Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin, where we track developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local level. In this month’s issue:
- Three cities approve ballot measures for ranked-choice voting
- Redistricting round-up: Eight states enact congressional, state legislative district maps (and other news)
- Legislation update
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Three cities approve ballot measures for ranked-choice voting
On Nov. 2, voters in three cities – Broomfield, Colo., Westbrook, Maine, and Ann Arbor, Mich. – approved ballot measures that provide for the use of ranked-choice voting in future municipal elections.
- Broomfield, Colo.: Voters approved Question 2A 51.75% to 48.25%. Question 2A provides for the use of ranked-choice voting in mayoral and city council elections starting in Nov. 2023. Broomfield joins Boulder, Basalt, Carbondale, and Telluride in conducting at least some municipal elections using ranked-choice voting.
- Westbrook, Maine: Voters approved a referendum providing for the use of ranked-choice voting in elections for mayor, city council, and school committee. This makes Westbrook the second city in Maine to adopt ranked-choice voting for select municipal elections (the first was Portland). In 2016, Maine became the first state to adopt ranked-choice voting for federal elections.
- Ann Arbor, Mich.: Voters approved Proposal B 72.83% to 27.17%. Proposal B provides for the use of ranked-choice voting in mayoral and city council elections, but only if the state enacts a law authorizing the method. This is the second time Ann Arbor voters have approved ranked-choice voting for municipal elections, having done so in 1974 by a vote of 53% to 47%. In 1976, Ann Arbor voters repealed the ranked-choice system by a vote of 62% to 38%.
Thirty-two cities in seven states used ranked-choice voting on Nov. 2: Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Utah. In 22 of these cities, ranked-choice voting was used for the first time on Nov. 2.
About ranked-choice voting: A ranked-choice voting system (RCV) is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. A candidate who wins a majority of first-preference votes wins the election. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.
Redistricting round-up: Eight states enact congressional, state legislative district maps (and other news)
In today’s round-up, we take a look at the following recent developments:
- Eight states enact congressional or state legislative district maps between Oct. 1 and Nov. 10.
- California, Connecticut set final redistricting deadlines.
Eight states enact congressional or state legislative district maps between Oct. 1 and Nov. 10
The following states (listed in alphabetical order) have enacted either new congressional or state legislative district plans (or both!) since Oct. 1:
- Alabama: Congressional and state legislative district maps enacted Nov. 4.
- Colorado: Congressional district maps enacted Nov. 1.
- Indiana: Congressional and state legislative district maps enacted Oct. 4.
- Iowa: Congressional and state legislative district maps enacted Nov. 4.
- Massachusetts: State legislative district maps enacted Nov. 4
- North Carolina: Congressional and state legislative district maps enacted Nov. 4.
- Texas: Congressional and state legislative district maps enacted Oct. 25.
- West Virginia: Congressional and state legislative district maps enacted Oct. 22.
Status of congressional redistricting: As of Nov. 10, 10 states have adopted congressional district maps, one state’s legislature has approved congressional district maps that have not yet taken effect, and 33 states have yet to do so (six states have only one congressional district each, making redistricting unnecessary). Congressional redistricting has been completed for 99 of the 435 U.S. House districts (22.7%).
Status of state legislative redistricting: As of Nov. 10, 12 states have adopted legislative district maps and 36 states have yet to do so. One state’s legislative map is awaiting approval by the state supreme court. Another state will be revising its plan, which had been based on census estimates, in an upcoming special session. Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 444 of 1,972 state Senate districts (22.5%) and 1,243 of 5,411 state House districts (23.0%).
California, Connecticut set final redistricting deadlines; Virginia redistricting authority moves to state supreme court.
- California: On Sept. 22, the California Supreme Court set a Nov. 15 deadline for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to release initial draft district plans. The court also set a Dec. 27 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.
- Virginia: The Virginia Supreme Court will now have the authority to draft new congressional maps in the state because the Virginia Redistricting Commission did not meet its Nov. 8 deadline to submit a plan for U.S. House districts. Under the constitutional amendment that established the commission, party leaders of the House of Delegates and Senate must nominate three special masters from each party to assist the court in the redistricting process, which they did on Nov. 1. The court will then select one special master from each party’s list of nominees. Once selected, the special masters will have 30 days to draft a proposal to submit to the court for review.
Legislation update: Redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems bills
Redistricting legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 239 redistricting-related bills up for consideration in state legislatures.
Current as of Nov. 9, 2021
Electoral systems legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 152 bills dealing with electoral systems that are up for consideration in state legislatures.
Current as of Nov. 9, 2021
Primary systems legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 20 bills dealing with primary systems that are up for consideration in state legislatures.
Current as of Nov. 9, 2021