The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, October 31

by Liz Avore

October 31, 2022

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Today is Monday, October 31. We are tracking 2,208 bills so far this session, with 583 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: A lower court ruled that drop box surveillance by armed civilians in Arizona is the right of those civilians as protected by the First Amendment. Plaintiffs have asked the Ninth Circuit for an injunction while their appeal is pending. 

The Good News: Following litigation, another Arizona group announced its intent to stop armed surveillance of drop boxes. The Nevada Secretary of State ordered Nye County to halt its ballot hand count until it could comply with a court order prohibiting it from releasing results prematurely.

Looking Ahead: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether counties may count a timely mail ballot cast by a registered, eligible voter if the voter forgot to date their mail ballot certificate. The decision is expected any day.

Here are the details:

Arizona voters seek protection from armed drop box surveillance. Responding to complaints of armed individuals surveilling voters at drop boxes in Arizona, groups filed two separate lawsuits seeking restraining orders to prevent voters from being intimidated. The defendants in one of the cases announced they would cease monitoring drop boxes, though the judge in that case has not yet ruled. The judge in the other case denied the request, citing the observers’ First Amendment rights. Plaintiffs have asked the 9th Circuit for an injunction while their appeal is pending.

A hand count of all ballots is on hold in a Nevada county, but poised to proceed in an Arizona county. The Nevada Supreme Court ordered that Nye County could not live stream its hand count, or otherwise allow public observation of a pre-election hand count, because doing so would result in the illegal premature release of results. Following the court’s rulings, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske ordered the county not to resume hand counting until it could comply with the orders. Meanwhile Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich approved a hand count of all ballots in Cochise County. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has indicated an intent to pursue litigation to halt that hand count. Cochise County officials had clarified last week that they would pursue a limited hand count audit after the election, as opposed to a full hand count tabulation of election results, following the threat of legal action by Hobbs’ office – it is unclear how the new opinion from Brnovich may affect that decision.

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