The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Tuesday, October 10

by Liz Avore

October 10, 2023

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Today is Tuesday, October 10. We are tracking 1,915 bills so far this session across all 50 states, with 404 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 908 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: Earlier today, the North Carolina legislature overrode Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoes of S.B. 747 (restricting mail voting) and S.B. 749 (legislative takeover of state and county election boards). The legislature also enacted a budget bill that prohibits the state from joining ERIC.

The Good News: The Michigan House passed legislation to expand automatic voter registration in the state.

Looking Ahead: Last week, two new lawsuits were filed, challenging voting restrictions in North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Here are the details:

North Carolina legislature overrides gubernatorial vetoes and blocks the state from joining ERIC. The legislature voted earlier today to override Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoes of two election-related bills. S.B. 747 is an omnibus bill that will result in the rejection of legitimate mail ballots, prohibit ballot drop boxes, and open the door to meritless mass challenges of mail ballots. S.B. 749 restructures state and county election boards, shifting appointment power from the governor to the legislature, and potentially threatening to leave counties with only one early voting site if county boards cannot come to an agreement on polling place locations. Last week, North Carolina’s budget bill became law without the governor’s signature. The bill prohibits the state from joining the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) and provides funding for the implementation of strict voter photo ID law previously blocked by the North Carolina Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing the state’s requirement that individuals live in the state for at least 30 days before registering to vote violates the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.

Michigan legislation to expand automatic voter registration (AVR) advances out of first chamber. The Michigan House passed several bills last week, including H.B. 4983 (adding new AVR agencies and creating automatic pre-registration), H.B. 4984 (clarifying AVR processes when applying for a driver’s license), and H.B. 4985 (clarifying AVR processes when applying for a state ID card). The bills now head to the senate.

Lawsuit filed to challenge Wisconsin witness requirement for mail ballots. A new lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of Wisconsin voters alleges that a state law requiring mail ballot envelopes to be signed by a witness violates the federal Voting Rights Act. Under state law, election officials must reject a mail ballot that is not signed by a witness. Plaintiffs argue that this requirement violates a provision of federal law that prohibits requiring a voter to “prove his qualifications by the voucher of registered voters or members of any other class.” In most states, a mail voter’s identity is verified using basic identifying information, but Wisconsin is one of several states that require mail ballots be witnessed or notarized.

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