43 state legislative special elections scheduled so far this year

Welcome to the Tuesday, July 13, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Special elections update
  2. Citizens For A Safer Cleveland submits additional signatures to place police-related initiative on November ballot
  3. Washington initiative filing deadline passes with no campaigns submitting signatures

Special elections update

Today, June 13, five state legislative special elections are being held in three states. 

  • Alabama Senate District 14: On December 7, 2020, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) appointed the district’s previous incumbent, Cam Ward (R), to serve as director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. Republicans have a 26-8 majority in the state Senate.
  • Alabama House District 73: In November 2020, the district’s previous incumbent, Matt Fridy (R), was elected to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. Republicans have a 76-27 majority in the state House.
  • Georgia House District 34: On April 30, the district’s previous incumbent, Bert Reeves (R), resigned to become Georgia Institute of Technology’s vice president of university relations.
  • Georgia House District 156: On April 13, 2021, the district’s previous incumbent, Greg Morris (R), resigned to join the Georgia Department of Transportation’s State Transportation Board. Republicans have a 101-77 majority in the state House.
  • Wisconsin Assembly District 37: On April 23, 2021, the district’s previous incumbent, John Jagler (R), was sworn into the Wisconsin Senate. He won a special election for state Senate District 13 on April 6. Republicans have a 60-38 majority in the state Assembly.

These five special elections are part of the 43 state legislative special elections scheduled for this year in 17 states. In 2020, 59 special elections were held in 27 states. In 2019, 77 special elections were held in 24 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. 

To view our full list of special legislative elections being held this year, as well as analysis, click the link below.

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Citizens For A Safer Cleveland submits additional signatures to place police-related initiative on November ballot

Last year, Ballotpedia identified 20 local police-related ballot measures on the ballot for the Nov. 3 election in response to the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. All 20 measures were approved, but at least one was overturned after the election.

We’re continuing our coverage of police-related ballot measures into this year. Here’s an update on one initiative in Cleveland that we’ve been watching.

On July 7, the group Citizens for a Safer Cleveland submitted 3,208 additional signatures to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections after its initial submission of about 13,000 signatures was short by 384. A total of 6,270 valid signatures is needed to qualify for the Cleveland ballot in November. The group had 15 additional days to collect enough valid signatures to make up the difference. The board of elections will announce in the next few days whether the initiative has qualified.

The initiative would: 

  • repeal and replace sections of the Cleveland City Charter concerning the organization and oversight of the Cleveland Police Department,
  • grant the chief of police the authority to discipline police officers in any reasonably justifiable way, including demotion, suspension, or termination,
  • restructure the Office of Professional Standards to report to the Civilian Police Review Board rather than the executive head of the police department,
  • bar current or former police officers from serving as the administrator of the office, and 
  • require that the police chief (and the force at large) comply with any requests for information that the office makes within 30 days.

The initiative would also change the nine-member Civilian Police Review Board and create a 13-member Community Police Commission.

Ballotpedia is covering a selection of notable police-related ballot measures in 2021. Click the link below to learn about them all.

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Washington initiative filing deadline passes with no campaigns submitting signatures

On July 2, the signature submission deadline for Initiatives to the People (ITP) passed in Washington with no campaigns submitting signatures. It’s the third consecutive year that no ITPs appeared on the statewide ballot. The 2020 election was the first presidential election year since 1928 in which the Washington ballot did not have an ITP.

ITP is what the state calls initiatives that go directly to voters in Washington. To qualify for the ballot, proponents needed to submit 324,516 valid signatures. Five sponsors filed a total of 136 ITPs. Those initiatives concerned a range of topics, including taxes, affirmative action, drug policy, marijuana, civil rights, and time standards.

Citizens of Washington may initiate legislation as either a direct state statute—called Initiative to the People—or an indirect state statute—called Initiative to the Legislature (ITL). Citizens also have the power to repeal legislation through veto referendums. Citizens may not initiate constitutional amendments.

ITPs were last on the ballot in 2018. In the ten-year period from 2009 to 2019, six ITPs were on the ballot in odd-numbered years: one in 2009, three in 2011, and two in 2015.

A total of 61 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington during odd years from the 20-year period between 1999 and 2019. 56% (34) were approved, and 44% (27) were defeated.

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About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.