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Today is Monday, April 3. We are tracking 1,690 bills so far this session across all 50 states, with 364 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 800 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.
The Bad News: The Arizona legislature is trying to ban electronic tabulators and ranked choice voting. The Texas Senate State Affairs committee voted out bills that would end countywide polling places, purge voters from the rolls for not voting, position the state for a withdrawal from ERIC, and increase investigation of alleged election irregularities.
The Good News: The governor signed three bills that expand voting access in New Mexico, including one that restores voting rights to people with past felony convictions and improves voting access for Indigenous peoples. North Dakota enacted legislation to give voters more time to cure issues with their mail ballot so it can be counted. In Montana, the legislature sent a bill to the governor that would end prison gerrymandering. The Arkansas Senate unanimously approved a bill to ensure voters are notified, and given a chance to correct, issues that would result in rejection of their mail ballots.
Looking Ahead: The Florida legislature may introduce an omnibus elections bill this week. Today, the Montana Senate is scheduled to consider S.B. 86, a bill passed by the House which would limit precinct size. On Tuesday, North Carolina H.B. 304 will be heard in committee – the bill would prohibit election officials from counting mail ballots received after the close of polls on Election Day. The Texas House Elections committee will hear H.B. 3159 this week, which would allow voters to use an accessible electronic system to mark a mail ballot.
Here are the details:
New Mexico restores voting rights to people with past felony convictions and improves voting access for Indigenous peoples. In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed several bills that expand voting access, most notably H.B. 4. The bill will restore the voting rights of people convicted of felonies upon their release from incarceration, create a permanent mail voting list, and facilitate voter registration and mail voting for Indigenous peoples. The bill will also create rules for Indigenous peoples to request early voting sites, Election Day voting sites, and ballot drop boxes on or near their land, among other changes. Also enacted were S.B. 180, which among many other changes will significantly increase New Mexicans’ access to voter convenience centers, and S.B. 43, which would add new protections for the secretary of state, a county or municipal clerk, or an agent or employee of any of those persons from potential intimidation.
Arizona legislature tries to ban tabulators and ranked choice voting. The Arizona legislature adopted Senate resolution SCR 1037, which, while not binding, demands that all election equipment, including ballot tabulators, must be entirely manufactured in the United States. Similarly, the legislature sent S.B. 1074, to the governor. That bill would prohibit the use of ballot tabulators “as the primary method” of counting votes unless they meet several conditions, one of which is that all parts of it are manufactured in the United States. According to testimony on the bill, such tabulators do not currently exist, meaning the requirement would function as a ban on tabulators. Also last week, the legislature adopted HCR 2033, which proposes an amendment to the state constitution that would ban ranked choice voting.
North Dakota gives voters more time to cure issues with their mail ballot certificates and allows election officials to start processing mail ballots earlier. North Dakota enacted H.B. 1192, which gives voters an extra week to address a mismatched ballot certificate signature and make their vote count. The new law also enables election officials to start counting mail ballots earlier if the county conducting the election mailed ballot applications to all voters.
Texas Senate State Affairs Committee votes out legislation that would end countywide polling places, purge voters from the rolls for not voting, threaten the state’s participation in ERIC, and expand state officials’ powers to investigate or remove local election officials. Last week, the Texas Senate’s State Affairs Committee advanced S.B. 990 (eliminate the countywide polling place program), S.B. 1039 (increase investigation of alleged election irregularities), S.B. 260 (purge voters from the rolls for not voting), and S.B. 1070 (likely to result in the state’s departure from ERIC). On a more positive note, this week, the Texas House Elections committee will hear H.B. 3159, which would permit certain voters to use an accessible electronic system to mark a mail ballot.
Montana sends a bill to the governor to prohibit prison gerrymandering. Last week, the Montana legislature passed S.B. 77, which would prohibit prison gerrymandering, ensuring that incarcerated individuals are counted at their home address rather than where they are imprisoned.
Arkansas Senate advances mail ballot cure bill. In Arkansas, S.B. 235 cleared the Senate in a unanimous vote. In addition to making a number of technical changes to the tabulation process for mail ballots, the bill would establish a formal cure process for mail ballots designated as provisional. The bill would ensure that voters are contacted within 48 hours of their ballot being designated provisional to give the voter an opportunity to cure the defect. The bill now moves to the House for further consideration.
This update is powered by VRL’s State Voting Rights Tracker: tracker.votingrightslab.org