322 election-related bills introduced in state legislatures last week

Welcome to the Wednesday, February 8, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 322 election-related bills introduced in state legislatures
  2. Comparing presidential Article III federal judicial nominations since 2001
  3. Biden gives State of the Union address, Arkansas Gov. Sanders gives Republican response

322 election-related bills introduced in state legislatures 

Election administration in the U.S. is an ever-changing patchwork of federal, state, and local laws and policies. Our Election Administration Legislation Tracker helps you cut through the noise and The Ballot Bulletin, a weekly digest of election-related bills and news, keeps you in the know.  

Let’s take a look at the election administration legislation big picture so far this year using data from our Legislation Tracker. 

Since Jan. 27, 322 election-related bills have been introduced (or had pre-committee action)

That’s a 17.1% increase from last week’s total of 275 bills. These 322 bills represent 27% of the 1,192 pieces of legislation we are currently tracking this year. Of the 322 bills, 73 are from states with Democratic trifectas, 177 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 72 are from states with a divided government.

We have tracked 1,192 election-related bills in 2023. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. One bill has been enacted, one has passed both chambers, and 32 have passed one chamber.  

Election administration is a term that covers many subjects. The chart below breaks down some of the specific subjects lawmakers have addressed in their bills.

Our weekly election administration digest brings you the latest election administration news. Here’s an example of some stories we’re following:

  • On Jan. 22, Alaska Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom (R) approved a ballot initiative for circulation that would eliminate open top-four primaries and ranked-choice voting in general elections and establish a party primary system. Alaska and Maine are the only states that have implemented ranked-choice voting for federal and state elections. 
  • In Wisconsin, on Jan. 24,  Dane County Circuit Court Judge Nia Trammell heard arguments over whether absentee ballots without parts of a witness’ address should be counted. The lawsuit asks the court to rule on conflicting interpretations of what constitutes a missing address.

To learn more about election-related legislation, click the link below and subscribe to The Ballot Bulletin. You’ll receive weekly updates on election-related activity across the states, including noteworthy bills, enacted legislation, and which states have the most legislative activity. You can also use our interactive Election Administration Legislation Tracker to find and read election-related bills in your state. 

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Biden has nominated 152 judges to Article III judgeships  

Here’s a quick update on judicial vacancies on Article III courts and President Joe Biden’s (D) nominations to fill those vacancies. Article III judgeships are lifetime appointments. 

As of Feb. 1, 743 days into his term, President Biden has nominated 152 judges. Currently, there are 890 authorized federal judgeships and 89 vacancies.

  • No judges were confirmed in January 2023.
  • In the last 30 days, Biden has announced he will make four judicial nominations. 

Here’s how Biden compares to his predecessors*

  1. At 743 days into office, President Donald Trump (R) had nominated 177 individuals, 139 of whom were confirmed.
  2. President Barack Obama (D) had nominated 128 individuals, 110 of whom were confirmed.
  3. President George W. Bush (R) had nominated 183 individuals, 128 of whom were confirmed.

*Note: These figures include unsuccessful nominations.

The following charts track the number of presidential Article III judicial nominations by days in office during the Biden, Trump, Obama, and W. Bush administrations (2001-present). 

The first tracker is limited to nominees who were confirmed:

The second tracker counts all Article III nominations, including unsuccessful nominations (for example, the nomination was withdrawn or the U.S. Senate did not vote on the nomination), renominations of individuals to the same court, and recess appointments. A recess appointment is when the president appoints a federal official while the Senate is in recess.

We compile this data using the Federal Judicial Center’s publicly available information. Learn more about federal judicial vacancies at the link below.
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Biden gives State of the Union address, Arkansas Gov. Sanders gives Republican response

Yesterday, on Feb. 7, President Biden addressed Congress in the annual State of the Union speech. It was Biden’s second State of the Union since becoming president in 2021. Although Biden addressed Congress on April 28, 2021, the speech was not considered a State of the Union address, in keeping with the tradition that presidents do not give State of the Union addresses only a few weeks into office. 

Presidents usually give the State of the Union in January or February. The address comes from Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution: “[The president] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient…” 

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) delivered the Republican Party’s response.

If you’d like to read Biden’s address and Sanders’ response and learn more about the history of the State of the Union address, click the link below. 

We’ve compiled information and transcripts on every State of the Union, annual address, and other presidential speeches going back to 1921:

  • That’s 68 States of the Unions and 75 other presidential addresses (excluding inauguration speeches). 
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave the most addresses (17), followed by President Harry S. Truman (15), and President Ronald Reagan (11). 
  • Biden, with three, has so far given the fewest addresses.

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