The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, April 22, 2024

by Voting Rights Lab

April 22, 2024

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Today is Monday, April 22. We are tracking 1,722 bills so far this session across 44 states and D.C., with 303 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 861 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: The Kentucky legislature overrode the governor’s veto to enact a law that will require the state to leave ERIC.

The Good News: The governor of Nebraska allowed a bill to become law that restores voting rights to citizens with past felony convictions upon completion of their sentence. The Kentucky legislature sent a bill to the governor’s desk that, if signed, will expand access to in-person voting prior to Election Day and voting for eligible citizens who are in jail. The governor of Wyoming rejected a proposal that would have required citizens to produce documentary proof of residency in the state in order to register to vote. The Colorado Senate passed a bill that would guarantee eligible citizens are able to vote while in jail. The U.S. Supreme Court turned away a challenge to Washington‘s state Voting Rights Act.

Looking Ahead:

Today, the Hawaii legislature will consider a bill that would have the state join ERIC in a conference committee. Tomorrow, the New Hampshire Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee will hear H.B. 1569, a bill that would impose a strict photo ID requirement without exceptions and require citizens registering to vote – including at the polls on Election Day – to produce documentation proving their citizenship. Also this week, the Mississippi legislature is expected to consider possible amendments to H.B. 1406, a bill that would establish a process for voters to correct minor errors on mail ballot envelopes and improve the process for casting mail ballots in person at election offices.

Here are the details:

Nebraska restores voting rights for citizens who have completed their sentence for a past felony conviction, eliminating a waiting period.

Governor Jim Pillen of Nebraska allowed L.B. 20 to become law without his signature. This bill eliminates the current two-year waiting period for restoration of voting rights following completion of a sentence for a past felony conviction. In a letter to the legislature explaining his decision not to sign the legislation, Governor Pillen noted “possible constitutional issues” with the bill, which may face a legal challenge from the attorney general and secretary of state.

Kentucky legislature enacts new law requiring ERIC departure over governor’s veto, while a bill expanding voting access goes to the governor’s desk.

The Kentucky legislature voted to override Governor Andy Beshear’s veto and enact H.B. 44. This new law prevents the state from participating in any interstate agreement, such as the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), of which Kentucky is currently a member, that requires efforts to register eligible voters. The law also adds excusal from jury service due to not being a U.S. citizen as grounds for removal from the voter rolls, requires the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to provide a copy of the “lifetime Kentucky death records” to the State Board of Elections annually, and bans the use of ranked-choice voting in state and local elections. Governor Beshear called the bill unnecessary in his veto message. Also last week, the legislature sent the governor H.B. 580, a bill that, if signed, will expand access to pre-Election Day in-person voting and help guarantee voting access for eligible citizens who are in jail.

Colorado Senate passes bill to improve voting access for eligible incarcerated voters.

The Colorado Senate passed a bill that would guarantee eligible voters detained in county correctional facilities are able to vote by providing at least one day of in-person early voting at each county jail. Current law directs corrections officials to “make efforts” to facilitate voting but does not include specific requirements. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

Wyoming governor rejects strict voter registration rules proposed by secretary of state.

Governor Mark Gordon of Wyoming rejected a rule proposed by Secretary of State Chuck Gray that would have required voter registration applicants to provide documentary proof of Wyoming residency. Governor Gordon’s letter to Secretary Gray noted that the proposed rule exceeded the secretary’s authority, while emphasizing that “Wyoming’s elections are safe and secure” and that the state “does not have … a significant problem with fraudulent voter registrations.”

Alabama House advances bill aimed at protecting election officials.

The Alabama House passed a bill that would increase criminal penalties for crimes against election workers. H.B. 100 would increase mandatory minimums for crimes motivated by the victim’s role as an election official. The bill would also expressly make any felony committed against an election official a conviction for which a person permanently loses their right to vote upon conviction. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The U.S. Supreme Court turns away a legal challenge to Washington’s state-level Voting Rights Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a case arguing that state Voting Rights Acts – laws designed to protect against race-based discrimination in voting laws – violate the U.S. Constitution. The specific challenge sought to overturn a settlement between a county and a group of Latino voters who argued their votes were being diluted under a process prescribed by Washington’s Voting Rights Act. Five states have enacted voting rights acts since 2021, and last week in Minnesota, a bill containing the Minnesota Voting Rights Act passed its second chamber. That bill now returns to the House to concur with Senate amendments before it heads to the governor’s desk.

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