More election laws introduced

Several more election laws bills have been introduced in the General Assembly, including two that would eliminate straight-party voting.

HB185, called the Ballot Reform Act, would end straight-party voting. But it would also reinforce the preferential treatment given the Democratic and Republican parties when listing candidates on the ballot.

The bill would provide for the party that won the governorship to be listed first on the ballot, followed by other parties with more than five percent of registered voters, in an alphabetic order starting with the first letter of the governor’s last name.

All other political parties would then be listed in alphabetical order by party. Independent candidates would be still be listed last, using the alphabetical order formula based on the governor’s last name.

HB185 sponsors are Representatives Bert Jones, Susan Martin, Debra Conrad and Bob Steinburg, all Republicans.

In contrast, Senators E.S. Newton and Thom Goolsby have filed SB82, which simply eliminates straight-party voting.

In an apparent response to a voter ID bill Republicans are poised to introduce, several Democrats filed a bill with their own version of voter ID in both the House and Senate. Its called the Voter Protection and Integrity Act (HB253/SB235).

This bill would supposedly guarantee a person’s right to vote by requiring them to either present one of the approved photo ID types listed in the bill, or having their picture taken at the polls by an election official and signing an affidavit.

Among the valid “photo IDs” listed in the bill is the voter registration card already issued by state and county boards of election – which does not include a photo.

Sponsors include Representatives Ken Goodman, Marvin W. Lucas, Elmer Floyd and Charles Graham and Senators Ben Clark, Joel Ford.

Democrats have also introduced a bill in both house of the state legislature to allow online voter registration. HB102/SB298 would direct the state Board of Elections to set up a secure website for online registration, as well as allow voters to download a voter registration from to fill in and print out for mailing.

Rep. Alexander Kelly is the primary House sponsor. Senate sponsors include Senators Angela Bryant, Earline W. Parmon, and Floyd B. McKissick, Jr.

Other bills

HB 88 would extend early voting hours on weekends by at least 20 hours.

Two bills would affect judicial elections. H65 restores partisan judicial elections and S360 would amend the state constitution to set up a retention election state Supreme Court, state Appeals Court and superior court judges.