17Feb 2022 by
Voting Rights Legislation Across Country Looks to Both Restrict, Expand Access
Overview of Restrictive Bills
1. Rolling back ‘no excuse voting’
Lawmakers have offered three different proposals that look to eliminate so-called “no-excuse” mail voting
[Lawmakers] introduced legislation that would repeal the state’s permanent early voting list — which allows voters to automatically receive their ballots by mail for every election.
Lawmakers in Missouri are also looking to eliminate concerns about Covid-19 as an excuse for requesting a mail-in ballot.
2. Clamping down on applications and third-party involvement
Other states like New Jersey, Texas and Washington are considering bills that would limit who can send absentee ballot applications, or how widely they can go out.
In the lead-up to the November election, Texas in particular became the center of a fight over ballot mail-in ballots applications when Harris County, which includes the state’s largest city of Houston, was blocked from sending out applications to all voters. . .
A slew of other bills being considered include measures that would restrict assistance to voters, would enhance witness requirements and would limit the options a voter has for returning their absentee ballot.
3. Requiring photo ID
Legislators in nearly a dozen states have introduced bills that would impose a photo ID requirement either for early in-person voting or voting by mail.
New Hampshire . . . introduced a bill that would require voters to include a copy of their photo ID with their absentee ballot application and when returning their completed ballots.
The Granite State is also considering a bill that would prevent the use of student IDs as identification for voting. Mississippi is weighing legislation that would prohibit the use of out of state drivers’ licenses.
4. Voter purges
. . .Lawmakers are also focusing on voter roll maintenance, specifically looking to remove voters from rolls for inactivity.
An Arizona . . . legislator has introduced a bill that would remove voters who fail to vote in a four-year election cycle and fail to respond to a notice. Mississippi is considering a similar measure.
A New Hampshire bill would allow election officials to remove voters from rolls based on data provided by other sates, a practice that has been blocked by federal courts for violating the Nation Voter Registration Act.
5. Limiting Voter Registration Access
Mississippi and New York legislators have both introduced bills requiring voters to produce proof of citizenship in order to register to vote (MS SB 2254; NY SB 1853).
Meanwhile, Texas introduced a bill stripping voter registration authority from county clerks and requiring the secretary of state to send voter registration information to the Department of Public Safety for citizenship verification (TX HB 1026).
Seven bills have been introduced to rollback or limit opportunities for election day registration, with legislators in four states introducing bills to eliminate election day registration entirely.
Alaska legislators have introduced bills to roll back automatic voter registration by eliminating opt-out registration from the state’s permanent fund dividend application system (AK SB 39, AK HB 23).
Overview Of Expansive Bills And Proposals
1. Mail Voting
Twenty-seven bills in eleven states would permit all voters to vote by mail in all elections (eliminating the excuse requirement). This would make permanent the expansive policies that most of these states — except Indiana, Mississippi, and Texas — temporarily adopted in 2020 to facilitate mail voting access during the pandemic.
Twenty bills in 12 states would create or reform the notice and cure process to ensure that voters who make a technical mistake on their mail ballots get a chance to remedy those errors.
Thirteen bills in eight states affirmatively authorize or require local officials to provide mail ballot drop boxes. Drop boxes were the subject of 35 cases litigated in 2020, most of which involved petitioners seeking to authorize or expand the use of drop boxes, while others claimed that state law did not authorize their use.
Nine bills in seven states would extend the mail ballot receipt or postmark deadline.
Nineteen bills in 13 states would allow election officials to start processing mail ballots before election day, which would speed up initial reporting on election results.
2. Early Voting
Reflecting a similar interest in offering voters more flexibility, lawmakers in 14 states have proposed expansions to early voting, which would ease election day burdens on voters and election administrators alike.
Twenty four bills would implement early voting for the first time.
Seven bills would enlarge an existing early voting period.
Eight bills would increase the number of early voting sites.
3. Easing Voter Registration
States are also looking for ways to make it easier for voters to get registered.
Thirteen states have introduced bills to implement same-day registration, which would allow voters to register and cast their ballots on the same day, including election day.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted automatic voter registration in the last six years. Eleven states have introduced bills this year that, if enacted, would enable them to join this group.
Legislators in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas have introduced bills to allow voters to register to vote online.
4. Rights Restoration
Momentum continues in support of restoring voting rights to individuals with past convictions. Last year, California voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to everyone in the community and Iowa’s governor issued an executive order that ended the state’s policy of permanent disenfranchisement for those with felony convictions.
This year, 15 states have introduced policies to restore voting rights or ease current restrictions for people with past convictions. Legislators in Mississippi have introduced 12 such bills to expand or restore voting rights. The Sentencing Project estimates that Mississippi disenfranchises over 214,000 citizens living in the community — more than 54 percent of whom are Black — because of past convictions.
Questions About Voting Rights Legislation Across Country Looks to Both Restrict, Expand Access
1. Based upon your understanding of the American Left and the American Right, what two voting rights bills or proposals do you believed was introduced by legislators on the Right and what two voting rights bills or proposals do you believed were introduced by legislators on the Left?
2. Do you agree and/or disagree with any of the restrictive or expansive voting rights bill or proposal? Please explain.
3. What conclusion(s) does the author of the article want readers to make?
4. Is there any part of the article that you do not understand? If so, please explain.
5. What does it mean to disenfranchise a voter?
6. What type of question is question number two, question number three, question number four, and question number five?