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Today is Monday, September 26. We are tracking 2,197 bills so far this session, with 581 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 1,050 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.
The Bad News: We have no new bad news to report this week.
The Good News: The Montana Supreme Court blocked two new laws – one that would eliminate Election Day registration, and another that would make the state’s voter ID law much more strict. Local election boards in Maryland will be allowed to begin opening, canvassing, and tabulating mail-in ballots prior to Election Day. In Delaware, the Department of Elections will continue to process mail ballot applications while the state’s new no-excuse mail voting law is being litigated.
Looking Ahead: The Delaware Supreme Court will hear that case challenging the state’s new no-excuse mail voting law next Wednesday.
Here are the details:
Montana litigation blocks new laws restricting voter access. On Wednesday, the Montana Supreme Court blocked two restrictive voting laws that the legislature enacted in 2021. One of the currently-blocked laws would eliminate same-day registration on Election Day, a policy that Montana residents have used for 15 years. The other new law that was blocked would make the state’s voter ID law much stricter, both by sharply limiting the types of accepted IDs and by eliminating the backstop that allows voters without ID to cast a provisional ballot that will be counted if the voter’s signature matches the one on file. Litigation to determine the final fate of these laws is still underway.
Maryland court signs off on tabulation of mail-in ballots prior to Election Day. A Maryland state court granted a petition filed by Attorney General Brian Frosh on behalf of the State Board of Elections seeking to allow local boards of elections to tabulate the results of mail-in ballots prior to Election Day. The court’s order will allow local boards to begin opening, canvassing, and tabulating mail-in ballots on October 1. Local boards will remain prohibited from releasing unofficial results of mail-in ballots until after polls close on November 8. The court action follows Governor Hogan’s veto of legislation that would have allowed pre-processing of ballots.
Delaware judge allows the Department of Elections to continue accepting and processing mail ballot applications while litigation continues. Last week, we told you about a court order blocking enforcement of a new Delaware law that removes a previous excuse requirement and makes mail voting available to all eligible voters. The same judge issued a partial stay of that order, permitting the Department of Elections to accept and process mail ballot applications from voters who do not meet the state’s excuse requirement. Under the stay, the Department is still not allowed to deliver mail ballots to voters, unless they meet the excuse requirement. The Delaware Supreme Court will hear the case on October 5, just four days before the ballots are set to be mailed out under the new law.
This update is powered by VRL’s State Voting Rights Tracker: tracker.votingrightslab.org