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Today is Monday, February 5. We are tracking 1,320 bills so far this session across 41 states, with 230 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 651 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.
The Bad News: The Kentucky Senate passed a bill barring the use of student IDs for voting. The Georgia Senate passed a bill that, if enacted, would remove the secretary of state from the State Election Board and allow the legislature to investigate their office.
The Good News: A bill expanding registration and voting opportunities in California jails passed the state Assembly. The Virginia Senate passed a bill improving the in-person voting experience for voters with disabilities. The North Carolina State Board of Elections issued new rules to ensure ballots cast by voters who register at early voting locations are counted. A federal court in North Dakota rejected a challenge to the state’s policy of counting timely mailed ballots that are received after Election Day.
Looking Ahead: Legislatures convene or resume sessions this week in Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. The Missouri Senate Committee on Local Government and Elections is hearing testimony on S.B. 1199 today, a bill that would restore voting rights to people with past felony convictions upon their release from incarceration. Also today, the Arizona Senate Committee on Elections is hearing a group of elections bills, including S.B. 1286, which would require precinct-based polling places in lieu of vote centers, and S.B. 1240, which would make “cast vote records” public. In Florida, the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee is hearing S.B. 562 today, which would make it a felony to harass or threaten a poll worker, and S.B. 1256, which would improve voter registration processes at DMVs.
Tomorrow, the Georgia Senate Ethics Committee will hear S.B. 367, a bill that would eliminate mail ballot drop boxes in the state, and the New Hampshire House will hear bills including H.B. 1133 (allowing electronic ballot return by overseas military voters), H.B. 1369 (requiring verification of the entire voter list every four years), H.B. 1364 (establishing new criminal offenses meant to protect election officials), and H.B. 1596 (requiring disclosure when AI is used in political ads).
Here are the details:
California bill providing registration and in-person voting opportunities at county jails passes Assembly.
The California Assembly passed a bill that would require on-site voter registration and voting at county jails for all elections starting in November of this year. While certain felony convictions are disenfranchising in California, citizens with misdemeanor convictions and those in pre-trial detention retain the right to vote while incarcerated. Since 2021, eight states and D.C. have passed laws that increase access for incarcerated voters. A.B. 544 now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
Virginia bill expanding voting access for voters with disabilities advances.
The Virginia Senate passed a bill that would allow all voters with disabilities to cast their ballot outside of the polling place. Under existing law, voters who are over 65 or have a physical disability are entitled to vote outside of the polling place. The bill would expand this accommodation to reach all voters with disabilities, including those whose disability is not physical. It would also require all election officers to receive training on providing assistance to such voters. The bill will now go to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
Georgia Senate passes a bill to oust the secretary of state from the State Election Board.
The Georgia Senate passed a bill that would remove the secretary of state as a non-voting member of the State Election Board and grant the Board new authority to investigate the secretary of state and local election officials. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has questioned the bill’s legitimacy under the state constitution, and even the bill’s sponsor admitted it may be in “murky water” constitutionally. The bill will now proceed to the House of Representatives for further debate. The state legislature passed a bill in 2021 that removed the secretary of state as the chair of the State Election Board and increased the legislature’s influence over election administration.
Kentucky Senate passes bill banning use of student IDs as voter identification.
The Kentucky Senate voted to pass S.B. 80, a bill that would eliminate student IDs as an acceptable form of voter ID and remove debit and credit cards as alternative forms of ID for voters with an impediment to obtaining a photo ID. Secretary of State Michael Adams is opposed to the legislation for its potential to alienate student voters but expressed support for H.B. 374, which would only end the use of debit or credit cards as secondary ID. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
North Carolina issues new rules protecting voters who register at early voting sites.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections issued new guidelines establishing safeguards for people who register to vote at an early voting site and have a confirmation mailing returned to election officials as undeliverable. Under the new guidance, officials must attempt to contact the voter by mail, phone, and email, with instructions on how to validate their registration by submitting additional documentation or appearing in person. These changes come in response to a court order blocking the enforcement of provisions of last year’s S.B. 747 that call for election officials to toss out the ballots of same-day registrants if a confirmation mailer is returned as undeliverable.
Court in North Dakota rejects challenge to policy ensuring timely mailed ballots are counted as similar lawsuit is filed in Mississippi.
A federal district court in North Dakota dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state’s policy of counting mail ballots received after Election Day as long as they were postmarked on time. The plaintiffs claimed that counting ballots received after Election Day violates federal law. A similar lawsuit was filed earlier in the week against Mississippi by national and state Republican Party groups. North Dakota and Mississippi are among 18 states and D.C. that count mail ballots with timely postmarks that are received after Election Day.
This update is powered by VRL’s State Voting Rights Tracker: tracker.votingrightslab.org