III. Legislative Updates
Arizona: The House has given initial approval to proposals that will ask voters to repeal or revise a 1998 law that keeps lawmakers from repealing or changing voter-approved laws.
Arkansas: The Arkansas House has passed a resolution that, if approved by voters, would require residents to present photo ID in order to vote.
Also in Arkansas, under a bill approved by a Senate committee, the state board of election commissioners would be shifted to the secretary of state’s office. Under bill 368, the board would be under the direction of the secretary of state but would exercise its powers, duties and functions independently. With dozens of senators not voting, the bill failed 7-15.
Georgia: A House committee has approved legislation that would require the phrase “ineligible voter” to be printed on driver’s licenses issued to people who are not U.S. citizens.
Idaho: The Senate is set to take up a House-approved bill that would put limits on early voting. If approved, the early voting window in Idaho could take place any time from three weeks prior to the election to one week before. Currently clerks have the choice to begin early voting on or before the third week from an election.
Indiana: House Bill 1472 would allow more counties to eliminate precinct polling places with vote centers. The measure would also eliminate an existing requirement that county election boards unanimously approve vote centers. The bill now moves to the Senate.
Iowa: Plans to amend Secretary of State Paul Pate's election intergity bill to limit early voting and alter polling place hours have been scrapped although an amendment to eliminate straight-ticket voting remains. The amendment means that two different versions of the bill are moving through the House and Senate.
Kentucky: The House Election, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee has approved a bill that would reduce the number of special elections. The bill would move local referendums to primary or general election dates.
Maine: A large crowd recently showed up before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee to testify about a proposed voter ID law. While some were there in support of the bill, according to The Free Press, most of those in attendance were there to speak out in opposition to the bill.
Maryland: A bill that would require voters in the Old Line State to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot was incorrectly reported by the Department of Legislative Services and listed Baltimore Sen. Nathaniel Oaks (D) on the bill. The bill has been introduced in the House of Delegates by Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County).
Mississippi: Legislation that would allow early voting and create online voter registration for Mississippi has died in the Senate without a vote. "They didn't even take them up in committee," Denny, R-Jackson, who also authored both bills told The Clarion-Ledger. "The Senate Elections chairwoman had said they were DOA. To me that's almost insulting, to have our committee in the House pass these out two years in a row, then have them pass the full House with no more than two to four dissenting votes, and then the Senate committee not even discuss them, to announce that they are DOA before they even get them."
Nebraska: The Government, Military and Veteran’s Affairs committee voted 5 to 1 to support legislation that would restore ex-felons’ voting rights as soon as the complete the terms of service instead of waiting for two years after that as current law states.
Nevada: The Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections is considering a bill that would leave it up to the state central committees to request that a secret-ballot primary be held in February in presidential election years.
New Hampshire: Sen. Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead) has introduced Senate Bill 3 that would require anyone who registers to vote within 30 days of an election, present definitive proof-of-residency in the state.
New Mexico: By a 5-2 vote, a bill that would have allowed voters to be automatically registered to vote when applying for a new or renewing their driver’s license, was killed in committee. Two Democrats joined with Republicans to vote against the bill.
In other legislative news, the full House has approved House Bill 174 by a 38-29 vote. The bill, if approved by the Senate would consolidate most local elections, including those for cities and school districts.
The Senate Rules Committee has forward a bill — without recommendation — to the Judiciary Committee that, if approved, would open New Mexico’s primaries.
By a 19-11 vote, the Senate has approved a bill that would allow residents to register to vote up until 3 days before an election.
North Carolina: Under Senate Bill 60, clerks of the court would be required to report to the state board of elections the reasons some people have been excused from jury duty. The Senate Judiciary Committee debated the bill but has yet to vote on it.
Oregon: Sen. Rod Monroe (D-Portland) plans to introduce legislation that would push Oregon’s voter registration deadline to the day before an election.
Pennsylvania: According to Sen. Lisa Boscola, Senate leaders are drafting a voter’s bill of rights that would include no-excuse absentee voting, same-day registration and pre-registration.
Tennessee: Rep. Micah Van Huss (R-Jonesborough) and Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) have introduced a bill that would impose an additional $5,000 fine on those convicted of voter fraud and offer a $5,000 reward for reports leading to a voter fraud conviction.
Utah: After being held back twice, a bill to provide privacy protections to voter-registration records cleared committee on a 7-2 vote and is headed to the House floor. Before committee approval, HB348 was changed to allow all who are part of the political process to have access to the records, including the voter's date of birth. In addition to political parties, candidates and persons affiliated with political action committees or political issues, as well as some nonprofits will still be eligible to receive voter records. The news media also is allowed access to the records to verify the identity of an individual.
By a 67-0 vote, the House approved legislation that will require county clerks to come up with plans, to be reviewed by the lieutenant governor’s office, on how to keep election lines under 30 minutes long. The bill was approved 27-0 by the Senate.
Virginia: Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has vetoed a bill that he said would require local election officials to investigate voters without a clear standard for how and when such investigations should be undertaken. The bill would have required local electoral boards to investigate the list of registered voters when the number of registered voters in a county or city exceeds the population of those old enough to vote.
Washington: The Senate has approved legislation by 49-0 that would increase the number of ballot drop boxes statewide by almost 400. The bill requires at least one ballot drop box for every 15,000 residents.
The House of Representatives has approved the Washington Voting Rights Act. This if the fifth time the House has approved voting rights legislation. None of the earlier versions were approved by the Senate. The bill, HB 1800, initially modeled after the Federal Voting Rights Act, would allow communities who are systemically disenfranchised in local government elections to challenge the process in state court, after a six-month cooling off and negotiating period. Unlike the Federal Voting Rights Act, this new state process would be quicker and less costly.