The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, April 19

by Liz Avore

April 19, 2021

Welcome to The Markup, an insider legislative update from the Voting Rights Lab.
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Today is Monday, April 19. We’re tracking 2,048 voting bills that have been introduced so far this session. There are 391 anti-voter bills and 1,196 pro-voter bills, with the remainder being either neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

Last week, a pro-voter cure bill and anti-voter purge bill both passed the Texas Senate. Arkansas — following a national trend — passed two bills limiting the authority of local election officials. For more on this type of bill, go to our Comprehensive Bill Search and filter by topic for “Emerging Issues” and by subtopic for “Shifts in Election Authority.”

This week, we’re expecting to see an attack on mail voting pass the Florida Senate, but only following significant improvements made last week by a committee substitute. A number of voter-purge bills will be heard in Michigan, and the Texas legislature will hear a total of 16 anti-voter bills, ranging from attacks on absentee voting and voter-purge bills to bills stripping local election officials of their authority.

Here are the details:

Florida bill restricting access to mail voting improves as it moves through the Senate. The Florida Senate leadership bill (S.B. 90) is expected to move rapidly this week, as it is scheduled to be heard in its final committee Tuesday and on the floor Wednesday. The bill was improved significantly through a committee substitute adopted last Wednesday, but it still restricts access to mail voting in several ways. S.B. 90 severely limits access to drop boxes, which have been used in Florida elections for years, by requiring that they be staffed and only open during early voting. It forces voters to apply for mail ballots more often than under current law and only allows voters to vote absentee if they can provide a specific ID number. Prior to the changes made on Wednesday, the bill was much worse — fully eliminating drop boxes, limiting assistance voters could receive from community organizations, and cancelling all existing, approved mail ballot applications on file.

Pro-voter cure bill and anti-voter purge bill pass the Senate in Texas, and a barrage of anti-voter policies are scheduled to be heard in both chambers. A couple notable bills passed the Texas Senate last week — one is a pro-voter bill that would give voters a chance to fix issues with their ballot through a statewide cure process, but the other is an anti-voter bill that would make it easier to remove eligible voters from the rolls. It would also require voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote. This week, the Senate State Affairs Committee will hear four anti-voter bills on Monday, and the House Elections Committee will hear nine on Wednesday. Included in this deluge are attacks on absenteevoting and early votingvoter purge bills, and bills strippinglocal election officials of their ability to run smooth elections.

Voter purge bills to be heard in Michigan this week. A number of bills that would make it easier to take eligible Michigan voters off the voter registration list are set to be heard this week. To take a closer look at these bills, check out our Comprehensive Bill Search and filter by “Michigan” and “Voter List Maintenance and Purges.”

Arkansas joins other states in passing legislation to limit local authority. The Arkansas legislature sent two bills to the governor last week to strip counties of their authority by prohibiting them from sending mail ballot applications to all registered voters and shifting authority over complaints to the State Board of Elections.

This update is powered by VRL’s State Voting Rights Tracker. Head there to follow these and other election-related bills in real time, and don’t forget to subscribe to get these updates straight to your inbox.