Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin, where we track developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local level. In this month’s issue:
- Tennessee enacts law authorizing partisan elections for school boards
- Redistricting round-up: Illinois adopts new congressional map; Connecticut adopts new legislative map
- Legislation update
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Tennessee enacts law authorizing partisan elections for school boards
On Nov. 12, Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed HB9072 into law, authorizing partisan elections for local school boards in Tennessee.
- What HB9072 does: HB9072, which took effect immediately, amended Tennessee Code Section 49-2-201, which governs the method of conducting school-board elections in the state. Under HB9072, “[e]lections for school board members may be conducted on a partisan or nonpartisan basis.” For partisan elections, “political parties may nominate candidates for membership on the board by any method authorized under the rules of the party or by primary election.” Previously, school-board elections were nonpartisan: a candidate was not permitted to “campaign as the nominee or representative of any political party.”
- Legislative history: Thirteen Republicans introduced HB9072 in the state House on Oct. 26. The original version of the bill would have required partisan school-board elections. The state Senate approved an amended version, which authorized but did not require partisan elections, on Oct. 29 by a vote of 20-10. Twenty Republicans voted in favor, with four Republicans and six Democrats voting in opposition. The House approved the amended version 52-39 on Oct. 29, with 52 Republicans voting in favor, 16 Republicans voting against, and 23 Democrats voting against.
- Rep. Scott Cepicky (R), who co-sponsored HB9072, said, “The groundswell came from our parents and we’re seeing this across our state in the disconnect between those who are sitting on our school boards and the people who elect them. Our job is to provide as much transparency in the voter box as we can so that people have an idea of the level of expected performance from the people that they send to represent them.”
- Rep. Robin Smith (R), who co-sponsored the bill, said, “Politics don’t belong in school. And yet, they are. [The bill] just provides information for voters and parents [about] the ideological leanings of those that serve on the school board.”
- Rep. Larry Miller (D), who voted against HB9072, said, “Do you not think that we are partisan enough? Now what we want to do is make education partisan? Think about that. How ridiculous does that even sound?”
- Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R), who voted against the bill, said, “We all want or have the desire for good school board members because school board members are going to mean good schools. We have seen across our state and across our country how difficult some school board meetings are. It’s going to be harder and harder to get good candidates to run.”
- National context: Most school-board elections are nonpartisan. Two states – Louisiana and Pennsylvania – require that all school boards hold partisan elections. A handful of other states – such as Georgia, North Carolina, and, now, Tennessee – authorize but do not require partisan school-board elections.
Redistricting round-up: Illinois adopts new congressional map; Connecticut adopts new legislative map
In today’s round-up, we take a look at the following recent developments:
- Illinois adopts new congressional district boundaries
- Connecticut completes legislative redistricting
Illinois adopts new congressional district boundaries
On Nov. 24, Gov. J.B. Pritzer (D) signed into law new congressional district boundaries. Illinois was apportioned 17 districts in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, one less than it was apportioned after the 2010 census.
According to The Chicago Tribune’s Rick Pearson, the maps place the following pairs of incumbents within the same districts:
- U.S. Reps. Marie Newman (D) and Jesus Garcia (D)
- U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R) and Darin LaHood (R)
- U.S. Reps. Mary Miller (R) and Mike Bost (R)
After the Illinois General Assembly approved the new district boundaries on Oct. 29, Kinzinger announced he would not seek re-election in 2022. Also, Newman said she would seek re-election not against Garcia, but U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D), whose new district encompasses several areas Newman represented before redistricting. Bost announced he would run for re-election in the 12th District on Oct. 29. Miller has not yet declared her plans.
For more information about redistricting in Illinois, click here.
Status of congressional redistricting: As of Dec. 1, 18 states have adopted new congressional district maps, and 26 states have yet to do so (six states have only one congressional district each, making redistricting unnecessary). Congressional redistricting has been completed for 159 of the 435 U.S. House districts (36.6%).
Connecticut completes legislative redistricting
On Nov. 23, the Connecticut Reapportionment Commission voted 8-0 in favor of new maps for the state’s 36 Senate districts. The commission enacted new House maps on Nov. 18. These maps will take effect for Connecticut’s 2022 state legislative elections.
The commission, made up of four Democratic lawmakers, four Republican lawmakers, and a ninth member selected by the other commissioners, took over the redistricting process after the state’s Reapportionment Committee did not meet its Sept. 15 deadline. Census data was not delivered to the state until Sept. 16. Unlike maps that would have been adopted by the committee, the commission’s maps did not need to win two-thirds approval from both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly.
According to the CT Mirror’s Mark Pazniokas, “Passage of the Senate map came without debate in an 11-minute meeting conducted via Zoom, a reflection that the maps in Connecticut are resolved by negotiation.” Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly (R) said, “It’s truly a bipartisan effort,” and Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D) said, “We have a much better approach than most the country does on this.”
For more information about redistricting in Connecticut, click here.
Status of state legislative redistricting: As of Dec. 1, 22 states have adopted legislative district maps and 28 states have yet to do so. Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 771 of 1,972 state Senate districts (39.1%) and 2,032 of 5,411 state House districts (37.6%).
Legislation update: Redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems bills
Redistricting legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 245 redistricting-related bills up for consideration in state legislatures.
Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2021
Current as of Dec. 1, 2021
Electoral systems legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 150 bills dealing with electoral systems that are up for consideration in state legislatures.
Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2021
Current as of Dec. 1, 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.
Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2021
Current as of Dec. 1, 2021