Three hundred sixty-eight. That’s how many laws impacting how people vote and how elections are run were enacted or adopted since the 2020 election. From the simplest of administrative changes to the broadest of omnibus overhauls, as the new year begins, dozens of voting and elections laws are set to take effect.
Some changes will be immediately apparent, others likely won’t become visible until an election is held, either later this year or in 2024. Here are ten bills with provisions taking effect this January that will have a significant impact on elections across the country – whether for voters, state agencies, local election officials, or advocates.
1. Arizona SB 1485 (2021) – This law requires the Arizona county recorders to notify individuals who are on the state’s “active early voting list” (previously known as the “permanent early voting list”) and have not voted in an election since January 2019 that they are subject to removal. If the voter fails to respond to the notice within 90 days, recorders will remove them from the list and no longer mail them ballots. When the law was passed in Spring 2021, roughly 3 million Arizonans – or 75 percent of the electorate – were on the permanent early voting list. This provision will go into effect on January 15.
2. Arizona HB 2243 (2022) – This law substantially revises how Arizona maintains the accuracy of its voter registration list, with particular focus on identifying potential non-citizens, voters who may have moved, and voters who may have died. The law provides local election officials broad discretion in their authority to review, challenge, and remove individuals’ registrations based on “tips” from outside sources or information from databases such as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement program – sources that are not designed to determine voting eligibility and may be inaccurate or out of date.
3. Arizona HB 2492 (2022) – Three distinct provisions of this law will change how Arizonans can register to vote, how voters may participate in federal elections, and require state officials to investigate and prosecute registered voters’ and applicants’ citizenship status.
The first provision makes the process to register to vote by tightening rules around address verification that are substantially more burdensome for Native and unhoused voters to meet. This law additionally restricts voters who have not provided documentation to prove their citizenship from voting in presidential elections and from voting by mail for other federal races. Lastly, this law requires the Attorney General and county recorders to investigate certain applicants’ citizenship status, requires the prosecution of non-citizen registered voters, and imposes criminal liability on recorders who fail to conduct the investigations required by the law. These provisions went into effect on January 1, though this law is also subject to ongoing litigation seeking to block its enforcement.
4. California AB 2815 (2022) – This law, which took effect January 1, requires counties to place ballot drop boxes on state university campuses if schools are in session during a statewide primary or general election. There are no statewide elections in California in 2023, so though the law will go into effect this year, it will not see implementation until 2024.
5. Florida SB 90 (2021) – Though most provisions of this law went into effect in 2021 and remain subject to ongoing litigation, one provision taking effect January 1 now requires all voters who choose to vote by mail to apply for mail ballots every two years, as opposed to every four as required under prior law.
6. Florida SB 524 (2022) – This law changes how and when the state’s election supervisors search for voters who have moved, identify individuals for removal from voter rolls due to a felony conviction or death, and identify people who are not U.S. citizens. Notably, a similar system in place to flag non-citizens in Texas has proven to have deep flaws, resulting in the removal of eligible voters from the state’s rolls and ultimately leading to the resignation of the secretary of state. In Florida, this provision went into effect on January 1.
As was the case when the bill passed last July, serious concern exists around whether such list maintenance practices could disenfranchise naturalized citizens and other eligible voters. This provision went into effect on January 1, though it is notably subject to ongoing litigation seeking to block its enforcement.
7. Michigan HB 4491 (2022) – Though most of this law went into effect ahead of the 2022 general election, several provisions that create new requirements for municipal and county clerks to remove deceased voters from voter registration lists on a much more frequent basis than required under previous law went into effect on January 1.
8. New Hampshire SB 418 (2022) – Provisions in this law that take effect January 1 require voters to cast a provisional ballot if they do not show the required ID and cannot be otherwise verified using the state voter registration database when attempting to register at a voting location. Such voters must sign a “challenged voter affidavit,” be photographed, and return a “verification letter” with a copy of the required ID within 10 days. If they fail to do so, their ballot will not count and they will be referred to the attorney general’s office for investigation of potential election crimes.
9. Texas SB 1 (2021 Special Session) – One provision of this omnibus bill requires four randomly-chosen counties to conduct audits every two years, requiring those counties to review each election conducted during the previous two year period. Each cycle, two counties must have total populations below 300,000 and two must have total populations of 300,000 or more. Following the 2022 election, Harris, Cameron, Guadalupe, and Eastland Counties were selected for auditing. This bill does not define the scope of these audits but requires the secretary of state to issue rules as needed. Though SB 1 became effective in 2021, this provision was not in practicable effect until after the November 2022 election – the first statewide general election since the bill’s effective date.
10. Texas SB 598 (2021) – This law establishes a pilot program for risk-limiting audits in five counties across the state. At least one county must have at least 500,000 residents – 12 of the state’s 254 counties meet that criterion. These risk-limiting audits were slated to be conducted following the November general election. These audits are also in addition to those prescribed by SB 1. Though SB 598 became effective in 2021, this provision was not in practicable effect until after the November 2022 election. As of now, the status of the risk-limiting audits required under the law is unclear.
Also worth watching this year? Automatic voter registration should come to DMVs across New York at some point in 2023 – though the exact implementation date remains to be seen. In Maine, online voter registration is set to be implemented by November 1.