III. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Monroe County) has introduced legislation that would move Election Day from the first Tuesday in November to the first Saturday and Sunday after the first Friday in November. The legislation would change the dates of federal elections every even year, which would include the presidential election every four years.
Alaska: House Bill 7, which would allow voters to take and post ballot selfies has moved out of the Community and Regional Affairs Committee and now moves to the House Rules Committee.
Arkansas: An amendment to a voter ID bill in the House would allow someone who doesn’t show ID to sign a sworn statement under penalty of perjury at the polling site. The ballot would be counted unless the county board of election commissioners finds it invalid based on other grounds. "What we're trying to put in is something that improves confidence in the integrity of the ballot without unduly disenfranchising voters who for whatever reason don't have ID," Rep. Mark Lowery told the Associated Press. "I think it serves as a needful deterrent for anyone who would want to commit election fraud." The House State Agencies committee has approved the bill which now moves to the full House.
California: Assembly Bill 674, from Evan Low (D-Cupertino) would make November elections on years a holiday for schools and state workers as a way to boost voter turnout.
Idaho: A bill introduced by Rep. Dustin Manwaring (R-Pocatello) and headed to the full House for a vote would limit early voting in Idaho to any time from three weeks prior to an election to one week before. Currently county clerks have the choice begin early voting on or before the third week from the election.
Illinois: Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) has introduced a bill that would amend state election code to have ranked-choice voting in elections for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, secretary of state, treasurer and General Assembly member.
Indiana: The House Elections and Apportionment Committee has approved House Bill 1178 which would allow residents to register to vote when they obtain or renew their driver’s license, permit or identification card at the BMV. The amended bill requires BMV employees to ask residents if they want to be registered to vote.
Montana: Rep. Derek Skees (R-Kalispell) has asked the House State Administration to committee his bill that would have required voters to show a photo ID in order to vote.
Under Senate Bill 305, county elections officials would be permitted to hold the special election to replace U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke with an all vote-by-mail election if they choose to. They could still hold an election using traditional polling places. Many county elections officials are in favor of the bill because it would save them thousands of dollars. However the head of the Montana GOP has said he is opposed to the bill because it would give Democrats an inherent advantage.
Nevada: The Assembly voted 27-15 to approve legislation that would automatically register residents to vote when they obtain a new or renew a driver’s license. The bill must still be approved by the Senate. If approved it will become law on Jan. 1, 2018. If the Senate does not approve the bill, it will go before the voters in November 2018.
New Hampshire: A bill has been introduced that would ban undeclared voters from participating in primary elections unless they change their registration before election day.
New Mexico: SB 224, which has been approved by a Senate committee, would change current law to allow residents to register at any early voting center or a county clerk’s office until three days before an election. The bill would increase the length of time during which voters may register by 25 days, while putting in place safeguards to maintain the security of the state’s voter registration system.
Ohio: Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) has introduced House Bill 41 that would allow boards of elections to require voters to show a photo ID in order to vote. The bill would also push back challenging a person’s voting eligibility to 30 days before an election.
Texas: Senate Bill 5 would add options for Texans who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain of the seven forms of ID currently required in order to vote. It would also add hard criminal penalties if anyone falsifies their reason for needing to use one of the expanded forms of ID.
U.S. Virgin Islands: The Senate has voted to approve a measure aimed at correcting discrepancies in existing law regarding the unified elections board. Corrections include directing the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections to conduct the April 8 election; putting off the unification of both district boards into one board until July 31.
Utah: HB 285, which would have required all counties to provide same-day voter registration has stalled in the House Government Operations Committee. The bill would have enacted a five-year pilot program to extend the test program currently ongoing in eight counties.
The House Government Operations Committee is holding a bill that seeks to limit access to voter registration records. Rep. Becky Edwards (R-North Salt Lake) has agreed to continue eto work on the bill.
The House Government Operations Committee voted 8-1 to forward a ranked-choice voting bill to the full House.
Virginia: A bill intended to shorten the gap between when legislators win special elections and when they take their seats failed to pass a House Privileges and Elections subcommittee. While the bill passed the Senate 23-17 it failed unanimously in the House subcommittee. The bill would have required registrars to certify special elections before every provisional ballot was counted unless the total number of outstanding provisional ballots could change who wins. The provisional ballots still would be counted.
A proposed constitutional amendment overhauling the way Virginia restores voting rights to felons died in a House committee. Senate Joint Resolution 223 would have made restorations automatic after sentences and probations are complete, and any other conditions set by the legislature are met. For violent felons the governor could only restore civil rights five years after any probation or suspended sentence run their course.
The Senate has a passed a bill by a 21-19 vote that would allow localities the option to include photographs of registered voters in their e-poll books. Local elections officials would be able to access voter photos through the DMV. The bill would allow elections officials to challenge the voter if they don’t look like their photo.
Wyoming: A proposal that would have limited party-switching to 30-days prior to an election was defeated in the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivision Committee by a 3-0 vote.