The House was in session today and approved a bill (H.F. 3429) related to elections. This comes, in part, because of a perceived need to deal with uncertainty regarding where the governor will direct the state during the COVID-19 emergency order. The bill allows for the appropriation of over $14 million in federal funds for safe elections, primarily for the 2020 cycle.
Overall, the bill includes some good things, and also some concerning language. It is good to see the bill provides funding allowing small precincts to upgrade internet services if they desire. I am particularly happy with this because it was one of my priorities in an attempt to help keep local polling places open.
My major concern was the attempt by the Democrat majority to use the bill to move to statewide mail-in ballots. Thankfully, we successfully stopped this provision and it was not in the bill as it came to us for a vote. I am still concerned over this provision popping up later in some other form and I will continue to monitor this. I also am concerned about extending the number of days absentee ballots are counted as the bill does.
The bill also allows changing polling places in the event it is believed current places are not safe.
The bill still has to be matched with the Senate version to put it in finished form. Given the makeup of the Senate, I believe the bill will come out of there a little better if/when it returns to us for a vote on final passage.