Before the 2016 election cycle kicks into high gear, it’s a good time to take a look at changes to voting laws, big and small, that are rolling out around the country this year.
Oregon’s new motor voter law (HB 2177), which went into effect earlier this month, authorized the automatic registration of eligible citizens who get or renew their driver’s licenses, permits, or state ID cards. The state expects to add approximately 10,000 registrants per month. These individuals will then be sent mailers from the state election division inviting them to select a political party and notifying them that they have 21 days to opt out of registration. Those who do not select a political party will be registered as “unaffiliated.”
After the May primary, the system also will be available to those who got or renewed a license, permit, or ID in the past two years, adding another 275,000 voters to the rolls.
In March, North Carolina will implement its photo ID requirement for voters, HB 589 (although legal challenges are still pending), and at the end of June, under AB 388, Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board will be dissolved and replaced with two appointed commissions—one to oversee elections and the other to enforce the state’s ethics code.
Other notable laws going into effect in 2016 include:
- In California, AB 44 requires the state, rather than individual counties, to pay for automatic recounts for any state office or ballot measure when the margin of victory is 0.015 percent or 1,000 votes, whichever is lower.
- SB 279 will enable Maryland residents to register to vote during early voting periods.
- Under AB 94, Nevada voters will be able to request electronic sample ballots instead of receiving paper copies by mail.
- Online voter registration debuted earlier this month in New Mexico, per state law SB 643.
- A change made in SB 54 allows candidates in Utah to get on a primary election ballot by gathering signatures of registered voters instead of through a party convention.
Sean Greene is the project director for election initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts.