IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Oregon Senator Ron Wyden announced this week that he plans to introduce federal legislation to move the U.S. to a national vote-by-mail system. According to the Statesman Journal, the bill would send a ballot to every registered voter before each election. Postage on the ballot envelopes would be prepaid.
California: Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation into law that will provide $16.3 million to counties to help cover the costs of the upcoming June primary and the expected “deluge” of petitions from groups seeking to qualify ballot measures for the November election. “It absolutely goes a long way to assisting us in juggling this kind of perfect storm: the initiatives colliding at the same time we’re producing ballots and tallying ballots,” said Orange County Registrar Neal Kelley told the Sacramento Bee.
Also in California, the Assembly has approved AB1921 that would allow voters to designate anyone to turn in their mail-in ballots for them. Existing law limits that to immediate family members and housemates.
Louisiana: By a 60-37 vote, the Louisiana House voted down a proposal that would have allowed ex-felons to have their voting rights restored upon release from incarceration instead of when they complete parole or probation.
Missouri: Senate Democrats and Republicans have reached an agreement over a proposal that would require voters to show ID to vote. Under a version of the legislation adopted this week, if voters don’t present a photo ID, they would sign a statement under penalty of perjury attesting that they are who they say they are. The voter would then have to present some form of ID, such as a university-issued ID or a utility bill. The bill awaits Gov. Jay Nixon’s signature.
New York: Legislation that would combine the state’s federal and state primaries has stalled in the Senate. It was approved by the Assembly earlier this year, but the Senate has failed to act. According to the Utica Observer Dispatch, a spokesman for Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins who sponsored the bill said they are still hopeful about the legislation moving forward when the Senate reconvenes.
Vermont: Gov. Peter Shumlin signed legislation into law making Vermont the fourth state to adopt automatic voter registration. he Vermont law streamlines voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles with a system that identifies eligible Vermont residents and automatically sends their information to the town or city clerk for addition to the checklist, unless they opt out. Vermont’s law will go into effect July 1, 2017.
Wisconsin: The Superior City Council is considering a proposal from the city clerk that would allow flexibility in staffing the polls. Clerk Terri Kalan is seeking to change the city ordinance to allow poll workers to serve in shifts, instead of one 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. shift.