How redistricting may cause a delay to the 2022 primary calendar

Welcome to the Tuesday, September 7, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Texas Legislature adopts bill allowing the postponement of 2022 primary and filing deadlines
  2. One week until California’s gubernatorial recall election
  3. Taking a look at state legislative special elections in 2021 so far

Texas Legislature adopts bill allowing the postponement of 2022 primary and filing deadlines

Last week, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 13 (SB 13), a bill that would allow for the postponement of the state’s 2022 primary election and associated candidate filing deadlines if new district maps are not in place by specific dates specified in the bill.

Under its current schedule, Texas is slated to hold its primary elections on March 1, 2022, the earliest date in the 2022 cycle. The filing deadline is December 13, 2021. Here’s a breakdown of the scenarios, should the bill be implemented as law.

  • If the Texas Legislature adopts new district lines on or before Nov. 15, 2021, the current primary date and candidate filing deadlines remain unchanged.
  • If a plan is adopted after Nov. 15 but on or before Dec. 28, 2021, the primary will be moved to April 5, 2022, and the candidate filing deadline changed to Jan. 24, 2022.
  • At the latest, if a plan is adopted after Dec. 28, 2021, but on or before Feb. 7, 2022, the primary will be postponed to May 24, 2022, and the filing deadline set at March 7, 2022.

On Aug. 27, the Texas House of Representatives voted 96-25 in favor of SB 13 followed by the Texas State Senate, voting 30-1 in favor on Aug. 29. On Aug. 31, the bill was sent to Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is expected to sign the bill into law.

Regardless of which deadline is met under SB 13, Texas’ primary elections would remain some of the earliest in the 2022 election cycle. The map below shows primary election months for each state during the 2022 election cycle. Under the current schedule, a majority of states (32) are holding primary elections in either June, July, or August. 

The Texas State Legislature is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines during the redistricting process. These maps are subject to a gubernatorial veto. If the legislature is unable to approve a state legislative redistricting plan, a five-person backup commission must draw the lines, though this commission is not involved in congressional redistricting.

Every month, Ballotpedia brings you the latest developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local level in The Ballot Bulletin. Stay on top of election policy news throughout the states by subscribing here.

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One week until California’s gubernatorial recall election

In one week, the polls will close in the recall election targeting California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Early voting is underway and all registered voters in the state have been sent absentee/mail-in ballots for the election, which is officially slated for Sept. 14, 2021.

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote supporting the recall is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. If that occurs, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.

Here are some of the most recent updates:

  • Fifteen counties are currently operating early voting centers, which will remain open through Sept. 10. These voting centers offer registration, replacement ballots, accessible voting machines, and language assistance. You can find more info about early voting and ballot drop locations here.
  • Three separate polls were released on Aug. 31, Sept. 1, and Sept. 2. On average, 42% of respondents supported the recall and 54% opposed it.
  • These same polls found that, for the second question, an average of 27% of respondents supported Larry Elder (R), 23% were undecided, and 20% selected some other response, which includes candidates not listed in the poll as well as leaving the second question blank.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. The candidates who have received the most media attention and best poll performances so far are YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

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Taking a look at state legislative special elections in 2021 so far

Voters in Alabama and New Hampshire are casting ballots in several state legislative special elections today. We wanted to take a moment to check out how special state legislative elections have played out in 2021 so far.

To start, those three elections being held today, Sept. 7, are taking place in:

  • Alabama’s House District 78: this seat became vacant after Rep. Kirk Hatcher (D) won election to the Alabama State Senate in a March 2 special election. Voters will elect either Kenyatté Hassell (D) or Loretta Grant (R) as their new representative.
  • New Hampshire’s House District Hillsborough 7: originally slated as a primary, the special election to fill Rep. David Danielson’s (R) seat was moved to Sept. 7 after only one candidate from each political party filed: Catherine Rombeau (D) and Linda Camarota (R). This seat became vacant after Danielson passed away on May 22.
  • New Hampshire House District Cheshire 9: there is a Republican primary between Lucille Decker and Rita Mattson. The winner will face Andrew Maneval (D) in the general election on Oct. 26. This seat became vacant after Rep. Douglas Ley (D) passed away on June 10.

There have been 35 special state legislative elections held so far in 2021, almost all of which saw the vacant seats remain under the same party’s control. One seat—Connecticut’s State Senate District 36—flipped from Democratic to Republican control following Ryan Fazio’s (R) victory on August 17.

As it stands today, 68 state legislative special elections have been scheduled throughout 2021 in 20 states. This number is higher than 2020, which saw 59 special elections, but lower than the decade average. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

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