The Markup: Weekly Election Legislation Update for Monday, May 6, 2024

by Chris Diaz

May 6, 2024

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Today is Monday, May 6. We are tracking 1,734 bills so far this session across 44 states and D.C., with 303 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 868 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News: Over a quarter of registered voters in Wyoming had their registrations canceled for not voting in the 2022 general election.

The Good News: The Hawaii legislature passed a bill to join ERIC. The Pennsylvania House passed a bill that would protect voters from having mail ballots rejected due to technicalities and allow officials to start verifying mail ballots earlier. The Colorado legislature advanced bills expanding drop box availability on college campuses and providing in-person voting opportunities in county jails. An Alaska Senate committee passed a bill that would establish same-day registration, eliminate a witness signature requirement for mail ballots, and more.

Looking Ahead:

Legislatures in Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, and Vermont are expected to adjourn for the year this week. Today, a Minnesota conference committee is considering a state Voting Rights Act to protect against discrimination in elections; the Colorado House is voting on a Senate-passed bill to ensure ballot drop boxes are available on college campuses and lower the pre-registration age; and the New York Senate is considering House-passed bills that would reform local election administration, increase poll worker pay, and allow poll workers to serve partial days rather than full 16.5 hour shifts. Thursday, the New Hampshire House will vote on S.B. 537, a bill that would allow officials to begin processing mail ballots prior to Election Day.

Here are the details:

Hawaii legislature sends a bill to join ERIC to the governor’s desk.

The Hawaii House and Senate came to an agreement on S.B. 2240, a bill that, if signed, will require the state to apply to join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) – an interstate organization that helps states maintain accurate voter rolls – by July 2025. Hawaii would join 24 states and D.C. in ERIC and would be one of the first states to join the organization amid the departure of nine states over the last two years. The bill now goes to Governor Josh Green to consider.

Wyoming purges 28% of registered voters.

Secretary of State Chuck Gray released data showing that the total number of registered voters in the state decreased by approximately 28% compared to 2022. Wyoming is one of only four states where not voting in a single general election can trigger a process resulting in the cancellation of a voter’s registration, and is the only one of those states where registrations are canceled automatically without a mailer being sent to the voter. Wyoming is exempt from federal protections against voter purges established by the National Voter Registration Act because it offered (and continues to offer) same-day voter registration when the law was enacted in 1993.

Pennsylvania House passes bill to protect mail voters from having ballots rejected for technicalities and to allow for earlier processing of mail ballots.

The Pennsylvania House passed a bill that would end the practice of rejecting mail ballots for missing secondary envelopes or having an issue with the date printed by the voter. The bill would also allow election officials to begin verifying and opening the outer envelopes of mail ballots seven days before Election Day. Currently, processing cannot start before 7 a.m. on Election Day. This legislation has long been a priority of local election officials and gained momentum following the 2020 presidential election, when processing mail ballots took several days after Election Day. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Colorado legislature advances bills expanding ballot drop box availability on college campuses and improving access for eligible incarcerated voters.

The Colorado Senate passed a bill that would ensure every college with at least 1,000 enrolled students has a mail ballot drop box on campus. Colorado is one of seven states with universal mail voting for all statewide elections. The bill now goes to the House for consideration. Also last week, two House committees passed S.B. 72, a bill that would provide at least one day of in-person early voting at each county jail. This bill will now be considered by the full House.

Alaska Senate committee advances elections omnibus bill to establish same-day registration, create a process for correcting problems with mail ballot envelopes, and more.

In Alaska, the Senate Committee on State Affairs advanced H.B. 129, a bill that would establish same-day registration on Election Day and during early voting; eliminate the requirement that mail voters have a witness sign their mail ballot envelopes; establish a process for voters to correct minor errors on mail ballot envelopes; and more. Alaska is currently one of only 18 states that has no uniform process for voters to correct – or “cure” – errors on ballot envelopes. The bill would also accelerate the timeline for a voter to be placed on the inactive list – the first step in a process that could lead to cancellation of their registration – to being triggered after two years without voting, rather than four under existing law. Only six states initiate a removal process after a voter doesn’t vote in either a two year period or a single general election. The bill heads to the Senate Finance Committee next for consideration.

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