IV. Legislative Update
Alaska: Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell introduced legislation (SB 44 and HB 104) this week that would move Alaska’s primary from the fourth Tuesday of August to the second Tuesday in even-numbered years. The legislation would also change timelines for getting a name removed from primary ballots and would allow someone living outside the U.S. to register to vote absentee if his/her parent is a permanent resident of the state prior to leaving.
Arizona: Rep. Carl Seel (R-Phoenix) introduced legislation (HB 2350) that would require Arizonans seeking to vote early by mail to have their signatures notarized. Secretary of State Ken Bennett and county election officials have expressed concerns about the feasibility of the proposed legislation.
This week, a Senate committee endorsed a bill (SB 1261) that would allow counties to purge early voter lists of people who don’t vote in both the primary and general elections in a given year.
Florida: A proposal by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R-Miami) would give the governor the power to remove county elections supervisors from their elected positions or put them on probation. The secretary of state would also be granted this new authority under the proposal.
Georgia: Legislation currently making its way through the Georgia House will allow one voting precinct in Carroll County to keep its lines within the boundaries of a gated community. The bill (HB 87) stipulates that the gates to the community must be kept open throughout the day for voters and election workers.
Hawaii: Currently candidates are listed alphabetically on ballots in Hawaii, but under proposed legislation (HB 32) the state elections director would select a letter by lot and candidates with last names beginning with that letter would appear first, followed alphabetically by the other letters.
Indiana: Under legislation introduced by Rep. Peggy Mayfield (R-Martinsville) students paying out-of-state tuition would not be permitted to register to vote. According to the Courier-Journal, legal experts as well as members of both parties question the constitutionality of HB 1311.
Kansas: With support from Secretary of State Kris Kobach, House Bill 2162 would allow county election officials to request that a “plain-language explainer” be created when a ballot measure is too confusing, technical, or otherwise difficult for voters to understand.
Maryland: Kathy Afzali (R-Frederick County) has introduced two election admin pieces of legislation into the Maryland General Assembly. One would make voter fraud a felony instead of a misdemeanor and the other would require photo ID to vote. House Bill 324 would increase the fine for voter fraud from $2,500 to $100K and up to five years in prison. House Bill 325 would require election judges to prove a voter’s ID and address and voters would have to show a government-issued photo ID.
The General Assembly is also considering legislation (HB0217) that would increase the number of early voting centers for general elections. The Early Voting Access Act of 2013 would also allow for an increase in the number of early voting centers during primaries at the discretion of elections officials.
Minnesota: Legislators are considering bills that would allow for easier early voting in the Gopher State. Introduced by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park), HF 193, would remove the requirement that voters provide an excuse in order to cast an absentee ballot.
Montana: A bill that would end same-day registration at 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day instead of Election Day would passed the Montana house late last week by a vote of 61-39. House Bill 30 faces one more House vote before moving to the Senate.
While the elimination of same-day registration seems to be moving along, so too is legislation that would allow Montanans to register online. SB 206 would allow anyone to register and/or update their information online if they have a state-issued driver’s license or ID card.
South Carolina: If approved, legislation pending in the South Carolina House would put the day-to-day supervision of Aiken County’s elections office in the hands of the county council. Under the legislation’s provisions, South Carolina’s governor would appoint the seven members of the Aiken County Registration and Elections Commission based on the recommendation of the majority of the legislative delegation’s representative and senators. County Council would appoint and could remove the executive director of Registration and Elections.
Utah: House Bill 85 would change the threshold formula for a losing candidate in a close race to get a free recount. Currently “free” recounts are triggered based on a formula of number of votes and precincts, but under the proposed legislation, if a candidate loses by .25 percent of the votes cast a free recount is offered.
Virginia: This week, the Virginia House approved a bill that would limit the types of identification voters may show at the polls. The legislation removes utility bills, paychecks, bank statements and Social Security cards as acceptable forms of ID. The bill passed the House on a 63-36 vote. It also passed the Senate but Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling sided with Democrats in placing a delayed enactment on the bill, so it doesn’t take effect for another year.