The Markup: Election Legislation Update for Monday, June 17 2024

by Chris Diaz

June 17, 2024

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As a reminder: The Markup is now following a summer schedule! As legislative sessions wrap up, we’ll be publishing on the first and third Mondays of each month before resuming weekly updates after Labor Day in the runup to Election Day.

Today is Monday, June 17. We are tracking 1,774 bills so far this session across 44 states and D.C., with 308 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 885 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral, mixed, or unclear in their impact.

The Bad News:

A new Louisiana law will require all new voter registrants to provide proof of U.S. citizenship – a requirement that likely violates federal law. In Delaware, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have restored in-person early voting and no-excuse mail voting fell just short of passage.

The Good News:

Under a new Colorado law, more college students will have access to mail ballot drop boxes on college campuses and citizens who move to the state in the weeks before Election Day will be eligible to vote for president. The New York legislature advanced bills that would allow ballot envelope errors to be corrected after Election Day; allow localities to establish mail ballot drop boxes; improve access for voters with disabilities and medical emergencies; and ensure registration opportunities in high schools. Fulton County, Georgia adopted new rules meant to protect voters from frivolous mass challenges to their eligibility. County clerks in Wyoming pushed back against misinformation about drop boxes from the secretary of state and will continue to offer drop boxes as a means of securely returning mail ballots.

Looking Ahead:

Tomorrow, the California Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee will hear A.B. 2050 (allows the state to join ERIC) and A.B. 544 (establishes a pilot program for in-person voting in county jails). On Wednesday, the California Senate Local Government Committee will hear S.B. 1174, a bill that would prevent localities from enacting voter ID requirements that conflict with state law. The Senate Education Committee will hear A.B. 2724, a bill that would ensure high school students receive instruction on the pre-registration process no later than 11th grade.

A package of bills known as the Michigan Voting Rights Act is expected to be voted on the Senate floor this week or next after passing out of committee last week. These bills would establish protections for voter access, including preclearance for certain policy changes by local authorities, improved language access, and the creation of an institute to study election data and establish best practices.

Florida is expected to issue new rules establishing a process for citizens with past felony convictions to determine whether their eligibility to vote has been restored, following the start of a rulemaking process last week.

Here are the details:

Louisiana enacts a unique proof of citizenship bill that likely violates federal law.

Governor Jeff Landry signed S.B. 436 into law last week. This bill requires voter registration applicants to provide proof of U.S. citizenship, though it does not specify what types of proof would be accepted. The U.S. Supreme Court held in 2013, while striking down an Arizona law requiring documentary proof of citizenship, that states must accept completed federal voter registration forms – which include an affirmation of U.S. citizenship signed under penalty of perjury – as sufficient for voter registration. The Louisiana Constitution already prohibits noncitizens from registering to vote in the state. Governor Landry signed several other bills, including H.B. 763, which imposes strict new requirements on election officials with respect to federal election directives, guidance, and funding.

Colorado governor signs bill expanding availability of drop boxes on college campuses and ensuring new residents can vote for president.

Governor Jared Polis signed S.B. 210 into law. This new law requires drop boxes on college campuses with at least 1,000 students, half the enrollment required under previous law. Additionally, the law permits voters who moved to Colorado fewer than 22 days before a presidential election to cast a provisional ballot for president, removing what had previously been a 22-day residency requirement for voters. The new Colorado resident provisional ballot will be counted, provided an election official verifies the person is otherwise eligible to vote.

Delaware legislature fails to advance constitutional amendment protecting in-person early voting and mail voting.

The Delaware House fell just short of the two-thirds majority required to advance a Senate-passed constitutional amendment (S.B. 3) enshrining in-person early voting and no-excuse mail voting in the state’s constitution. Legislation establishing in-person early voting was enacted in 2019 before being blocked by a superior court judge earlier this year, leaving Delaware as one of only four states without in-person early voting. Legislation establishing no-excuse mail voting was enacted in 2022 before being blocked by the state’s supreme court later that year. This proposed amendment – if it had been approved by two-thirds of both legislative chambers in successive sessions – would have restored these policies and nullified both court decisions. Delaware is the only state that does not require state constitutional amendments to be approved by voters.

New York governor to consider two bills improving access to mail voting, as the Senate advances multiple bills that would improve voter access overall.

The New York legislature sent Governor Kathy Hochul two bills that, if signed, will expand access to mail voting in the state. The first bill would provide voters with five days after Election Day to cure an error on their mail ballot envelope, while the second bill authorizes local election boards to establish mail ballot drop boxes. The Senate also passed bills to ensure all eligible high school graduates have an opportunity to register to vote; allow voters with disabilities to receive and mark ballots electronically; allow voters with a medical emergency to apply for a special ballot on Election Day; and end the requirement for voters requiring assistance to justify their need under oath. These four bills will now go to the Assembly for consideration.

Fulton County, Georgia establishes processes to protect voters from baseless mass challenges.

In Fulton County, which contains most of Atlanta, the Board of Registration and Elections adopted new rules that require individuals challenging voters’ eligibility to provide additional detail and evidence. Since 2020, baseless mass challenges to voter registrations have become a significant burden on local boards that risk the improper removal of legitimate eligible voters. In 2022, out of nearly 100,000 challenges, 89% were submitted by just six individuals. S.B. 202 – enacted in 2021 – made explicit that individuals can file an unlimited number of challenges, and S.B. 189 – enacted earlier this year – further specified what may or may not form a basis for a successful challenge.

Wyoming secretary of state and county clerks take opposing positions on drop box legality and security.

In Wyoming, Secretary of State Chuck Gray sent a letter to county clerks asserting without evidence that returning mail ballots via drop boxes is not authorized by state law and is not safe or secure. The County Clerks’ Association of Wyoming responded that in the absence of judicial interpretation or legislative clarity, they maintain their position that the use of ballot drop boxes is safe, secure, and authorized by statute. Thirty-eight states and D.C. allow voters to return their mail ballots to drop boxes or similar alternative dropoff sites.

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