Lawmakers or Top Officials in at least Nine States have introduced or pledged to introduce Legislative Packages in 2019 that could dramatically Expand Voting Access for many Americans. More broadly, 15 States have filed or pre-filed at least 131 Bills that would Expand Voting Access. That far surpasses the Six States where Lawmakers have filed or pre-filed at least Nine Bills thus far that would Restrict Voting Access.
Still, it is very early in the Legislative cycle, numerous States have not even begun their Legislative Sessions yet, so the Landscape will continue to evolve.
Broad-Based Voting Rights Packages
New Jersey - A package of expansive Legislation has carried over from last year’s Session. It includes bills that: implement Early Voting, Election Day Registration, and Pre-Registration for 16- and 17-year-olds; extend Registration Deadlines; add State Agencies offering Voter Registration services; and Repeal State Law Stripping Voting Rights from People Convicted of Felonies. Governor Murphy (D) has indicated that he will Prioritize several of these Reforms.
New Mexico - Lawmakers pre-filed Bills for Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) and Same-Day Registration, as well as a Bill that would Repeal a State Law that Strips Voting Rights from People Convicted of Felonies.
New York - House & Senate Pass Major Campaign Finance and expand Voting Rights including: Closing LLC Loophole; Universal Absentee Voting; Early Voting; Consolidating State and Federal Primary Elections; Youth Voter Preregistration Opportunities for 16- and 17-year-olds; Same Day, One Stop Registration and Voting; Registration Portability; and begins to Remedy NY's Premature 25-day Voter Registration Deadline.
Virginia - Governor Ralph Northam (D) announced his support for a Legislative package that includes: No-Excuse Absentee Voting, which under Virginia Law, includes In-Person Absentee Voting Option; and a Repeal of the State’s strict Photo ID Requirement for Voting.
In addition, Lawmakers have introduced or carried over Bills that would establish: AVR; Same-Day Registration, and Early Voting. Other Reforms include proposed Constitutional Amendments to remove Provisions Stripping Voting Rights from People Convicted of Felonies or to Permit the General Assembly to Restore such Rights.
Officials in at least Three States have announced their intentions to push for significant Voting Reforms
Delaware - Governor John Carney (D) has called for a package of Voting Reforms that includes Same-Day Registration and Early Voting.
Minnesota - Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) announced that he will push an Agenda that includes AVR and Voting Rights Restoration for People once they have been Released from Prison.
Pennsylvania - Lawmakers have promised to introduce a variety of Pro-Voter Reforms, including: establishing Early Voting; Pre-Registration for 16- and 17-year-olds; and Bills Improving Access for Disabled and Military Voters.
South Carolina - Lawmakers have introduced Bills establishing: AVR; Early Voting; Same-Day Registration; , and Extending Registration Deadlines.
Texas - Lawmakers have introduced Bills establishing: AVR; Online Voter Registration; Same-Day Registration; and Repealing the State’s Voter ID Requirement, among other Reforms.
But the South Carolina and Texas Bills seem less likely to Pass given the GOP’s Full Control over these States’ Legislatures.
Several of the most significant Voting Law Changes occurred outside State Legislatures, as Voters themselves Passed Ballot Initiatives at the Polls last November that Expanded Access to the Franchise.
Maryland - Voters Amended the State Constitution to Permit the State’s General Assembly to enact Same-Day Registration.
Michigan - Voters adopted a Suite of Voting Reforms, including: AVR; Election Day Registration; and No-Excuse Absentee Voting. With nearly 67% of Voters in Favor.
Nevada - Voters adopted AVR, with nearly 60% of Voters in Favor.
Paperless Voting Machines
Kansas - Enacted a Law that will Phase Out Paperless Direct Recording Electronic Devices (DREs), Voting Machines that do Not provide a Record that can be Reliably Audited after an Election.
States are Enacted Laws relating to Post-Election Audits to confirm the Accuracy of Vote Counts. California, in particular, enacted a Law Authorizing a Pilot Program for Risk-Limiting Audits (RLAs), the Gold Standard for Post-Election Manual Audits.
Lawmakers have introduced Bills that would Cut Back Voting Access
Arkansas - Added Photo ID Requirements for Voting to its State Constitution.
Florida - Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has suggested that “Implementing Legislation” is necessary to carry out Amendment 4, which Restored Voting Rights to many Floridians with past Criminal Convictions, even though the Text of the Amendment makes Plain that it is Self-Executing.
Montana - Limited the Ability of Third Parties to Assist Voters in Casting their Absentee Ballots.
North Carolina - Added Photo ID Requirements for Voting to its State Constitution. Enacted a Law that Contributed to a nearly 20% Reduction in the Number of Early Voting Locations this November. And the State also Cut the last Saturday of Early Voting for Future Elections. GOP Legislators Rushed to fill in the Details of the Voter ID Requirement this year before they Lose their Legislative Super-Majority. Governor Roy Cooper (D) Vetoed the Voter ID Bill Legislators sent him, but the Legislature Overrode the Veto.
New Hampshire - Enacted a Law Burdening Student Voting that is Scheduled to take effect in 2019.
Texas - Allow Elections Officials to Photograph a Voter’s ID if the Official “questions [its] authenticity.” In 2017, Texas was forced to Soften its Voter ID Law in response to Litigation. This New Bill may represent an effort to make its Current Law more Severe through Voter Intimidation. Texas Lawmakers have also introduced a Bill requiring Documentary Proof of Citizenship for In-Person Registration at the State’s Driver’s License Agency. In the coming year, this will be a Federal Requirement, and individual States will not have to pass State Laws.
Wisconsin - As part of a broader push by State Republicans to Entrench themselves in Power, they Enacted a Law Limiting the Early Voting Period and Codifying certain Administrative Practices on Voter IDs), despite a Court Order Halting the State’s 2011 and 2014 attempts to Limit Early Voting.
NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker