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Today is Monday, October 23. We are tracking 1,924 bills so far this session across all 50 states, with 407 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 911 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.
The Bad News: The Texas secretary of state issued a report concluding that Harris County had an insufficient number of paper ballots, data inconsistencies, and inadequately trained election workers in the 2022 election. However – and notably – the report does not claim that these issues impacted the outcome of any race.
The Good News: Two strong bills advanced in Wisconsin: one designed to protect election workers, and another to help improve trust in mail voting. Native Health – located in Phoenix, Arizona – became the first Indian Health Service facility in the country to be designated a voter registration agency. Following implementation of automatic voter registration, Pennsylvania saw a 54 percent increase in voter registrations compared to the same period two years ago.
Looking Ahead: Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina filed a lawsuit alleging that recently-enacted legislation stripping him of the authority to appoint members of state and county election boards violates the state constitution.
Here are the details:
Election worker protections and ballot tracking move forward in Wisconsin. Legislation (S.B. 291) that would protect election officials by shielding their personally identifiable information – and would also increase the penalty for physically harming election officials – passed out of the Wisconsin Senate last week. Meanwhile, A.B. 38, a bill that would allow mail voters to receive text message notifications when election officials receive their ballot (or ballot application) received a positive, bipartisan vote in committee. S.B. 291 now heads to the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee for further consideration, while A.B. 38 will go before the full Assembly.
Native Health of Phoenix, Arizona becomes the first Indian Health Service facility in the county to be designated a voter registration agency. Following a 2021 executive order by the Biden Administration designed to expand voter registration opportunities under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes designated Native Health as the first Indian Health Service facility to serve as a voter registration agency. The facility will now provide voter registration information, paperwork, and assistance to the eligible voters it serves. Indian Health Service facilities provide health services to nearly 2.6 million Native Americans across the country. Nearly one-third of Native Americans nationwide are not registered to vote.
Pennsylvania sees significant increase in voter registrations after adopting automatic registration at DMV. Commonwealth Secretary Al Schmidt released figures demonstrating a 54 percent increase in voter registrations through the Department of Transportation in the month since Governor Josh Shapiro established automatic voter registration, compared to the same period two years ago. Pennsylvania is one of 25 states to offer automatic voter registration or to have plans for implementation.
North Carolina governor files lawsuit challenging legislative takeover of election boards. Governor Roy Cooper sued members of the state legislature’s leadership, alleging that S.B. 749, a bill shifting the power to appoint members of state and county boards of elections from the governor to the legislature, that was enacted over his veto earlier this month, violates the state’s constitution.
Texas Secretary of State issues preliminary findings in audit of Harris County. Jane Nelson, the Texas secretary of state, issued a report describing her office’s findings after auditing Harris County’s performance running the 2022 election. The audit concluded, among other findings, that the county had an insufficient number of paper ballots, experienced data inconsistencies, and inadequately trained election workers – but did not allege that the outcome of any race was affected. During its regular session this year, the Texas Legislature passed S.B. 1750 and S.B. 1933, both bills to strip local authority over elections from Harris County officials.
This update is powered by VRL’s State Voting Rights Tracker: tracker.votingrightslab.org