V. Legislative Updates
California: Late last week Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that will completely overhaul how California counties conduct their elections. Beginning in 2018 counties will move to a vote-by-mail/vote center model, similar to how elections are conducted in Colorado. Under SB450, 14 of the state’s 58 counties can opt into the new system beginning in 2018. The remaining counties in the state may start in 2020.
Also in California, Brown vetoed a bill that would have expanded ranked choice voting to all cities that wanted to use the system. In his veto note, Brown wrote: “In a time when we want to encourage more voter participation, we need to keep voting simple. Ranked-choice voting is overly complicated and confusing. I believe it deprives voters of genuinely informed choice.”
South Carolina: Although early voting legislation died in the House earlier this year, bipartisan support seems to be growing to reintroduce similar legislation next year. “Low voter turnout is a huge problem especially in down ballot races and primaries,” S.C. Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore told the Post and Courier. “We should make it easier to vote, not harder.”
Washington: Secretary of State Kim Wyman, in partnership with county election leaders has proposed legislation for the upcoming session that would make it possible for elections officials to check the citizenship of people registering to vote in Washington. The proposal would tie-in with the state finally adopting REAL ID — Washington is one of only three states that has not made a move to comply with the REAL ID Act. The package also includes a plan for automatic voter registration of those who provide documentation of citizenship, with an opt-out provision.