The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, June 7

by Liz Avore

June 7, 2021

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Today is Monday, June 7. We’re tracking 2,213 voting bills that have been introduced so far this session. There are 422 anti-voter bills and 1,277 pro-voter bills, with the remainder being either neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact. 

The Bad News: Anti-voter bills are on the move in Wisconsin and Michigan. Three bills creating new election crimes and targeting voters with disabilities were referred out of committee in Wisconsin last week. Meanwhile, in Michigan, lawmakers advanced bills imposing stricter voter ID requirements – two on in-person voters and one on absentee voters. In Texas, the governor signed a bill creating a felony offense for elections officials. 

The Good News: Lots of good news out of Nevada last week! Three pro-voter bills were signed into law in the Silver State: a bill that ensures all voters get a ballot in the mail for each election and expand the availability of secure drop boxes, a bill that creates automatic voter registration, and a bill that allows voters with disabilities to register online. Meanwhile, the Illinois legislature sent two bills to the governor that will make it easier for incarcerated people to vote. And in Connecticut, the Senate overwhelmingly passed HJR 58, which proposes a constitutional amendment to allow for no-excuse absentee voting. 

Looking Forward: A slew of elections bills in Wisconsin are scheduled for a floor vote on Wednesday, and floor votes are possible in Michigan next week as well. We’re still waiting for an announcement from Texas Governor Abbott on a special session and for a House vote on Connecticut’s rights restoration bill.

Here are the details:

Wisconsin anti-voter bills targeting voters with disabilities referred out of committee. In Wisconsin, three anti-voter bills made it out of committee last week. Two would make it harder for indefinitely confined voters to receive absentee ballots. Another would change the rules for absentee voting in nursing homes, including by creating a new criminal offense for employees of these facilities. These bills, along with three additional anti-voter bills, are now heading to the Senate floor for a vote on Wednesday.

Michigan Senate advances first pieces of its 39-bill election package by passing strict voter ID bills out of committee. Despite its already restrictive voter ID law, Michigan lawmakers have proposed multiple new ways to make voting more difficult for people unable to show specific types of ID. One would eliminate the option an in-person voter has to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity in lieu of providing voter ID. Another bill puts the burden of verifying a provisional ballot on the voter. And a bill requiring either a copy of ID or a specific ID number to request an absentee ballot came out of committee also. These bills now head to the Senate floor for a vote, possibly as early as this week.

Texas Governor signs bill creating a second degree felony for elections officials. Following a hectic end of session in Austin, Governor Abbott signed an election bill this week creating a second degree felony for elections officials who knowingly or intentionally count invalid votes or fail to count valid votes. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting to see when the first of two special sessions will be called. All indications point to July or August.

Nevada enacts several pro-voter bills. In Nevada, the governor signed a slew of bills last week: 

  • AB 321 would ensure that all voters get a ballot in the mail for each election and expand the availability of secure drop boxes.
  • AB 432 would create automatic voter registration in the state. 
  • AB 121 would expand registration options for voters with disabilities. 

Illinois eyes improvements to voting opportunities for incarcerated individuals. The Illinois legislature passed a bill to allow the Department of Corrections to become a voter registration agency and another to allow more jails to provide voting.   
Connecticut’s Senate overwhelmingly approves no-excuse absentee voting measure for ballot approval. Last week, Connecticut’s Senate passed HJR 58 by a vote of 26-9. However, voters will need to wait until 2024 before they can vote on this constitutional amendment since the House fell short of an essential three-quarters threshold when it voted on the measure last month. Both chambers will need to re-pass the measure by a simple majority in 2023 to ensure it’s on the ballot in 2024. Separately, we may see a House vote on Connecticut’s rights restoration bill next week.

This update is powered by VRL’s State Voting Rights Tracker:

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