The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, June 5

by Liz Avore

June 5, 2023

Welcome to The Markup. If you enjoy reading this, please consider sharing this post to get this 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.

Today is Monday, June 5. We are tracking 1,834 bills so far this session across all 50 states, with 390 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 869 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: Nebraska enacted a strict voter ID requirement, becoming the 11th state to require voters to present a photo ID to vote in-person, with no alternatives available for most voters. Lawmakers in North Carolina introduced an omnibus bill that would restrict mail voting and same-day registration, while also expanding opportunities for mass challenges to voters’ registrations. On the heels of a recommendation by the Iowa secretary of state that the state leave ERIC, the governor signed a new law removing the statutory requirement that the state registrar use data from ERIC to update voter registration information.

The Good News: Lawmakers in Connecticut advanced legislation to establish in-person early voting, no-excuse mail voting, and a state-level voting rights act. Louisiana expanded the ability of service members stationed in the state to serve as poll workers.

Looking Ahead: A floor vote on online voter registration (S.B. 70) is scheduled in the New Hampshire House on Thursday. The bill already passed the Senate. A lawsuit was filed challenging Mississippi’s new law restricting third party ballot return. The United States House of Representatives is holding a hearing on Wednesday about D.C. election laws, with eye towards preempting local law with more strict requirements.

Here are the details:

Nebraska enacts strict voter ID legislation. Governor Pillen of Nebraska signed voter ID bill L.B. 514 into law last week, the implementing legislation for the constitutional amendment approved by the state’s voters in November of 2022. The state now has one of the strictest voter ID requirements in the country, becoming the 11th state to require voters to present a photo ID to vote in-person, with no alternatives available for most voters. If a voter does not have photo ID with them at the polling place, they may cast a provisional ballot – but it will only be counted if they present photo ID (or prove that they are exempted from the photo ID requirement) no later than the Tuesday after Election Day. The bill additionally imposes new identification requirements when requesting a ballot to be voted by mail.

Connecticut advances legislation creating in-person early voting, no-excuse mail voting, and a state-level voting rights act. In Connecticut, lawmakers advanced multiple measures that would improve voter access if enacted. The legislature sent H.B. 5004, establishing a two-week early voting period, to Governor Ned Lamont’s desk. Connecticut is currently one of only four states with no in-person early voting. In addition, both chambers adopted H.J.R. 1, proposing a state constitutional amendment to allow all voters to vote by mail (eliminating the requirement that voters demonstrate a special reason they need to cast a mail ballot) and will be on the ballot in November 2024. Connecticut is currently one of 15 states that does not give all voters the option of casting a mail ballot. Meanwhile, the state Senate passed S.B. 1226, a state voting rights act that will explicitly protect the voting rights of historically disenfranchised groups, including by requiring that covered localities get certain changes to voting law pre-approved before they can take effect. The bill is now before the House. Similar legislation was enacted in Virginia in 2021 and New York in 2022.

North Carolina lawmakers introduce restrictive omnibus bill. North Carolina S.B. 747, unveiled last week, would require local officials to reject ballots mailed on or before Election Day if they were not received by Election Day or if there were changes in a voter’s signature; severely curtail the ability of voters whose mail ballots were flagged as deficient to correct those errors; restrict same-day voter registration; and expand opportunities for mass challenge to voters’ registrations, among other changes.

Iowa enacts bill removing requirement for state to participate in ERIC. Governor Kim Reynolds signed H.B. 716 last week, removing an explicit requirement in statute that the state registrar use data from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to update voter information in the statewide voter registration system. This comes on the heels of Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s recommendation that the state join the group of states departing from ERIC en masse this year.

Louisiana enacts legislation to allow military personnel stationed in the state to serve as poll workers. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed H.B. 216, allowing out-of-state service members who are stationed in Louisiana, or their dependents, to serve as poll workers (“commissioners” in Louisiana) under certain conditions. This bill creates a new exception to the general rule requiring a person serving as a poll worker to be a registered voter in Louisiana. Louisiana law already allowed students attending postsecondary institutions in the state to serve as poll workers.

Nevada creates new crimes designed to protect election workers, and sends bill requiring the use of tabulators to the governor. Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo signed S.B. 406 into law, making it a felony to share election workers’ identifying information when sharing the information would endanger the election worker. The bill also makes it a felony to interfere with, or retaliate against, election workers. Also last week, the legislature sent A.B. 242 to the Governor, which would require counties to count ballots using tabulators and require at least two (instead of one) accessible voting machines at polling places. In 2022, Nye County attempted a full hand count of the election, an effort mired in litigation, and has said it is considering a hand count for 2024.

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