IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: The House Administration Committee voted 6-3 in support of a bill from Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) that would eliminate the United States Election Assistance Commission.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has forwarded bipartisan legislation that would save the U.S. Postal Service from financial ruin. While much of the bill centers around internal cost savings and procedures, the bill would not eliminate Saturday delivery, would raise the of a stamp one-cent and would allow for cluster box delivery for homes where 40 percent of the residents agree.
Alaska: House Bill 7, sponsored by State Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka) would make posting ballot selfies legal in Alaska.
Arkansas: Republicans have filed Senate Joint Resolution 6 which would refer a constitutional amendment to the voters that if approved would require voters to show a photo ID in order to vote.
Florida: Under HB 409, election supervisors would be required to send text messages to voters on the first day of early voting as well as on Election Day. The messages will alert voters to polling hours and locations.
Mississippi: The full House approved House Bill 373, which would authorize online voter registration for those with a valid driver’s license. The House also approved House Bill 1054 to create a group to study a system to restore voting rights for people convicted of nonviolent felonies.
Montana: According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, top Republican leaders asked state Rep. Geraldine Custer not to introduce a bill to make the coming special election by mail ballot only.
Nevada: Three senators have joined forces to introduce Senate Bill 100 which would require county clerks to establish a system whereby voters could choose to make showing their photo ID a requirement before voting. Voters could opt in or out of the system.
Also in Nevada, Assembly Bill 45 would add requirements to groups involved in voter registration and petition drives such allowing the secretary of state’s office to adopt regulations that determine qualifications for these groups such as training.
New York: Attorney General Eric Schniderman has introduced the New York Votes Act which includes provisions for automatic voter registration, same day registration and early voting in the Empire State. “Any law that makes it easier to vote is a good law; any law that makes it harder to vote is a bad law,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “New York has long been a bastion of democracy, but our state’s current system of registration and voting is an affront to that legacy.”
North Dakota: By a 74-16 vote, the House approved legislation that would require voters to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The new legislation would do away with the affidavit option that had been available during previous elections.
Oregon: Secretary of State Dennis Richardson (R) is proposing that the secretary of state’s office become a nonpartisan position. Although legislation has yet to be introduced, Richardson met with legislators this week and said making the secretary of state’s office nonpartisan would boost confidence in the office.
Utah: A House committee has approved HB230 which would require counties to pay return postage on absentee ballots when conducting a vote-by-mail election.
Also in committee, lawmakers have decided to delay making any decisions on a proposed automatic voter registration bill.
The House Government Operations Committee also approved a bill that would create a statewide presidential primary.
Virginia: The General Assembly is considering three bills directly related to the special election in Lynchburg earlier this year. SB 1552 and HB 2415 would only order registrars to use historical data, including voter turnout, to make that decision, information many registrars have said they generally consider. In addition, SB 1571, sponsored by Peake, would order electoral boards to meet regardless of any federal holiday. The bill also would require local electoral boards to certify special elections before counting provisional ballots unless the total of outstanding provisional ballots would not change who wins.
The Senate has narrowly approved a constitutional amendment that would change how and whether ex-felons get their voting rights restored. The amendment would retain Virginia’s rule that those convicted of felonies lose their voting rights, but would require governors to set up a process to automatically restore the rights of nonviolent felons when they have completed their sentences, including payment of all fines, fees or restitution and serving of any time on probation or parole.
Washington: House Bill 1342 would allow all Washington voters, not just military and overseas voters, to return their cast ballots via email to county auditors’ offices. Secretary of State Kim Wyman as well as the state’s Association of Auditors testified against the legislation.