V. Legislative Updates
Florida: U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson has introduced the “No One Can Take Away Your Right To Vote Act” in Congress that would restore voting rights to more than a million Floridians. Under the legislations, ex-felons would have their voting rights restored upon completion of their sentence. Currently, Florida is one of only three states where convicted felons lose their voting rights forever unless it’s restored by the state.
Illinois: Illinois is poised to become the sixth state to enact automatic voter registration after the state’s General Assembly approved the legislation. The House voted 86-30 this week to send the bill to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk. According to The Associated Press, Rauner has expressed support of the legislation. People visiting the Department on Aging or the departments of Human Services, Healthcare and Family Services, Employment Security and the Secretary of State's office (for drivers’ licenses) could register.
Also in Illinois, the General Assembly approved legislation that will allow 17-year-olds who turn 18 by the time of the general election to vote in future primaries. In addition to voting, those 17-year-olds will also be able to serve voter registrars, sign candidates’ nominating petitions and circulate petitions as well. It will also allow 17-year-olds to vote in consolidated primary elections.
Louisiana: The House Education Committee has approved a bill that would allow university students to use the state-issued college ID in order to vote. The bill would go into effect in 2019. The bill has the support of the secretary of state’s office and all the four-year public universities in the state.
In other news, the state has repealed a 142-year-old law that required naturalized citizens to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The state was facing a lawsuit over the requirement. Secretary of State Tom Schedler supports the lifting of the law. "Saving taxpayers' money by avoiding a needless lawsuit was common sense," Schedler told The Associated Press. "My office has already begun the process of communicating with our registrars of voters statewide to make sure they are informed immediately of the change in the law."
New Jersey: With a 52-21-1 vote, the Assembly approved A-1944 that would require the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to automatically register or update a person’s voter registration as part of the process of apply for or renewing a driver’s license. According to the Bergen Dispatch, the bill that provides that the MVC would automatically register to vote any person who applies for a special learner’s permit, an examination permit, a probationary driver’s license, a basic driver’s license, or a non-driver identification card, or for renewal of any license or identification card, according to the permanent address provided by the applicant, unless the applicant specifically declines the automatic voter registration.
Also in New Jersey, A-3591, the “New Voter Empowerment Act,” which would allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they turn 18 by the general election was approved by the Assembly.
Ohio: Legislation that would set a process for state courts to follow when considering whether to grant last-minute extension of voting hours—including a cash bond from the requestor—has been approved by the Legislature and is on the desk of Gov. John Kasich (R). According to the Toledo Blade, a spokesman for Gov. Kasich said he plans to review the bill.