A bill that would require clerks of court to report to the State Board of Elections the reasons some people have been excused from jury duty has raised concerns from local officials and some senators who worry people could be improperly excluded from voting. Senate Bill 60, which was debated but not voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and a companion measure represent the latest effort to take people who are ineligible to vote off the state’s voters rolls. To demonstrate the need for the measure, Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, pointed to reports out of Ohio that non-citizens may have voted in recent elections. Her proposal is similar to bills that have been filed in prior sessions.
A lawsuit challenging the state’s 20-day voter registration cutoff deadline is working its way through the courts with a goal of finding a final resolution ahead of next year’s elections. Defenders of the 20-day cutoff say it’s an important tool for the orderly management of the election process in Massachusetts. Critics say ending the voter registration period 20 days before Election Day is arbitrary. They point to the state’s adoption of early voting last year that allowed voters to begin casting ballots on Oct. 24, just five days after the Oct. 19 registration cutoff. “So as a practical matter you had to be able to let people vote five days after the registration cutoff,” said Kirsten Mayer, a lawyer with the firm Ropes & Gray arguing against the existing registration deadline. “So under those circumstances how can you say you need 20 days?”
A bill seeking to limit access to voter registration records was held Wednesday by a House committee after concerns were raised about what information political parties and candidates would be able to see. The sponsor of HB348, Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, agreed to continue working on the bill with members of the House Government Operations Committee. “This is a pretty significant policy change, a pretty dramatic one,” said Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, the committee chairman, adding that he wanted to “see what we can do to fine tune it.”
An elections bill up for consideration in the state House Wednesday has raised the ire of voter advocacy groups, who say it could disproportionately hurt minority Georgians trying to join the state’s voter rolls. House Bill 268, which is scheduled to be considered by the state House, would create a 26-month deadline for voting applicants to correct discrepancies in what they submit to the state when they register. It is being opposed by the same groups who sued Secretary of State Brian Kemp last year, alleging the system disenfranchised minority voters because the requirement blocked tens of thousands of them from voter rolls. That suit was settled two weeks ago.
A federal judge has ordered sanctions against the state of Texas for blowing past deadlines and ignoring a court order to hand over thousands of pages of documents in a lawsuit challenging its voter registration practices. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office’s “months-long delay” in producing the documents “has been disruptive, time consuming, cost consuming” and has burdened plaintiffs in the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio wrote in an order signed Thursday. Garcia ordered the state to pay some of the plaintiffs’ legal fees, including those tied to the sanctions request. The Texas Civil Rights Project last March sued on behalf of four Texans who allege the Department of Public Safety denied them the opportunity to cast a ballot — and violated federal law — by failing to update their voter registration records online.
Potential voters would be able to register up until three days before an election under legislation that cleared its first committee hurdle last week. Senate Bill 224 would change current law, which cuts off voter registration 28 days before an election. “It is long overdue that New Mexico update its antiquated 28-day cut off period for citizens to register to vote. Clearly, we have the technology to safely enable citizens to register much closer to the election,” said Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, the bill’s sponsor. “This bill is a great step forward to make that happen.”
Virginia: Voter registration records have loopholes but no evidence of widespread fraud | Virginian-Pilot
Can someone who isn’t an American citizen illegally register and vote in Virginia’s elections? Yes. Can a felon whose rights haven’t been restored vote undetected in Virginia? Yes. Can someone be registered to vote in Virginia and another state and illegally cast ballots in both places? Yes. State and local election officials acknowledge all those crimes can happen in the Old Dominion because the state’s voter rolls aren’t airtight. Even with those gaps, the same officials and a prominent election expert argue there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud. They reject President Donald Trump’s often-repeated but unverified claim that millions of noncitizens illegally voted against him in November. “If you want to find thousands or even millions of people who committed voter fraud, good luck with that, because there’s no way that’s true,” said David Becker, lead author of a 2012 Pew Center on The States study of the nation’s voter registration systems. Court records back him up where Virginia’s concerned.
Georgia has settled a federal lawsuit that accused Secretary of State Brian Kemp of disenfranchising minority voters because of a requirement on registration forms that critics said blocked thousands of them from voter rolls. The state will no longer reject applications that don’t exactly match identification information in state and federal databases as part of the agreement, which was finalized late Thursday. “Based on the advice of the Attorney General’s office and in order to avoid the expense of further litigation, we agreed to settle this lawsuit,” said Candice Broce, Kemp’s spokeswoman. “The verification system Georgia had in place is important to accurately maintain our voter rolls and prevent illegal votes from being cast in our state’s elections.” The state had previously agreed to suspend the requirement.
Virginia: After complaints about Virginia voter registration, cuts for election software upgrades | Daily Press
Over the course of a five-and-a-half hour hearing in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, Republican legislators lamented problems with the state’s electronic voter registration system. Days later, right at the deadline to register to vote, that system crashed. Funding to upgrade the system was cut Thursday in the Senate by some of the same legislators who keyed in on the issue last fall. State Sen. Jill Vogel co-chaired that October meeting, and she also heads the budget subcommittee that removed nearly $4 million in new funding Gov. Terry McAuliffe had proposed for the Virginia Department of Elections. She said on the Senate floor Thursday that some of that money will likely come back into the budget as the House and Senate negotiate a final spending bill.
There has been plenty of talk in recent weeks, much of it emanating from the White House, about voter fraud. Now, a new study released by the Brennan Center For Justice, entitled “Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda,” confirms in-person voter fraud is a rarity. The paper argues that the integrity of elections can be strengthened without discouraging eligible voters. On January 25th, President Donald Trump Tweeted “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD…” Trump claimed millions voted illegally in the election: “You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in New York and New Jersey, they vote twice.” Without any evidence, the president has also claimed “3-5 million illegal votes” cost him a popular vote victory. This all comes after years of battles in the states over voting laws that some say make it harder for many citizens to participate in elections. Most people expect American elections are secure and free of misconduct, but some are doubtful. “I will say this. Of those votes cast, none of ’em come to me. None of ’em come to me,” moaned Trump.