The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, December 18

by Liz Avore

December 18, 2023

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Today is Monday, December 18. We are tracking 1,982 bills so far this year across all 50 states, with 416 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 944 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact. We are also tracking 61 prefiled bills across 9 states that will be considered in 2024.

This is the final Markup of 2023! We’ll return to our weekly cadence on January 8, 2024, covering this important election-year legislative session and other election law developments around the country.

The Bad News: A new court decision requires Pennsylvania election officials to reject timely ballots cast by registered voters if they are undated or misdated. States that left the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) are struggling to keep their voter rolls up to date.

The Good News: Following implementation of automatic registration, voter registration applications through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation have increased.

Looking Ahead: A Wisconsin Senate committee will consider election bills tomorrow, including one that would make it harder to vote by mail.

Here are the details:

Wisconsin Senate committee set to hold hearing on a bill that would threaten election officials and make it more difficult to vote by mail. The Wisconsin Senate’s Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections, and Consumer Protection will consider several election bills at a hearing tomorrow. These include S.B. 631, a bill that would create new felony offenses for election officials, establish new grounds for rejecting a mail ballot, and restrict assistance for voters living in a nursing home or other care facility.

Pennsylvania voter registration applications at the DMV surge 65 percent since automatic registration began, while a new court decision makes it more likely that mail ballots cast by registered voters will be rejected. The number of voter registration applications processed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has increased over 65%, compared to the same period in 2021, since Governor Josh Shapiro announced in September implementation of automatic voter registration at DMV locations. All qualified residents getting a new or renewed driver’s license or ID card at PennDOT locations are now automatically registered to vote unless they opt out. In a negative development for mail voters, a new court decision requires that election officials reject otherwise valid and timely mail ballots if they are incorrectly dated or missing a date. This is due to an order from a federal appeals court staying last month’s decision by a district court judge. Litigation is ongoing.

States that left ERIC are struggling with voter list maintenance. The group American Oversight released a report on the campaign to dismantle the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), an interstate voter list maintenance agreement that helps states keep their voter registration lists accurate. Nine states departed ERIC over the last year amid baseless accusations about the organization and its leadership. The report revealed that senior election officials in many of the former member states expressed reluctance followed by regret regarding their exits. The report additionally demonstrates how many of the departing states are having difficulty replicating the data needed to manage their voter lists and how piecemeal approaches they have had to pursue often have significant monetary costs.

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