Welcome to the Wednesday, September 7, Brew.
By: David Luchs
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- A sneak preview of upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary
- Ranked-choice voting: How Alaska’s approach compares to the system proposed in Nevada
- Georgia voters may determine the partisan balance in the U.S. Senate on Nov. 8
A sneak preview of upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary
There are fewer upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary than at this point last month, according to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts. This month, there are 37 announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships, down from 42 at the beginning of August. There are currently 15 nominees pending for upcoming vacancies.
Twenty-four vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judge has not announced the date he or she will leave the bench.
Article III judgeships refer to federal judges who serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of International Trade, or one of the 13 U.S. courts of appeal or 94 U.S. district courts. The president appoints nominees to these courts, and the U.S. Senate confirms them.
These positions are not yet vacant but will be at some point in the future, with every judge having announced an intention to either leave the bench or assume senior status. In the meantime, these judges will continue to serve in their current positions.
The president and Senate do not need to wait for a position to become vacant before they can start the confirmation process for a successor. For example, Julie Rikelman was nominated to succeed Judge Sandra Lynch on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit after Lynch assumes senior status upon Rikelman’s confirmation.
The next scheduled vacancy will take place on Sept. 30 when U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Judge Robert Mariani assumes senior status.
In addition to these 37 upcoming vacancies, 80 of the 870 Article III judgeships are vacant. Including non-Article III judges from the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, there are 82 vacancies out of 890 active federal judicial positions.
President Biden has nominated 141 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. Seventy-six of those nominees have been confirmed. Of the 65 nominees going through the confirmation process, 22 are awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate, five are awaiting a committee vote, and 38 are awaiting a committee hearing.
Biden’s 76 confirmed judicial nominees are the most at this point in any president’s first term since Bill Clinton (D), who had 85 confirmed nominees as of this point in 1994. The president during that time with the fewest confirmations at this point in his first term was Barack Obama (D) with 42.
Ranked-choice voting: How Alaska’s approach compares to the system proposed in Nevada
Last week, the results of Alaska’s special election using ranked-choice voting were released. Let’s take a brief tour through how Alaska got RCV and how that compares to what voters in Nevada will see on the ballots this fall. Voters in Alaska approved Measure 2, which implemented a ranked-choice voting system, on Nov. 3, 2020. The measure passed 50.55% to 49.45%. Measure 2 replaced Alaska’s voting system with an open top-four primary and a general election conducted using ranked-choice voting. It also implemented new campaign finance disclosure requirements.
Alaska’s adoption of Measure 2 made it the first state to adopt the top-four primary.
Before we dive into Nevada, here’s a refresh on how Alaska’s open top-four primary and ranked-choice voting general election system works:
In Alaska’s top-four open primary, the closed primary is replaced with an open primary. In a closed primary, only voters who are registered or affiliated with a particular party can participate in that party’s primary. In an open primary, any voter may participate and vote for any candidate regardless of their partisan affiliation. Candidates can also be unaffiliated with a political party. The voter selects their preferred primary candidate, with the top four vote-getters moving on to the general election. Alaska uses a top-four primary for state executive, state legislative, and congressional office.
In Alaska’s ranked-choice general election, the top four candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are on the ballot. Voters rank the four candidates by their preference. If a candidate is ranked at the top of a simple majority of ballots (50%+1), that candidate is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a simple majority of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. When a candidate is eliminated, a new round of counting begins where ballots cast for the eliminated candidate are counted for the voter’s next choice. The process continues until there are two candidates remaining, and the candidate with the most votes wins. In Alaska, a ranked-choice general election is used for state, congressional, and presidential elections.
Meanwhile, in Nevada, a ballot initiative is proposing a top-five ranked-choice voting system for the state. This system is similar to Alaska’s top-four system, but would allow five candidates to advance from the primary to the general election.
Both Nevada’s top-five primary and ranked-choice voting general would apply to congressional, gubernatorial, state executive official, and state legislative elections, but not presidential elections.
The Nevada Voters First PAC is sponsoring the ballot initiative that would adopt a top-five ranked-choice system in Nevada. The PAC raised $2.43 million, including $1 million from Katherine Gehl, the founder of the nonprofit Institute for Political Innovation. Protect Your Vote Nevada is leading the opposition effort and has raised $1.27 million so far.
Several Democratic state legislators have spoken out against the initiative, saying it could be “confusing” or “time consuming”. Initiative supporters say it gives voters “more options”, and that it allows nonpartisan or independent voters a chance to vote in the primary.
Alaskans for Better Elections PAC and Yes on 2 for Better Elections PAC sponsored Measure 2, the ranked-choice voting initiative Alaska voters approved in 2020. Other supporters of the measure included Democratic, Republican, and Independent state senators and representatives in Alaska, as well as organizations like the League of Women Voters Alaska and RepresentUs. Measure 2 was opposed by the Defend Alaska Elections and Protect Our Elections campaigns. The Republican Party of Alaska also opposed the measure, as well as Republican state legislators and former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D). The campaigns in support of the measure raised $6.8 million, including $3.4 million from Unite America, a nonprofit based in Denver, Colorado. The campaigns in opposition to the measure raised $579,426, including $100,000 from the State Republican Leadership Committee.
Georgia voters may determine the partisan balance in the U.S. Senate on Nov. 8
Today is the sixth day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring Georgia, the Peach State.
Week Two: California
On the ballot in Georgia
At the federal level, Georgia voters will elect one senator and 14 representatives.
At the state level, the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and four seats on the state supreme court are up for election.
All 56 seats in the state Senate and all 180 seats in the state Assembly are up for election.
Of the 14 U.S. House seats up for election, two are open. Of the 236 state legislative seats up for election, 51 are open.
Additionally, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in DeKalb and Fulton counties.
Georgia was apportioned 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it was apportioned after the 2010 census.
Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Georgia:
To use our tool to view Georgia’s state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle, visit our Georgia redistricting page.
- Both of Georgia’s U.S. Senators–Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock–are Democrats.
- Democrats represent six of the state’s U.S. House districts. Republicans represent eight.
- Republicans hold a 34-22 majority in the state Senate and a 103-76 majority in the state House. The governor–Brian Kemp–is a Republican, making Georgia one of the nation’s 23 Republican trifectas. Georgia has been a Republican trifecta since 2005.
- Georgia’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are all Republicans, making the state one of the nation’s 23 Republican triplexes.
Seats contested by only one major party
In 2022, 122 state legislative seats in Georgia, or 52% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either the Democratic or Republican parties runs for a state legislative seat, the seat is all but guaranteed to be won by that party.
Democrats are running in 71% of all state legislative races. Sixty-eight state legislative seats (29% of all state legislative seats) do not have a Democratic candidate and are likely to be won by a Republican.
Republicans are running in 77% of all state legislative races. Fifty-four seats (23% of all state legislative seats) do not have a Republican candidate and are likely to be won by a Democrat.
- Georgia gubernatorial election, 2022: Incumbent Brian Kemp (R), Stacey Abrams (D), and three others are running for governor of Georgia. This race is a rematch. In 2018, Kemp defeated Abrams 50% to 49%. To view our coverage of the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, click here.
- U.S. Senate election in Georgia, 2022: Incumbent Raphael Warnock (D), Herschel Walker (R), and Chase Oliver (L) are running to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate. Warnock won a 2021 special election to replace Johnny Isakson (R), who resigned for health reasons. Analysts have identified this as a key race in determining the partisan balance of the U.S. Senate.
- Georgia Secretary of State, 2022: Incumbent Brad Raffensperger (R), Bee Nguyen (D), and two others are running for Georgia Secretary of State. Raffensperger’s dispute with former President Donald Trump (R) over the 2020 presidential election has drawn national attention to this race.
Georgia voters will decide four statewide ballot measures on Nov. 8, 2022:
- The Suspend Compensation for Assembly Members and Public Officials Indicted for a Felony Amendment would allow the suspension of compensation of certain public officials while the individual is suspended from office for being indicted for a felony.
- The Temporary Property Tax Change for Disaster Areas Amendment would authorize local governments to grant temporary property tax changes for properties damaged by disaster events and located within disaster areas.
- The Merged Family-Owned Farms and Dairy and Eggs Tax Exemption Measure would expand a property tax exemption to include merged family farms and dairy products and eggs.
- The Timber Equipment Exempt from Property Taxes Measure would exempt timber equipment owned by a timber producer from ad valorem property taxes.
A total of 132 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Of that number, 105 ballot measures were approved, and 27 were defeated.
- On Election Day, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. An individual in line at the time polls close must be allowed to vote.
- Georgia requires voters to present photo identification at the polls. For more information about voter ID requirements in Georgia, click here.
- Early voting in Georgia is available to all voters. Early voting starts on Oct. 17 and ends on Nov. 4.
- The voting registration deadline in Georgia is Oct. 11. Registration can be done online, in person, or by mail. Georgia does not allow same-day voter registration.
- Any voter registered in Georgia can vote absentee by mail. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 28. Ballots can be returned in person or by mail. Ballots must be received by Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
- To check the status of your ballot, click here.
Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool!