IV. Legislative Updates
Alaska: By a 56-3 vote, Senate Bill 9 was approved this week. Under the bill, political advertising will no longer be allowed in the state’s official voter guide and the Division of Elections will now be allowed to identify voters who are ineligible to vote.
Also in Alaska, because there is a 120-day rule between the adjournment of the Legislature and the placement of a measure on a ballot, the citizen-lead initiative to tie PFD applications to voter registration will move to the November 2016 general election ballot.
Arizona: Tucked inside another elections bill is language that would require Maricopa County to have at least one polling place for every 1,700 people eligible to vote, which would translate into approximately 200 polling places. The amendment to HB 2017, which still requires a roll-call vote, also allows the county recorder to designate emergency polling places for a presidential preference election.
California: The Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee and Budget Subcommittee recently hosted a joint hearing on whether or not local elections officials will be able to get some of the $120 million available for state-mandated election programs. Secretary of State Alex Padilla and representatives from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials and other organizations testified that, if funding isn’t increased for elections in California, there could be problems.
In San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors will soon hold its first ever joint meeting with the Youth Commission to decide whether or not to put forward a proposal to lower the voting age in San Francisco to 16.
Colorado: Legislators are set to introduce a bipartisan bill that would create a presidential primary system for the state and would allow the state’s unaffiliated voters to cast their ballot in the primary. The legislation would allow unaffiliateds to choose a party for the primary and that party affiliation would then expire 30-days after the primary.
Florida: Gov. Rick Scott has signed legislation into law that will allow for the creation of of a task force to review the development of an online voting system for overseas military voters.
Louisiana: With the support of Secretary of State Tom Schedler, legislation allowing students at Louisiana state colleges and universities to use their college-issued ID to cast a ballot is quickly making it’s way through the state Legislature.
Also in Louisiana, a constitutional amendment that would have required people seeking appointment as parish registrar of voters to meet a set of qualifications failed to reach the 70-vote mark (67-23) in the House.
Minnesota: According to recent reports, despite a busy calendar, legislation to switch from caucuses to primaries beginning in 2020 is moving quickly both through the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor controlled Senate.
Ohio: State Sen. Bill Seitz has introduced legislation that would change state law to require a cash bond before a judge could order polls to stay open past the scheduled closing time. The law also would set a higher standard for proving the need for longer hours and would allow for the immediate appeal of any ruling that extends poll hours.
Rhode Island: State Rep. Blake Filippi has introduced legislation that amend the Rhode Island constitution to allow for a ranked choice voting. Filippi cited cost and time savings in supporting ranked choice voting instead of runoff elections.
Tennessee: This week, the Legislature gave final approval to a bill that will add Tennessee to the growing ranks of states offering online voter registration. If signed by the governor, the system would be in place by July 1, 2017. A recent poll found that Tennessee voters support online voter registration 4:1.