The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, August 9

by Liz Avore

August 9, 2021

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Today is Monday, August 9.

We’re tracking 2,416 voting bills. There are 473 anti-voter bills and 1,397 pro-voter bills, with the remainder being either neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: In New Hampshire, Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill that preemptively limits the impact of any pro-voter federal legislation by establishing separate systems for state and federal elections. Advocates for more restrictive voter ID in Nebraska began collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to require photo ID when voting. On Saturday, the second special legislative session began in Texas, and the Senate swiftly re-introduced omnibus anti-voter legislation.

Looking Forward: The Wisconsin legislature transmitted a slew of election bills to Governor Tony Evers on Friday. The governor has promised to veto these bills and he has until Friday to do so. Meanwhile, all eyes are back on Texas as we wait to see whether the House establishes quorum during its second special session. In the meantime, S.B. 1 is being heard in the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee today.

Here are the details:

Texas second special session convenes. On Saturday, Texas’s second special session began, after failing to establish quorum in the House during the first special session, which ended on Friday. Legislators in the Senate swiftly re-introduced their omnibus anti-voter bill, S.B. 1, which is identical to the engrossed version of the bill from last special session. Among other provisions, the bill would add new restrictions for mail ballot voters and voters with disabilities, increase the authority of partisan poll workers, and threaten election administrators and individuals assisting voters with criminal penalties. The House failed to establish quorum on Saturday, in part because a number of legislators have COVID-19.

Wisconsin legislature sends six election bills to governor’s desk. The Wisconsin legislature sent six bills to Governor Tony Evers last week, on the last possible day to do so. Among other things, these bills restrict voters’ choices in how to return their ballots, make it harder to apply for an absentee ballot, and create additional barriers for voters in residential care facilities and retirement homes. Governor Evers has pledged to veto these bills, and he is expected to do so by Friday.

New Hampshire enacts a bill to limit the impact of pro-voter federal legislation. Governor Chris Sununu signed S.B. 89 into law earlier this month. This bill establishes a parallel election system for state and federal elections if federal law conflicts with state law, and is intended as a pre-emptive attack on any pro-voter federal legislation that may pass. Additionally, the bill allows state police to investigate ballots if directed to seize them by the secretary of state.

Photo ID petition signature drive begins in Nebraska. Current law allows Nebraskans to cast a ballot by providing basic personal identifying information. The legislature has repeatedly rejected bills requiring photo identification. Advocates for more restrictive photo identification requirements have now begun collecting signatures for a proposed constitutional amendment to that effect. If they obtain the required number of signatures, the proposal would be on the 2022 general election ballot. Currently, just 16 states require ID to vote with no alternatives offered for voters without ID. 

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

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