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State Legislative Tracker: Voter ID Laws continue to make headlines

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July 2, 2012

Edited by Greg Janetka

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Today's tracker features an update on state Voter ID laws and a look at the week ahead.






[edit]

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This week 5 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. As of May 16, all states had convened their 2012 sessions. No states are projected to adjourn this week.

Thirty-eight states have adjourned for the year, while four states - Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas - will not hold regular sessions in 2012.

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Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

All states have convened their regular 2012 legislative sessions:

The following states have ended their regular session:

Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.
Issue spotlight

Voter ID Laws have been a major issue in many states during 2012. All states must meet the minimum requirement set by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) which requires photo ID for those who register by mail and did not provide identification. However, some states have stricter requirements set by state law.[1] Here are the most recent developments:

  • New Hampshire
    • On June 27, 2012 the New Hampshire State Senate and House of Representatives voted to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 289. Both re-introduced and approved an amended version of House Bill 1354. The governor has five days from June 27 to sign, veto or let HB 1354 become law without his signature. The bill would require people to present photo identification when voting. Those who do not have a photo ID can vote a valid ballot after executing an affidavit right there at the polls.[2]
  • South Carolina
    • Pre-clearance for South Carolina's new photo ID law was denied on December 23, 2011. The state applied for reconsideration. However, on June 29, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice again denied the new photo law, saying the law failed to meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.[3] In a letter to an attorney representing the state, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Perez wrote, "I remain unable to conclude that the State of South Carolina has carried its burden of showing that the submitted change in Section 5 of Act R54 neither has a discriminatory purpose nor will have a discriminatory effect."[4]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, July 2, 2012
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,305 (44.8%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,965 (53.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 36
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 58
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 5
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 25
Total Special Sessions 15

In 2011, special sessions were a widespread occurrence in state legislatures. This was largely due to states' having to complete the redistricting process for legislative and congressional districts. Overall in 2011, there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.

Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 15 special sessions in 13 states. One is currently ongoing in New Jersey.

Maryland

Maryland may hold a special session the week of July 9, with the governor giving it a "fifty-fifty" probability.[5] An 11-member work group appointed by the governor was trying to reach consensus on a plan to expand gambling in the state. If successful, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said he would call the legislature into session to address the issue.[6] In late June, however, the panel reached an impasse and advised the governor against a special session until the disputed issues could be resolved.[7]

Minnesota

On Friday, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) announced he would be calling a special session of the legislature in order to address flood relief. The date of the session is currently unclear as officials are waiting to get a full picture of the extent of the damage, which, according to surveyors, has exceeded $100 million.[8]

New Jersey

Governor Chris Christie (R) called the Legislature into special session beginning today in order to address taxes. The Governor is looking to cut the income tax rate effective this year, but Democratic lawmakers sent him a budget last week that did not include the immediate cuts Christie desired.[9]

South Carolina

The South Carolina State Legislature began a special session on June 19 to address the budget for the fiscal year that begins today.[10] On June 28, they approved a budget compromise, sending it to Gov. Nikki Haley (R). However, the budget will not go into effect today as Haley has five days to issue line-item vetoes. She said she should not have to shorten her legally allotted time just because the legislature failed to do its job on time.[11]

Utah

Gov. Gary Herbert (R) says he may call the Utah State Legislature back into special session in order to restrict target shooting in areas where fire danger is high. "The right to carry and bear arms is certainly a part that we support here in Utah. There are times when we say you can carry them, but you can't shoot them right over here in those weeds," he stated. Utah currently has six wildfires burning in the state.[12]

Herbert previously called the Legislature into special session on June 20 in order to approve 90 new liquor licenses for restaurants, as well as address other issues.[13]

In recess

As of today, July 2, 4 state's sessions are currently in recess:

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State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 138 out of 142 (97.2%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: ME (2), MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 43/43
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 46/50 (Maps unfinished: AL, ME, MS, MT)
**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)

Alaska

On June 27, the US Department of Justice approved Alaska's new redistricting maps, allowing them to be used for the 2012 elections.[15]

Maryland

Last Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Maryland's new congressional redistricting map, which figures inmates at their last known addresses rather than where they are imprisoned. Opposition to the map may not be over, however, as some have been collecting signatures to try to put the issue to voters in a November referendum.[16]

See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012
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A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,300 (65.92%) of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for election in November 2012, and 4,714 (87.12%) of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for election. Altogether, 6,015 (81.47%) of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats will be up for election during the presidential election year.

  • 43 of the 50 state senates are holding elections.
  • 43 of the 49 state houses are holding elections.

The 6,015 seats up for election is 111 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections and 2012 Elections preview: Comparing state legislative filing deadlines

No states have signature filing deadlines this week.

So far, deadlines have passed in 42 states:

States with upcoming deadlines:

Primaries

See also: 2012 election dates

There are no state legislative primaries taking place this week.

So far, primaries have taken place in 24 states:


A total of 75 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary - 53 Republicans and 22 Democrats.

States with upcoming primaries:

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Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, four of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there have been four state legislative recalls - three have failed while one has gone to a recount.

Michigan

2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns continued on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) set their sights on the August 2012 ballot, but in April organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they did not have enough signatures and were abandoning their efforts.[17] The Caswell campaign remains active.

Organizers have made several attempts to get recall language approved against Sen. Randy Richardville. On June 12, 2012, petition language against Richardville was finally approved. One of the reasons for recall listed on the petition is Richardville's support for a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.[18]

Wisconsin

See also: Timeline of events of the recall of Wisconsin State Senators in 2012

Recalls against four Republican state senators took place on June 5.[19] Going into the recalls the Senate was tied 16-16, with one vacancy.[20]

Incumbents Scott Fitzgerald (R) and Terry Moulton (R) won easy victories. Republican Jerry Petrowski easily won Pam Galloway's (R) former seat. Unofficial results showed John Lehman (D) defeated Van Wanggaard (R) by 779 votes and he declared victory. Wanggaard considered a recount - the county's board of canvassars had until June 15 to submit final vote totals.[21] With the official canvass showing Lehman winning by 834 votes, Wanggaard called for a recount on June 15.[22]

The recount began on June 20 and concluded today. Candidates now have five business days to appeal in Racine County Circuit Court.[23] Final tallies released today show Lehman won by 819 votes - 36,358 to 35,539.[24] Wanggaard is looking at possible legal challenges.[25]

In calling for the recount, Wanggaard released a statement saying “I hope a trusted and verified result of the election will finally allow us to move forward" and that the move "is not about maintaining power." Wanggaard had to pay a fee of $685 to request the recount, but the costs will ultimately fall to the taxpayers of Racine County.[26]

Meanwhile, both parties are discussing possible changes to the state's recall laws. Bill Feehan, a Republican candidate for state Senate, pointed to the position held by many in his party, stating, "Polls show 70 percent of people want to see the standard raised to some kind of legal definition where a crime has been committed or they've been convicted of a crime." Some Democrats, however, have said that's already covered in the Wisconsin Constitution. What is needed, they say, is to allow for the recall of legislation so voters can hold a referendum on certain bills.[27]

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

There are no special elections scheduled to take place this week.

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • July 17: South Carolina Senate District 41
  • July 24: South Carolina House District 68
  • August 7: Pennsylvania Senate District 40
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 16
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 26
  • November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 68

See also

References

  1. National Conference of State Legislatures, "Voter Identification Requirements," accessed December 27, 2011
  2. Union Leader,"Legislature overrides Lynch veto on voter ID," June 27, 2012
  3. Election Law Blog, "DOJ Rejects South Carolina Photo ID — Again," July 2, 2012
  4. The Times and Democrat, "US Justice Department again nixes SC voter ID law," July 2, 2012
  5. Baltimore Sun, "O'Malley says prospects of a special session at 50-50," June 26, 2012
  6. Washington Post, "2nd Md. special session could be week of July 9," May 21, 2012
  7. Maryland Coast Dispatch, "Md. Gaming Panel Reaches Impasse, Advises Against Special Session," June 22, 2012
  8. Northland News Center, "Dayton Announces Special Session, Federal Aid Request in Duluth," June 29, 2012
  9. North Jersey, "Christie drags lawmakers to special session 1 p.m., setting stage for tax fight," July 2, 2012
  10. WLTX, "Ironing Out the Issues at the Special Session," June 19, 2012
  11. CBS News, "SC lawmakers approve budget, keep government going," June 29, 2012
  12. Deseret News, "Herbert says special session possible to 'fix' gun laws," June 28, 2012
  13. Salt Lake Tribune, "Liquor law reform is all about timing," June 23, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 StateScape, Session schedules, accessed July 2, 2012
  15. News Miner, "Justice approves Alaska redistricting plan," June 27, 2012
  16. Baltimore Sun, "High court affirms Maryland's redistricting map," June 25, 2012
  17. The Times Herald, "State Sen. Phil Pavlov recall fails," April 13, 2012
  18. My FOX Detroit "Recall language targeting Richardville approved," June 12, 2012
  19. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recall votes set for May 8 and June 5," March 14, 2012
  20. Channel 3000, "Wisconsin Democrats counting on recall elections to win state Senate control," May 26, 2012
  21. WAOW, "Wanggaard still not conceding election," June 6, 2012
  22. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wanggaard calls for recount in Senate recall race," June 15, 2012
  23. The Journal Times, "Wanggaard requests recount, to begin Wednesday," June 15, 2012
  24. Chicago Tribune, "Recount: Dem wins Wisconsin Senate recall," July 2, 2012
  25. Wisconsin State Journal, "Senate recall recount expected to end Monday," July 1, 2012
  26. WTAQ, "State Senate recount order expected Monday," June 18, 2012
  27. WXOW, "Lawmakers Want New Recall Rules," June 30, 2012