Voting Rights need to be protected by the Democratic majority in the General Assembly, because where ever there is a Republican majority in other state legislatures, voting rights are under constant attack. Republicans know they cannot win an election if all eligible voters are able to vote, which is why make voting as difficult as possible with Voter ID laws, complex Voter Registration laws, and Precinct or Voting Place placement.
State Representative John Viola has introduced HB400, which would provide for election day registration for presidential primary, primary, special, and general elections. Right now, the voter registration deadline for each of the above elections is the fourth Saturday prior to the date of the election. Registration on election day will be permitted if the potential voter submits a valid government issued identification or other generally accepted proof of identification, such as student IDs, a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or other government document containing that person’s name and address. The same documents are currently required to register by mail.
The one hiccup with this bill is that it will not affect individuals wishing to change their party registration. Currently, the deadline for someone to change their party registration ahead of a party primary (which is on Thursday, September 6, 2018) is the last Saturday in May 26. I can understand not allow party changes in registration on the same day as the election, as that just invites shenanigans by the opposing party.
But May 26 is way too early. The deadline should be at most a month before the primary. So August 6.
HB400 – Same Day Voter Registration
STATUS – Waiting on a hearing in committee
HISTORY – Introduced and placed in the House Administration Committee on 5.2.18
SPONSORS – Viola, Henry, Sokola, Townsend, Baumbach, Bentz, Heffernan, J.Johnson, Keeley, Kowalko, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Osienski, Paradee, Potter, K.Williams
NOT VOTING –
This bill is added to a host of bills affecting elections and voting rights waiting on hearings and votes in the General Assembly, as you can see below:
I assume if the House and Senate approves Same Day Registration, that means Automatic Voter Registration is dead, as most will say that they are mutually exclusive. I prefer Automatic Voter Registration, but will take Same Day in place of it. And I also do not think one bill precludes the other. Maybe if Same Day passes this year, we can come back with Automatic in the next session once we give Elaine Manlove and her office enough time to adapt to change.
The General Assembly should also pass HB90, which provides for Early Voting. If House Bill 90 passes, polling places would be open “For at least 10 days, up to and including the Saturday and Sunday immediately prior to any” election. This is a no-brainer for Democrats to vote yes on.
Another bill, HB89, would move the party primaries to April rather than the first Tuesday in September. This bill passed the House last year 34-6 but is still waiting on a vote in the Senate. I can understand not passing this bill. April feels too early for a primary as much as September feels too late, but if you want the primary election to not interfere with the summer vacation months and the workings of the General Assembly, we really are limited with dates for the election.