The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, April 26

by Liz Avore

April 26, 2021

Welcome to The Markup, an insider legislative update from the Voting Rights Lab.
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Today is Monday, April 26. We’re tracking 2,097 voting bills that have been introduced so far this session. There are 392 anti-voter bills and 1,232 pro-voter bills, with the remainder being either neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

Last week, Montana enacted legislation ending Election Day registration, a vote-by-mail purge bill failed (at least temporarily) to pass the Senate in Arizona, and a bunch of anti-voter bills advanced in Texas. This week, we’re expecting potential floor action on omnibus anti-voter bills in Florida and a bill that would make it harder to settle election litigation in North Carolina.

Here are the details:

Montana ends Election Day registration. Last Monday, Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill that will end same day registration on Election Day in Montana. He also signed a bill that severely restricts the types of ID a voter can use to cast a ballot in person.

Arizona vote-by-mail list purge failed… for now. There was a lot of action last week on S.B.1485, an anti-voter bill that would purge Arizona voters from the “permanent” early voting list if they don’t vote by mail for two election cycles. The bill passed the second chamber along straight party lines on Tuesday, following some modest improvements. On Thursday, it went back to the Senate for concurrence but failed to pass. A Republican senator broke ranks and voted “nay” to keep the bill from moving until the Senate’s audit of Maricopa County was complete. On Friday, a judge ordered a pause on the audit, and the Senate now has 14 days to reconsider the bill.

Bills to limit mail voting headed to floor vote in the Florida Senate and House.  With just one more week of legislative session to go, the Florida Senate omnibus bill (S.B. 90) was improved on April 22 with amendments to the latest committee substitute — but significant anti-voter provisions remain. The bill would, among other things, force voters to apply to vote by mail twice as frequently as current law; require people give a specific ID to apply for a mail ballot; and limit drop box availability. The bill now awaits a floor vote, as does the House leadership bill (H.B. 7041).

A bunch of anti-voter bills advance in Texas, alongside a pro-voter cure bill. While the big, bad Texas omnibus bills (H.B. 6 and S.B. 7) are still in a holding pattern, committees in both chambers advanced numerous anti-voter bills last week. Some of the bills contained provisions like those found in the priority bills, such as limiting the authority of local election officials to make voting more accessible and increasing the power of partisan poll watchers to disrupt polling places. Other bills would add new ID requirements for mail ballot applications and returns and would create specialized law enforcement and prosecution divisions dealing with election crimes. In more positive news, S.B. 1018, which would establish a cure process in Texas and has already passed the Senate floor, will be heard in the House Elections Committee Thursday.

North Carolina bill to make it harder to settle election litigation moves forward. In North Carolina, an anti-voter bill that would require the State Board of Elections and the attorney general to get approval from legislative leadership before they could settle election litigation was voted out of the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee on April 21 and the Senate Rules Committee on April 22. The bill could go to the Senate floor today.

Lawmakers attempt to legislate elections through the Michigan budget. In Michigan, House Republican lawmakers are attempting to slip substantial legislative changes into a budget bill, including one that would eliminate the secretary of state’s ability to mail absentee ballot applications. Notably, the governor has line-item veto power over budget bills, which could stop these provisions in their tracks.

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.