Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin, where we track developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local levels. In this month’s issue:
- Arizona governor vetoes bill changing process for canceling a voter’s registration
- Redistricting round-up: The latest redistricting news
- Legislation update: Recently enacted legislation
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Arizona governor vetoes bill changing process of canceling a voter’s registration
On May 27, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) vetoed HB2617, legislation that would change the process of canceling a voter’s registration.
What the bill would do
This bill would require a county recorder to cancel a person’s registration upon receiving and confirming that the person is: (a) not a U.S. citizen, or (b) has been issued a driver’s license or state identification card from another state. Before canceling a registration, the county recorder would have to notify the person that the registration will be canceled in 90 days unless the person provides evidence of qualification to vote.
The state Senate approved the final version of HB2617 on May 23 by a vote of 16-13. Republicans cast all 16 “yes” votes and Democrats cast all 13 “no” votes. The state House approved the bill on May 25 by a vote of 31-26, also along party lines.
Why the governor vetoed the bill
In a letter announcing his decision, Ducey wrote, “The implementation of [HB2617] is vague and lacks any guidance for how a county recorder would confirm such a determination [of ineligibility]. Our lawfully registered voters deserve to know that their right to vote will not be disturbed without sufficient due process. This provision leaves our election system vulnerable to bad actors who could seek to falsely allege a voter is not a qualified elector.”
In response to Ducey’s veto, Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R), who sponsored the bill, said, “This is shocking because I worked directly with the [governor’s] office on the Senate amendment language for this bill. Every single voter in Arizona deserves to know their vote counts and is not canceled out by an ineligible voter.”
What comes next
It is unclear whether the legislature will attempt to override Ducey’s veto. In order to do so, both chambers would have to approve the bill by a two-thirds majority.
Arizona is a Republican trifecta, meaning that Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Although Republicans control majorities in both legislative chambers, they do not have veto-proof majorities (i.e., majorities large enough to override a gubernatorial veto without votes from members of the minority party).
Redistricting round-up: The latest redistricting news
In today’s round-up, we take a look at recent developments.
On May 18, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned a district court’s ruling that the state’s enacted congressional district boundaries were unconstitutional. In a two-page order, Justice Caleb Stegall, writing for the court, said, “A majority of the court holds that, on the record before us, plaintiffs have not prevailed on their claims that Substitute for Senate Bill 355 violates the Kansas Constitution.”
The district court had ruled that the new map “intentionally and effectively dilutes minority votes in violation of the Kansas Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.” The district court had blocked Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab (R) and local election officials from using the previously enacted maps for the state’s upcoming elections and directed the Legislature to “enact a remedial plan in conformity with this opinion as expeditiously as possible.”
As a result of the state supreme court’s order, the congressional district boundaries enacted by the state legislature remain in effect. These boundaries were enacted in February, when the state Senate and state House overrode Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto. The House overrode Kelly’s veto 85-37, with 85 Republicans voting to override and 36 Democrats and one Republican voting to sustain the veto. The Senate overrode Kelly’s veto 27-11, strictly along partisan lines.
On June 6, a U.S. district court struck down the congressional district map enacted by the state legislature, over Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) veto, and barred the state from using the map in the 2022 election cycle. The court’s order said, “The appropriate remedy in this context is a remedial congressional redistricting plan that includes an additional majority-Black congressional district. The United States Supreme Court instructs that the Legislature should have the first opportunity to draw that plan. Therefore, the Court orders the Louisiana Legislature to enact a remedial plan on or before June 20, 2022. If the Legislature is unable to pass a remedial plan by that date, the Court will issue additional orders to enact a remedial plan.”
Status of congressional redistricting
Congressional redistricting has been completed for 429 of the 435 (98.6%) U.S. House districts.
- Forty-three states have adopted congressional district maps.
- One map has been overturned by court action.
- Six states were apportioned one U.S. House district, making congressional redistricting unnecessary.
Status of state legislative redistricting
Legislative redistricting has been completed for 1,923 of 1,973 state Senate seats (97.5%) and 5,313 of 5,413 state House seats (98.2%).
- Forty-nine states have adopted legislative district maps for both chambers.
- One state has not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans.
Legislation update: Recently enacted legislation
On May 10, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed HB2138 into law, making a number of modifications to Kansas’ election laws:
- Requires “all voting systems in Kansas to use a paper ballot with a distinctive watermark as established by the [secretary of state] for elections on and after Jan. 1, 2024.”
- Requires the secretary of state, in consultation with county election officials, to develop an affidavit system to be used for the transfer of ballots. Under this system, each person who handles ballots will be required to sign an affidavit.
- Establishes an audit procedure, to be conducted by the secretary of state in the year following each even-numbered general-election year. Under this system, four counties will be selected at random to be audited, subject to voting-age population requirements.
- Requires that an audit be conducted in any even-numbered federal, statewide, or state legislative election if the margin of victory is within one percent.
On April 1, the state Senate approved the final version of the bill 28-8, with Republicans casting all “yes” votes and Democrats casting all “no” votes. On April 26, the state House approved the bill 82-40, with 80 Republicans and two Democrats voting in favor and 36 Democrats and four Republicans voting in opposition.
- Political context: Kansas has a divided government. Republicans control majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The governor is a Democrat.
New York S08949
On May 2, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed S08949 into law. This bill allows party nominees for elective offices or party positions to decline nomination if they have been arrested or formally charged with one or more crimes in either state or federal court. It also allows the nominee to decline the nomination if the nominee has been convicted of one or more crimes at any time after having been nominated.
The bill was introduced on April 29. On May 2, the Senate and Assembly approved the bill (33-29 and 84-57, respectively).
- Political context: New York is a Democratic trifecta, meaning that Democrats control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.
On May 9, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed HB2974 into law. This bill requires that the State Board of Elections conduct an annual query of the entire voter registration database to determine how many individuals are registered at the same residential address. If that query indicates that more than 10 voters share an address, the State Board of Elections must notify the county election board, which must in turn notify the district attorney. The district attorney, or a law enforcement officer acting on behalf of the district attorney, must “investigate any possible criminal violation of the law related to the voter registration.” This bill does not apply to assisted living facilities, nursing homes, veterans centers, multiunit housing complexes, or military bases.
The Senate passed the final version of the bill on April 26 by a vote of 34-9, with all 34 “yes” votes coming from Republicans and all 9 no votes coming from Democrats. On May 4, the House passed the bill by a vote of 61-10, with 61 Republicans voting in favor and nine Democrats and one Republican in opposition.
- Political context: Oklahoma is a Republican trifecta, meaning that Republicans control the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.