Greetings! As legislative sessions carry on across the country, we’re delighted to be back with you for another week with an insider’s take on what’s hot in election and voting legislation. Please consider forwarding this email to colleagues and friends today so that we can get this valuable information into more hands.
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Today is Monday, February 28.
We are tracking 2,224 bills so far this session, with 535 bills that restrict voter access or election administration and 996 bills that improve voter access or election administration. The rest are neutral or mixed or unclear in their impact.
The Bad News: Arizona’s S.C.R. 1012, proposing a ballot initiative that would eliminate non-photo ID options for in-person voting, passed the Senate. Legislation creating a new Office of Election Crimes and Security (S.B. 524) passed out of committee in Florida.
The Good News: The latest version of Florida’s S.B. 524 eliminated provisions that would have required voters to provide a specific ID number on a mail ballot certificate when returning their mail ballot. Meanwhile, Kentucky introduced legislation that will restore voting rights for people convicted of felonies upon completion of their sentence.
Looking Ahead: A committee hearing on the partisan review of the 2020 presidential election is scheduled in Wisconsin tomorrow. Also, the latest legislative map plan in Ohio heads to the state’s Supreme Court after being approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission last week.
Here are the details:
Florida omnibus passes Appropriations Committee with significant changes. S.B. 524 passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee after the committee removed provisions that would have likely increased mail ballot rejections by requiring that they be verified using both a specific ID number and a signature match – and requiring that ballots be rejected if either one does not match. The version of the bill that passed out of committee would still create an Office of Election Crimes and Security to oversee a voter fraud hotline and otherwise investigate possible election law violations. The bill also increases criminal penalties for voters returning ballots for their neighbors. The House Appropriations Committee heard a nearly identical bill, H.B. 7061, earlier this morning.
Kentucky introduces legislation that would restore voting rights to citizens who have been previously convicted of felonies upon completion of their sentence. S.B. 223 was introduced last week. This bill would propose a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to people convicted of a felony once they have completed their term of imprisonment, probation, or parole. Under current law, those convicted of a felony are permanently disenfranchised unless they have their rights restored by executive pardon. In December 2019, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued a blanket executive order restoring the voting rights of some – but not all – formerly incarcerated people. This bill would make restoration a permanent part of the Kentucky constitution. The next step for this legislation will be the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Voter ID referendum passes the Arizona Senate. Arizona S.C.R. 1012, which passed the Senate last week, would place a referendum on the ballot that, if passed, would eliminate existing non-photo ID options for in-person voting and require specific ID numbers for mail ballot return. The House companion bill (H.C.R. 2025) has passed an initial vote in the House and is ready for a third reading and final passage. In addition, a number of bills passed out the Arizona House last week, including legislation that would prohibit the state from offering automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration, legislation that would give the legislature a role in election processes currently overseen by the secretary of state, and a bill that would give county recorders a role in settling election-related litigation.
Wisconsin Assembly committee hearing on the partisan review of the 2020 election is scheduled tomorrow. A former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice hired by Republicans to conduct a review of the 2020 election is scheduled to testify before the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections tomorrow. He has been asked to provide his final report to the committee.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved the latest legislative map plan. In a 4-3 vote, the latest legislative map plan passed and will now head to the Ohio Supreme Court for a final review. One Republican joined the Commission’s two Democrats in voting “no” on the plan. The new plan favors Republicans to win 54% of state legislative seats and falls below the 60% threshold Republicans must keep to maintain their veto-proof supermajority in the Ohio House. A majority of the Supreme Court, with the Republican Chief Justice joining the Court’s three Democrats, has cited the disproportionate number of Republican-leaning districts when rejecting both sets of maps previously passed by the Commission.
This update is powered by VRL’s State Voting Rights Tracker: tracker.votingrightslab.org
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