V. Legislative Updates
Florida: Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Palm Beach County) has introduced legislation that will automatically register Floridians to vote when they apply for or renew their driver’s license. “The reason is pretty simple – nobody should have to jump through an extra hoop to exercise their constitutional rights,” Clemens told Florida Politics. Clemens says this is either the third or fourth time he’s proposed such a bill.
Maryland: The Hyattsville City Council unanimously approved an amendment that will allow non-U.S. citizens to vote in city elections beginning in 2017. The amendment will also allow same-day registration beginning in 2019. According to recent Census numbers, about 35 percent of Hyattsville residents were born outside the United States.
Michigan: Three bills updating the state’s voter ID law have cleared the House Elections Committee late last week. The main bill in the three-bill package, HB 6066, would require voters without identification to fill out a provisional ballot, which would only be counted if the voter returned to their clerk's office within 10 days to show a photo ID or present evidence they are indigent or have a religious objection to having their photo taken. The bills were approved by a 57-50 vote late (10pm) on Wednesday. The legislation, as approved Thursday, includes an $8 million appropriation to finance “election modernization, voter education and implementation” of the new rules, $2 million for free birth certificates and $1 million for the free ID program. The appropriations would effectively make the law immune to voter referendum.
Nevada: An initiative petition that would automatically register motorists to vote unless they opt out will head to the Legislature next year after election officials in Nevada’s 17 counties certified that the signature gathered more than that 55, 234 valid signatures needed. The Automatic Voter Registration Initiative would amend state law to require the Department of Motor Vehicles to transmit information to the Secretary of State’s Office to register people who obtain, renew or change an address on a driver’s license or identification card. People could opt out of the program.
New Hampshire: During an organizing day this week, New Hampshire senators will decide whether or not to create a new legislative committee to deal specifically with election law. The Republican-controlled Senate proposes creating a Committee on Election Law and Internal Affairs. In past session, many election law related bills have started in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
New Jersey: This week Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a bill that would have expanded the definition of overseas voters to include spouses, civil union partners, domestic partners and dependents of military service members as well as foreign-born U.S. citizens. In is veto statement, Christie said the bill would have allowed overseas voters to participate in elections on state and local issues “when they have no intention of ever returning to the United States (or, in the case of U.S. citizens born abroad, have never resided in the United States and never intend to do so) makes little sense and is inconsistent with how most other states address this issue."
Ohio: A bill that would require a special primary election only if more than one candidate is certified to appear on the ballot is headed to the full House for a vote. The Senate unanimously approved the bill in November.
Oregon: Two Republican representatives have filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would require all of the state’s 2.5 million voters to re-register within two years and provide proof-of-citizenship to re-register.