The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, June 12

by Liz Avore

June 12, 2023

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Today is Monday, June 12. We are tracking 1,852 bills so far this session across all 50 states, with 392 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 884 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: We’re pleased to have no bad news to report this week.

The Good News: Connecticut established early voting and enacted a state Voting Rights Act. Arizona’s governor vetoed restrictive elections bills. The Michigan legislature focused on implementation of Ballot Proposition 2 requirements. Nevada and Colorado improved voting access for Indigenous communities. New Hampshire made progress toward an online portal for voter registration and mail ballot requests. New York passed several bills enhancing ballot access before adjourning for the year.

Looking Ahead: In Michigan, additional legislation related to Ballot Proposition 2 will be heard in committees before the summer recess. Arizona will be back in session early this week and may continue work on remaining election legislation. Audit and online voter registration legislation is headed to conference committees in New Hampshire.

Here are the details:

Connecticut establishes early voting, includes state Voting Rights Act in budget. In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont signed H.B. 5004, which establishes a two-week early voting period. Connecticut had been one of only four states with no in-person early voting. Additionally, lawmakers amended a state Voting Rights Act into H.B. 6941, the 2023-2025 budget bill, which Governor Lamont signed into law this afternoon. Since the 2020 election, three other states have enacted laws modeled on the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Arizona Governor vetoes restrictive elections bills. Last week, Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed legislation that would have restricted signature verification, banned ranked choice voting, given the legislature a role in approving the Election Procedures Manual, and prohibited election officials from belonging to PACs. The governor also vetoed legislation that would have required Maricopa and Pima County voters to bypass signature verification when returning their mail ballot at a voting location by instead providing ID sufficient to vote in person.

Colorado enacts access-improving omnibus legislation. On June 6, Governor Jared Polis signed S.B. 276, which facilitates registration and voting for both Native American voters and eligible incarcerated voters. The bill also expands in-person registration and voting opportunities on college campuses and makes numerous other changes to disparate areas of the election code.

Bills to implement Michigan’s “Promote the Vote” constitutional amendment move forward. In 2022, Michigan voters approved Ballot Proposition 2, which guaranteed certain fundamental rights pertaining to the electoral process. Last week, a package of bills was introduced in the legislature that would implement many of the changes required by that constitutional amendment, including provisions creating Election Day-style early voting (H.B. 4695 and S.B. 367), drop boxes for mail ballots and mail ballot applications (H.B. 4697 and S.B. 372), a permanent mail voter list (H.B. 4699 and S.B. 369), and a cure process for defective mail ballots (H.B. 4700 and S.B. 370). Other pro-voter Michigan bills cleared their first committee last week, including the creation of an online application for mail ballots, decriminalizing transporting voters to a polling place, online mail ballot tracking, pre-registration for 16 year-olds, and legislation making it easier for some voters without ID to have their ballots counted.

Nevada improves Indigenous voting access, other bills remain on Governor’s desk as legislature adjourns for the year. Governor Joe Lombardo signed S.B. 216 into law, which enables people living on Indigenous land to register and vote using the remote access system formerly reserved for disabled and UOCAVA voters. Three additional bills moved to the governor’s desk, including legislation that would improve election uniformity across the state by requiring the Secretary of State to issue an elections procedures manual, delaying a previously enacted expansion of automatic voter registration by one year, and requiring that counties use electronic tabulators. On June 6, the legislature adjourned until 2025. If the governor does not take action on remaining bills before June 16, they will become law without his signature.

New Hampshire poised to adopt online voter portal. The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to pass S.B. 70, which would establish an online portal for voter registration and mail ballot requests. The Senate will now need to concur with a minor House amendment before the bill goes to Governor Chris Sununu. New Hampshire is one of only seven states that does not offer online voter registration or have a plan to implement it.

New York Legislature passes major election laws before adjourning for the year. New York’s legislature passed S.B. 5984, which would allow for same-day registration on the first day of early voting, and S.B. 7394, which would create “early voting by mail,” a no-excuse mail system that would operate in parallel to the existing excuse-required absentee voting system. In addition, the legislature passed multiple bills that improve voter access.

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