IV. Legislative Updates
Alabama: The House has approved a bill that would eliminate special elections when there are vacancies in the U.S. Senate. The Republican-backed bill passed 67-31 on a party line vote. It now moves to the Senate.
Arizona: By a 6-2 vote, the Phoenix City Council took the first step to consolidating city council and mayoral elections with statewide elections.
California: By a 3-2 vote, the Nevada County board of supervisors voted against providing the $300,000 necessary to implement the Voter’s Choice Act, which would move the county all-mail ballots and vote centers.
Florida: A panel of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission has approved two measures that would automatically restore voting rights to ex-felons. Proposal 7 would automatically restore voting rights who have served their prison time and completed any probation or parole requirements. Felons convicted of murder or sexual offenses would be excluded. Proposal 21 would also automatically restore ex-felons rights, but the list of those excluded from automatic restoration is longer including carjacking and burglary.
Georgia: House Bill 680 would eliminate the use of electronic voting machines and move to paper ballots statewide.
Idaho: Legislation under consideration by the House State Affairs Committee would remove the box for gender on voter registration forms. Tim Hurst, secretary of state chief deputy, testified on behalf of the bill. “It’s creating problems with society now, we would just like for that to be removed from the voter registration card,” Hurst said during his testimony.
Indiana: A Senate committee has approved Senate Bill 327 which now moves to the Appropriations Committee. The bill requires that counties make sure their voting systems follow new security procedures and allows county elections boards to apply to the secretary of state for full or partial compensation.
Kansas: Lawmakers are debating a bill that would eliminate the requirement that voters with disabilities sign their advance ballots. The bill is supported by election officials such as those in Sedgwick County that had to toss 23 ballots last fall.
Kentucky: Legislators have proposed SB 4 and HB 2 that, if successful, would change the constitution so voters would vote on constitutional offices such as governor and attorney general, in presidential election years instead of off-years. Kentucky currently has three statewide elections each four year-cycle. Two of those elections follow the national cycle of congressional and presidential races in even years and in between those is the statewide race for state government leaders.
New Jersey: According to New Jersey.com, a voting rights bill that was vetoed by former Gov. Chris Christie (R) is expected to see new life now that Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is in office. The Legislature is expected to revisit the Democracy Act, a bill that would expand early voting, allow for online voter registration and automatic voter registration, require ballots be printed in more languages and curb the governor’s power to fill vacancies.
New Mexico: Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque) has introduced Senate Joint Resolution 5 that would amend the state constitution to allow for automatic voter registration.
Oregon: Under Senate Bill 1512, Oregon would join 10 other states and the District of Columbia as part of the National Popular Vote pact.
South Dakota: By a vote of 59-0, the House has approved HB 1013 which repeals direct electronic recording from state law. Although the state does not use DRE machines, the state board of elections, which brought the measure forward, said they wanted the language repealed so someone in the future doesn’t decide to move the state to DRE.
Virginia: Under House Bill 1581, if an election ends in a tie, a runoff election would be held instead of using the drawing of lots to determine the winner. The tiebreaker rule would not apply to elections for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, because the state Constitution spells out that ties for executive-branch contests are broken by a General Assembly vote.
Washington: The Senate has approved SB 6021 which allows for same-day voter registration.
By a 29-19 vote, the Senate also approved Senate Bill 6002, the Washington Voting Rights Act. In previous years, the measure had passed the Democratic-controlled House, but died in the Senate, which was controlled by Republicans for five years. Democrats regained control of the Senate in November.