IV. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) have introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER ) Act. According to The Hill, the bill lays out specific foreign actions against U.S. elections that would warrant penalties from the federal government. The types of sanctions imposed would be left up to the Administration.
Arizona: The Senate Judiciary Committee has authorized $2.5 million to hold a special election to replace Rep. Trent Franks, that’s $1 million less than what Maricopa County estimates it will cost to conduct the election. The costs are for two elections, a primary election on Feb. 27 and the general election on April 24.
California: San Francisco supervisors are considering proposal that would push back the implementation of Proposition N. Proposition N was approved by the voters and allows legal non-citizens to vote in local elections. Supervisor Sandra Fewer is leading the charge to delay implementation saying the board of supervisors needs more time to make it bulletproof.
Florida: Without debate, the executive committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission voted 4-2 against a measure that would have made the secretary of state position an elected seat instead of an appointed one.
Indiana: By a 45-2 vote, the Senate has approved Senate Bill 155 that allows county elections officials to count the ballot of a voter who casts their vote before Election Day, but dies before the ballot is counted.
Nebraska: Sen. John Murante has introduced three bills relating to voter ID. LB 1066 people would be required to show a photo ID to vote, the bill would also require the secretary of state’s office to provide IDs to people who don’t have any of the acceptable IDs. LB 1065 would permit the use of electronic poll books. LB 1064 would require the secretary of state to check the citizenship status of registered voters and those applying to become registered voters.
New Hampshire: SB 438 would allow the secretary of state’s office to take postpone town elections in cases of emergencies, such as bad weather.
Also in New Hampshire, Rep. Elizabeth Read (D-Newmarket) has introduced House Bill 1540 would bring ranked choice voting to the Granite State.
North Carolina: Senate Bill 704—the Universal Senate Voter Registration Bill—would automatically register people to vote at driver’s license offices, public agencies, community colleges and state universities. It also requires the bi-partisan state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to implement an outreach campaign informing citizens of automatic voter registration.
Ohio: Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D), who is also running for secretary of state, announced plans to introduced two bills designed to safeguard Ohio’s elections. One bill would establish a cybersecurity director within the secretary of state’s office and the other would require counties to conduct audits.
South Dakota: The Senate has approved HB 1004 which ensures the state board of elections has the authority to set the font and size of type and overall size of the petition form for ballot measures.
Texas: The Dallas County commission voted this week to limit the number of mail-in ballot applications a campaign and others may obtain. Campaigns will now only be allowed to pick up 200 applications and individuals can only pick up five. Previously there had been no limits. The commission cited fraud and the costs for providing and endless number of copies as reason for the change.
Virginia: Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th) has introduced legislation that would allow the Arlington County board to mandate instant runoff voting in local races. According to Inside NoVA, The proposal has elicited a wary reaction from the county’s Electoral Board and elections staff. Linda Lindberg, the supervisor of elections in Arlington, brought up concerns related to the cost for new technology, the potential confusion for voters and a likely lag time in reporting election winners.
Also in Virginia, legislation introduced by Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church) seeks to clarify the process for when an election ends in a tie. As law as currently written, a candidate losing a race by lot, may seek another recount. Under the proposed legislation, the drawing of lots would be the end of the process.
So far about 45 bills and a half-dozen constitutional amendments to expand voting rights have been introduced.
Wisconsin: The Assembly has approved Assembly Bill 85 which will allow municipal officials to serve as election officials. Under current law, a member of a municipality’s governing body is prohibited to hold another office or position of employment within the city, village or town with three narrow exceptions. AB 85 would add serving as an election official to the list of exceptions. The bill does not remove the prohibition currently in place that prevents an elected official from serving as an election official where his or her name is on the ballot.