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San Francisco school board recall elections scheduled for Feb. 15

Recall elections against three of the seven members of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education in California have been scheduled for Feb. 15, 2022. Petitions to recall board members Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga were certified in October 2021.

Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also said they were upset that the board had spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district rather than focusing on opening schools. At a board meeting on April 6, 2021, members unanimously voted to rescind the approval of the renaming process. At the same meeting, they voted to return students to full-time in-person instruction at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

All three board members named in the recall petitions were first elected to the board on Nov. 6, 2018. They received the most votes in an at-large election, defeating 16 other candidates. The other four members of the board were not eligible for recall at the same time as López, Collins, and Moliga as they had not served in their current terms for six months. They were elected or re-elected to the board on Nov. 3, 2020.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had 160 days to collect signatures from 10% of registered voters in the city. The total number of signatures needed was 51,325 per board member, and the deadline to submit them was Sept. 7. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall on Feb. 15, the mayor of San Francisco will appoint replacements.

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Kyle Bailey resigns from Maine state House

Maine state Rep. Kyle Bailey (D-27) resigned on Oct. 15, citing a new job opportunity. “Due to an exciting professional opportunity that has arisen recently, I am unable to complete my full term as state representative,” Bailey said in a statement.

Bailey was first elected to represent Maine’s 27th House District in 2020, defeating Roger Densmore (R), 59% to 41%. 

If there is a vacancy in the Maine State Legislature, the governor must call for a special election. The political committees representing the vacant seat are responsible for setting all deadlines. The winner of the election will serve the remainder of Bailey’s two-year term, which was set to expire in December 2022. 

So far in 2021, there have been 113 state legislative vacancies in 41 states. Two of those vacancies occurred in Maine.

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Roundup of noteworthy court challenges involving redistricting (Oct. 19)

Here’s a summary of recent court challenges involving redistricting.

Former Republican elected officials file lawsuit challenging Oregon’s congressional map

On Oct. 11, four former Oregon elected officials—former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R), former Oregon House Republican leader Gary Wilhelms (R), former Mayor of The Dalles James Wilcox, and former Oregon House Speaker Larry Campbell (R)—filed a lawsuit with the Oregon Supreme Court challenging the validity of the state’s enacted congressional map. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said the map was “an unconstitutional partisan gerrymandered redistricting map, as the Democrats drew the map with impermissible partisan intent to favor the Democratic Party, and [the map] will have impermissible partisan effects.” The plaintiffs requested the court declare the congressional map invalid and draw a different congressional map.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the new congressional map into law on Sept. 27. It was approved by the Oregon House of Representatives 33-16 and approved by the Oregon State Senate 18-6.

ACLU, NAACP file lawsuit in federal court regarding South Carolina redistricting timeline

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP filed a lawsuit in federal court on Oct. 12 against the South Carolina legislature asking the court to set a deadline for legislators to return to session. South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler (R) canceled a special Senate session originally scheduled to begin Oct. 12 and indicated that lawmakers may not reconvene to address redistricting until December or January.

The ACLU and NAACP said the delay would prevent any potential lawsuits from being resolved before the new districts take effect. Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation at the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said “In every redistricting cycle for the last 50 years — since Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act — voters and others have been compelled to go to court to fix the legislature’s maps…The state’s refusal to tell the public when it will reconvene to take up its obligation to redraw the lines and make it difficult, if not impossible, to resolve any court challenge before the consequential 2022 primaries is unacceptable.”

Three-judge panel named for federal lawsuit asking Virginia to hold legislative elections in both 2021 and 2022

A three-judge panel was selected in a federal lawsuit filed by former state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman that argues that the state’s November 2021 legislative elections with districts drawn after the 2010 census violates the state’s constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. Goldman filed the suit in July.

Goldman argued that Virginia should also hold legislative elections in November 2022 after the state completes redistricting since urban areas have seen increased population growth relative to other parts of the state. Goldman stated that votes in the areas where the population has risen more rapidly are less valuable than those in other parts of the state if the 2010 maps are used for the entire two-year cycle.

U.S. District Judge David Novak ruled the case could move forward and appointed himself, Fourth Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker, and U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson to hear the case. Novak was appointed to the court by President Donald Trump (R), Thacker was appointed by President Barack Obama (D), and Jackson was appointed by President Bill Clinton (D).

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Nelson (R) and Eisner (D) advance to New Hampshire Rockingham 6 special general election

A special primary was held on Oct. 19 for the Rockingham 6 District seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Jodi Nelson (R) and Mary Eisner (D) advanced to the general election. Nelson defeated Neil Wetherbee and Thomas Cardon in the Republican primary. Eisner was unopposed in the Democratic primary. 

The general election is scheduled for Dec. 7. The candidate filing deadline passed on Aug. 27.

The special election was called after Anne Copp (R) left office due to moving out of the district on Aug. 5. Copp served from December 2020 to August 2021. She had previously served in the Merrimack 1 District from 2016 to 2018.

As of Oct. 19, five state legislative special elections have been scheduled in New Hampshire in 2021. Special elections were held for the Hillsborough 21 District on April 13, the Merrimack 23 District on June 8, and the Hillsborough 7 District on Sept. 7. A special election is scheduled for the Cheshire 9 District on Oct. 26. 

New Hampshire held 29 special elections between 2010 and 2020. The most held in one year during that period was 10 in 2017. 

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Redistricting update: Virginia redistricting commission’s legislative map deadline passes, Arkansas congressional redistricting veto referendum campaign announced

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from Virginia and Arkansas.

In Virginia, the Redistricting Commission did not meet the Oct. 10 deadline to submit state legislative maps to the General Assembly. Under state law, the commission is given a 14 day extension to submit maps after “its initial failure to submit a plan to the General Assembly.” If the commission does not reconvene to draft maps, the authority to create new districts passes to the Virginia Supreme Court, which as of October 2021 was made up of a majority of justices appointed by a Republican-controlled legislature.

The Virginia Redistricting Commission is made up of four Democratic state legislators, four Republican legislators, and eight citizen members. The commission is also tasked with drawing a new congressional map, with an Oct. 25 deadline to submit maps to the legislature.

In Arkansas, an organization called Arkansans for a Unified Natural State announced on Oct. 9 that it would attempt to place both proposed congressional district map bills on the November 2022 general election ballot as veto referendums. On Oct. 13, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said he would neither sign nor veto the map bills, meaning they are set to become law 90 days after Oct. 13. The two map bills, submitted to the governor by the Arkansas General Assembly as HB 1982 and SB 743, are identical.

In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters of the veto referendums would need to gather 53,491 signatures from registered voters across at least 15 of the state’s counties within 90 days after the end of the special legislative session during which the bills were passed. Supporters of the referendums announced they would need to gather the required 53,491 signatures for each of the identical map bills.

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Voters in Cheshire County to decide New Hampshire House district special election on Oct. 26

A special election will be held on Oct. 26 to fill a vacant seat in the Cheshire 9 District of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Andrew Maneval (D) and Rita Mattson (R) are facing off in the special election. Mattson advanced to the special election after defeating Lucille Decker in the Sept. 7 Republican primary with 83.2% of the vote. Maneval was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The winner of the special election will serve until December 2022 and join Richard Ames (D) in representing the district. The seat became vacant after Douglas Ley (D) died from cancer on June 10. Ley had represented the district since 2012. He was re-elected in 2020 with 27.5% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 207-188 majority in the New Hampshire House with five vacancies. New Hampshire has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of October, 64 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. New Hampshire held 29 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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U.S. Senate confirms Gelpí and O’Hearn to federal judgeships

The U.S. Senate confirmed two of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to lifetime Article III judgeships on Oct. 18 and 19:

  1. Gustavo Gelpí was confirmed on Oct. 18 to the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit by a vote of 52-41. Gelpí was nominated to the court on May 12 to replace Judge Juan Torruella, whose judicial service ended upon his death on Oct. 26, 2020. Gelpí was rated Well Qualified by the American Bar Association (ABA). To read more about ABA ratings, click here.
  2. Christine O’Hearn was confirmed on Oct. 19 to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey by a vote of 53-44. O’Hearn was nominated to the court on April 29 to replace Judge Robert Kugler, who assumed senior status on May 19, 2017. O’Hearn was rated Well Qualified by the ABA.

To date, 18 of Biden’s nominees have been confirmed. For historical comparison since 1981, the following list shows the date by which the past six presidents had 18 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:

  1. President Donald Trump (R) – Dec. 13, 2017
  2. President Barack Obama (D) – Mar. 4, 2010
  3. President George W. Bush (R) – Nov. 13, 2001
  4. President Bill Clinton (D) – Nov. 20, 1993
  5. President George H.W. Bush (R) – Mar. 6, 1990
  6. President Ronald Reagan (R) – Oct. 29, 1981

As of this writing, nine Article III nominees are awaiting a confirmation vote from the U.S Senate, five nominees are awaiting a Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance their nominations to the full Senate, and 19 nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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House District 12 tops Virginia battleground fundraising list with nearly identical candidate donation totals

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Ballotpedia has identified 22 battleground races in these elections. Sixteen are in Democrat-held districts, and six are in Republican-held districts. Based on analysis of these districts’ electoral histories, these races have the potential to be more competitive than other races and could possibly lead to shifts in a chamber’s partisan balance.

To determine these battleground races, Ballotpedia looked for races that fit one or more of the four factors listed below:

  1. The 2019 winner received less than 55 percent of the vote.
  2. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and the 2019 winner won by a margin of 10 percentage points or less.
  3. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and the incumbent is not on the ballot this year.
  4. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and that presidential candidate won the district by a margin of 20 percentage points or more.

Five battleground districts with the most fundraising

#1 District 10 – $1,427,115.04

Incumbent Wendy Gooditis (D) raised $713,788.18 while Nick Clemente (R) raised $713,326.86.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

#2 District 40 – $1,100,583.90

Incumbent Dan Helmer (D) raised $751,851.02 while Harold Pyon (R) raised $348,732.88.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

#3 District 31 – $1,029,964.75

Incumbent Elizabeth Guzman (D) raised $918,627.01 while Ben Baldwin (R) raised $111,337.74.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

#4 District 12 – $935,729.31

Incumbent Chris Hurst (D) raised $666,962.18 while Jason Ballard (R) raised $268,767.13.

The Democratic candidate won 54-46 in the 2019 general election.

#5 District 73 – $928,158.74

Incumbent Rodney Willett (D) raised $643,732.59 while Mary Margaret Kastelberg (R) raised $284,426.15.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.



The latest on redistricting: Final deadlines approaching in California and Connecticut

Welcome to the Wednesday, October 20, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. California and Connecticut set final deadlines for redistricting
  2. U.S. Reps. David Price (D), Michael Doyle (D), announce retirements
  3. SCOTUS accepts two cases to 2021-2022 merits docket

California and Connecticut set final redistricting deadlines

As of Oct. 19, 2021, four states have adopted new congressional district maps following the 2020 census and six states have adopted new state legislative district maps. As of Oct. 19, 2011, 22 states had adopted new congressional district maps and 24 had adopted new state legislative district maps.

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Nevada, and Washington.

California: On Sept. 22, the California Supreme Court set a Nov. 15, 2021, deadline for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to release initial draft district plans. The court also set a Dec. 27, 2021, deadline for the delivery of final district plans to the secretary of state.

Connecticut: According to the Connecticut Constitution, the Reapportionment Committee was required to select a map, which needed two-thirds approval from both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly, by Sept. 15. The committee did not meet this deadline due to delays in the release of census data. Under state law, the committee was disbanded because it did not meet the Sept. 15 deadline and was replaced by a Reapportionment Commission. The majority and minority leaders of both chambers of the state legislature each selected two members to serve on the commission. The eight commissioners will select a ninth member. The commission’s final deadline is Nov. 30.

New Jersey: On Oct. 5, the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission announced it would hold 10 public hearings—five in-person and five virtual. The first virtual hearing will be held on Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. The first in-person hearing will be held on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. The second virtual hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on Oct. 30.

Nevada: The Nevada Committee to Conduct an Investigation into Matters Relating to Reapportionment and Redistricting held its first public meeting on Oct. 7. Committee Chairwoman Brittney Miller (D) said there will be at least three public hearings. One will be held in the Reno metro area, one in the Las Vegas metro area, and another in Carson City.

Washington: In an Oct. 14 press release, the Washington State Redistricting Commission said third-party maps should be submitted by Oct. 22 in order to receive full consideration. Maps can be sent until Nov. 15, but the commission said “we notify the public of the suggested deadline only to ensure that Commissioners have the time to properly consider public submissions.”

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U.S. Reps. David Price (D), Michael Doyle (D) to retire in 2022

Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Michael Doyle (D-Penn.) announced Monday they would not run for re-election next year, bringing the number of outgoing members of Congress to 27.

Price, who was first elected in 1986, is one of five Democrats in North Carolina’s 13-member U.S. House delegation. Price defeated Robert Thomas (R) 67-33% in 2020. Price’s win was within a single percentage point of Joe Biden’s (D) performance in the district. 

Doyle, who represents a district in the Pittsburgh metro area, was first elected in 1994 and is one of nine Democrats in Pennsylvania’s 18-member delegation. In 2020, Doyle won re-election 69% to 31% over Luke Negron (R). That year, Joe Biden (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 65% to 34% in the district.

Of the 27 members not seeking re-election, five are U.S. senators—all of them Republican. The 22 outgoing House members include 13 Democrats and nine Republicans. Eleven of them—eight Democrats and three Republicans—are retiring from public office. The other six Republicans and five Democrats are running for a different office.

At this point in the 2020 cycle, 28 members of Congress had announced they would not run for re-election. That number included 21 Republicans and seven Democrats. All but six of the outgoing members (four Republicans and two Democrats) were retiring from public office.

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SCOTUS accepts two cases to 2021-2022 merits docket

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Oct. 18 accepted two cases for argument during the 2021-2022 term:

  1. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas, originating from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
  2. Denezpi v. United States, originating from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Both cases concern the sovereign powers of Native American tribal nations. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo involves the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama and Coushatta Indian Tribes of Texas Restoration Act (1987), the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) (1988), and gaming regulation on tribal lands. Denezpi involves the Court of Indian Offenses’ jurisdiction and the Fifth Amendment’s double jeopardy clause, which prohibits an individual from being prosecuted for the same crime twice.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 41 cases during the term. Three cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Ten cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.

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Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #308: October 19, 2021

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:

  • An order easing healthcare licensing requirements in Nebraska
  • An extended indoor mask mandate in New Mexico
  • Vaccine distribution
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies 
  • State-level mask requirements
  • COVID-19 emergency health orders

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered Thursday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

Illinois (Democratic trifecta): On Oct. 15, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) extended the state’s coronavirus disaster proclamation for an additional 30 days.

Nebraska (Republican trifecta): On Oct. 14, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) issued an order allowing various health workers, including physical therapists and alcohol and drug counselors, to practice in Nebraska without a license if they are licensed in another state. Ricketts said he issued the order to address staffing shortages.  

New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): On Oct. 15, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) extended the state’s public indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals through at least Nov. 12.

Washington (Democratic trifecta):  Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy declined to block Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) state employee and healthcare worker vaccine mandate. The mandate’s deadline was Oct. 18. A group of public employees, including ferry workers and Washington state police, sued Inslee, arguing the vaccine mandate violated their constitutional rights. Murphy’s ruling keeps the mandate in place while the lawsuit progresses.  

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Oct. 14 edition of the newsletter. As of Oct. 18, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview

To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,917 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 596 of those lawsuits. 

Since Oct. 12, we have added four lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked one additional court order and/or settlement. 

Details

Dr. A. v. Hochul: On Oct. 12, a U.S. district court judge ruled in favor of a group of 17 healthcare workers seeking religious exemptions to New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Judge David Hurd, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, issued a preliminary injunction barring the New York State Department of Health “from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions from Covid-19 vaccination going forward or with the operation of exemptions already granted.” The plaintiffs alleged their religious beliefs forbade them from consenting to inoculation with any vaccines “that were tested, developed or produced with fetal cell lines derived from procured abortions.” They said the mandate, absent a religious exemption, violated protections provided under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, New York State’s Human Rights Law, and the U.S. Constitution. In his order, Hurd, a Bill Clinton (D) appointee, noted that the mandate had been amended to eliminate a previously permitted religious exemption. Hurd said, “[T]his intentional change in language is the kind of ‘religious gerrymander’ that triggers heightened scrutiny,” Hurd concluded that the “plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of this constitutional claim” and were entitled to an injunction. Hurd said his order did not address “whether plaintiffs and other individuals are entitled to a religious exemption from the State’s workplace vaccination requirement,” but whether they had the “right to seek a religious accommodation from their individual employers.” Hurd had previously blocked the mandate’s enforcement against those claiming religious exemptions on an emergency basis, issuing the plaintiffs a temporary restraining order against the state on Sept. 14. Hurd’s Oct. 12 injunction extends that earlier order. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said, “I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe.”

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Oct. 12 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) extended New Mexico’s public indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals through at least Nov. 12. As of Oct. 19, masks were required in 10 states with Democratic governors. Thirteen states with Democratic governors and all 27 states with Republican governors had no state-level mask requirements in effect.

COVID-19 emergency health orders

Read more: State emergency health orders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2021

Governors and state agencies in all 50 states issued orders declaring active emergencies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These orders allowed officials to access resources, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, unavailable to them during non-emergencies and temporarily waive or suspend certain rules and regulations. 

Overview

  • COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 24 states. Emergency orders remain active in 26 states.
  • Since Oct. 12, no state has ended or enacted a COVID-19 emergency order.