The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, January 9

by Liz Avore

January 11, 2023

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

If someone else shared this post with you, and you would like to get these weekly updates straight to your inbox going forward, please subscribe here.

We’ve relaunched our State Voting Rights Tracker for 2023 with a brand-new look and user experience! The Tracker continues to provide the same detailed, reliable analysis of legislation and existing law you’ve come to expect since its launch in January 2020, only now with more intuitive organization and design. We’ll be hosting two virtual demonstrations on how to use this powerful tool next week! Please register at the links below:

Today is Monday, January 9. We are tracking 303 bills so far this session, including 92 prefiled bills. Of the bills we are tracking, 55 would restrict voter access or election administration and 162 would improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: Ohio enacted a new law creating one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country.

The Good News: In several states – Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington – state lawmakers introduced legislation that would protect election workers from harassment.A bipartisan committee in New Hampshire concluded that the state’s elections are well-run, accurate, and there is no evidence of widespread fraud, recommending that the New Hampshire legislature take action to protect election officials from harassment.

Looking Ahead: 22 state legislatures go into session this week, bringing the total number of state legislatures in session to 40.

Here are the details:

Ohio enacts a law making the state voter ID law stricter. Governor Mike DeWine signed H.B. 458 on Friday. Under the new law, which was opposed by the state’s bipartisan election official organization, voters who do not have an ID with them at their polling place may cast a provisional ballot, but that ballot will not be counted unless the voter returns to an elections office to present a photo ID within three days of Election Day. Under previous Ohio law, election officials would verify and count a voter’s provisional ballot if the voter provided the last four digits of their social security number, or their driver’s license or state ID number, on the provisional ballot envelope, or provided one of these numbers to the elections office within seven days of Election Day. The new law makes Ohio one of only 13 states where voters cannot cast a ballot without a physical ID.  Most states with voter ID laws provide an alternative option, so eligible voters without ID may still vote.

Bills to protect election officials and workers introduced in several states. Responding to the ongoing harassment of election officials, some legislatures are considering legislation to protect them. So far, at least five legislatures (Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington) have introduced seven bills. Among them are efforts to allow election officials to keep their addresses confidential, create new crimes for those who harass election officials, stiffen penalties for existing laws against the harassment of election officials, and require local district attorneys to defend election officials in court.

New Hampshire bipartisan committee finds elections are well-run and accurate and issues recommendations. In its final report, the bipartisan committee assessing voter confidence in New Hampshire concluded that New Hampshire elections are well-run, the results are accurate, and there is no evidence of widespread fraud. Its 14 recommendations include several aimed at local election officials, including legislation to protect them against harassment, encouraging more robust recruitment efforts, and increased training. Other suggestions addressed election procedures, such as purchasing new ballot counting devices, expanding post-election audits, and improving the absentee ballot process.

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