A bipartisan group Kansas senators endorsed a bill abandoning a state law requiring people to register at least three weeks in advance of an election to be eligible to vote. Contents of Senate Bill 43 would allow Kansans residents to register to vote and cast a provisional ballot on Election Day. Under current law, voters must be registered by the 21st day before the election. For example, the 2018 deadline for voter registration was July 17 for the primary conducted Aug. 7. In the Nov. 6 general election, the registration deadline was Oct. 16.Full Article: Senate bill allows same-day registration, voting in Kansas elections - News - McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS - McPherson, KS.
The Delaware House of Representatives on Thursday approved two bills that would expand voting rights by allowing early voting and same-day registration. Both bills passed solely on Democratic support. They now go to the Senate. House Bill 400, which passed 22-18 with one absent, would allow an individual to register to vote on Election Day at a polling place. A person would be required to provide identification or another document displaying his or her name and address, such as a utility bill, paycheck, bank statement or government document. Approved by a 25-15 margin, with one member absent, House Bill 90 would let Delawareans cast ballots in elections for state, county and Wilmington offices “at least” 10 days before the actual date.Full Article: Same-day registration and early voting pass Delaware House - Delaware State News | Delaware State News.
Utah: Legislature enacts widespread election law changes, including Election-Day registration | The Salt Lake Tribune
The Legislature approved sweeping changes to Utah’s elections and voter registration laws that supporters say will ensure that people like Gerardo Navarro’s vote counts in November. Navarro was at state offices in Draper recently, renewing his driver license, but didn’t notice a box that asked him if he’d like to update his voter registration. Navarro’s not alone. One in three eligible voters didn’t check the box to update his or her registration in 2016, according to county clerks who spoke in favor of registering voters automatically when they interact with the Driver License Division. “A lot of people think that because they got their driver license they were registered,” said Weber County Clerk Auditor Ricky Hatch. “A lot of voters would come in, like in 2016, and say I’m registered,” try to vote, and find out they weren’t. Not only will they be more likely to be registered under HB218, which passed on Wednesday, those who were eligible and tried to vote on Election Day but weren’t registered will be able to do so in the next election.Full Article: Do you want to register to vote? Utah enacts widespread election law changes, including Election-Day registration. Here are all the changes - The Salt Lake Tribune.
Good-government groups want lawmakers to act fast to allow people to register to vote on Election Day this fall, pointing to a recent court ruling that deemed unconstitutional the state’s 20-day deadline to register before an election. Several bills before the Legislature would allow same-day registration. The effort got a major boost last week when Secretary of State Bill Galvin also filed a bill to allow it. Galvin, the state’s top election official, called on lawmakers to approve the proposal before a deadline Feb. 7 to move bills out of committee. Ironically, Galvin’s office is simultaneously embroiled in a legal battle with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts over the 20-day voter registration cutoff.Full Article: Galvin, voter groups press for same-day registration | Regional News | newburyportnews.com.
Massachusetts voters could both register to vote and cast a ballot on election day, under legislation proposed by the secretary of state. “Allowing voters to register on Election Day is the next step in our successful effort to expand access to the ballot,” Secretary of State William Galvin said in a statement Thursday. Galvin’s bill — which joins similar measures at the Legislature — would allow so-called same-day registration to start in 2019, before the 2020 presidential election. “Over the past few years, my office has worked to bring online voter registration, pre-registration, and early voting to Massachusetts,” Galvin added. “This is yet another way to make it easier to cast a ballot for any eligible citizen who wants to vote.”Full Article: Secretary Of State Galvin Calls For Same-Day Registration | WBUR News.
Here’s the dilemma. Reform begins at the ballot box. But what if access to the ballot itself needs reform? Such is the case in Pennsylvania. If, for example, you’re an independent or third-party voter – and there are more than 1.1 million of you – you can’t vote for candidates in primary elections. … We’re a “closed primary state” – one of only nine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This is wrong on its face. It helps protect the political status quo. It disenfranchises citizens, even while using their tax dollars to pay for elections in which those citizens can’t participate. And it’ll get worse as more (especially younger) voters step away from the two major parties. In Philadelphia, for example, independents and third-party voters now total 117,800 – outnumbering registered Republicans.Full Article: For a better Pennsylvania: Part 4 - voting reforms.
Voting on Election Day usually entails some pre-planning, with registration required several days, if not weeks, ahead of time in most places. But now, following a court decision last week, Massachusetts is under pressure to join more than a dozen other states — including Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont — in allowing residents to register or reregister on Election day, and vote moments later. While the state’s top election official is raising concerns about costs, research shows that allowing same-day, or election-day, registration can bolster democracy by motivating voters to go to the polls. “While most other election reforms show pretty mixed effects, Election Day registration . . . has produced a wide consensus that in pretty much every study you find positive and increased voter turnout,” said Professor Barry C. Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.Full Article: States with Election Day registration see bonus for democracy - The Boston Globe.
National: Lessons from 2016: Try same-day voter registration, rethink Electoral College, report says | Philadelphia Inquirer
States with the highest voter turnout in 2016 offered same-day registration or were targeted battlegrounds in the tight presidential election, according to an analysis released Thursday by Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project. The six highest-ranking states have rules that allow eligible voters to register at the polls or update their information there before casting a ballot. In order, they were: Minnesota (74.8 percent), Maine (72.8 percent), New Hampshire (72.5 percent), Colorado (72.1 percent), Wisconsin (70.5 percent), and Iowa (69 percent). All but Minnesota, the leader for the second presidential election in a row, also were targeted by the presidential candidates. This was the first report on 2016 turnout to be based on certified election returns.Full Article: Lessons from 2016: Try same-day voter registration, rethink Electoral College, report says.
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.Full Article: Attorney general: North Carolina voting law should end.
A proposal to allow people to register to vote closer to Election Day was narrowly rejected by a House committee Thursday.
Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Española, crossed party lines to join with Republicans to table the bill – a procedure that blocks it from moving forward. The proposal, Senate Bill 224, would have allowed people to register at early-voting sites, which operate until the weekend before Election Day. As the law stands now, the registration period ends 28 days before the election.
A controversial proposal to use provisional ballots to stanch voter fraud is winding its way through the state Senate. The bill would introduce — for the first time in state history — provisional ballots to Minnesota elections. Provisional votes would be cast, then set aside until a challenged voter’s eligibility is reviewed by election authorities and either affirmed or denied. Officials would have seven days to make that decision. The provision was initially introduced as part of a stand-alone bill, Senate File 1225, authored by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake. It has since been rolled into Kiffmeyer’s much larger election omnibus bill, Senate File 514. Yet it consistently takes center stage in committee deliberations.Full Article: Senators debate provisional ballots – Minnesota Lawyer.
A bill that would have required all counties to provide same-day Election Day registration stalled in a House committee Thursday. HB285 would have enacted a five-year pilot program to expand on a test program that eight counties participated in over the past three years, but a majority of the House Government Operations Committee voted against giving the bill a favorable recommendation to the full House floor. “My concern is local control,” Rep. Norman Thurston, R-Provo, said, arguing individual county clerks should be able to opt into the program, not be required by the state. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, said data collected over the past three years shows same-day Election Day registration does not cause problems with voting and helps more voters cast a ballot, even if they forgot to register ahead of time.Full Article: Statewide Election Day registration bill halted in House committee | Deseret News.
New Hampshire: Same-Day Voter Registration Likely Here To Stay, For Now | New Hampshire Public Radio
While Representative Norman Silber, a first-term Republican from Gilford, initially hoped to get rid of same-day voter registration, he now says it seems like more trouble than it’s worth at this time. “I think there’s too many problems associated with that at this time,” Silber told the House Election Law Committee Wednesday, explaining his plans to revise and resubmit the bill that would’ve included the repeal. Speaking after the committee hearing, Silber said he decided to change plans after hearing concerns that getting rid of same-day voter registration could require the state to comply with other federal voting mandates.Full Article: N.H.'s Same-Day Voter Registration Likely Here To Stay, For Now | New Hampshire Public Radio.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman unveiled an extensive voting reform package Wednesday that aims to streamline New York’s voter registration system, boost voter participation and increase voter turnout. Standing with elected officials, good government groups, union members, and voting reform advocates outside Federal Hall in Manhattan, Schneiderman released the legislation, called the New York Votes Act. The bill contains provisions to update the state’s voting systems by adding early voting, automatic and same-day voter registration, consolidated primaries, shortened party registration deadlines, increased language access at the polls, online absentee ballots, and more. “Any law that makes it easier to vote is a good law; any law that makes it harder to vote is a bad law,” said Schneiderman, in a statement Wednesday. “New York has long been a bastion of democracy, but our state’s current system of registration and voting is an affront to that legacy.” New York State has seen abysmal voter turnout for years. In 2014, the state ranked 49th of 50 in the country, with just 29 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots in the general election. While other states have tweaked their voting laws to encourage participation, voter turnout in New York has only grown worse, with just 19.7 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots in the 2016 presidential primaries.Full Article: Attorney General Unveils Sweeping Voting Reform Package.
Starting Jan. 1, 16 and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote before they begin casting ballots at age 18. It’s just one of several changes to voter laws in the new year that aim to encourage citizen engagement and make voting more efficient. The first of the year also will see another law take effect that allows voters to head to their county’s election office on Election Day to register and vote. Currently, voters need to register about two weeks before the primary and general elections. “This creates a fail-safe for people who missed the 15 day deadline and still want to vote,” said Kim Alexander, the California Voter Foundation’s founder and president. Lawmakers passed the new same-day registration law in 2012, but it was placed on hold until the state certified the California voter registration database known as VoteCal. VoteCal was certified in the fall, so same-day registration — already in place in other states to boost voter participation — can now go forward.Full Article: Audio: More changes ahead for California voters in 2017 | 89.3 KPCC.
A federal judge Tuesday blocked Election Day voter registration at polling places in Illinois, declaring a state law allowing the practice unconstitutional because it created one set of rules for cities and another for rural areas. Voters will still be able to register Nov. 8 and cast a ballot for president but only at a limited number of sites, including the county clerk’s office, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. The ruling, handed down on National Voter Registration Day, is the latest front in a broader battle between Democrats led by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Republicans led by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Democrats pushed through the same-day registration law in the lame-duck session that followed the November 2014 election, weeks before Rauner took over from then-Democratic-Gov. Pat Quinn. It was billed as a way to get more people involved in the democratic process after a trial program resulted in long lines, particularly in Chicago, where it was used at five sites by nearly 2,900 people, some who waited hours to vote.Full Article: Judge blocks Election Day registration at Illinois polling places - Chicago Tribune.
California: New voter database clears path for 16-year-old pre-registration, other laws | The Sacramento Bee
After years of technology glitches and vendor problems, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla made it official Monday: the state’s new voter registration database is finally complete. Padilla’s certification of VoteCal as the system of record for voter registration in California clears the way for the state to begin pre-registering 16- and 17-year-olds via paper registration forms. Starting in January, people will be able to register to vote on Election Day. Also, Monday’s announcement checks off a requirement of 2015 legislation to offer automatic registration of voters at the DMV when they apply for a new license or file a change of address . That system is scheduled to working by July 2017.Full Article: New voter database clears path for 16-year-old pre-registration, other laws | The Sacramento Bee.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to restore a period of early voting in Ohio during which people could register and vote on the same day. The court’s brief order came in response to an emergency application from Democratic groups. There were no noted dissents. The case, Ohio Democratic Party v. Husted, No. 16A223, has its roots in the 2004 general election, when Ohio voters faced exceptionally long lines, leaving them, in the words of one court, “effectively disenfranchised.” In response, the state adopted a measure allowing in-person early voting in the 35 days before Election Day. As registration in the state closes 30 days before Election Day, the measure introduced a brief period, known as the Golden Week, in which voters could register and vote at the same time.Full Article: Supreme Court Won’t Restore ‘Golden Week’ Voting in Ohio - The New York Times.
The looming election and the Supreme Court will converge in the coming months as voting rights challenges on issues such as Voter ID, early vote cutbacks and same-day registration make their way to the high court. Challenges during an election year are always fraught, but this cycle things could grow even more complicated because the court only has eight members to review the cases, and there’s a good chance that it could split 4-4. In the recent past, the Supreme Court has signaled that it does not like courts to disrupt rules and regulations too close to an election out of the fear that it could cause confusion to voters. As such, there might be a sentiment on the court — when it rules on one of the emergency motions it is certain to get — to vote to preserve the status quo until after the election and then agree to take up one or two cases and settle the big issues concerning the meaning of the Voting Rights Act and how the Constitution applies to current laws regulating the voting process.Full Article: Voting challenges head toward the Supreme Court: 4 cases to watch Voting challenges head toward the Supreme Court: 4 cases to watch - CNNPolitics.com.
Far-reaching voting changes in North Carolina approved by Republicans three years ago and upheld by a federal judge now head to an appeals court that previously sided with those challenging the law on racial grounds. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled oral arguments Tuesday, just two months after a lower court ruled photo identification requirements to vote in person, early-voting restrictions and other changes violated neither the federal Voting Rights Act nor the Constitution. The appeals court’s decision to accelerate review of the case reinforces the stakes involved with the outcome in an election year, particularly in North Carolina. The presidential battleground state also has big races for governor and U.S. Senate on the fall ballot. “The legislative actions at issue must be analyzed in the context of the high levels of racially polarized voting in North Carolina, where many elections are sensitive to even slight shifts in voting,” lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department wrote in a brief heading into the arguments before three judges in Richmond, Virginia.Full Article: N.C. photo ID, voting law heading to an appeals court - Greensboro News & Record: News.