III. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Speaker Paul Ryan (R- Wis.) told members of the Congressional Black Caucus that while he supports the new revisions to the Voting Rights Act that the caucus is supporting, he won’t bypass a committee chairman to move the legislation.
Alabama: The Alabama House Democratic Caucus will seek to establish automatic voter registration with a new or renewed driver’s license. There would be an opt-out mechanism in place. The Caucus will also introduce legislation to allow voters to cast an early ballot at county courthouse six days in advance of an election.
Arizona: A House panel has approved HB2456 that would move Arizona to a national popular vote system.
Georgia: What you wear to the polls may no longer be an issue in the Peach State. Senate Bill 199 clarifies what constitutes campaign material and is in response to an incident in Douglass County where elections officials required a voter to remove an NRA hat before entering a polling place.
Kansas: Minority leaders and voting rights advocates are pushing for passage of a bill that would allow same-day registration in Kansas. "We really believe everybody should have access to voting anytime, not just a few days out of the year. As long as they come with ID, why shouldn't they be able to vote?" said Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita who introduced the legislation.
Kentucky: Once again, legislation is moving through the Kentucky House that would restore voting rights to nonviolent ex-felons. Similar legislation was approved last year, but died in the senate.
Missouri: Legislation to require a voter to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot began its journey through the Senate this week. The bills were presented to the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations committee and the Elections committee. Rep. Justin Alferman, one of the sponsors said after eight years of trying to get similar legislation through the Senate, there have been some changes. “The most important change is that we’ve made safeguards in this bill to make sure the state pays for 100 percent of the cost,” Alferman told The Missouri Times.
New Mexico: A bill proposed by State Rep. Javier Martinez failed 5-4 in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee. Under the legislation—a proposed constitutional amendment—the state would have been required to “take adequate and reasonable action to ensure” that all qualified electors are registered to vote. This would have included adding same-day registration.
New York: Legislation that would combine the June federal and the September state and local elections into one June primary has been approved by the Assembly. If approved, the bill would save the state more than $25 million a year.
South Carolina: Rep. Terry Alexander (D-Florence) has introduced H-4382 that would require high schools to provide students with a voter registration card before the student turns 18 and would also require lesson on the importance of voting. Students would not be required to register.
Utah: Legislation that would allow Utah clerks to release unofficial results while counting vote-by-mail ballots has been approved by the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee.
Virginia: The Senate has approved several absentee voting pieces legislation including a bill that would allow residents to vote absentee in person before an election without providing an excuse. Other legislation approved would allow people 65 and older to vote permanent absentee and a third bill would allow for no-excuse absentee voting for 21 days before an election.
In other absentee voting legislation the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections voted 7-6 to reject legislation that would require localities to provide postage-paid envelopes with absentee ballots.
The committee also approved legislation that would eliminate loyalty oaths or statements of affiliation in state-subsidized party primaries.
West Virginia: The Cabell County commission approved a resolution allowing the county clerk to provide emergency absentee ballots to voters who are confined to a hospital or health care facility within a 35-mile radius of the county seat and to nursing homes throughout the county.
Wisconsin: The Senate Elections Committee has approved SB295 on a 3-2 part line vote that allow Wisconsin to become one of the growing number of states to offer online voter registration in 2017. However, under the bill, special registration deputies or political parties or nonprofits would no longer be allowed to sign up voters — although possibly with an iPad.