Thursday, April 20, 2017

Electionline Weekly Apr-20-2017

Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: Rep. Luke Messer (R-Indiana) has introduced The Election Integrity Act of 2017 (HR 2090) that would require Voters to present a valid, Government-issued Photo ID in order to vote in Federal Elections beginning in 2020. Messer has modeled his Bill after Indiana’s Voter ID, which has withstood a Supreme Court challenge.

Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has signed Bill that makes it easier to keep Citizen Initiatives off the Ballot by tightening the Legal Standard proponents must meet. "This commonsense legislation preserves the integrity of the process by ensuring that those seeking to make lasting changes to our laws comply with current laws, brings parity to the initiative and referendum processes, and introduces a number of voter education functions to ensure those who engage in the initiative process are educated and equipped to comply with state law,".

California: AB 668 will authorize the Voting Modernization Finance Committee to issue and sell Bonds in the amount of $450 million for the purpose of assisting Counties to purchase new Voting Equipment and Technology necessary for Voting Centers, which the Assembly approved in 2016 and are scheduled for Implementation in 2018.

A Bill to move the State’s 2020 Presidential Primary up to March, from June, has cleared its first hurdle by a 5-0 vote in the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments.

Colorado: The House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee has approved HB1281 which would move Colorado to an Approval Voting system.

Hawaii: House Bill 1401, would move the State to a Vote-by-Mail with Vote Centers system has passed its third read and House Conferees and is beginning the “ironing out the wrinkles.”

Iowa: By a 28-21 vote, the Senate has given Final Approval to House File 516, the Election Integrity Act proposed by Secretary of State Paul Pate. The Bill will require Voters to show a Government-issued ID in order to Vote among other Provisions. The Bill now heads to Gov. Terry Branstad’s desk. He is expected to sign it.

Montana: By a 51-49 vote, the House has Approved Senate Bill 352, the Montana Ballot Interference Prevention Act. The Bill would ask Voters if they want to prevent Certain People from knowingly Collecting other Voter's Ballot. The bill will most likely be on the 2018 ballot.

House Speaker Austin Knudsen has used his Parliamentary Power to kill a Measure that would have allowed County Elections officials to conduct the upcoming May 25th special Election by Mail. Knudsen has refused to schedule a floor vote on House Bill 83, which Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock sent back to the House on April 7th, with Amendments giving Counties the option to conduct an all-Mail Ballot. Without a Floor vote, the Bill is dead, unless at least 60 House Members vote to overrule Knudsen’s Decision, which is unlikely. In a statement, Bullock said Knudsen is “playing procedural games to prevent this (bill) from reaching the House floor.”

New Hampshire: Members of the House Election Law Committee heard several hours of Testimony on Senate Bill 3 this week. Under the proposed Legislation, there would be new 30-day Residency requirements for voters. Town Councilors in Durham have passed a Resolution opposing Senate Bill 3.

North Dakota: By a 35-10 vote, the Senate has approved House Bill 1369 which Clarifies which Forms of ID are acceptable to cast a Ballot in the State including a Driver’s License or Non-Driver’s ID. It also includes several options for those living in “special circumstances,” such as in a Long-Term Care Facility.

Pennsylvania: House Bill 171 would permit a Registered Voter of the Commonwealth to be Appointed as a Poll Watcher in any Election District in Pennsylvania. Currently Poll Watchers can only serve in the Jurisdiction where they Vote. The Bill was recently Approved by the House State Government Committee.

Tennessee: By a 30-0 Voice vote, the Senate has approved a Bill Legalizing Ballot Selfies. The Bill allows exceptions in which Election Workers can Stop People from using Cell Phones, mainly relating to Harassment, Disruptions, and a Recording of a Marked Ballot. Photos of Marked Ballots would be prohibited, for instance, to keep Elected officials from requiring Employees of taking Photos of their Vote to prove they backed them at the Ballot Booth.

Texas: The House Elections Committee has Approved a Bill that would make court-Ordered changes to the States Voter ID Law. Senate Bill 5 would give more leeway to people who show up at the Polls without one of the seven State-Approved IDs. They would be allowed to use other Documents that carry their Name and Address, such as a Utility Bill.

Legal Updates

Georgia: Four E-Poll Books were Stolen from a Cobb County Precinct Manager’s car over the weekend, just days before a special Election was set to occur. Janine Eveler, Cobb County Elections Director, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that while the theft would not impact the Special Election as they were electronically disabled from excepting votes, the Devices did contain a Copy of the State’s Voter file which include Voters Personal information like Birthdates and Driver’s License numbers, but not Social Security numbers. On Wednesday, an Arrest was made in the Case. The E-Poll Books were not recovered though because they were placed in a dumpster and the dumpster was subsequently dumped at the landfill making it almost impossible to retrieve the Devices.

Maine: Last week the State’s Highest Court heard arguments on the Constitutionality of ranked-Choice Voting in The Pine Tree State. During the Hearing, Justice Joseph Jabar told Phyllis Gardiner, an Assistant Attorney General, that if “we don’t take any action now, there’s definitely going to be a challenge after the next election.” “People aren’t going to know how to vote because they don’t know if it’s going to be a plurality system or a ranked-choice voting system,” Jabar said according to the Bangor Daily News. But James Kilbreth, an Attorney for Ranked-Choice Voting supporters, said it wasn’t necessary that the Court weigh in before Legislators move to implement the Law, calling it “a tail-wagging-the-dog kind of problem.”

Montana: The Green Party of Montana is taking their fight for Ballot Access in the upcoming May 25th Special Election all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Party is appealing a Decision by the Ninth Circuit Court that denied an Emergency Motion requesting a Green Party Candidate’s name be added to the Ballot.

New York: In 2016, Common Cause sued the New York City Board of Elections over the purging of 200,000 voters shortly before the Election. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office subsequently joined the Suit charging that the City wrongly Purged the Voters. In papers filed this week, the City indicated that it is working towards a Settlement Agreement with the Plaintiffs.

Pennsylvania: The State’s Highest Court has tossed a Lawsuit seeking the Replacement of Philadelphia’s City Commissioners. The Committee of Seventy, an Elections Watchdog group had sued saying that like County officials, the City’s elections officials should Recuse themselves from May’s Primary. City Attorneys argued that Philadelphia Commissioners don’t serve in the same capacity as County Commissioner and their sole job is to run Philly’s Elections. The Supreme Court gave no reason for the Dismissal.

Texas: Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued an Opinion that a Court is likely to conclude that Election Judges are Public officers and must take the Constitutional Oath of Office, in addition to the Election officer’s Oath. The Texas Secretary of State's Election Division had previously opined that Election Judges are not State officers within the meaning of the Constitution and the Constitutional Oath of office is not applicable to Election Judges and Early Voting Election officials.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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