V. Legislative Updates
California: The Senate has approved a bill that would require return ballot envelopes to have prepaid postage. Some counties currently pay for return postage and others do not. Counties would cover the costs initially (estimated at $5.5 million in 2016 statewide) and then be reimbursed by the state. The measure had previously been approved by the House, but amendments to the Senate bill will need to be reconciled with what the House approved before going to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
Also in California, the Assembly Elections Committee, by a 5-2 vote, approved SB 759 which establishes a process for election officials to notify voters when their vote-by-mail signature mismatches.
Connecticut: This week, the Legislature failed to override seven vetoes from Gov. Dannel Malloy, including one of a bill that would have allowed town clerks to choose an election-day registration location.
Delaware: The House has approved two elections-related bills. One would allow early voting and the other would allow same-day voter registration. Both bills were approved along party lines and now move to the Senate.
District of Columbia: This week, Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) held an hours long hearing on his proposal that would lower the voting age in the District from 18 to 16. The bill would also require schools to provide every 16-year-old with a voter registration form.
Massachusetts: The House has approved a bill that would move Massachusetts to an automatic voter registration state. Under the bill, anyone who applies for or updates their license at the department of motor vehicles or applies for MassHealth and is eligible to register will automatically be registered unless they choose to opt out.
New Jersey: The Senate has approved a bill that would allow residents of the Garden State to register or update their voter registration online. The legislation requires the state to find a secure Internet platform to assure the accuracy and integrity of the registration process, and uses digitalized signatures from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission database.
North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed a Republican-led piece of legislation that would have altered early voting and eliminated a popular day of it. The Legislature is expected to work on an override. The General Assembly was able to muster enough votes to override Cooper’s veto.
A proposed constitutional amendment that would require voters to show a photo ID in order to vote has been approved by the House. With 72 votes needed to put the amendment on the ballot, it received 74. The amendment moves to the Senate next.
The Senate has given final approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would change the way the state board of elections is appointed. Under this proposal, four of the eight members would be chosen by the minority leadership in the House and Senate and four by the majority. The governor would have no say over appointments to the board of elections.
Ohio: The Toledo city council is considering legislation that would allow potential voters to register whenever they have an interaction with a city agency, from paying their water bill to doing business at municipal court. “This is a way for us to increase voter registration and make sure that everyone has the opportunity to have their voice heard in the most important piece of our democracy,” Councilman Nick Komives, who introduced the legislation, told The Toledo Blade.
Also in Ohio, the Senate has given final approval to Senate Bill 135 which will distribute $114.5 million among the state’s 88 counties to purchase new voting machines in advance of the 2020 election. The legislation includes $10 million for counties that have purchased new equipment since 2014.