Advocates for election reform say voter turnout across the New York could be greatly increased by allowing citizens to cast their ballots early and adopting automatic voter registration, as other states have. Without such measures, said Jennifer Wilson, program and policy director for the League of Women Voters of New York State, this state will continue to have one of the lowest voter-participation levels in the nation. “We think early voting would have an immediate impact,” Wilson said Wednesday after the Assembly Election Law Committee advanced legislation that would allow voting in New York up to seven days before an election.
A new law to strengthen Kentucky’s early voting statutes took effect late Tuesday, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Wednesday. Gov. Matt Bevin signed House Bill 319 into law just before the 10-day veto period expired after the General Assembly adjourned. “I am extremely proud to see part of the early voting reforms we have pushed for years finally take effect,” Grimes said. “This new law will give thousands of voters who struggle with age, a disability or illness a path to have their voices heard by voting early via mail or in person.” Prior to the enactment of House Bill 319, voters who could not vote in person on Election Day due to age, disability, or illness could only cast absentee ballots by mail. Those voters may now visit their county clerk’s office to cast ballots in-person during the absentee voting window.
The Iowa Senate gave final approval Thursday to contentious legislation that will require voters to show government-issued identification at the polls and will reduce the time period for early voting. House File 516 passed on a 28-21 vote with Republicans casting all the yes votes. Democrats and one independent all voted no. The bill now heads to Gov. Terry Branstad, who is expected to sign it. The measure had previously passed the Senate, but a second vote was needed on Thursday because of several amendments approved by the House. There was only brief debate Thursday, but Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, strongly objected to one amended provision. The change pushes back the date for allowing 17-year-old Iowans to vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 by the date of the general election. The change will now take effect on Jan. 1, 2019, instead of being available for the 2018 election. “This change goes hand in hand with a voter suppression bill,” Bisignano said.
A new law to strengthen Kentucky’s early voting statutes took effect late Tuesday, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Wednesday. Gov. Matt Bevin signed House Bill 319 into law just before the 10-day veto period expired after the General Assembly adjourned. “I am extremely proud to see part of the early voting reforms we have pushed for years finally take effect,” Grimes said. “This new law will give thousands of voters who struggle with age, a disability or illness a path to have their voices heard by voting early via mail or in person.”
Delawareans would be able to vote early, would be automatically registered to vote at the DMV, and would vote in local primary elections and presidential primary at the same time if a trio of bills passes the General Assembly. The goal of all three proposals is to encourage more people to vote, the sponsors say. Rep. David Bentz, D-Christiana, sponsored a bill that would allow citizens to vote in the 10 days leading up to any general, primary or special election. There would be one early-voting polling place in each county, plus one in Wilmington. “We should try to make it so that our elections fit into the people’s schedules, and not where people should have to fit their schedule into the government’s,” Bentz said.
The bill from Rep. David Bentz (D-Christiana) would require the Department of Elections to allow voters to cast ballots for at least 10 days prior to any election – including local races. At least one polling place would be open for eight hours in all three counties and Wilmington Bentz says access to the ballot should be as open as possible for all eligible citizens. “It just makes it easy as possible for people to get to the polls on their own time that fits their schedule – their busy schedule. The culture is one that’s more on demand,” he said.
The future of a bill that trims down the early voting period is uncertain after its author withdrew it from committee consideration Monday following logistical concerns from the attorney general’s office and county election officials. House Bill 288, authored by state Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, would have shrunk the early voting period from 12 to seven days and pushed it closer to Election Day. Jason Millsaps, Keough’s chief of staff, said the attorney general’s office had concerns with how the bill could impact litigation over the state’s voter ID law. The attorney general’s office was worried prosecutors in federal court could potentially use HB 288 as an example of attempted voter suppression, Millsaps said.
HB 150, the House-passed bill that sought to limit early voting in Idaho counties so that it could occur only from three weeks before an election to one week before, ran into trouble in the Senate State Affairs Committee this morning. Sen. Marv Hagedorn’s motion to pass the bill died for lack of a second. Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, then moved to send the bill to the Senate’s amending order for changes, to expand it to add another week of possible early voting time for counties; Hagedorn seconded the motion. Sen. Todd Lakey spoke against the motion. “This seems to be more about the convenience for the candidate than for the electorate,” he said. “I don’t like curtailing it. I don’t know if the amending order is the right way to handle this. I prefer to see a more consensus bill come forward if there is one.” Hagedorn’s motion then died on a 4-4 tie, with Sens. Hagedorn, Hill, Winder and Lodge supporting it; and Sens. Lakey, Stennett, Buckner-Webb and Siddoway opposing it.
A state proposal to offer early voting during the 20 days before official election dates would cost Cumberland at least an added $20,000, Town Clerk Sandra Giovanelli said this week. Calling it an “unfunded mandate” by state officials, Mayor Bill Murray and a coalition of mayors and administrators are readying opposition to this plan that will require hiring personnel and record-keeping challenges during one of the busiest times in Town Hall. Giovanelli’s $20,000 is based on the current wage paid for election clerks and doesn’t include the cost of renting space or other expenses.
The U.S. Supreme Court should dismiss the appeal of a ruling that struck down a North Carolina voting law based on racial bias, the state’s new Democratic attorney general says. Lawyers for Republican lawmakers still want the appeal considered. Attorney General Josh Stein’s office also rejected accusations made by the GOP’s lawyers that he had a conflict that disqualifies him in the matter. Stein was a state senator opposed to the 2013 law and testified in the trial for the groups and voters who challenged the law. It required photo identification to vote in person, reduced the number of early voting days and eliminated same-day registration during the early-vote period.