III. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Rep. Luke Messer (R-Indiana) has introduced The Election Integrity Act of 2017 (HR 2090) that would require voters to present a valid, government-issued photo ID in order to vote in federal elections beginning in 2020. Messer has modeled his bill after Indiana’s voter ID, which has withstood a Supreme Court challenge.
Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has signed bill that makes it easier to keep citizen initiatives off the ballot by tightening the legal standard proponents must meet. "This commonsense legislation preserves the integrity of the process by ensuring that those seeking to make lasting changes to our laws comply with current laws, brings parity to the initiative and referendum processes, and introduces a number of voter education functions to ensure those who engage in the initiative process are educated and equipped to comply with state law," he in a statement.
California: AB 668 will authorize the Voting Modernization Finance Committee to issue and sell bonds in the amount of $450 million for the purpose of assisting counties to purchase new voting equipment and technology necessary for voting centers, which the Assembly approved in 2016 and are scheduled for implementation in 2018.
A bill to move the state’s 2020 presidential primary up to March (from June) has cleared its first hurdle by a 5-0 vote in the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments.
Colorado: The House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee has approved HB1281 which would move Colorado to an approval voting system.
Hawaii: Could The Aloha State be the next to move to all vote-by-mail? House Bill 1401, which would the state to a vote-by-mail with vote centers system has passed its third read and House conferees are currently “ironing out wrinkles.”
Iowa: By a 28-21 vote, the Senate has given final approval to House File 516, the Election Integrity Act proposed by Secretary of State Paul Pate. The bill will require voters to show a government-issued ID in order to vote among other provisions. The bill now heads to Gov. Terry Branstad’s desk. He is expected to sign it.
Montana: By a 51-49 vote, the House has approved Senate Bill 352, the Montana Ballot Interference Prevention Act. The bill would ask voters if they want to prevent certain people from knowingly collecting someone else’s ballot. The bill will most likely be on the 2018 ballot.
Also in Montana, House Speaker Austin Knudsen has used his parliamentary power to kill a measure that would have allowed county elections officials to conduct the upcoming May 25 special election by mail. Knudsen has refused to schedule a floor vote on House Bill 83, which Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock sent back to the House on April 7, with amendments giving counties the option to conduct an all-mail ballot. Without a floor vote, the bill is dead – unless at least 60 House members vote to overrule Knudsen’s decision, which is unlikely. In a statement, Bullock said Knudsen is “playing procedural games to prevent this (bill) from reaching the House floor.”
New Hampshire: Members of the House Election Law Committee heard several hours of testimony on Senate Bill 3 this week. Under the proposed legislation, there would be new 30-day residency requirements for voters. Town Councilors in Durham have passed a resolution opposing Senate Bill 3.
North Dakota: By a 35-10 vote, the Senate has approved House Bill 1369 which clarifies which forms of ID are acceptable to cast a ballot in the state including a driver’s license or non-driver’s ID. It also includes several options for those living in “special circumstances,” such as in a long-term care facility.
Pennsylvania: House Bill 171 would permit a registered voter of the commonwealth to be appointed as a poll watcher in any election district in Pennsylvania. Currently poll watchers can only serve in the jurisdiction where they vote. The bill was recently approved by the House State Government Committee.
Tennessee: By a 30-0 voice vote, the Senate has approved a bill legalizing ballot selfies. The bill allows exceptions in which election workers can stop people from using cell phones, mainly relating to harassment, disruptions and a recording of a marked ballot. Photos of marked ballots would be prohibited, for instance, to keep elected officials from requiring employees of taking photos of their vote to prove they backed them at the ballot booth.
Texas: The House Elections Committee has approved a bill that would make court-ordered changes to the states voter ID law. Senate Bill 5 would give more leeway to people who show up at the polls without one of the seven state-approved IDs. They would be allowed to use other documents that carry their name and address, such as a utility bill.