The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, November 1

by Liz Avore

November 1, 2021

Hello, and welcome to November! It’s Election Day tomorrow in many parts of the country.

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Today is Monday, November 1.

We’re tracking 2,727 voting bills. There are 533 anti-voter bills and 1,535 pro-voter bills, with the remainder being either neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Good News: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed two strict voter ID bills, S.B. 303 and S.B. 304. New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law that will improve registration confidentiality for domestic violence victims. In Florida, legislators have filed S.B. 694, which would require prepaid postage for mail ballots.

The Bad News: Georgia’s State Election Board approved new rules which make it more difficult for voters to request an absentee ballot. During the 2020 election cycle, Georgia voters could request absentee ballots online, and those requests were directly transmitted to county election officials, avoiding any potential mail delays. Now under S.B. 202, which passed in March and which these rules put into effect, voters are required to print and physically sign absentee ballot applications which they must then scan and upload or mail to a county election office.  

Looking Forward: Tomorrow is Election Day! New Jersey and Virginia have statewide elections for their legislature and governor. New Jersey and Virginia both benefited from expanded access to early voting this year, with Virginia offering 45 days of in person early voting and allowing Sunday voting for the first time, and New Jersey offering Election Day-style early voting for the first time. Additionally, numerous cities, including New York City, Boston, and Cincinnati, are electing mayors tomorrow.

Here are the details:

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoes strict ID laws. Governor Whitmer vetoed S.B. 303 and S.B. 304, legislation that would have created stricter voter ID requirements and prohibited local and state officials from sending absent voter ballot applications to voters who do not first request them.

Georgia State Election Board unanimously enacts rule to implement wet signature requirement in S.B. 202. Previously, voters could apply for an absentee ballot online without needing to print out and sign a paper form, but S.B. 202, which passed in March, requires voters to physically sign a request for an absentee ballot. Voters voiced opposition to the new requirement during the public comment period, noting that the state accepts electronic signatures for tax returns, and the handwritten signature requirement burdens voters with disabilities and voters who are unable to afford a printer or lack easy access to printing services.

New York enacts privacy protections for victims of domestic violence. Last week, as part of a larger domestic violence legislative package, Governor Kathy Hochul signed S.B. 1555 into law, which makes it easier for a victim of domestic violence to have their voter registration records sealed from public view.

Florida legislators introduce a bill providing postage to return mail ballots. Florida currently allows local election administrators to provide postage if they choose to, but it is not required. If this bill were enacted, Florida would join 16 other states that require the government to provide return postage. This bill was filed for the 2022 legislative session. Election Day is tomorrow. While Virginia and New Jersey are the only states with governors and state legislators on the ballot tomorrow (check out our summary of new laws in those states), cities across the country are electing mayors and other local officials, including school board members, treasurers, and city and town commissioners. Additionally, other statewide positions are up in some places, as are ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments. New York is voting to ratify state constitutional amendments that eliminate barriers to creating same day registration and no-excuse mail voting.

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

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