The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, February 27

by Liz Avore

February 27, 2023

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Today is Monday, February 27. We are tracking 1,331 bills so far this session, with 307 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 641 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: The Arizona House passed a bill that would remove registered voters from the state’s mail voting list if they do not vote in a single general election cycle. The Idaho House passed a bill that would prohibit the use of student ID cards to verify voter identity. The Kansas Senate passed a bill that would move the deadline for returning mail ballots earlier.

The Good News: Voting restoration legislation passed both chambers of the Minnesota legislature. Arkansas is making minor improvements to mail voting and in-person early voting.

Looking Ahead: The Texas legislature is hearing its first election bill of the session today: S.B. 2 would raise the penalty for voting while ineligible, while expanding the scope of the crime beyond the court’s interpretation of the current statute. Missouri S.B. 210 – a bill to establish a notice and cure process for voters to correct minor errors on mail ballot envelopes – will be heard in committee today.

The Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a work session on Thursday that includes S.B. 579, a bill that would end disenfranchisement based on felony convictions. The Georgia Senate Ethics Committee and House Governmental Affairs Committee are both likely to have hearings on election bills later this week.

Here are the details:

Minnesota voting restoration bill passes both chambers. H.B. 28 passed the Senate last week and is now back in the House for concurrence. The bill would restore voting rights to people with past felony convictions immediately upon release from imprisonment. Under current Minnesota law, voting rights are not restored until the completion of all relevant terms of probation and/or parole. If H.B. 28 becomes law, citizens will only lose their right to vote while they are currently imprisoned for a felony conviction.

Arizona advances legislation to purge more registered voters from the mail voting list. Arizona voters may sign up to automatically receive a ballot in the mail each election. The list used to be permanent; voters stayed on it unless they opted out. In 2021, Arizona changed the law to purge registered voters from the list if they do not vote in two general election cycles. Last week, the Arizona House passed H.B. 2415, which would remove voters if they do not vote in a single general election cycle. The House also advanced bills relating to ballot challenges, elections in which the Secretary of State is a candidate, and signature verification

Idaho House passes legislation to prohibit the use of student IDs to verify voter identity. H.B. 124 would eliminate student ID cards, issued by institutions of higher education or high schools, as valid forms of voter ID. Idaho currently accepts student ID cards as a valid form of voter ID if they include a photo of the student. If H.B. 124 becomes law, the only remaining forms of acceptable voter ID in Idaho will be permits to carry concealed weapons, driver’s licenses, state ID cards, tribal ID cards that include a photo, or passports.

Arkansas makes minor improvements to mail voting and in-person early voting. Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed H.B. 1198, allowing for in-person early voting on county holidays. Last week, the state legislature sent S.B. 247 to her desk which, if signed, will add religious observance to the list of reasons a person may vote by mail. Arkansas is one of the 15 states where voters must have a specific reason, or excuse, to vote by mail.

Kansas advances legislation that would disenfranchise some mail voters. The Kansas Senate passed S.B. 209, which would prohibit election officials from counting mail ballots received after 7 p.m. on Election Day. Under existing Kansas law, election officials count ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and received by the third day after Election Day.

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