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Today is Monday, November 15.
The Good News: Michigan legislators introduced two more pro-voter bills. H.B. 5537 would require that incarcerated people be informed of their voting rights, including voter registration and absentee voting. S.B. 728 would increase transparency in the redistricting process. Meanwhile, a state court judge in Montana entered an order allowing a lawsuit challenging three recent restrictive voting bills to go forward.
The Bad News: The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee approved H.B. 1482, which moves the authority to conduct audits from election professionals to an office without similar experience running or auditing elections. The same committee also approved H.B. 2044, which bans the use of private funding, apparently including in-kind donations such as polling locations, for election administration.
Looking Ahead: The Pennsylvania House will hold a hearing today on H.B. 1482 and H.B. 2044, along with H.B. 1800, an anti-voter omnibus election bill. North Carolina legislators have indicated that they will release a new budget today. The current budget bill, S.B. 105, contains voting provisions that shift election authority away from the State Board of Elections and Attorney General.
Here are the details:
Pennsylvania House to hear three anti-voter bills today. Three anti-voter bills are scheduled for a hearing on the House floor today. Among other provisions, the omnibus bill, H.B. 1800, would end the permanent mail-in ballot request list and change the deadline for absentee and mail-in ballot applications to fifteen days before the election or primary. Existing law sets the deadline at the first Tuesday before the election or primary. H.B. 1482 would require election audits be conducted by the Office of the Auditor General, an office with no expertise in running or auditing elections. Currently, counties conduct audits by recounting a random sample of ballots with a different method than the original count, either mechanically or using a hand count. This bill would take away the county’s authority to conduct these audits, and is part of a wider trend of shifting election authority, often done for partisan purposes. H.B. 2044 would ban the use of private funding for election administration, apparently including in-kind donations like polling places.
Michigan legislators introduce bills expanding voting access for incarcerated voters and increasing transparency in the redistricting process. Last week, legislators in Michigan introduced two pro-voter bills. H.B. 5537 would require that the department of corrections inform incarcerated citizens of their voting rights, including how to register and how to request an absentee ballot. In total this year, legislators have introduced 44 bills that would expand access for incarcerated voters in 18 states. Of these, six bills in five states – New Hampshire, Louisiana, Colorado, Illinois, and Maryland – have been signed into law. Meanwhile, S.B. 728 would prohibit the independent redistricting commission from meeting in closed session for any purpose.
North Carolina legislators to introduce a new budget bill. North Carolina legislators have indicated that they will release a new budget today. The current budget bill, S.B. 105, contains voting provisions that shift election authority away from the State Board of Elections and Attorney General. It is unclear whether these provisions will remain in the latest version.
Montana judge allows challenge to restrictive voting laws to go forward. A Montana state judge last week denied a motion to dismiss a challenge to three recently-enacted anti-voter bills. H.B. 176 ended Montana’s long-standing policy of same-day registration on Election Day and will now require voters to register by noon the day before the election. S.B. 169 severely restricted the types of ID voters may show at the polls. Montana voters must now show two forms of ID to cast a ballot if they do not have a government issued ID or a state concealed carry permit. Finally, H.B. 530 banned certain types of ballot assistance.
This update is powered by VRL’s State Voting Rights Tracker: tracker.votingrightslab.org