The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, November 8

by Liz Avore

November 8, 2021

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Today is Monday, November 8.

We’re tracking 2,740 voting bills. There are 541 anti-voter bills and 1,542 pro-voter bills, with the remainder being either neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Good News: Michigan legislators introduced a slew of pro-voter bills.

The Bad News: New York voters rejected ballot proposals to allow same day registration and no-excuse absentee voting. U.S. Senate Republicans blocked debate on the third major piece of federal voting rights legislation.

Here are the details:

New York voters reject pro-voting ballot initiatives. On Tuesday last week, New York voters rejected proposals to amend the state constitution to allow same-day registration and no-excuse absentee voting. New York is one of just 17 states to require an excuse to vote absentee. Lawmakers have allowed all voters to invoke the temporary illness response in light of the Covid-19 pandemic through January 1, 2022. New York is one of 23 states to offer no form of same day registration.

Michigan legislators introduce bill package to expand access to mail voting. Last week, legislators introduced seven bills to expand voting access in Michigan:

  • H.B. 5515 is a bill that would ensure that all registered voters receive an absentee ballot application in the mail, with postage prepaid for return of absentee ballot and application.
  • H.B. 5517 is a bill that would provide prepaid postage for return of absentee ballots and applications and reimbursement by the state to localities for the cost of mailing voter registration cards, absentee ballot applications, absentee ballots, and prepaid postage.
  • H.B. 5518 is a bill that would allow election officials to begin pre-processing and processing (but not tabulating) absentee ballots beginning up to seven days before Election Day.
  • H.B. 5519 is a bill that would require at least one drop box for every 20,000 voters and require the state to reimburse local governments for the cost of drop boxes.
  • H.B. 5516 is a bill that would end the existing prohibition on hiring transportation to the polls on behalf of another voter.
  • H.B. 5513 is a bill that would give voters who are overseas and voting pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) more time to return their absentee ballots, extending the ballot receipt deadline from the close of polls on Election Day to 72 hours after the close of polls.
  • H.B. 5514 is a bill that would authorize electronic return of UOCAVA ballots.

U.S. Senate blocks debate on John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer put an amended version of the bill up for debate this week, but it failed to overcome the 60-vote threshold to advance. Among the changes from the House version, the Senate version omitted “line warming,” i.e., bans on providing food and water to voters waiting in line, from the list of activities required to be cleared before enactment, stating that there is no “robust evidence” of discriminatory impact. Georgia and Florida enacted line warming bans this year. Just one Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski, joined the Democrats to vote to advance debate on the bill.

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

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