The Fulcrum is debuting a new feature, summarizing the latest legislative activity affecting voting and elections. This weekly update is powered by the Voting Rights Lab. Sign up for VRL’s weekly newsletter here.
The biggest actions took place in Arizona, where the Senate passed a bill that would require documentary proof of citizenship for voter registration, sending it to the governor for signature. Kentucky enacted a law prohibiting private funding for elections. And the U.S. Supreme Court struck another blow against the Voting Rights Act, throwing out state legislative districts in Wisconsin.
Looking ahead: The Georgia Senate Ethic Committee is taking public comment on the elections omnibus. The latest amended adjournment resolution for Georgia provides that the final legislative day is April 4.
Here are the details:
Georgia election officials oppose elections omnibus. A number of election officials have spoken out in opposition of the elections omnibus, identifying the authority it gives to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to initiate election investigations as the most troubling aspect of the bill. Under current law, the secretary of state’s office and State Election Board have jurisdiction over election investigations. H.B. 1464 would also allow for public ballot inspections, limit private donations for election administration, establish restrictive chain of custody requirements for ballots (voted and unvoted), and reduce the minimum number of voting booths that counties must offer on Election Day. The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Ethics Committee on Monday.
Arizona voter registration bill advances through the Senate. H.B. 2492, a bill that would require documentary proof of citizenship for voter registration, passed the Senate and is headed to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk. Meanwhile, H.B. 2289 passed the Senate Government Committee. Among its provisions, this highly restrictive piece of legislation would eliminate in-person early voting and no-excuse mail voting and would prohibit the use of electronic tabulators, requiring election officials to count all ballots by hand. Last week was the final week for committees to meet except the appropriations and rules committees. Members may offer additional strikers – proposals to delete all of the bill text and substitute with new language – on bills that will be heard in appropriations committees this week.
Missouri House committee hears bill requiring hand tabulation and video surveillance. The Missouri House Elections and Elected Officials Committee heard H.B. 2633, a bill requiring all ballots to be counted by hand with video surveillance. This bill would prohibit the use of electronic voting systems, including electronic tabulators, and would require paper ballots and hand tabulation in all races beginning in January 2023. All testimony provided was opposed to the bill. The committee did not vote on the bill following the hearing. Prohibiting electronic tabulators is a trend VRL has seen emerge this year, with 12 bills introduced in six states in January and February.
Connecticut pandemic excuse passes the General Assembly. Legislation that would expand existing excuses to vote absentee has passed both chambers of the legislature and will head to the governor for signature. This legislation would allow voters who are concerned about their health or the health of their family members, caretakers, and those who will be absent from their municipality to vote at any point during voting hours.
Wisconsin legislative districts in doubt. The U.S. Supreme Court threw out state legislative districts in Wisconsin, arguing that a Republican justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court had created a “racial gerrymander” in approving maps that added another state assembly district with a majority of Black voters. The Wisconsin Supreme Court must now revisit the maps, likely before April 15.
Kentucky bill prohibiting private funding for elections, including most in-kind donations, becomes law without governor’s signature. Kentucky’s H.B. 301 became law without Gov. Andy Beshear’s signature last week. Bills restricting or prohibiting states from accepting private grants to help fund elections became a legislative trend last year, with 11 states passing this type of legislation. The trend is continuing this year, with five states passing similar legislation so far in 2022. The new Kentucky law is one of the more extreme versions of this bill in that it prohibits nearly all monetary or in-kind donations.