The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, October 24

by Liz Avore

October 24, 2022

Welcome to The Markup. Please consider sharing this update with colleagues and friends today so that we can get this valuable information into more hands.

If you received this update from someone else and would like to get these weekly updates straight to your inbox going forward, please subscribe here.

Today is Monday, October 24. We are tracking 2,207 bills so far this session, with 583 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 1,057 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: A New York trial court ordered election officials to stop processing mail ballots before Election Day; the state has filed a notice of appeal.

Looking Ahead: A new lawsuit seeks to require a Pennsylvania county to provide Spanish-language ballots.

Here are the details:

The District of Columbia Council passes legislation that would send mail ballots to all registered voters. The D.C. Council passed legislation on Tuesday that would add D.C. to the growing list of jurisdictions that send mail ballots to all registered voters each election. Voters could return their ballot by mail in a postage prepaid envelope or put it in a drop box. The bill would also allow voters who prefer to vote in person to cast a ballot at any vote center location in the city. Having passed the council unanimously, the bill must now receive mayoral and congressional approval to go into effect ahead of the District’s 2024 election.

New York enacts a new law to protect voters who are sexual violence survivors, while a trial court blocks election officials from processing mail ballots before Election Day. Last Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul signed A.B. 7748, enabling survivors of sexual violence to choose to keep their voter registration address confidential in the same ways that existing law enables domestic violence survivors to keep their records confidential.

Meanwhile, a New York trial court ruled that election officials must stop opening mail ballot envelopes and feeding ballots into a tabulator before Election Day. The court found that a new law designed to help avoid reporting delays violated the rights of the New York Republican and Conservative parties to challenge ballots and impermissibly limited judicial review of contested ballots. The state immediately filed a notice of appeal.

Pennsylvania counties may continue to cure mail ballots and offer drop boxes, while a new lawsuit seeks to require Spanish-language ballots in York County. The six-justice Pennsylvania Supreme Court split 3-3 on the issue of whether counties may continue to contact a voter when one makes a mistake, such as failing to sign their ballot certificate envelope, so voters may correct these minor errors and have their ballot counted. This split leaves the trial court order allowing counties to do so intact.

Another Pennsylvania court held that Lehigh County could continue to offer 24-hour drop boxes as planned, and that plaintiffs were incorrect in asserting that drop boxes must be staffed and located inside of a building.

An organization representing Spanish-speaking voters sued the York County Board of Elections to enforce the Voting Rights Act and ensure their members can participate in the election. The county, which has a significant Puerto Rican population, currently offers ballots and other election materials only in English.

Nevada Supreme Court blocks Nye County’s planned hand count. A unanimous Nevada Supreme Court prohibited Nye County from live-streaming a hand count or from using any process that involves reading results out loud in front of public observers prior to the close of polls on Election Day. The county had intended to begin the count tomorrow. The Court also prohibited the county from imposing different rules for curing mismatched ballot certificate signatures.

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

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Markup to get our updates straight to your inbox.