The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, July 17

by Liz Avore

July 17, 2023

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Today is Monday, July 17. We are tracking 1,883 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: In Florida, a federal court denied a request to block two provisions restricting third-party registration; meanwhile hundreds of thousands of mail ballot applications expired pursuant to 2021 legislation. In Tennessee, a resident was denied the right to vote, despite his rights being restored in the state of his felony conviction.

The Good News: Oklahoma implemented its new online voter registration program, while Maine became the seventh state to establish a permanent mail voter list.

Looking Ahead: In Ohio, early voting is underway for the August 8 special election.

Here are the details:                                                                                 

Court upholds Florida provisions restricting voter registration; voters booted from mail ballot lists. On July 11, a U.S. District Court denied the League of Women Voters’ request to block two provisions of Florida’s 2023 election omnibus S.B. 7050. One challenged provision prohibits third-party registration groups from employing people convicted of election law felonies, while the other requires the groups to give each voter registration applicant a specified receipt. That same day, Florida announced it would appeal a recent order by the same judge that blocked two other provisions of S.B. 7050.

Meanwhile, Florida’s 2021 election omnibus, S.B. 90, saw the state throw out hundreds of thousands of mail ballot applications in December 2022. Those accustomed to voting by mail must now request a mail ballot every year they plan to vote – cutting the previous period covered by such an application in half. Election administrators throughout the state have voiced concern that voters may not realize they need to make a new request to vote by mail until it’s too late, at which point voters may simply choose not to vote, or overwhelm in-person voting sites that didn’t plan for increased volume.

Oklahoma implements online voter registration program. The State Election Board in Oklahoma issued a press release announcing that its new system for online voter registration is live. The system permits a person to register to vote via the portal if a match can be made between the data in the person’s application and an existing Oklahoma driver license or state identification card. Applicants without a current license or identification card would be able to fill out their application via the portal, but would then be required to print and submit the application through other means.

Tennessee Supreme Court denies resident the right to vote until he can prove that he has no outstanding financial obligations in Virginia. The Supreme Court of Tennessee ruled that a voter with a past felony conviction in Virginia, who was later granted clemency by the governor of Virginia restoring his right to vote, is ineligible to vote in Tennessee until he demonstrates to Tennessee officials that he has no outstanding court costs, restitution, or child support obligations in the Virginia state court system. Tennessee is one of six states that explicitly requires payment of financial obligations before a disenfranchised individual’s rights are restored.

Maine establishes permanent mail voter list. Maine is poised to become the seventh state to allow all voters to opt-in to receive a mail ballot for every election. Governor Janet Mills signed S.B. 677, which expands eligibility for the state’s permanent mail voting list to all voters beginning in 2026. Under current law, only voters over 65 years of age or with a disability will be eligible when the list opens in February 2024. The bill also repeals, beginning in 2026, a provision requiring the removal of voters from the permanent list if they do not vote by mail for a single general election.

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