The 2020 presidential election was historic for many reasons, among them, the special safety measures that state election administrators had to suddenly implement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its effort to ensure voter safety in the 2020 election process, the Nevada legislature passed a law that would require all counties to mail absentee ballots to registered voters during emergency situations. The law aimed to make it easier for Nevadans to vote without having to physically go to the polls. The law also provided some procedural flexibilities in that it permitted the collection of mail-in ballots by third party collectors.
By: Cullen Enabnit
An ongoing trend following the 2020 election pushed state legislatures to introduce more and more laws aimed at curtailing perceived voter fraud or the potential of it. One of the main ways states have approached this is by enacting different levels of voter identification laws. Currently there are 36 states that have some form of voter ID laws. Seven states currently have what is described as “strict” voter ID laws that require the voter to present one of a limited set of government issued IDs, and being without will prevent them from being able to vote.
By: Adriana Dunn
On August 9, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law an automatic voter registration (AVR) bill, making Massachusetts the fourteenth state to approve of AVR. The law became effective January 1, 2020, over a month before the registration deadline for the 2020 primaries. The new system works with existing state agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and Massachusetts health insurance systems (MassHealth and the Commonwealth Health Connector). A U.S. citizen in Massachusetts will be automatically registered to vote when they apply for or renew: a driver’s license, a learner’s permit, a state ID, MassHealth benefits, or health insurance through the Mass Health Connector. After applying for one of these services, the citizen will be mailed a postcard informing them that they have been registered to vote, unless they should choose to opt-out.
By: Andrew Heiser
Brian Harrington spent thirteen years in prison after being charged with murder at the age of sixteen. During that time, he was able to build skills he hoped to use outside of prison, work on self-improvement, and raise awareness about the shortcomings of the criminal justice system. There was, however, one thing he could not do: vote.
In Illinois, as in almost every state, incarcerated felons lose their right to vote while they are incarcerated (though unlike some states, in Illinois the right to vote is restored immediately upon release). Only two states, Maine and Vermont, and the District of Columbia currently allow all people in prison to vote during their incarceration. Alabama, Alaska, and Mississippi also allow some prisoners to vote if they were not convicted of certain crimes—though which crimes specifically cause those with felony convictions to lose the right to vote can seem arbitrary, and many are not made aware of the distinction.
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.