IV. Legislative Updates
Federal: Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) recently sent a letter to the Senate appropriations committee seeking $160 million to supply states with voting machines that provide a paper record. "A simple and effective solution to the cybersecurity vulnerability of our voting systems is available immediately: audit the results of elections instead of trying to secure computer systems," King wrote in his letter according to The Hill.
California: By a vote of 32-6, the California Senate has approved a measure to move the state’s presidential primary election up to March beginning in 2020.
Colorado: With the clock ticking, by a 31-4 vote the Senate has approved a bill that would dictate how the new open primaries in the state are run. The bill has passed out of a House committee, but must pass two votes on the House floor.
Illinois: House Bill 539, which was approved 99-11 by the House, will allow county clerks to reduce the number of judges required at a voting precinct from five to three during primaries.
Also in Illinois, the Senate has approved Senate Bill 1933 that would automatically register Illinoisans to vote when they visit the secretary of state’s office or other state agencies. The bill would not automatically register those who obtain driver’s licenses.
Iowa: Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has signed House File 516 into law. The Election Integrity Act will require voters to show a form of photo ID in order to cast a ballot, will shorten the time for absentee voting and provide guidelines for accessibility at polling places.
Louisiana: The House has approved House Bill 272 which makes it easier to recall elected officials. The bill would retain the 40 percent requirements for voting district with 1,000 registered voters or fewer. But it seeks to repeal the requirement that recall organizers must gather signatures from at least one-third of registered voters in districts with more than 1,000 voters.
Montana: The Bozeman city commission voted unanimously to hold an all-vote-by-mail election this November. The commissioners also agreed to cover the cost of the return postage.
Nebraska: An attempt to override Gov. Pete Rickett’s veto of a bill to expand ex-felon voting rights has failed. Ricketts vetoed a bill that would have eliminated the two-year waiting period for ex-felon to have their rights restored. The attempted override failed on a 23-23 vote.
Also in Nebraska, a voter ID proposal was defeated with the threat of a filibuster.
Nevada: Under Senate Bill 125, ex-offenders would have their voting rights restored a year after being paroled or put on probation. There would be exceptions for those convicted of crimes such as rape or murder.
Also in Nevada the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee heard testimony this week on Assembly Bill 272, which gives county clerks the ability to establish vote centers, allows early voting to extend to the Sunday before election and allows clerks to set up polling sites on tribal lands if requested by the tribes.
Ohio: The Stow City Council voted 6-0 to place an ordinance on this year’s general election ballot asking voters whether they want to amend the city’s charter to eliminate the September primary. The county runs non-partisan elections and only uses the primaries to narrow down the number of candidates.
Oklahoma: Gov. Mary Fallin has signed Senate Bill 360 into law. Under the new law, the Oklahoma State Election Board must set up an online voter registration system following the November 2017 elections. In 2015 the state approved online voter registration, but that system is still under construction. This new system will allow already registered voters to update their information.
Virginia: Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vetoed a bill that would have shortened the time Virginian’s could register online to vote. The bill had attempted to move the deadline to 5pm instead of 11:59pm on the deadline day. “Eligible Virginians should continue to be allowed to register up until 11:59 p.m. in order to make it easier for our busy citizens to participate in the electoral process. We should be working to reduce barriers faced by eligible Virginians when engaging in the franchise, rather than creating new ones,” McAuliffe wrote in his veto statement.
Texas: House Bill 25, which would eliminate “one-punch” or straight-ticket voting, was approved 88-57.
Wisconsin: The Committee on Campaigns and Elections has approved House Bill 85 that will allow municipal officials to serve as election officials.