III. Legislative Updates
Alabama: The House has approved legislation that defines which felons may and may not vote. Under current law, felons who have committed crimes of “moral turpitude” may not vote, but it’s a gray area. Under the new legislation there are 38 defined offenses including rape, murder, terrorism and bigamy convictions that would prevent a felon from voting.
Two other pieces of elections legislation were put off until a later date including one bill that would require a photo ID in order to apply for an absentee ballot and one bill that would push the state’s voter registration date to 30 days prior to an election.
California: The Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee has approved SB 505 that would ensure that the California Voter Bill of Rights and other elections materials be provide to voters in “plain, accessible and easily understandable language.” The legislation next moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Delaware: Several lawmakers joined forces this week to introduce legislation that would allow voters to apply for an absentee ballot without need an excuse. The legislation is in the form of a constitutional amendment that means it must be approved by a two-thirds majority during successive General Assemblies.
Florida: Despite protests from Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the Florida Senate approved legislation that would require the state to provide online voter registration by 2017.
The Orlando city council voted 5 to 1 to approve moving the city’s municipal elections to November. Currently elections are scheduled for April 5, three weeks after the state’s presidential primary. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Orange County Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles urged the city to move the elections to avoid confusion
Michigan: Under legislation approved by the House, Michigan would eliminate February elections and would limit local and statewide elections to three dates a year. Although the state doesn’t expect to see any cost savings from the measure, localities will.
North Carolina: The House Elections Committee has approved House Bill 402 that would create a study of moving municipal elections to even-numbered years. The study will look at turnout data and potential cost savings.
The House approved House Bill 457 that would move the state’s presidential primary to March 8. State primary elections would remain in May.
Also in North Carolina, under House Bill 373 counties still using DRE voting machines would be given until 2019 to replace those machines with a paper ballot system. This would amend 2013’s election reform law that required the switch to happen by 2018. The House approved the bill on Wednesday. It now moves to the Senate.
North Dakota: Lawmakers have approved House Bill 1333 that clarifies which forms of ID are valid in order to cast a ballot. The valid forms of ID include a current driver’s license or non-driver’s ID, an official tribal ID, a long-term care certificate prescribed by the secretary of state’s office, a military ID or passport. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.
Texas: Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) has introduced legislation that would allow voters to “access information that was downloaded, recorded or created on a phone” before the voter entered a polling place. Currently state law prohibits voters from using their cell phones within 100 feet of the voting area.