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electionlineWeekly — July 21, 2016

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 V. Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have introduced a bill that would expand Oregon’s vote-by-mail system nationwide. According to The Oregonian, Rep. Early Blumenauer is handling the legislation in the House. The bill – the Vote By Mail Act of 2016 – would require every state to provide registered voters the chance to vote by mail and send ballots and pre-paid envelopes out at least two weeks before an election. It would also amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to provide for automatic voter registration through a state's department of motor vehicles.

Massachusetts: Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed $1.2 million in state spending that would have gone to help local elections officials conduct the state’s very first early voting in advance of the November 8 presidential election. “I am very disturbed. This is very irresponsible,’’ Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who oversees state elections and is a strong supporter of the early-voting system told The Boston Globe.

Also in Massachusetts, the Salem City Council is not moving forward with an effort to provide ballots in Spanish. The council’s Committee on Ordinances, Licenses and Legal Affairs voted 3-2 to keep the issue in committee for the foreseeable future.

Rhode Island: If you can’t beat them, join them! Under a proposed regulation change, voters would be permitted to take ballot selfies in Rhode Island polling places. “It’s the way of the world for this generation,” board member, Stephen P. Erickson said. “They grow up with excessive sharing. They’re gonna do it.” Voters would still be prohibited from photographing others inside the polling place.