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Voting Laws Roundup: 2023 in Review

State legislatures enacted an almost unprecedented number of voting-related laws in 2023, with more of the same expected in 2024.

Published: January 18, 2024

This roundup looks back on voting laws enacted in 2023 and looks forward to the voting landscape in 2024 based on legislation already pending. In 2023, we once again saw an unprecedented volume of state legislation changing the rules governing voting. There remains a stark divide: 14 states passed restrictive voting laws while others moved to implement changes to make voting more accessible. All told, states enacted more restrictive laws and more expansive laws in 2023 than in any year in the last decade except for 2021, which was itself an unprecedented year. Early indicators for 2024 suggest more of the same.

Looking Back at 2023

Between January 1 and December 31, 2023, at least 14 states enacted 17 restrictive voting laws, footnote1_yhueibj 1 AR H.B. 1411, FL S.B. 7050, ID H.B. 124, ID H.B. 340, IN H.B. 1334, KS S.B. 106, MS H.B. 1310, MS S.B. 2358, NC S.B. 747, ND H.B. 1431, NE L.B. 514, NM S.B. 180, SD H.B. 1165, TX S.B. 924, UT S.B. 17, WY H.B. 279, WY S.F. 153. Legislation is categorized as restrictive if it contains one or more provisions that would make it harder for eligible Americans to register, stay on the voter rolls, or vote as compared to existing state law.  all of which will be in effect for the 2024 general election. footnote2_1mhncps 2 MS S.B. 2358 has been partially blocked by a federal court as it applies to voters with disabilities, but the state has appealed. Portions of FL S.B. 7050 were temporarily blocked by a federal court, but some restrictive provisions remain in effect. The state has appealed.  At least one of these laws made it harder to vote in several different ways.

Voters in these states now face additional hurdles to reach the ballot box. Most of the restrictions limit mail voting, such as requiring additional information on a mail ballot application, shortening the window to request a mail ballot, or banning drop boxes.

At least 6 states enacted 7 election interference laws, footnote3_lke8b9t 3 AR H.B. 1411, AR S.B. 272, FL S.B. 4-B, GA S.B. 222, NC S.B. 749, SD H.B. 1165, TX S.B. 1933. Legislation is categorized as interference if it either threatens the people and processes that make elections work or increases opportunities for partisan interference in election results or administration.  with at least 6 laws in effect for the 2024 elections. footnote4_maaz67i 4 NC S.B. 749 has been temporarily blocked by a state court, but the state has appealed.  Many create criminal penalties for election workers for minor mistakes such as not allowing a poll watcher to stand close enough to voters.

At the same time, at least 23 states enacted 53 expansive voting laws, footnote5_prbcajy 5 AR H.B. 1512, AR S.B. 247, CA A.B. 292, CA A.B. 545, CA A.B. 626, CO S.B. 276, CT H.B. 5004, CT H.B. 6941, GA S.B. 129, IL S.B. 2123, KS S.B. 221, LA H.B. 449, ME L.D. 886, MD H.B. 410, MI H.B. 4567, MI H.B. 4568, MI H.B. 4569, MI H.B. 4570, MI H.B. 4697, MI H.B. 4699, MI H.B. 4983, MI S.B. 259, MI S.B. 367, MI S.B. 370, MI S.B. 373, MI S.B. 594, MN H.F. 3, MN H.F. 28, NV A.B. 286, NV S.B. 216, NV S.B. 327, NJ A.B. 5175, NM H.B. 4, NM S.B. 180, NY A.B. 4009, NY A.B. 7690, NY S.B. 1733, NY S.B. 1327, NY S.B. 5984, NY S.B. 7394, OR H.B. 2107, OR S.B. 166, TX H.B. 1217, TX S.B. 477, TX S.B. 1599, UT H.B. 37, UT S.B. 17, VA H.B. 1948, WA H.B. 1048, WA S.B. 5112, WA S.B. 5208, WV S.B. 631, WY H.B. 79. Legislation is categorized as expansive if it contains one or more provisions that would make it easier for eligible Americans to register, stay on the voter rolls, or vote as compared to existing state law.  all but two of which will be in effect for the 2024 general election. footnote6_t4ttd7s 6 MI H.B. 4983 and MI S.B. 594 do not take effect until June 30, 2025. The provisions of NM H.B. 4 that expand automatic voter registration do not take effect until July 1, 2025.  Many voters will now have access to a simpler process for registering to vote, greater access to absentee ballots, a simpler process for reclaiming their right to vote after a conviction, and/or increased access to assistance for voters who need it.

This year brings the first presidential election since lies about the 2020 election initiated a wave of restrictive voting laws and election interference laws. Voters in 18 states footnote7_12ofppp 7 Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.  face for the first-time restrictions that have been enacted since 2020. Because some laws passed in 2021 or 2022 either did not go into effect before the 2022 midterms or were temporarily blocked by a court but are now in effect, the number of states in which voters will face restrictions for the first time is higher than the 14 restrictive laws enacted in 2023. Voters in 27 states footnote8_puwga1p 8 Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.  will face restrictions in the 2024 election that they’ve never experienced in a presidential election before (some of these laws were in effect in the 2022 midterms). Also in 2024, 5 states footnote9_1ufpzq5 9 Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Dakota, and Texas. North Carolina would be one of these states, but its new interference law, S.B. 749, has been temporarily blocked by a state court. will have new election interference laws in place. For 13 states, footnote10_8hcaapf 10 Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.  this will be the first presidential election year in which such laws are in effect (some of these laws were in effect in 2022).

Looking Ahead to 2024

In some states, legislators were able to begin filing bills last December for consideration in this year’s session, which is called “pre-filing.” Additionally, many bills that were introduced but not passed last year are still before the legislature for consideration this year, or “carry over.” Some of the pre-filed bills and carryovers may become law this year and impact voters; pre-filed bills in particular tend to be among legislators’ top priorities for the year. As of December 31, 2023, 25 states had a pre-filed bill or a carryover that would make it harder to vote. The same number of states have expansive legislation, although the number of expansive bills is about twice as large. While the number of pre-filed and carryover expansive bills outpaces that of restrictive bills, voters in states passing restrictive laws will face new hurdles to vote regardless of what happens elsewhere in the country.

End Notes

Looking Back at 2023

In 2023, we once again saw significant numbers of laws passed in states that changed the rules governing voting.

Restrictive Laws

Overall, at least 14 states enacted 17 restrictive voting laws in 2023. Since our last roundup in October 2023, only seven state legislatures have had regular session and no restrictive laws have been enacted. Over the course of the year, at least 356 restrictive bills were considered by lawmakers in 47 states.

Eleven of these laws make it harder to vote by mail. footnote1_del0pcr 1 AR H.B. 1411, FL S.B. 7050, IN H.B. 1334, KS S.B. 106, MS S.B. 2358, NE L.B. 514, NM S.B. 180, NC S.B. 747, SD H.B. 1165, WY H.B. 279, WY S.F. 153.  Among the most restrictive, an omnibus voting law in North Carolina footnote2_ec0mfmp 2 NC S.B. 747.  shortens the period for returning mail ballots, eliminates ballot drop boxes, and makes it more likely that voters using same-day registration do not have their ballots counted. footnote3_80q8cjc 3 This provision requires election officials to send an address verification notice to voters who register to vote the same day that they cast their ballots (even though such voters already presented photo ID and proof of residence). If the Postal Service returns the notice as “undeliverable” within ten days of the election, a voter’s registration must be cancelled and their ballot rejected. This notice may be returned as undeliverable for eligible voters such as college students who must list a central university address on the registration form but can only receive mail that is sent to a more specific address such as a dorm room on that campus. When this occurs the voter is not notified or given the chance to contest it. Previously, a voter using same-day registration could only have their registration denied after two failed attempts to deliver an address verification notice and they’d have the opportunity to contest the rejection of their ballot at a hearing. North Carolina’s new law could result in eligible voters being disenfranchised for reasons entirely beyond their control.  This law has twice been challenged in court since it was enacted three months ago. Also of note is a Mississippi law footnote4_angz7uz 4 MS S.B. 2358.  that makes it a crime for anyone but election officials, postal workers, family members, household members, and caregivers to help a voter return their mail ballot – a policy that can harm all voters but particularly those with disabilities or a limited ability to read or write. A federal judge blocked enforcement of this law as to voters with those conditions, but the state has appealed the decision. Depending on what happens on appeal, the law could be back in full effect by the 2024 elections.

Provisions of a Florida law that makes it more difficult for get-out-the-vote groups to register voters have been temporarily blocked by a federal court. footnote5_8ef1dc4 5 FL S.B. 7050.  Two laws out of Idaho aimed at student voters are currently undergoing legal challenges. The first removes student IDs as permissible IDs for voting, footnote6_8mawq6b 6 ID H.B. 124.  and the second tightens ID requirements for registering to vote and excludes student IDs from the list of allowable IDs. footnote7_qmprbzn 7 ID H.B. 340.

End Notes

Election Interference Laws

At least 6 states enacted 7 election interference laws in 2023. All 7 passed prior to our October roundup – when most state legislatures were still in session. Overall, at least 86 interference bills were considered in 23 states last year.

Interference laws in Arkansas, Georgia, and South Dakota impose criminal penalties on election workers for routine election administration or inadvertent errors. The Arkansas law footnote1_uzi9bdu 1 AR H.B. 1411.  makes it a misdemeanor for election officials to give a mail ballot or a mail ballot application to a voter who hasn’t requested it, while the Georgia law footnote2_2cpw92f 2 GA S.B. 222.  expands the state’s criminal ban on election officials accepting private funds for election administration. South Dakota’s new law footnote3_r8ol1ir 3 SD H.B. 1165.  imposes criminal penalties on poll workers for not making the process of canvassing mail ballots – election officials determining the official count – sufficiently open to poll watcher observance. The law does not define “open” (meaning election workers could be charged with a crime over differences of opinion regarding where watchers can stand). One interference law in Florida facilitates the state’s efforts to prosecute people with past convictions who were misled by the state or confused about their eligibility to vote. footnote4_s38mrok 4 FL S.B. 4-B.  These laws reflect state legislatures’ increased focus on criminalizing ordinary election-related activities.

North Carolina’s interference law, footnote5_3gkdt0k 5 NC S.B. 749.  which threatens the certification process by restructuring boards of elections to increase the chances of deadlock, was temporarily blocked by a federal court in November.

End Notes

Expansive Laws

Last year, at least 23 states enacted 53 expansive laws. This is an increase of six laws since our October roundup, although the number of states stayed the same as all the new laws came from Michigan. Lawmakers across all 50 states considered a total of 664 expansive voting laws in 2023.

Michigan enacted 12 expansive voting laws in 2023, the most of any state. While the number of laws doesn’t always indicate the breadth of the voting-access reforms, Michigan’s new laws put in place a wide range of major expansions. Of the six laws passed in Michigan since our last roundup, four expand access to voter registration. These laws extend automatic voter registration to new government agencies, footnote1_7txqeu2 1 MI H.B. 4938.  open up pre-registration to those as young as 16, footnote2_6zto8gm 2 MI H.B. 4569.  and widen access to online footnote3_2t1ilc8 3 MI S.B. 594.  voter registration and same-day footnote4_ok4d9r2 4 MI H.B. 4567.  voter registration. The other two laws allow voters to apply online for a mail ballot footnote5_pfcom8i 5 MI H.B. 4570.  and repeal a prohibition on hiring transportation for taking voters to the polls. footnote6_4gpr89l 6 MI H.B. 4568.

California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Nevada, and Washington were among the other states that passed multiple or significant pro-voter laws. Connecticut also passed a resolution to allow no-excuse mail voting, footnote7_a79zepl 7 CT H.J.R. 1.  which will appear on the general ballot for voter approval in November.

New York enacted six expansive laws. footnote8_xe3la8g 8 NY A.B. 4009, NY A.B. 7690, NY S.B. 1327, NY S.B. 1733, NY S.B. 5984, NY S.B. 7394.  Most notably, the state now permits any registered voter to vote by mail as opposed to only voters who meet certain criteria, such as having an illness or disability or being absent from their county on Election Day. footnote9_o0dg6px 9 NY S.B. 7394.  A group of elected officials, political parties, and voters challenged this new law as violating the state constitution. On December 26, 2023, a state judge denied their motion to temporarily prohibit the law’s implementation. The case remains ongoing.

End Notes

Gubernatorial Vetoes of Restrictive and Interference Legislation

Like in 2021, in addition to a high volume of legislation, 2023 also saw a large amount of gubernatorial action on election-related legislation. In 2023, eight restrictive voting bills and three election interference bills were vetoed by governors in five states. footnote1_4h79702 1 Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  One of the restrictive bills and one of the interference bills each became law due to legislative overrides (both in North Carolina), while the remaining instances reveal how close additional restrictive and interference bills were to becoming law. In four of the five states — Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin — Republicans control both legislative chambers while a Democrat holds the governorship.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) vetoed three restrictive voting bills and two election interference bills. One of the restrictive bills footnote2_at8fme2 2 AZ S.B. 1595.  would have required voters to either drop off mail ballots by 7 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day or, if they drop them off after that, to present ID for in-person voting and sign the electronic pollbook. A voter who lacks an acceptable ID would have to surrender their mail ballot and cast a provisional ballot. Under existing law, Arizonans can drop off mail ballots until 7 p.m. on Election Day without additional hurdles. Another vetoed Arizona bill would have made it a felony for poll workers not to allow partisan observers to “reasonably, comfortably, and clearly” view the signature verification process. footnote3_xwmpwob 3 AZ H.B. 2305.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) vetoed two restrictive voting bills. footnote4_z9s9dxi 4 WI A.B. 494, WI S.B. 98.  One of the bills would have narrowed the definition for “indefinitely confined” to require that the voter needs help to travel and removed age as a qualifier. footnote5_5192fm5 5 WI A.B. 494.  The indefinitely confined status allows voters to be on a permanent mail voting list. The bill also would have added a separate application and photo ID requirement for voters seeking such designation and it would have removed every voter from “indefinitely confined” status who was added between March 12, 2020, and November 3, 2020.  

As mentioned, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed one restrictive voting bill footnote6_b8fs7nu 6 NC S.B. 747.  and one election interference bill, footnote7_u7tq924 7 NC S.B. 749.  but the state legislature overrode the governor’s vetoes for both bills. These bills and the circumstances of their passage are detailed in our last roundup. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) vetoed a restrictive voting bill footnote8_oh6emu4 8 KS S.B. 209.  that would have cut the mail ballot return window by three days.

In Wyoming, where Republicans have control of the legislature and the governor’s seat, Gov. Mark Gordon (R) vetoed a restrictive bill footnote9_5k95y0c 9 WY S.F. 131.  that would have barred the distribution of absentee ballot request forms except when requested by a voter.

Meanwhile, governors in two states vetoed four expansive bills. Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) vetoed three pieces of legislation. These bills would have provided for more voting materials in non-English languages, footnote10_u14u1ca 10 NV A.B. 246.  required at least two accessible voting machines in each polling place instead of one, footnote11_k9q8d34 11 NV A.B. 242.  and expanded the categories of acceptable ID. footnote12_spzjtsd 12 NV A.B. 443.  A vetoed Arizona bill, footnote13_6r2qh1a 13 AZ S.B. 1595.  which contained restrictive provisions as well, would have removed the requirement that early voting must end the Friday before Election Day.

Notable too is the prohibition on guns near polling places and drop boxes that Nevada Gov. Lombardo vetoed. footnote14_uctrr7u 14 NV A.B. 354.  It’s not included in our tally of expansive laws.

End Notes

Looking Ahead to 2024

Some states permit legislators to “pre-file” bills at the end of one year for consideration in the next. The pre-filed bills are not yet moving, but they are often among state lawmakers’ top priorities for the next legislative session. Likewise, many states permit legislatures to “carry over” bills introduced but not passed in the first year of a session to the next, although these are not necessarily more likely to pass than other bills. At the start of this year’s session, both the pre-filed bills and the carryovers are pending in their respective legislatures.

Lawmakers in 12 states have pre-filed a total of at least 85 voting-related bills for this year’s sessions. Of the 25 states that carry over legislation into even-numbered years, each one carried over a voting-related bill into 2024.

As of December 31, 2023, at least 140 restrictive voting bills that were either pre-filed or carried over are pending in 25 states for consideration in 2024. Seven are pre-filed bills and the rest are carryovers. The number of carryovers being far greater than the number of pre-filings is consistent with past years. Compared to 2022 — the last even-numbered year — fewer restrictive bills were pre-filed or carried over this year. That year, at least 22 states pre-filed or carried over 165 restrictive bills as of December 7, 2021. footnote1_u487aa1 1 No additional bills would have carried over, but we did not track whether any more bills were pre-filed for 2022 after our cutoff date of December 7, 2021.

Further, at least 20 election interference bills that were pre-filed or carried over are pending in 12 states. Of these, six bills were pre-filed and the remainder carried over from 2023. The Brennan Center started tracking interference legislation on January 1, 2022, so we can’t compare this count with the number of pre-filed bills or carryovers that were before state legislatures at the beginning of 2022.

On the expansive front, as of the end of 2023, at least 295 bills that were pre-filed or carried over are pending in 25 states. Fourteen of these were pre-filed bills and the rest are carryovers. In 2022, the carryover numbers were slightly higher: at least 21 states plus Washington, DC, carried over 303 expansive bills. We did not track the number of pre-filed expansive bills that year.

End Notes

Pre-filed Legislation

At the conclusion of 2023, at least 82 voting bills were pre-filed in 12 states for the 2024 session.

Of the pre-filed bills:

  • At least 7 bills in 5 states footnote1_lz80b9y 1 Alabama, Arizona, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Virginia.  would make it harder for voters to cast a ballot
  • At least 6 bills in 3 states footnote2_7ij2wym 2 Florida, Missouri, and New Hampshire.  would allow for election interference
  • At least 14 bills in 6 states footnote3_gh5zdyp 3 Florida, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington.  would expand voting access.

Five of the eight restrictive pre-filed bills would make it harder to vote absentee. Virginia has two restrictive mail voting proposals, one to shorten the absentee voting period from 42 days to 27 days footnote4_7xr6ipt 4 VA H.B. 44.  and another to shrink the window to 18 days. footnote5_kjutjgt 5 VA S.B. 42. A New Hampshire bill would eliminate religious, employment, or weather-related reasons for voting absentee, require all absentee voters to mark their ballot in front of an official, and require absentee voters to fill out an affidavit in the official’s presence. footnote6_ysgp0o9 6 NH H.R. 25.

On the other hand, pre-filed bills that would expand voting access cover several subjects. Two Florida bills would allow for more early in-person voting sites. footnote7_3t3mwuo 7 FL H.B. 963, FL S.B. 780.  Missouri would allow more voters to participate in Election Day registration, footnote8_wd8bosx 8 MO S.B. 926.  while South Carolina would increase early in-person voting hours footnote9_hj5ssaf 9 SC H.B. 4590.  and registration opportunities while at the DMV (including for people pre-registering before their 18th birthday). footnote10_pn72wc7 10  SC S.B. 886.

Four of the six election interference bills would prohibit vote-tabulation machines and instead require hand-counts of ballots, which is proven to be error-prone and to cause certification delays. footnote11_p569t5j 11 MO S.B. 832, MO S.B. 917, NH H.R. 25, NH C.A.C.R. 26.  A fifth would allow counties to do full hand-counts. footnote12_3kcx424 12 FL H.B. 359.

Other bills across the country would better secure our elections. Eight bills increase protections for election officials. These are in Florida, footnote13_y0sokw5 13 FL H.B. 721, FL S.B. 562.  Missouri, footnote14_ht3egfb 14 MO S.B. 926, MO S.B. 1235.  New York, footnote15_o8yndle 15 NY A.B. 8095, NY S.B. 7661, NY S.B. 7725.  and South Dakota. footnote16_bdowk1a 16 SD S.B. 20.  Election workers have been leaving their jobs in large numbers due to threats and harassment. Such protections can ensure that experienced individuals remain on the job and help our elections run smoothly.

End Notes

Carryover Bills

Of the legislation that will carry over into the 2024 state legislative sessions:

  • At least 133 bills in 22 states footnote1_6xopzid 1 Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  restrict access to voting
  • At least 14 bills in 9 states footnote2_f83ciyn 2 Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  open the door to election interference
  • At least 281 bills in 22 states footnote3_4r3bymr 3 Alaska, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.  expand voting access.

Of the 133 restrictive bills, 70 would curb access to mail voting, while 42 would impose stricter ID requirements for in-person voting or registering to vote. Kansas has one carryover bill footnote4_dqlc0wf 4 KS H.B. 2043.  that would require voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship to register — a policy that was struck down by a federal court when the state enacted it before footnote5_f3ym270 5 Fish v. Kobach, 309 F. Supp. 3d 1048, 1113 (D. Kan. 2018).  — and another footnote6_dnknbc0 6 KS S.B. 260.  that would eliminate no-excuse mail voting and require mail ballot applications and mail ballots to be notarized.

Ten of the states that will carry over a restrictive voting bill will also carry over at least one election interference bill. Of the 18 interference bills, 11 would create new criminal or civil penalties for election workers for mistakes such as not asking for or verifying a voter’s photo identification. Notably, proposals in North Carolina, footnote7_0y82cf3 7 NC H.B. 772.  Oklahoma, footnote8_czn4srs 8 OK S.B. 995.  West Virginia, footnote9_zkg37w5 9 WV H.B. 2866.  and Wisconsin footnote10_lhdo6td 10 WI A.B. 543, WI S.B. 560.  would impose civil or criminal penalties on poll workers for failing to allow partisan poll watchers increased latitude to observe election processes.

Of the 281 expansive carryover bills, 98 would make it simpler to register to vote, 71 would make it simpler to vote by mail, and 37 would restore voting rights to some people with past criminal convictions. While 25 states allow for carryover bills, New York alone has about one-third (92) of this year’s expansive carryovers. Many of the New York bills would expand access to voting for members of language minority groups. footnote11_dsm14n3 11 NY A.B. 90, NY A.B. 642, NY A.B. 1902, NY A.B. 3878, NY A.B. 3918, NY A.B. 3919, NY A.B. 3973, NY A.B. 6355, NY A.B. 7469, NY S.B. 4033, NY S.B. 6319, NY S.B. 6382, NY S.B. 6782.  Several would establish Election Day voter registration. footnote12_bq9rn8r 12 NY A.B. 3512, NY A.B. 3921, NY A.B. 5007, NY S.B. 170, NY S.B. 2381, NY S.B. 6008.

 

End Notes

States to Watch: Wisconsin, Virginia, and Missouri

When it comes to pre-filed and carryover legislation for 2024, legislators in Wisconsin, Virginia, and Missouri have been among the most active.

Wisconsin has 15 restrictive and three interference bills carrying over into 2024, among the most of any state. While vetoes twice thwarted Wisconsin lawmakers’ efforts to restrict voting last year, nine restrictive and three interference bills were actively moving through the Wisconsin legislature in the final months of 2023, which will all carry over into the new session.

A pair of bills — one restrictive and one interference — passed the Wisconsin State Assembly in November. The restrictive bill footnote1_riu1igi 1 WI A.B. 570.  would add new grounds for not counting mail ballots. The interference bill footnote2_r82uaip 2 WI A.B. 543.  would subject election workers to criminal penalties for not allowing poll watchers increased proximity to voters. Such legislation makes it challenging for election officials to remove or contain disruptive poll watchers and increases the risk of voter intimidation and harassment. Also of note, an interference bill footnote3_1rm1jow 3 WI S.B. 834.  introduced in late December would dissolve the Wisconsin Elections Commission and give the state legislature — a political branch of government charged with policymaking — unprecedented control over routine election administration activities.

Lawmakers in Virginia pre-filed three restrictive voting bills. As discussed, two would shrink the period to participate in mail voting. footnote4_sjryph4 4 VA H.B. 44, VA S.B. 42.  The third would remove forms of acceptable ID to vote, burdening voters who relied on those options to verify their identities. footnote5_e4lzm9h 5 VA S.B. 45.

But other Virginia legislators are focused on making voting more accessible. A bill introduced in both chambers of the legislature would automatically restore voting rights to incarcerated people upon their release. footnote6_ejn48jy 6 VA H.J.R. 2, VA S.J.R. 2.  In contrast with the restrictive ID bill discussed above, a separate bill would add to the list of acceptable voter IDs. footnote7_k2781da 7 VA H.B. 26.  Virginia has recently fluctuated between enacting restrictive and expansive policies depending on which party has been in power. When Democrats held both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s mansion from 2020 to 2022, they passed several expansive laws. When Republicans took back one house and the governorship from 2022 to 2024, they sought to roll back some of these reforms. Now, the legislature is Democrat-controlled while the governor is a Republican. Whether Virginia’s divided government moves in a restrictive or an expansive direction is a development to monitor this year.

In Missouri, lawmakers have pre-filed three election interference bills. One of the measures would mandate complete hand-counts and allow any voter to contest election results. footnote8_drejshy 8 MO S.B. 832.  Another would likewise require full hand-counts of all ballots. footnote9_aoii0q0 9 MO S.B. 917.

End Notes