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Today is Monday, July 3. We are tracking 1,877 bills so far this session across all 50 states, with 396 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 895 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.
The Bad News: A New Hampshire bill that would have established an online portal for voter registration and mail ballots requests died in a conference committee due to a dispute over the use of federal election funding.
The Good News: A package of bills expanding mail voting and in-person early voting awaits the governor’s signature in Michigan, where lawmakers also recently introduced a state-level voting rights act, modeled on the federal Voting Rights Act. Maine passed a bill that, if signed by the governor, will make it the seventh state to allow all voters to sign up to automatically receive a ballot in the mail each election. Rhode Island enacted two new laws, one facilitating equitable polling place siting and another allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they will be 18 by the general election. A new law in Pennsylvania requires a study on voting and voter registration of citizens with past felony convictions whose voting rights have been restored. Oregon sent a pair of elections-related bills to the governor’s desk, including one that would expand the state’s automatic voter registration program by adding the Oregon Health Authority. A new law in Hawaii ensures more eligible ballots are counted.
Looking Ahead: Two concerning North Carolina bills – S.B. 747, which would result in the rejection of mail ballots cast by registered, eligible voters and restrict same-day registration, and S.B. 749, which would give the legislature authority over the state and county boards of election – have been referred to the relevant house committee following senate passage and are expected to be heard in the coming weeks.
Here are the details:
Michigan lawmakers send legislation expanding mail voting and in-person early voting to the governor’s desk and introduce a Voting Rights Act. Several bills to implement Michigan’s “Promote the Vote” constitutional amendment now await Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signature, including S.B. 367 (nine days of Election Day-style early voting), H.B. 4699 (establishing a permanent mail voter list), H.B. 4697 (requiring drop boxes for mail ballots), S.B. 370 (cure process for defective mail ballots), S.B. 339 (mail ballot tracking), and S.B. 373 (additional forms of acceptable voter ID). Last week, the state senate introduced S.B. 401, state-level Voting Rights Act that would require local governments to get certain changes to election policy approved by the secretary of state to ensure the change does not have a race- or language- based discriminatory impact.
Permanent mail voting list goes to Maine governor’s desk. Maine is poised to become the seventh state to allow all voters to opt-in to receive a mail ballot for every election. Lawmakers in Maine approved S.B. 677, which would expand eligibility to all voters for the state’s permanent mail voting list. Under existing law, only voters over 65 years of age or with disabilities will be eligible, and they will be removed from the list if they do not vote by mail ballot in any general election. If signed, S.B. 677 will allow all voters to sign up to automatically receive a ballot in the mail each election, and voters will not be removed for not voting by mail.
Rhode Island allows 17-yr-olds to vote in primaries and requires equitable polling place siting. On June 19, Governor Daniel McKee signed H.B. 5055/S.B. 35, allowing 17-yr-old people to vote in a primary election if they will be 18 by the applicable general or special election. On June 22, the Governor signed H.B. 6240/S.B. 613, which sets specific criteria municipalities must follow in choosing polling places.
Pennsylvania will study voting and registration by people with past felony convictions. On June 21, the Pennsylvania legislature adopted H.R. 47, which requires a study be completed within a year on myriad aspects of registering and voting by people who were disenfranchised by a past conviction and then had their voting rights restored.
Oregon sends legislation expanding AVR to the governor’s desk. Before Oregon’s legislative session came to an end on June 25, a pair of elections-related bills crossed the finish line and arrived on the governor’s desk. H.B. 2107 would expand the state’s automatic voter registration program by adding the Oregon Health Authority as a participating agency. S.B. 1094 would authorize the (newly-appointed) secretary of state to apply for federal funds to finance a pilot project for a live, public video feed of ballot drop boxes and ballot counting activity.
Hawaii ensures more eligible voters’ ballots are counted. Hawaii enacted S.B. 19 on June 23, ensuring that election officials count mail ballots that eligible voters returned on time even if the voter then died before the close of polls or otherwise became ineligible.
New Hampshire online voter portal bill fails for now. New Hampshire S.B. 70, which would have established an online portal for voter registration and mail ballots requests, died in a conference committee due to a dispute over the use of federal election funding. H.B. 463, which would create a similar portal for use only by voters with disabilities and active-duty members of the armed services, was retained for consideration next year.
This update is powered by VRL’s State Voting Rights Tracker: tracker.votingrightslab.org