The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation for Tuesday, September 5

by Liz Avore

September 5, 2023

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Today is Tuesday, September 5. We are tracking 1,891 bills so far this session across all 50 states, with 398 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 900 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: In compliance with a new Texas law enacted earlier this year, the election administrator for Harris County stepped down last week. Ongoing litigation will determine the constitutionality of a new mandate which eliminates the position of election administrator in Harris County only.

The Good News: Updates to a federal policy manual ensure that new citizens will now have access to voter registration services during their naturalization ceremonies. Following several recent departures from ERIC, the Georgia secretary of state announced that the state will remain in the interstate compact because it has helped Georgia keep its voter rolls accurate.

Looking Ahead: The head of the Georgia State Election Board, William Duffey, stepped down. His replacement – and their alignment with Duffey’s work to push back against election denialism – is yet to be determined.

Here are the details:

A new Texas law forces Harris County elections administrator to leave office. In Texas, the elections administrator for Harris County, home to Houston, stepped down on Friday in compliance with S.B. 1750, passed by the legislature this year. That bill eliminated the position of elections administrator in each Texas county with a population of 3.5 million or more – a threshold reached by Harris County alone. The county filed a lawsuit alleging that the bill unconstitutionally singles out Harris County. Because the Texas Supreme Court denied the county’s request to temporarily enjoin its enforcement, the law will remain in effect while the case is pending.

State of Georgia reaffirms its commitment to ERIC. Amid a flurry of states departing the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) – an interstate agreement in which states share voter registration information to ensure the accuracy of their voter rolls – Georgia’s secretary of state announced their state would remain in the program. Data provided by the secretary of state’s office indicates that information from ERIC has resulted in over 400,000 registrations being properly removed or made inactive in the past two years due to voters moving out of state, changing address, or passing away.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services urges voter registration during naturalization ceremonies. In its Friday memo, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, announced it had updated its Policy Manual to include provisions directing agency employees to provide access to voter registration services during naturalization ceremonies. Eligible immigrants officially become U.S. citizens – who have the right to vote – during these ceremonies. The guidelines also direct USCIS to provide newly-ordained citizens with information about who their points-of-contact are for voting and voter registration.

Head of Georgia State Election Board steps down. William Duffey, the head of the State Election Board in Georgia, resigned his post, citing the need for his replacement to be fully up to speed in time for the presidential election next year. Duffey has been an important figure in the fight against election denialism in Georgia, debunking unfounded claims of fraud and declining to have the state take over elections in Fulton County.