In the next couple of weeks, we are likely to see action on several bills in state legislatures including photo ID bills in Minnesota, Missouri, and Virginia. In New Hampshire, a bill that would largely prevent or deter out of state students from voting in New Hampshire heads to the Senate. The Ohio Senate is poised to take up a bill to repeal and replace last year’s restrictive voting law. Bills that would make it harder for many to register to vote by placing severe restrictions on community groups that conduct voter registration drives are moving forward in Michigan and South Carolina.
However, there is some good news. In Maine and New Mexico, photo ID bills were turned down, ending any possibly an ID law would pass in either state this year. In Georgia, a bill was introduced that would make registering to vote more convenient by allowing online and same day registration.
The Fair Elections Legal Network provides regular updates on election law and administration that will reduce access to voting. To receive these regular updates, please contact Josh Spaulding at email@example.com.
The Good News
Georgia: A package of bills was introduced in the Georgia Senate that would allow online registration and same day registration to increase access and convenience for voters. The Elections Advisory Council, made up of election officials across the state, alsorecommended allowing online registration.
Maine: A photo ID bill is dead for this year after being tabled by the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. However, the committee did instruct the secretary of state to conduct a thorough examination of Maine’s election system and report back with possible draft legislation in 2013.
New Mexico: Three bills that would have required voters to present a photo ID to vote were blocked in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.
Virginia: The House General Government subcommittee last week tabled a bill (HB 569) that included proof of citizenship to register and photo ID to vote.
Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin – Madison launched a voter awareness campaign that features a website with voter information students need to know to vote as well as a video, featuring Bucky the Badger, which gives step by step instructions on obtaining a student voter ID card and other needed documents to vote.
The Bad News
Iowa: Legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to require voters to provide photo ID to vote. No further action to report to date. The University of Iowa Student Government passed a resolution last week opposing a photo ID requirement.
Kansas: A House committee approved a plan to move up the date requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote for the first time in Kansas from January 1, 2013 to June 15, 2012 despite objections from many that the state does not have enough time to educate voters about the change.
Michigan: The Michigan Senate passed a package of voting bills that will require voters to show a photo ID when registering to vote and place restrictions on groups registering voters. These restrictions include requiring volunteers to be registered with the state, attend a training provided by the Secretary of State, and turn in registration forms within 24 hours the week before the voter registration deadline or face penalties. The legislation now heads over to the Republican-controlled House.
Minnesota: A Senate hearing on a constitutional amendment requiring photo ID to vote had a large turnout and went for several hours. The bill passed the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee and now heads to the State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee.
Several groups have mounted considerable pressure in opposition to the law including the ACLU offering $1,000 for anyone that can show a case of voter fraud over the past decade.
Missouri: The Missouri House passed a bill last week that would require voters to show a photo ID. A similar bill passed last year but was vetoed by Governor Nixon. Six years ago, Missouri also passed an identical bill but it was thrown out by the Missouri Supreme Court. An amendment to the state constitution is scheduled to be on the ballot this fall that would allow the bill to be implemented.
New Hampshire: The House passed legislation last week that would require a person’s voting address be their residence for all other legal purposes, impacting hundreds of laws and statutes that contain the words residency and domicile. For instance, a person would be required to change their drivers’ license and vehicle registration if it did not match the address they registered to vote. The bill will likely prevent out of state college students from voting in New Hampshire unless they change their legal residence from their home state to New Hampshire.
Ohio: Ohio Senate Republicans are introducing a bill to repeal and replace House Bill 194 that passed last year that limits early voting. This is seen as an attempt to bypass a referendum this November that asks voters if they wish to repeal the law. The replacement would likely reintroduce reforms that are just as bad or worse as the law placed last year and take effect before the election this November.
South Carolina: Debate is expected to resume next week on a voter registration bill introduced last month that would require groups holding voter registration drives to register with the state, provide names and addresses of all officers of the group, and all individuals collecting voter registration forms to sign a sworn statement that they will follow the law. Election officials will provide registration forms that has the organizations name on it and those forms must be returned within five days. Failure to return the forms within that time frame will result in fines from $50 to $1000. The bill is expected on the House floor next week and to move over to the Senate.
Virginia: SB 1 passed the Senate on February 6 with a 20-20 vote with the lieutenant governor casting the tie-breaking vote. SB 1 allows an ID card from any 4 year school of higher education in Virginia – including private schools – to serve as voting ID, as well as current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter. Those who cannot provide an ID will no longer be able to sign a sworn statement of identity to vote by regular ballot and will instead have to vote by provisional ballot. A similar measure – HB 9 – passed the House earlier this month.
Wisconsin: Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan ruled against the Milwaukee Chapter of the NAACP’s effort to halt the photo ID law from going into effect. Judge Flanagan denied the injunction citing the group did not demonstrate irreparable harm if the law went into effect. However, the judge will reconsider the NAACP’s motion for a temporary injunction at a hearing on February 24. Another state lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin will be heard by Judge Flanagan on March 9 that contains several insistences of voters being denied required IDs to vote.
The University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire is issuing voter IDs to students that do not have acceptable forms of identification to vote but are charging students $2 to obtain one.
Whether or not technical school IDs are acceptable forms of identification is now in the hands of Gov. Scott Walker. He must approve the official policy written by the Government Accountability Board on IDs issued by technical schools.
Posted By: Erica Evans
Post Date: Friday, February 17, 2012Labels: