V. Legislative Updates
Arkansas: The House State Agencies and Government Affairs Committee has endorsed legislation that would require voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot.
California: Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher has introduced Assembly Bill 216 that would pay for return postage on ballots in statewide elections. According to LGBT Weekly there are 15 co-sponsors of the bill.
Colorado: House Bill 1014 would overturn an 1891 law that made vote-buying illegal and that modern-day administrators have said means that ballot selfies are illegal.
Mississippi: The House Elections Committee has unanimously approved measures that will allow early voting, online voter registration and create a study committee to come up with clearer rules for restoration of voting rights for convicts. The House passed similar early voting legislation in 2016, but it died in the Senate.
Montana: House Bill 287, which would create a permanent absentee voter list, has been referred to the House’s State Administration Committee. The legislation was written by Yellowstone County’s Election Administrator Bret Rutherford. Current law requires the absentee voter list to be deleted on Feb. 1 in even-numbered years.
Another bill being considered by the Legislature is House Bill 212, introduced by Rep. Jeff Essmann (R-Billings). Under the proposed legislation, a fine would be imposed on people who collect a voter’s filled-out or blank ballot. The fine would be $500 per ballot. The bill makes exceptions for post office workers, elected officials, caregivers and family or members of a person's household.
New Hampshire: Among the several dozens of elections-related bills in the Legislature Senate Bill 47, which was requested by the secretary of state’s office, would give the office the authority to conduct investigations into violations of election law, enforce the rules and impose penalties.
Another law would prohibit gun owners from bringing their guns to the polls with them if those polling places are housed in schools.
New Mexico: Bipartisan legislation and constitutional changes have been proposed that would end closed primaries in New Mexico. The legislation would open up the primaries to unaffiliated voters and the constitutional amendment would create a top-two primary system.
North Dakota: Citing budgetary reasons, the North Dakota House has voted down two bills supported by Secretary of State Al Jaeger. One would have steered $9 million from the general fund to counties for the purchase of new voting equipment and the other would have spent $3 million to purchase e-poll books.
Ohio: Rep. Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton) and Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) plan to introduce legislation that would prevent one-candidate special elections.
Oklahoma: State Rep. David Perryman (D-Chickasha) has introduced House Bill 1332 which would give Oklahoma voters the option of registering their thumb print as a form of voter ID. The thumb print would not be required, but would be an option for voters.
Pennsylvania: Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Penn Hills) has announced that he plans to introduce legislation that would allow for early voting in the commonwealth as well as same day voter registration.
South Dakota: Secretary of State Shantel Krebs testified before the House State Affairs Committee on legislation that she is proposing would set flat numbers for both partisan and independent candidates that are seeking offices in counties that operate vote centers. During her testimony, Krebs noted that while vote centers work well for voters, they have presented some problems for elections officials, which is why she introduced the legislation.
Utah: The House has approved HB12 74-0. The bill will require county clerks to quickly notify voters if their vote-by-mail ballots are spoiled so they may correct the problems and cast a new ballot. It requires clerks to email or phone voters within 24 hours of rejection of a ballot if it is before Election Day, or it gives them two days to mail a letter.
Vermont: The House Government Operations Committee heard about two days of testimony from state election officials, attorneys, current and former lawmakers, town clerks and others in a disputed election decided by only seven votes. The committee announced that it wants to do a recount.
Virginia: The Senate has approved a bill that would alter how write-in votes are counted. Under the new legislation, the threshold to actually attach names to write-in votes would raise so they would only be counted if the total of write-ins cast could mathematically alter the outcome of the election.
Also in Virginia, HB 1425, sponsored by Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg) would end the state’s winner-take-all system of awarding Electoral College votes and instead the votes would be divided among the presidential candidates based on how many of the state’s 11 Congressional districts they win.
Washington: Secretary of state Kim Wyman is pushing lawmakers to change the date of the state’s presidential primary from the fourth Tuesday in May to the second Tuesday in March. She is also asking lawmakers to allow elections officials to remove candidates from the ballot if they die, withdraw or suspend their candidacy before the primary. Her proposals were introduced with bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
Sen Patty Kuderer has introduced legislation that would allow for same-day voter registration up until 5 p.m. on the day of a primary, special or general election. The bill would also update the online and mail-in registration deadline from 29 days prior to an election to eight days prior.
Wyoming: The House Judiciary Committee has approved House Bill 75 which eliminates the application process for nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences to regain their voting rights. The bill is supported by the League of Women Voters, and the Department of Corrections.
Also in Wyoming, House Bill 167 would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot.