IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Reps. Mark Pocan (Wis.), Keith Ellison (Minn.) and Hank Johnson (Ga.) introduced the Securing America’s Future Elections (SAFE) Act, which would launch several cybersecurity programs, including codifying the decision from former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to reclassify elections as critical infrastructure.
Arizona: HB-2339 would change the way the state reimburses the cost of holding a presidential preference elections. Current law allows the state to reimburse the counties up to $1.25 per voter, but under the new legislation that reimbursement would rise to up to $3.50 per voter.
Also in Arizona, the Senate has approved a bill that would make it more difficult to get citizen-lead initiatives onto the ballot. The bill would make it easier to challenge signatures and prohibits signature gatherers from getting paid.
Arkansas: Both chambers have now approved HB 1047 that would require a voter to show a photo ID in order to vote. Gov. Asa Hutchinson is supportive of voter ID, but said he would have to review the legislation before signing it.
California: Assemblymembers Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) have introduced a bill that would allow county boards of supervisors to change how their district boundaries are drawn and require all supervisor races to a runoff between the top-two candidates in the primary.
Colorado: Senate Bill 71, which would reduce the required number of voting centers during the first week of early voting, was approved upon second reading this week.
Delaware: Under House Bill 89, the state’s primary elections would be held the same day as the presidential primary, the fourth Tuesday in April.
District of Columbia: Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) has introduced legislation that would permanently move the city’s primary elections to the third Tuesday in June. Although the 2016 primary was held in June that was only a temporary move. This legislation would make that move permanent.
Florida: Rep. Emily Slosberg (D-Boca Raton) announced her plans to file an amendment to a germane bill that would stop candidates from being inside a voter’s home while the voter is completing their vote-by-mail ballot. The action follows a newspaper investigation that found candidates helping voters fill out their ballots.
Georgia: The Senate has approved a bill that would require information on voter-registration applications to exactly match state or federal databases in order for the voter to cast a ballot. Under the bill , people couldn’t be added to the voting rolls unless information on their application exactly matches records tied to their Georgia driver’s license or identification card or the last four digits of a Social Security Number. Without an exact match, people could only cast a provisional ballot and their application could be rejected after 26 months if they’re unable to resolve the conflict.
Guam: Senator Joe San Agustin has introduced a bill that would do away with state-run primaries and instead allow the parties to conduct their own primaries before sending those candidates to the Election Commission for the general election.
Hawaii: A bill is making its way through the Senate that would create statewide vote-by-mail by 2020. The bill has already been approved by the House.
Illinois: The Senate Executive Committee has approved a new automatic voter registration bill by a 10-3 party line vote.
Indiana: The House Elections Committee has voted 8-3 to require consolidation of Lake County’s numerous small precincts. Under the proposed legislation, which now heads to the full House, requires county officials to create a bipartisan plan to merge as many precincts as possible that have fewer than 600 active voters.
Kansas: The House Elections Committee has approved a bill that would prevent county elections officials from moving the location of a polling place without sending prior written notification to those affected at least 30-days in advance of the election.
Kentucky: Senate Bill 145, approved by the Senate and now under consideration by the House, would allow counties to place statewide, local option questions on primary or general election ballots. Counties would no longer have to hold separate special elections on county-wide issues such as alcohol sales.
Nebraska: A hearing was held last week on two election-reform bills. LB619 would allow counties to hold all-mail elections and LB277 would change the maximum number of people per precinct from 1,750 to 1,000.
Nevada: Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford has introduced a bill that would allow nonviolent felons to vote one year into their probation or parole. The bill has been approved by the Senate judicial committee.
Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) has vetoed legislation that would have allowed voters to be automatically registered to vote when getting or renewing a driver’s license. Voters will now take up the issue as a statewide ballot measure in November 2018.
Assembly Bill 274 would have Nevada join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact if approved.
New Hampshire: Following a recent blizzard and when several towns chose to postpone their elections, Democrats have introduced a bill to protect those towns from lawsuits for postponing their elections.
Also in New Hampshire, the Senate has OK’d a bill that would allow the state to hire a full-time attorney to enforce state election laws. That is currently done by a half-time employee.
By a 3-2 vote the Senate Election Law Committee has vote to send a bill to the full Senate that would tighten ID requirements for people who register to vote within 30 days of election. Under the bill, a person who registers to vote within 30 days of an election or on Election Day must show verification that a New Hampshire address is his or her domicile.
New Mexico: The Senate has approved legislation that will consolidate most local elections, but it will give cities and towns the ability to opt-out. The Senate approved the bill 28-10 and the House concurred with changes made by the Senate. It is unclear whether the governor will sign the legislation or not.
New York: A bill has been introduced into the Assembly that would fine voters who fail to cast a ballot $10.
North Dakota: Legislation is under consideration that would legal residents to vote on election day using a set-aside ballot and then return with a valid ID within six days. The bill would also expand the types of ID that can be used.
Pennsylvania: Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) has announced plans to introduce legislation that if approved, would automatically register residents to vote.
Tennessee: By a 69-20 vote, the House has approved legislation that would offer a $1,000 reward for reports leading to the conviction of voter fraud. The legislation would also impose an additional $1,000 fine on those convicted of voter fraud. The legislation had originally sought a $5,000 reward/penalty. The Senate’s version of the bill has yet to be taken up in committee.
Texas: Rep. Mark Keough has pulled his bill, House Bill 288, that would have shrunk the early voting period from 12 days to seven. A representative for Keough said the bill was pulled because the attorney general had expressed concerns about it.
Utah: Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has signed legislation into law that would require county clerks to come up with a plan to manage wait times for future elections. Herbert has also signed a bill that will allow county clerks to offer early voting up to Election Day. He has also approved legislation that will move Utah to a primary system for 2020.
The Provo municipal council voted 6 to 1 to contract with Utah County to handle the city’s vote-by-mail elections beginning with this year’s primary. The city of Springville still has to make a decision.