IV. Legislative Update
Alabama: County registrars are supporting a bill that would move the voter registration deadline in all counties except Jefferson from 10 days before an election to 17 days.
Arizona: Under legislation approved by a Senate committee, The Citizen’s Clean Election Commission would be consolidated with the secretary of state’s office and take on additional responsibilities for overseeing election law violations. The commission would still work independently.
Arkansas: After being approved by the Senate last week, a proposed voter photo ID bill began making its way through the Arkansas House this week with the first stop at the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee. Although the bill is up for discussion, the committee agreed not to vote on it until a fiscal impact statement could be completed.
Florida: While her name may not immediately come to mind, pretty much everyone in the country now knows that Desiline Victor is the 102-year old Haitian immigrant who waited on line on Election Day in Florida for more than four hours. One Florida Senator is making sure you don’t forget Victor’s name by introducing Senate Bill 888 — Desiline’s Free and Fair Democracy Act.
Hawaii: This week a House judiciary committee approved a bill that would allow election-day registration in the Aloha State.
The House Judiciary Committee also approved a proposal that would prevent unions, candidates or employers from helping voters complete their absentee ballots and would require absentee voters to pledge that they cast their ballot in secret.
Kentucky: Don’t break out the bourbon just yet, but the Kentucky General Assembly is prepared to lift a ban on alcohol purchases on election day. The bill was unanimously approved by a House committee and now goes to the full House. The bill affects only “wet” areas of the state. If approved, South Carolina would remain the only state that prohibits alcohol sales on election day.
Maine: Maine is one of only two states that allows felons to vote while incarcerated and for the sixth time since 1999, legislation has been introduced in an effort to restrict those voting rights. Under the bill introduced by Rep. Gary Knight (R-Livermore Falls) said the bill would restrict the voting rights of those convicted of a Class A crime—murder, manslaughter, and gross sexual assault.
Under legislation introduced by Rep. Joe Brooks (U-Winterport) the secretary of state’s office would be required to provide candidates with a free copy of the list of registered voters in the district in which they are running. Currently the state sells the lists at a variety of pricing levels topping out at $2200 for a statewide list. The secretary of state’s office is opposed to the legislation.
New Mexico: A bill in the House that would have required voters to show photo ID in order to vote was defeated on a 38-31 party-line vote.
During the same session, a vote that will require counties to create early voting sites for locations with a population center of more than 1,500 people if it is more than 50 miles from the nearest early voting site was approved 38-31. The legislation is in response to long lines that occurred in rural areas on Election Day in November.
North Dakota: You don’t need to be registered to vote in North Dakota, but you may soon need a photo ID to cast your ballot. House Bill 1332 was approved by a 72-21 vote.
Ohio: On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan bill that would require polling places to be ADA compliant and would require that disabled or illiterate voters will be provided help with their ballots if they request it.
Texas: A bill introduced by Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Mesquite) would make it a state jail felony to carry more than two ballots to the mailbox in any election cycle with the exceptions for family members and employees of state licensed nursing facilities.
Another bill, SB 554 would strengthen penalties against voter fraud by classifying theft of an official ballot or carrier envelope a third degree felony.
West Virginia: Del. Ryan Ferns (D-Ohio) introduced legislation that would eliminate straight-ticket voting. Ferns said that he has the support of much of the leadership in the House of Delegates. "Straight-ticket voting encourages uneducated voting," Ferns told The Intelligencer. "We're telling people if they don't want to go through the read on a ballot, they have the option of voting for just one party. At the very least, voters should have to read the names for each candidate on the ballot."
Wisconsin: Assembly Bill 18 would alter state election law to allow municipalities to enlist poll workers who live outside of the municipality in other parts of the county. The bill is in response to municipalities finding it difficult to recruit poll workers from a limited poll for multiple elections.
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IV. Legislative Update