The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, April 10

by Liz Avore

April 10, 2023

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Today is Monday, April 10. We are tracking 1,723 bills so far this session across all 50 states and DC, with 370 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 815 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: In Idaho, newly-enacted legislation requires that citizens show a form of ID from a limited list to register to vote. In Texas, bills that criminalize elections and target Harris County (the state’s most populous county) continue to move. Florida legislators introduced an omnibus elections bill, which, among its provisions, would increase the risk of improper voter purges and increase the regulation of third-party voter registration organizations.

The Good News: Governors in Arizona and North Dakota both vetoed problematic legislation. In Arizona, Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed bills that would have effectively banned electronic tabulators and removed more registered voters from the mail voting list. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum vetoed legislation that would have prohibited Fargo from continuing its current practice of using approval voting for local elections. Georgia closed for the session without enacting any major restrictions to voter access.

Looking Ahead: A bill that would require Arizona to leave ERIC (S.B. 1135) is on the House floor today – it already passed the Senate. Tomorrow, the New Hampshire House Election Committee will hear S.B. 70, which would create online voter registration, and S.B. 158, which would allow election officials to begin processing mail ballots before Election Day. Both bills already passed the Senate. Also tomorrow, the Missouri House Elections and Elected Officials Committee will hear H.B. 1184, which would ensure that voters are notified of mistakes on their mail ballot envelopes so they can correct them and have their otherwise valid ballots counted, and the Missouri House General Laws Committee will hear H.B. 248, which would restore voting rights to citizens with past felony convictions immediately upon release from incarceration.

Here are the details:

Arizona governor vetoes legislation that would ban ballot tabulators and remove more registered voters from the mail voting list. The Arizona legislature has considered over 80 election-related bills this session. On April 6, Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed the first three bills to reach her desk. S.B. 1074 would have effectively banned electronic tabulators by imposing requirements that current tabulator models do not meet (including a requirement that all parts be manufactured in the United States). H.B. 2415 would have removed registered voters from the mail voting list if they didn’t vote with a mail ballot for one election cycle (legislation enacted in 2021 requires that  voters be removed if they don’t vote by mail in two consecutive election cycles). H.B. 2322 would have codified, as a floor, signature matching standards that the governor issued in 2020 while she served as secretary of state. In vetoing the bill, Hobbs noted that signature matching has been the standard across the state for several years, and that clear guidance on the topic already exists in the state’s Election Procedures Manual. More bills are likely to reach her desk soon.

North Dakota governor vetoes a ban on ranked-choice voting and approval voting. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum vetoed H.B. 1273, which would have banned ranked choice voting and approval voting statewide. In vetoing the bill, Governor Burgum characterized it as an “egregious example of state overreach” that “blatantly infringes on local control.” Fargo is the only jurisdiction in North Dakota to use one of these voting methods, and Governor Burgum noted that none of the bill’s sponsors represented Fargo.

Idaho governor signs two bills: one requiring ID to register to vote and another protecting non-citizens who vote under the reasonable belief that they are citizens. In Idaho, Governor Brad Little signed H.B. 340 into law. This bill will require a person attempting to register to vote to provide documentation proving their identity and residence. Under the bill, the only acceptable documents to prove identity are a current Idaho driver’s license, state ID card, license to carry a concealed weapon, passport or other ID card issued by the U.S. government, or tribal identification card. Before this bill, an applicant was only required to sign an oath and prove residence. In better news, the governor also signed H.B. 239, which provides an affirmative defense for non-citizens who cast a ballot under the reasonable belief that they are a citizen.

Senate State Affairs committee in Texas continues their attacks on Harris County, the state’s most populous county. In Texas, the State Affairs committee advanced S.B. 1750, a bill which would eliminate the position of county elections administrator in Harris County. The committee also voted out S.B. 1993, which would empower the Secretary of State to order a new election in Harris County if the secretary believes that at least two percent of polling places did not receive supplemental ballots within one hour of requesting them. Meanwhile, the Texas Senate sent three elections bills to the House: S.B. 1950 (creates a criminal offense for election officials if they accept a mail ballot after waiving certain requirements that would otherwise require the mail ballot be rejected), S.B. 1907 (increases the punishment for a precinct judge who fails to properly prepare precinct returns), and S.B. 1052 (permits an additional hour of pay for poll workers).

Florida introduces its third major elections bill since 2020. Despite being heralded for its strong administration of the 2020 election, Florida is again considering significant changes to its election code for the third session in a row. S.B. 7050 would make substantial changes to voter list maintenance processes; increase regulation of third-party voter registration organizations including by increasing possible fines for rule violations; create a felony for the harassment or intimidation of election workers and make other election crime changes; require signature match training and rules for election officials; clarify the jurisdiction of the Office of Election Crimes and Security and processes related to their investigations; and make numerous other changes.

Georgia legislature adjourns for the year. Georgia’s legislative session ended for the year without enacting any major election legislation to restrict voter access.

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