The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, September 27

by Liz Avore

September 27, 2021

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Today is Monday, September 27.

We’re tracking 2,656 voting bills. There are 513 anti-voter bills and 1,516 pro-voter bills, with the remainder being either neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: Hours after former President Trump called for a review of the election results in Texas, the Texas secretary of state’s office announced they would indeed conduct a “full forensic audit” on four of the state’s largest counties. The North Carolina legislature passed a bill giving itself an important role in settling elections-related lawsuits, taking authority away from the State Election Board.

The Good News: The New York Senate introduced a bill to repeal the existing misdemeanor offense for people who provide food or water to voters waiting in line to vote. Virginia’s Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the state’s anti-prison gerrymandering law. And in Michigan, lawmakers introduced H.B. 5336, which would end disenfranchisement based on incarceration.

Looking Forward: Tomorrow is National Voter Registration Day – make sure you are registered!

Here are the details:

Texas to conduct sham review of the 2020 election results. Mere hours after former President Trump called for a review of the 2020 election results in Texas, the Texas secretary of state’s office (there is no sitting secretary of state at the moment) announced its plans to examine ballots from the 2020 election in Collin, Dallas, Harris, and Tarrant Counties – three of which President Biden won. Trump’s letter to Governor Greg Abbott called for the passage of H.B. 16 in the third special session. H.B. 16 authorizes both retroactive and future reviews of election practices and results in Texas elections at the whims of losing candidates, party chairs, and election judges, even if the vote margin is not close and there is no evidence of fraud.

In related news, Cyber Ninjas released their report documenting the results of their sham review in Maricopa County, Arizona. After many months and millions of taxpayer dollars, the report found no widespread fraud and confirmed President Biden’s victory.

New York seeks to repeal line-warming ban. On Friday, September 17, the New York Senate introduced a bill that would repeal the misdemeanor offense for giving voters food or drinking water while waiting in line to vote. This action comes after the Brooklyn NAACP filed a lawsuit earlier in the week challenging the law. New York’s line-warming ban has been on the books for decades, and efforts to repeal it are consistent with New York’s recent progress toward expanding voter access. Florida and Georgia, which have been moving in the opposite direction by restricting voter access, passed new line-warming bans this year.

North Carolina legislature passes bill to grant itself broader election authority. North Carolina’s legislature passed S.B. 360 and sent it to the governor. The bill would require parties for any litigation challenging a statutory or constitutional provision to seek the approval of the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate prior to entering a consent judgment if the legislative leaders have intervened in the litigation or have been named as parties in their official capacities. This move takes power away from the Attorney General and the State Board of Elections, who previously could have settled these lawsuits without any additional approval. Fourteen states have enacted 21 bills this year that result in a shift in election authority.

Virginia’s Supreme Court rejects challenge to anti prison-gerrymandering law. The Virginia Supreme Court last week rejected a challenge to the state’s anti-prison gerrymandering law. Virginia’s law, which was passed in 2020, counts prisoners at their last place of residence instead of at the site of their incarceration for redistricting purposes. The law is meant to more fairly distribute resources and allocate representation; often people are incarcerated far from home in rural areas. Connecticut and Delaware enacted similar laws this year. 

Michigan lawmakers propose end to disenfranchisement of incarcerated citizens. On Thursday, Michigan legislators introduced H.B. 5336, which would end disenfranchisement based on incarceration. Current law provides that any person convicted of any state or federal crime, felony or misdemeanor, may not vote while confined. In just two states and the District of Columbia, voters never lose the right to vote when incarcerated for any offenses.

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

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