The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, March 14

by Liz Avore

March 14, 2022

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Today is Monday, March 14.

We are tracking 2,304 bills so far this session, with 542 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 1,042 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral or mixed or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: Arizona legislation creating a new proof of citizenship requirement passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. Florida’s legislature passed its election crimes bill, and the Missouri House passed a photo ID bill. Meanwhile, the Michigan House advanced bills creating new barriers to mail voting, and H.B. 1464, Georgia’s elections omnibus, was heard in committee.

The Good News: Arizona’s S.B. 1629, which would have created partisan election audits targeting Pima and Maricopa Counties, died in the Senate. Oregon enacted legislation expanding online voter registration. Also, Washington State sent a number of bills to the Governor’s desk, including legislation that will protect against prison gerrymandering, protect mail voter privacy, and facilitate voting by military and overseas voters.

Looking Ahead: Today, fourteen election bills are on the agenda for the Arizona Senate’s third reading. Among these is a bill that would disenfranchise voters because of election officials’ errors (S.B. 1056) and another that would require an election to be repeated if a court determines that the declared winner did not receive the highest number of votes (S.B. 1609).

Here are the details:

The Georgia omnibus elections bill is here. H.B. 1464 was heard in the Special Committee on Election Integrity last week and includes provisions that could criminalize voting by giving the Georgia Bureau of Investigation original jurisdiction over election-related investigations, impose onerous chain of custody requirements on local election officials, allow members of the public to inspect and copy voted ballots prior to state certification, lower the number of voting machines available on Election Day in each county, and expand criminal penalties for intimidation of poll workers. If the bill gets a full floor vote soon, there is a chance it could advance to the Senate before Crossover Day on March 15.

An Arizona bill creating mandatory partisan audits dies, but one creating a proof of citizenship requirement advances. Arizona S.B. 1629 died in the Senate last week. It would have required that the auditor general – an entity with no elections experience – conduct elections audits targeting Pima County and Maricopa County.  Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed H.B. 2492, a bill that would require people to show documentary proof of citizenship when they register to vote. If enacted, this bill will almost certainly face litigation. Several other elections bills are on the agenda for the Arizona Senate’s third reading today.

Florida election crimes bill passes final vote. S.B. 524 passed the House with a 76-41 vote along party lines. This bill has several concerning provisions, including the creation of an Office of Election Crimes and Security to oversee a voter fraud hotline and otherwise investigate possible election law violations. The bill also increases criminal penalties for voters returning ballots for their neighbors, impacts list maintenance processes for supervisors of elections, prohibits ranked choice voting, and expands the prohibition on private funding of any election administration expense – including litigation costs.

Missouri House passes photo ID bill. H.B. 1878, a standalone photo ID bill, and the enabling constitutional amendment were passed today shortly before the House gaveled out for spring break until the end of March. Under existing law, voters may provide a variety of types of ID – such as a voter’s utility bill or bank statement – and still vote a regular ballot. This bill would require any voter lacking photo ID to vote by provisional ballot, which would only be counted if they returned to show photo ID or used signature match to verify their identity.

Michigan House passes legislation creating new barriers to receiving mail ballots. Last week, several elections bills passed out of the Michigan House, including H.B. 5288 which would effectively ban online ballot applications by prohibiting voters from using digital or electronic signatures when requesting mail ballots. H.B. 5268 would prohibit state and local election officials from sending applications for mail ballots unless the application was specifically requested, and H.B. 5253 would prohibit state and local election officials from accepting private monetary donations for election administration. Each bill would be subject to a veto by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, if any of them make it through the Senate.

Oregon expands online voter registration. Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed H.B. 4133 last week, allowing citizens to register to vote online using their Social Security numbers. Previous law only allowed online registration for those voters who could provide a driver’s license or state ID number. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2023.

Washington State sends a number of pro-voter bills to the Governor’s desk. Last week, the legislature delivered several pieces of election-related legislation to the Governor, including bills that protect against prison gerrymandering, protect mail voter privacy, and facilitate voting by military and overseas voters.

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

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