IV. Legislative Updates
Alabama: The House has voted unanimously for a bill that would define what criminal convictions should disqualify a person from voting. The bill names 42 crimes ranging from murder to forgery as crimes of moral turpitude.
Arkansas: The Senate as approved a bill that expands the list of places people may carry a concealed handgun including polling places. The bill had stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the Senate approved a motion to bring it before the full body.
Delaware: Rep. Earl Jaques (D-Glasgow) is trying again to remove language from the state constitution that requires voters to show a valid excuse for obtaining an absentee ballot. Because it’s a constitutional change it will require 2/3 of the General Assembly to approve it in two consecutive years.
Florida: A bill that would allow voters to fix mismatching signatures on their vote-by-mail ballot has cleared the House Government Accountability Committee by a unanimous vote. The bill now heads to the full House. There is no Senate companion bill at this time.
The House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee voted unanimously to approve HJR 811 that would place the issue of whether or not the state’s top elections official should be elected or appointed by the governor as is currently the case.
Idaho: Legislation to change Idaho’s procedure for special elections when an Idaho member of Congress leaves office mid-term cleared a Senate panel on Monday, and headed to the full Senate. Under the bill, there would be both a primary election and a general election. When a vacancy occurs, the governor would have to pick one of the four existing Idaho election dates for the primary.
A bill that would limit early voting in Idaho has died in the Senate State Affairs Committee.
Illinois: Lawmakers in the Senate are moving Senate Bill 1933, a new version of automatic voter registration. If approved, and signed by the governor, it would take effect July 1, 2018. Under this new bill, qualified residents would automatically be registered to vote when they visit the Illinois Secretary of State and other state agencies for services. Additionally, there would be checks in place to ensure no one is registered to vote who should not be.
Iowa: The House has approved Secretary of State Paul Pate’s election integrity bill which would in addition to other things, require a voter to show a photo ID (or a state-issued voter registration card which will be automatically provided to those without a driver's license or non-driver's ID) in order to cast a ballot.
Kansas: Members of the House Elections Committee tacked an amendment onto a Senate bill that proponents say would make election offices in the state’s largest counties accountable to the people they serve. The local elections officials would be elected positions instead of appointed by the secretary of state.
Missouri: A Missouri bill would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to create a system notifying election authorities when someone has died therefore permitting them to take the dead person off the voter rolls.
Montana: As counties continue to prepare for the May 25 special election how they replace Secretary Zinke remains up in the air. Senate Bill 305, which would allow counties to conduct the election by mail has been sent a committee that Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick (R-Great Falls) calls the kill committee. Fitzpatrick said the House Judiciary Committee has some of the most ideological representatives. The committee and full House have about two weeks to approve the bill and get it to the governor for his signature.
Nebraska: The secretary of state’s office and the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles testified against proposed legislation that would create a system of automatic voter registration in Nebraska. Colleen Byelick, general counsel and chief deputy for the Secretary of State’s Office argued that AVR would flood the state’s voter rolls with ineligible voters.
Nevada: By a 12-9 party-line vote, the Nevada Senate has approved legislation that would allow residents to be automatically registered to vote when getting a new or renewing their license. It is unclear whether or not Gov. Sandoval will sign the bill.
Also in Nevada, lawmakers are consider a bill to amend the state’s constitution to make it unconstitutional to intimidate a voter.
New Hampshire: On a party-line vote the Senate killed a bill that would have allowed for online voter registration in the Granite State. Arguments against the bill included that it would have been too expensive to implement.
Also in New Hampshire, the Senate has approved a bill to allow towns and cities to participate in an e-poll book trial program.
New Jersey: A bill has been introduced to the Assembly that would require all new voting machines purchased or leased to produce a paper record of each vote cast.
New Mexico: A bill that would have allowed someone to register to vote up to three days before an election has been killed in a Senate committee. The voter registration deadline in the Land of Enchantment will remain 28 days prior to an election.
Also in New Mexico, an amendment to House Bill 174 that would consolidate most local elections into one would now allow cities to opt out and continue to hold their own election.
By a 9-4 vote the House Judiciary Committee has rejected House Bill 206 which would have opened the state’s primaries to independent voters.
Oregon: A bipartisan bill — House Bill 2731 — has been introduced to include Oregon in the National Popular Vote inter-state compact. Legislation has been introduced before, 2009, 2013 and 2015, but was unsuccessful.
South Carolina: Sen. Mike Fanning has proposed legislation that would require any elected official who is convicted of a crime and must resign their seat to pay for the special election to fill that seat. The proposal would require solicitors to ask for that restitution, and it would authorize judges to order it.
Texas: The Senate Affairs Committee voted 7-0 to send Senate Bill 5 to the full body. The bill would add options to voters who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain one of the seven forms of acceptable ID. It would also allow voters over 70 to show an expired license as ID.
Virginia: Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has vetoed House Bill 1428 that would have required any voter submitting an application for an absentee ballot by mail or by fax to also submit a photo copy of their valid photo ID.
McAuliffe has also vetoed a bill (HB 2343) that would have required the state Department of Elections to provide local registrars with a list of voters who, according to data-matching systems, have been found to be registered in another state. “This bill would invite confusion and increase the possibility of violating federal law,” McAuliffe said in his veto statement. “Moreover, it would expose eligible and properly registered Virginians to the risk of improper disenfranchisement.”
Washington: Legislators are considering a bill that would change the voter registration deadline to 11 days prior to an election instead of the current 29 days.