The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, June 14

by Liz Avore

June 14, 2021

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Today is Monday, June 14. We’re tracking 2,225 voting bills that have been introduced so far this session. There are 428 anti-voter bills and 1,280 pro-voter bills, with the remainder being either neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: The Connecticut legislative session adjourned without passage of the pro-voter omnibus bill that included rights restoration and expansion of drop boxes, among other good provisions. In North Carolina, a bill moving up the deadline for absentee ballots passed the second Senate committee and now heads to the floor. Three anti-voter bills that make it more difficult to vote by mail passed the Wisconsin Senate last week and now head to the Assembly.

The Good News: Texas enacted a bill creating an online ballot tracking portal last week. The Michigan House moved three pro-voter bills out of committee this week, including two that expand training for elections officials and challengers. And in Vermont, the governor signed a bill to send mail ballots to all registered voters in all general elections.

Looking Forward: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was sent four pro-voting bills last week that we expect he will sign soon. Connecticut’s legislature may reconvene this week to work on its budget implementation bill, one that may contain provisions salvaged from the now-dead pro-voter omnibus bill, S.B. 5.

Here are the details:

Connecticut session adjourns without passing S.B. 5. In the final scramble before the end of session, Connecticut’s pro-voter omnibus bill failed to pass before the deadline. The House is now working to incorporate some pieces of the bill into the budget bill that will be passed in special session. Unfortunately, the final bill is unlikely to contain all of the pro-voter provisions in the original omnibus. This may happen as soon as this week.

North Carolina refers absentee ballot deadline bill out of committee. In North Carolina last week, S.B. 326 was referred out of two Senate committees and now heads to the floor. This bill would require all domestic absentee ballots to be received by elections officials by 5 p.m. on Election Day. Existing law allows ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and received no later than three days after Election Day to be considered timely. Some additional anti-voter provisions were amended out of the bill last week, including moving back the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot.

Texas governor signs ballot tracking into law. Last week, Governor Abbott signed a bill requiring the Secretary of State to develop and maintain an online tracking system to allow a voter to track the status of their early vote-by-mail application and ballot. This makes Texas the sixth state to enact a law this session creating or expanding ballot tracking. The others are Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Utah. Governor Abbott also signed a bill limiting private contributions for election administration last week.

Wisconsin anti-voter bills pass the Senate. The Wisconsin Senate approved three anti-voter bills last week. One would significantly reduce the availability of drop boxes, which were widely used during the 2020 election. Another would change the rules for absentee voting in nursing homes, including by creating a new criminal offense for employees of these facilities. Finally, S.B. 204 makes it more difficult for voters who are “indefinitely confined” due to age, illness, or disability to apply for absentee ballots. S.B. 204 was amended last week to make it slightly less burdensome for those voters. These bills now head to the Assembly.

Michigan House advances three pro-voter bills out of committee. There were some bright spots out of Michigan last week as the House advanced a bill to require training for elections officials on signature matching, require training for election challengers, and allow clerks to send out absentee ballot applications that permit voters to request absentee ballot for the entire year, not just a single election.

Vermont to send mail ballots to all registered voters. A new Vermont law enacted last week requires that ballots be sent to all active registered voters beginning no later than 43 days before Election Day and by October 1. Ballots will include prepaid return postage. Governor Phil Scott’s signature on S.B. 15 turns the Green Mountain State into the sixth state that sends mail ballots to all voters in general elections, alongside Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

New York legislature sends pro-voting bills to the governor to sign. Last week, the New York legislature passed bills creating comprehensive ballot tracking, establishing an online absentee ballot portal, expanding early voting, and improving the absentee ballot canvassing and cure process. We’re optimistic these bills will be signed into law quickly.

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

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