballot and in completing the affidavit on the absentee ballot envelope. The voter may be given assistance by anyone of the voter's choice other than a candidate whose name appears on the absentee ballot being marked, the spouse, parent or child of a candidate whose name appears on the absentee ballot being marked or the voter's employer, an agent of that employer or a union representative; however, a candidate whose name is on the ballot or the spouse, parent or child of such candidate may provide assistance upon request to any voter who is related within the first degree. In order to ensure the integrity of the ballot, any person who provides assistance to an absentee voter shall be required to sign and complete the “Certificate of Person Providing Voter Assistance” on the absentee ballot envelope.
(2) The foregoing instructions required to be provided by the registrar to the elector shall also constitute the substantive law pertaining to the handling of absentee ballots by the elector and registrar.
(3) The Secretary of State shall prepare instructions on how absent voters may comply with the identification requirements of Section 23-15-563 .
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