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

by Voting Rights Lab

July 10, 2023

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Today is Monday, July 10. We are tracking 1,880 bills so far this session across all 50 states, with 397 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 897 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging Mississippi’s strict felony disenfranchisement rules.

The Good News: Two provisions from Florida’s election omnibus related to third-party registration were blocked in court. Mississippi announced the launch of its new online ballot tracking tool. Kansas and Oklahoma audits found no evidence of inaccuracies in election outcomes. Massachusetts released data showing the significant impact of automatic voter registration through social service agencies.

Looking Ahead: In Texas, Harris County sued to block legislation that would abolish the nonpartisan elections administrator office weeks before the 2023 general election. A hearing has been requested within the next few weeks.

Here are the details:

Harris County sues to prevent implementation of the bill eliminating their elections administrator. The county attorney of Harris County (where Houston, Texas is located) filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of S.B. 1750, passed by the state legislature earlier this year. The bill eliminates the county elections administrator position in all counties with a population of 3.5 million or more. The lawsuit alleges the bill unconstitutionally singles out Harris County, the only county in the state to reach the bill’s population threshold. The state’s constitution prohibits bills targeting localities under most circumstances. S.B. 1750 is set to go into effect September 1, 2023, ahead of the early voting period for this year’s local elections. Harris County has requested a hearing in the next few weeks.

Parts of Florida’s S.B. 7050 blocked by litigation. Florida’s 2023 election omnibus, S.B. 7050, took effect July 1. On July 3, a U.S. District Court blocked the state from enforcing two provisions relating to third-party registration organizations. One enjoined provision would prohibit groups from employing non-citizens – including green card holders – and enforced the prohibition with a $50,000 fine. The other blocked provision would prohibit people who collect registration forms from retaining any information from them and enforced that prohibition with a felony.

Mississippi adopts online ballot tracking as U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to felony disenfranchisement. Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson announced the launch of a tool called My Election Day, which will allow voters to track mail ballots as well as look up their polling places and see sample ballots. Mississippi was previously one of only three states without online ballot tracking. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging Mississippi’s disenfranchisement of voters with certain felony convictions. Mississippi is one of three states where voters disenfranchised due to a criminal conviction never have their rights automatically restored.

Election audits in Kansas and Oklahoma find no discrepancies in election outcomes. Both Kansas and Oklahoma recently announced the results of election audits mandated by recent laws championed by individuals and organizations questioning the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Both states found their elections to be accurate and administered with adequate security practices in place, although there are areas where election security policies and procedures may be strengthened. Differences among counties highlighted resource and training disparities in both states, and populous counties generally performed better because they had additional resources.

Massachusetts data demonstrates success of automatic voter registration through Medicaid applications. Following the implementation of automatic voter registration via Medicaid applications, Massachusetts experienced a five-fold increase in the total number of voters being registered at social service agencies, with 166,539 voters registering through state social service agencies in the 2021-2022 election cycle.

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