The Daily Brew: Elections in nine states today

Welcome to the Tuesday, April 6, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Your help is needed today
  2. Elections in nine states today
  3. How states select supreme court chief justices

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Elections in nine states today

Voters will decide statewide, state legislative, and local elections today in nine states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. Here’s a summary of some of the races we’ve been following closely:

  • Wisconsin is electing a new superintendent of public instruction. Former Superintendent Tony Evers (D) was elected governor in 2018. His replacement, Carolyn Stanford Taylor, is not seeking a full term. 
    • Several Democratic members of Congress and the state legislature endorsed Jill Underly in the race. State Sens. Alberta Darling (R) and Lena Taylor (D) endorsed Deborah Kerr.
  • Anchorage, Alaska, is voting for a new mayor. To win today, a candidate needs at least 45% of the vote. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the two candidates with the most votes will compete in a runoff election on May 11. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz (D) resigned from office in October 2020. Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson is not running in the election.
    • Six candidates have led in fundraising and endorsements. Planned Parenthood endorsed Forrest Dunbar, George Martinez, and Bill Falsey. Six Republican state legislators endorsed Mike Robbins. State Sen. Natasha A. Von Imhof (R) endorsed Bill Evans. Former Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell (R) endorsed David Bronson
  • Fourteen school districts in Oklahoma are holding general elections. Elections were scheduled for 35 seats across 26 school districts within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope this year, but 17 of those seats will not be on the ballot because only one candidate filed. The 48.6% unopposed rate is the lowest since Ballotpedia began tracking this figure in 2014. 
    • For races that had more than two candidates file, primary elections were held on Feb. 9. Candidates were able to win the primary outright if they received more than 50% of the vote.

April 6 is the 4th-largest election day our team is covering in 2021, with more than 200 elections within our coverage scope. Our 3rd-largest election day is right around the corner on May 1, when we’ll be covering several local elections in Texas.

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How states select supreme court chief justices

On April 1, Max Baer (D) was sworn in as the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  He succeeded former Chief Justice Thomas Saylor (R), who stepped down the same day in preparation for his December 2021 retirement. 

Chief justices are the lead judicial administrative officers within multi-judge courts. They work alongside the clerks of court overseeing day-to-day operations.

Pennsylvania is one of six states where the supreme court chief justice is determined based on seniority. Ballotpedia has categorized four methods of chief justice selection:

  • Appointment: The governor, state legislature, or other body appoints the chief justice. Fourteen states use this method.
  • Chamber vote: The court’s justices choose a chief justice. Twenty-two states use this method.
  • Popular vote: Voters elect the chief justice. Eight states use this method.
  • Seniority: The chief justice is determined based on length of service on the court.

One recent change to the chief justice selection method was in 2015, when Wisconsin voters approved a constitutional amendment to transition from the seniority method to the chamber vote method. 

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