IV. Legislative Updates
Florida: By a 6-3 vote, a measure that would move Florida to a top-two primary system was approved by the Constitution Revision Commission’s Ethics and Elections committee.
In other Constitution Review Commission news, with a citizen’s initiative to restore voting rights to ex-felons set for the November ballot, members of the commission have dropped their efforts to place a similar measure on the ballot.
Georgia: Under Senate Resolution 587, English would be the official language of the state and would mean that unless required by the federal government, counties would not have to provide election materials in any language other than English.
Guam: Bill 234-34, which has bipartisan support, would automatically register citizens to vote when obtaining or renewing their driver’s license. Residents would have an opportunity to opt out if they didn’t want to be registered.
Idaho: Legislation has been introduced that would lower the age of potential poll workers from 17 to 16. “In our smaller counties, we oftentimes run into a very limited amount of individuals who are able to, or want to work in our poll locations,” Kelli Brassfield of the Idaho Association of Counties said, according to the Idaho County Free Press. “And so this legislation would reduce the age from 17 to 16 to broaden the base — allowing more workers in our poll locations and also allowing our students to get more experience working at elections.”
Massachusetts: Secretary of State William Galvin is proposing a bill that would allow residents of the commonwealth to register and vote on the same day. A spokeswoman for Galvin said the secretary had presented his legislation to Election Laws Committee chairs Sen. Anne Gobi and Rep. John Mahoney and is “encouraging them to incorporate the language into” related bills that have already been filed.
New Hampshire: Under House Bill 1772, the state would study and implement online voter registration. Similar bills failed in 2016 and 2017, however this time around, the bill has the support of the secretary of state’s office.
South Carolina: The South Carolina Election Commission is seeking $250,000 from the state Legislature so they can make any needed changes to the state’s voter registration system and network if voter information is compromised. “Security has always been important to us,” spokesman Chris Whitmire told The State. “But, certainly, things changed in 2016 with the emerging threats that were out there.” The $250,000 is in addition to $24.7 million already requested.
South Dakota: By a 32-0 vote, the Senate has approved HB 1011. Under the bill, now on its way to the governor’s desk, the rules about how county auditors confirm registered voters has changed. The new steps include mailing a national change of address notice to every active registered voter and to send confirmation mailing notices to all voters as well.
Also in South Dakota, the Senate State Affairs Committee has approved a bill that will allow voters with tribal ID cards to use those cards as an acceptable form of voter ID.
Virginia: Republican leaders from both chambers announced last week that they will create joint subcommittee to study voting issues in Virginia and craft a comprehensive response for the 2019 session. The subcommittee will review issues that came up in 2017 such as recounts, ballot problems and tiebreakers.
The Senate has approved a bill that would link the state database of driver’s license photos to e-poll books. The bill was approved 21-19 on a party line vote.