III. Legislative Updates
Alabama: Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) has introduced legislation that would allow for no-excuse absentee voting in The Yellowhammer State. While voters would not be required to provide an excuse, they would have to include a copy of their photo ID with their absentee ballot application.
Arizona: Senate Bill 1307 is now before Gov. Doug Ducey that would add an extra day to the voter registration deadline if the deadline falls on a weekend or a holiday.
California: The Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendment has unanimously approved a bill that would prohibit the Department of Motor Vehicles from giving the secretary of state’s office electronic information needed to complete the voter registration affidavit for ineligible voters how hold special drivers’ licenses for noncitizens.
Also in the Senate, the full body has approved Bill 286 that would allow voters who lose their vote-by-mail ballot or never receive it to cast a regular ballot instead of provisional one at an in-person polling place.
Assembly Bill 668, offered by Lorena Gonzales (D-San Diego) would more allow lawmaker to place a $450 million voting-equipment borrowing measure on the June 2018 ballot to replace many of the state’s aging voting machines.
Indiana: Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed a bill into law that expands the opportunities for Indianans to get registered to vote, but does not allow them to automatically get registered.
Louisiana: A House committee has rejected a bill that would have restored the voting rights of 70,000 ex-felons. The committee also rejected a bill that would have put ex-felon voting rights restoration before the voters.
Maine: Largely along partisan lines, the House has vote down a requirement to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot by a 76-67 vote. According to the Portland Press Herald, the meaure will likely see some Senate action, but overall appears dead for the 2017 session.
Nebraska: The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee voted 6 to 2 to advance to the floor Legislative Resolution 1CA that asks residents if they want to put a photo ID for voting requirement in the state constitution. If approved the language will appear on the ballot in November 2018.
Also in Nebraska, lawmakers have approved a bill that will restore a felons’ right to vote as soon as they have completed the terms of their sentence. Currently there is a two-year waiting period after all terms of their sentence are complete. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said he will not sign the bill, but he did not go so far as to veto it.
Nevada: With the clock ticking, by a 12-9 vote the Senate has approved a bill that will allow voters to register and vote on the same day. The bill extends voter registration until the last day of early voting and allows same-day registration at designated locations. The bill also establishes voting centers.
North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has vetoed a bill that would have consolidated the state elections and ethics board. On Monday, the Senate voted 33-15 to override the veto. The House completed the override on Tuesday.
This week, the North Carolina House unanimously voted to begin the process of amending the state Constitution to remove Article VI, Section 4 which says “Every person presenting himself for registration shall be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language.” House Bill 148 would let voters decide the fate of the provision in a November 2018 referendum. “I don’t think I need to explain why we want to repeal it,” Republican Rep. Michael Speciale told the News & Observer. “It’s a stain on North Carolina, and I just think it’s something that needs to come out of the constitution.”
The Senate has approved a bill from Sen. Andrew Brock (R) would prevent voting hours from being extended in a precinct where there was equipment malfunction or another problem unless every other precinct in the state stays open as well.
North Dakota: Gov. Doug Burgum (R) has signed a bill into law that reworks the state’s voter ID laws allowing voters who don’t have the required ID to cast a provisional ballot. An attorney for the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa that is suing the state over the ID law argues that the legislative changes don’t fix the constitutional problems with the law.
Ohio: Senator Frank LaRose has introduced Senate Bill 135, a supplemental appropriation bill for multiple fiscal years that would allow for the acquisition and implementation of new voting machines and other elections-related equipment.
Tennessee: The Legislature has approved a measure that allows high school students who volunteer at the polls on Election Day to turn those hours into community service hours necessary for Tennessee Scholars and Tennessee Promise scholarships.
Texas: The McAllen City Commission has approved a measure that will allow an all-volunteer Signature Verification Committee to review absentee ballots for the upcoming election. With more than 500 absentee ballots expected, this should save the elections office about 12 hours of work.
This week, the Texas House Committee on Election discussed House Bill 3425 that would decrease the number of mail-in ballots a person can handle and impose a heavier fine for those who violate the law.