IV. Legislative Update
California: Senate Bill 113 would allow 15-year olds to pre-register to vote. Under the legislation teens would be able to pre-register when getting learner’s permits as well as through the state’s online voter registration system.
Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) introduced legislation that would streamline the state’s voter registration process for local elections officials. Currently California is just one of a handful of states that requires a voter to enter a place of birth on their voter registration form. Under the proposed legislation (AB 131), officials would be able to process registrations even if that box is not completed.
Delaware: Three Democrats have introduced a constitutional amendment legislation (HB 20) that would create no-excuse absentee voting. Under current law, voters must provide an excuse for they physically cannot make it to the polls on election day. Because this is a constitutional amendment, it must clear the General Assembly this session as well as during the 2015 session.
Montana: In an effort to reduce the costs of elections and increase turnout out, Sen. Art Wittich (R-Bozeman) introduced SB 140 that would combine primary elections with school elections.
Legislation (SB 68) introduced this week in the Montana Senate would require local election administrators to label absentee ballot envelopes with the exact amount of necessary return postage. During November’s election, while the required postage was listed on the instruction sheet, it was not posted on the envelope and some voters found that confusing.
Missouri: This week the Missouri House passed a bill that would require most statewide offices that are vacated be filled through special election instead of appointment. It is unclear if the governor will veto the legislation or not.
Nebraska: Sen. Charlie Janssen (District 15) introduced LB381 that would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The legislation is similar to a bill that was introduced and ultimately failed during the 2012 session.
New Jersey: In the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) has introduced legislation (AB1548) that require written security plans for counties using schools as polling places.
New Mexico: Senate GOP Whip William Payne (R-Albuquerque) has introduced legislation (SB209) that would require the secretary of state’s office to conduct periodic reviews of the state’s voter rolls to ensure that noncitizens are not registered to vote.
North Carolina: Although he has not introduced specific legislation, State Rep. Elmer Floyd (D-District 43) has signaled that he will introduce a bill that would eliminate the state’s primary runoff system. During last year’s primary runoff, less than a quarter of a million voters cast ballots that resulted in an approximate cost of $31.50 per ballot cast.
South Carolina: Under legislation currently being considered, statewide oversight of elections would return to the purview of a secretary of state instead of the current state election commission. This week the bill (H 3197) survived a subcommittee vote and is now headed to the full House Judiciary Committee.
Virginia: This week, the Senate backed a bill that would allow Virginians age 65 and older to cast an absentee ballot without needing to provide an excuse. Last week the Senate killed a bill that would have allowed all voters to cast an absentee ballot without an excuse.
The Senate also defeated several bills aimed at decreasing the lines voters across the Commonwealth found on Election Day. SB964 that would have kept polling places open until 8p.m. statewide and SB1150 that would require local elections officials to develop plans to prevent lines were both defeated.
Legislation has been introduced in both the House (HB1599) and Senate (SB906) that would create a vote center pilot program for primaries in Virginia. The Virginia Electoral Board Association and the Voter Registrars Association of Virginia both support the legislation.
The Privileges and Elections Committee voted 10-5 to support legislation calling for a constitutional amendment that would give the General Assembly the authority to determine which nonviolent offenses would be eligible for automatic voting rights restoration.
Washington: Although many praise Washington’s vote-by-mail system for its simplicity, some don’t like the fact that the resulting vote count can be a bit slow. To speed things up, Rep. Kevin van de Wege (D-Sequim) has introduced legislation (H1102) that would require elections workers to count ballots as late as midnight on election night unless there are no ballots to count.
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IV. Legislative Update