VI. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D) has introduced the FAST Voting Act. The Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely Voting Act of 2016 would create a competitive grant program—similar to the Race to the Top, encouraging states to aggressively pursue election reform. “The FAST Voting Act addresses these challenges by encouraging and helping states to make voting faster and more accessible through commonsense reforms like reducing long waiting times, expanding early voting opportunities, and eliminating other obstacles that prevent people from exercising their franchise,” Warner said in a statement.
Arkansas: Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle) filed a bill this week that would require voters to show a document or ID card to verify their registration — requirements similar to those that were struck down by the state’s Supreme Court in 2014. "I think it's important to protect the integrity of the ballot," he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "There are a lot of instances in our day-to-day life where photo ID is required, and it just seems to me to not be so big a stretch to say that something as important as a vote be verified by photo ID." Lowery told the paper he believes the bill would hold up to a legal argument if it is passed by a two-thirds supermajority.
Michigan: Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said this week that the Senate will not vote on stricter voter ID regulations during the remaining days of the lame duck session.
Nebraska: A group of activists have drafted a bill that would change the process for how ex-felons voting rights are restored. The activists are currently seeking a senator to introduce the legislation. Currently Nebraska ex-felons must wait two years to have their voting rights restored after the completion of their sentences. Under the proposal, the two-year wait time would be eliminated.
Also in Nebraska, at a meeting conducted by a special legislative committee on election technology, Sen. John Murante said that the state is eyeing a move to all-mail elections while Sen. Adam Morfled said he would support a hybrid vote-by-mail/vote center plan like in Colorado.
North Carolina: Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham) met a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to file elections-related legislation for the upcoming special session. House Bill 5 would restore the hours and days to the early voting period that were removed in 2013 and House Bill 6 would create a nonpartisan redistricting committee.
Utah: Rep. Craig Hall (R-West Valley City) has said that he will sponsor legislation that will get rid of the state’s new universal vote-by-mail system. “Some people love vote-by-mail, and that’s great, but some people have absolutely no interest in voting by, and we ought to cater to the voter’s preference,” Hall told the Salt Lake Tribune.