The Daily Brew: Only or every in the state constitution—Alabama voters will have their say in 2020

Welcome to the Tuesday, June 4, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Alabama voters to decide a constitutional amendment in 2020 that requires voters be citizens
  2. Federal Register totals 25,492 pages so far in 2019
  3. Denver mayoral runoff headlines Tuesday’s elections

Alabama voters to decide a constitutional amendment in 2020 that requires voters be citizens

Alabama voters will decide in 2020 whether to amend the state constitution to state that “only a citizen of the United States,” rather than “every citizen of the United States,” has the right to vote in Alabama.  

According to dictionary.com and merriam-webster.com, the word every refers to the individual members of a group or set without exception whereas the word only means just the specific members of a particular group or category.

Joshua Jones of Citizen Voters, a group advocating for similar amendments in other states, told the Alabama Political Reporter, “Most people don’t realize cities around the country are already opening municipal elections to non-citizen voters. This constitutional amendment will ensure that trend never comes to Alabama.”

Senate President Del Marsh (R) introduced the amendment. The state Senate approved it unanimously with eight members—three Democrats and five Republicans—absent or not voting. The state House also passed the measure unanimously with 14 Democratic members abstaining and three members—two Democrats and one Republican—absent or not voting. Republicans have a 27-8 majority in the state Senate and a 76-28 majority in the state House.

Voters in North Dakota approved a similar initiative in 2018. Measure 2 amended the North Dakota Constitution to state that “only a citizen” rather than “every citizen” of the U.S. can vote in federal, state, and local elections. It passed by a vote of 66% to 34%. Similar initiatives have been proposed in Colorado and Florida targeting the 2019 and 2020 ballots, respectively.

Neither Alabama nor any of the state’s local jurisdictions currently allow non-citizens to vote in elections. Congress passed a law in 1996 prohibiting non-citizens from voting in federal electionssuch as for president, the U.S. House, or U.S. Senatebut did not address state or local elections. San Francisco and several local governments in Maryland have permitted non-citizens to vote in certain local elections.

During this year’s legislative session, the Alabama Legislature referred a total of five constitutional amendments to the 2020 ballot. The legislature may also approve constitutional amendments during its 2020 session which voters will also decide in 2020. In Alabama, a 60 percent vote is needed in each chamber of the legislature to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration.

The legislature may also refer additional amendments to the 2020 ballot during that year’s legislative session. Since 1997, the legislature has placed an average of eight measures per year on the ballot in even-numbered years and 81% have been approved during this time. According to law professor Susan Pace Hamill—in an article on the Encyclopedia of Alabama—the Alabama state constitution has been amended more than 800 times since 1901 and is the longest constitution in the world.

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Federal Register totals 25,492 pages so far in 2019

Last week, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,130 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 25,492 pages. It featured a total of 432 documents, including 347 notices, four presidential documents, 40 proposed rules, and 41 final rules.

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,148 pages. As of May 31, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 52 pages.

The Trump administration has added an average of 1,159 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of May 31. In 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. Over the course of the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.

Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. It includes information about the administrative and regulatory activities of the United States government., as well as concepts, laws, court cases, executive orders, scholarly work, and other material related to the administrative state.

To stay up to date on actions at the federal and state level related to rulemaking, the separation of powers, and due process, subscribe to our free monthly Checks and Balances newsletter.

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Denver mayoral runoff headlines Tuesday’s elections

Today is Tuesday, which normally means it’s Election Day in multiple states across the country. Believe it or not, but last week was the first Tuesday without an election for our team since January. We’re excited to be back at our computers tonight when we’re covering elections in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. Here are some highlights:

California

Two state Senate districts are holding general elections between the top two finishers from primaries that were held on March 26. In District 1, two Republicans are looking to succeed Ted Gaines (R), who was elected to the California State Board of Equalization in 2018.

In District 33, Lena Gonzalez (D) and Jack Guerrero (R) finished first and second, respectively, out of a 12-candidate field in the primary election. The seat became vacant after Ricardo Lara (D) was elected last November to serve as California’s insurance commissioner.

Los Angeles

Voters will elect a successor to Mitchell Englander—who had been the only Republican on the Los Angeles City Council and who resigned last year. Fifteen candidates are running to succeed him. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a general election between the top two finishers will be held on August 13.

Los Angeles school district voters will also decide whether to adopt a parcel tax—a kind of property tax based on units of property rather than assessed value—for 12 years to fund educational improvements, instruction, and programs. School district officials estimate that the tax would raise $500 million per year. A two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote is needed for approval.

Denver

Two-term incumbent Michael Hancock faces urban development consultant Jamie Giellis in the runoff election for mayor.

Denver voters will also decide runoffs for the office of city clerk and recorder, five seats on the city council, and Initiated Ordinance 302, which would prohibit the city and county from using public funds in connection with future Olympic Games unless a majority of voters approve at a municipal election.

New Jersey

New Jersey is holding statewide primary elections for all 80 seats in the state Assembly. Members of the state Senate are not up for election until 2021.

Seventy-six of 80 Assembly incumbents are running for re-election, meaning four seats—5%—are open. Twenty-six of those 76 incumbents have contested primaries. Since the state uses multi-member districts, these are cases where at least three candidates are running from the same party. No New Jersey state Assembly incumbents were defeated in primaries from 2011 to 2017.

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About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia and can be reached at dave.beaudoin@ballotpedia.org

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