State and Local Tap: Early voting begins in Texas

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights the start of Texas’ early voting and an update on redistricting. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

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Ballot Measures Update

Sixty-eight (68) statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 31 states so far. Two new measures were certified for the ballot last week:

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for one additional initiative in Alaska:

Enough signatures were verified for four initiatives in Massachusetts and Ohio to certify them to the legislature. If the legislature doesn’t enact them, proponents will need to gather a second round of signatures.

States in session

Forty-three state legislatures—Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2022, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Feb. 8: Voters in the Seattle Public School district approved two property tax levy measures.

Special Elections

Thirty-eight (38) state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 19 states this year. Twelve specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had controlled 10 of the seats, and Republicans controlled two.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2021, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 85 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six odd years (2011: 95, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017:98, 2019: 77, 2021: 66).

Upcoming special elections include:

Feb. 22

Mar. 1

Mar. 5

Mar. 8

Minnesota enacts new legislative district boundaries

Minnesota enacted new state legislative district boundaries on Feb. 15 when a special judicial redistricting panel issued an order adopting final maps. Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea established the five-judge special redistricting panel in June 2021 to hear legal challenges regarding redistricting and adopt maps should the legislature not agree on them. The panel consisted of two state court of appeals justices and three state district court judges. Republican governors originally appointed two of the five justices, Democratic governors first appointed two, and former Gov. Jesse Ventura (Reform) originally appointed one justice. 

After the 2010 census, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) vetoed state legislative district boundaries in May 2011 that the Republican-controlled legislature had adopted, and the Minnesota Supreme Court appointed a judicial panel to draw the lines. That panel issued its map on Feb. 21, 2012.

Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 1,454 of 1,972 state Senate seats (73.7%) and 3,390 of 5,411 state House seats (62.7%).

Early voting begins in Texas

Early voting in the Texas primary started Feb. 14, making Texas the first state in the 2022 election cycle to open the polls. 

This year, 44 states and the District of Columbia offer some form of no-excuse early voting, meaning that any eligible voter can vote early, in person, without being required to cite an approved excuse. Early voting is sometimes referred to as in-person absentee voting. Six states do not offer no-excuse early voting: Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. 

In the last midterm election cycle (2018), 37 states offered some form of no-excuse early voting. In the 2018 general election, approximately 16.2 million Americans cast their ballots early in person, representing about 19.5 percent of total turnout, according to the United States Elections Project.  

No additional states are scheduled to open early voting periods until April. In April, six states will begin early voting: Indiana and Ohio on April 5, Nebraska on April 11, South Dakota on April 23, West Virginia on April 27, and North Carolina on April 28.