In June of this year, a series of three election reform bills passed both houses of the Michigan state legislature. Republicans comprise the majority in each house of the legislature, and all three bills were passed on party-line votes with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed. The first of the three bills, SB 285, would impose new voter I.D. requirements on absentee voters. It would require voters to provide a photocopy of their I.D. (among other forms of acceptable identification) with their mailed application or present I.D. to the officials at the county clerk’s office when applying in person. Any voter who did not do so would be mailed a provisional ballot and be required to prove their identity before their vote could be counted.
By: Jayde Morgan
Following an overwhelming Republican victory as a result of the 2020 presidential and state-wide elections, the Republicans in Ohio began to look closely at the election laws within the state. In August 2021, the Ohio House of Representatives proposed House Bill 387. The bill was introduced by House Republican Representative Bill Dean in response to allegations of voting fraud in the 2020 election. More recently, on September 16, 2021, the bill was referred to the Government Oversight Committee as a part of the process to eventually get the bill passed. If the bill is passed, it would drastically change several aspects of the election process.
By: Anna Miller
In February 2021, the South Carolina House of Representatives began to consider several fundamental changes to the voting process through the general reform bill, H. 3822. As the temporary measures adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have expired, representatives have debated extending and even expanding these measures. Reform proponents argued in support of increasing accessibility to absentee voting, including eliminating the requirement that the absentee voter sign their ballot in the presence of a witness, and then get that witness to also sign the ballot. This bill seeks to codify that change and to further increase ease of access to absentee voting. For example, absentee voters would no longer be required to provide a reason for casting their ballot from outside the state- the bill would completely repeal Section 7-15-320 of the 1976 Code, which provided a list of approved reasons for casting an absentee ballot.
It starts with tents in Houston and turns into a legal melee with forty-eight interested parties in federal court. The November 2020 elections were particularly newsworthy, featuring a contentious presidential race happening many months into an ongoing pandemic. So how do tents and Black’s Law Dictionary come into it?
Harris County, whose county seat is Houston, Texas, responded to public concerns about voting during COVID by expanding “curbside voting” during early voting with drive-through, multi-car tents (as seen here). Curbside voting has long been allowed through Texas Election Code Chapter 64 (Voting Procedures), § 64.009 – Voter Unable to Enter Polling Place. Inability was broadly defined in the Code as “physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring the voter’s health,” the latter provision utilized to justify the drive-through voting. However, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released guidance pushing back on this, stating “[f]ear of COVID-19 does not render a voter physically unable to cast a ballot inside a polling place without assistance,” while still recognizing election officials should not question a voter’s qualifications for being “physically unable” to enter the building.
By Josh Turiel
If you received an address confirmation notice from your local elections official, you may want to pay attention. In early 2019, California reached a settlement with the conservative group, Judicial Watch, concluding a lawsuit that accused the state of failing to fulfill its responsibilities under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The Act requires that states make a reasonable effort to remove inactive voters – those who have moved out of the jurisdiction or passed away – from voter registration lists. Judicial Watch targeted Los Angeles County because they determined its registration rate was 112% of the voting age population – the result of an absence of reasonable effort to clean its voter rolls.