The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, November 22

by Liz Avore

November 22, 2021

Scheduling note: We’ll be back with the next edition of The Markup on Monday, December 6.

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Today is Monday, November 22.

We’re tracking 2,774 voting bills. There are 546 anti-voter bills and 1,547 pro-voter bills, with the remainder being either neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Good News: New York has introduced a bill that would allow voters to continue to vote absentee if they are concerned about contracting or spreading COVID-19 through 2024.

The Bad News: Oklahoma legislators have hopped on the sham audit trend, with a new bill proposing to conduct a “forensic audit” of the certified 2020 results.

The Mixed News: North Carolina enacted the state’s budget bill, containing a provision that shifts election authority and one that provides additional funding for election cybersecurity.

Here are the details:

North Carolina’s budget bill enacted. Governor Roy Cooper signed the state’s budget bill last week. The bill contains provisions shifting authority to settle election lawsuits away from the attorney general and State Board of Elections. The State Board of Elections will now need the joint approval of the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate for a consent agreement in litigation in which the legislative leaders are parties or in which they have intervened. The bill also limits the amount of time in which a governor’s executive order during a state of emergency can be effective, making it difficult for the State Board of Elections to change election procedures in light of a public health emergency, as happened in 2020. The bill includes an additional $2.8 million appropriation to enhance technology and improve election cybersecurity. A provision that would have also shifted investigative authority away from the State Board of Elections, included in the Senate version of the budget, was amended out of the bill.

Oklahoma introduces bill that would conduct a sham audit of the 2020 election. In a special session, Oklahoma legislators introduced a bill last week to require a “forensic” audit of the 2020 election in every precinct in nine counties conducted by an “independent third party” appointed by the governor, the president pro tempore of the Senate, and the speaker of the House of Representatives. These partisan elected officials are all currently Republicans, and the bill does not identify any qualifications for the independent third party or any standards for the review. The audit would consist of the three largest and three smallest counties in the state, along with three chosen at the discretion of the independent third party. This is part of a worrisome trend that gives audit authority to partisan electeds and unqualified third parties, rather than trained election professionals. 18 bills in 7 states have introduced bills to review the 2020 election results. Of these, bills are still pending in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington. Additionally, while Texas’s legislative attempts to conduct sham audits all failed, Governor Greg Abbott announced last week that he would use his emergency powers to shift $4 million over for a review of the 2020 election results in certain (mostly Democratic-majority) counties.

New York introduces bill to extend COVID-19 absentee ballot excuse. In the wake of a failed ballot initiative to bring no-excuse absentee voting to New York, legislators introduced A.B. 8432. This bill would allow voters to use concern about contracting or spreading Covid-19 as a valid excuse to request an absentee ballot through February 1, 2024.

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

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