The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration, February 10, 2023

Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration. Every Friday, we deliver the latest updates on election policy around the country, including legislative activity, big-picture trends, and recent news.

In today’s issue, you’ll find: 

  • Legislative activity: About the bills acted on this week. 
  • The big picture
    • Legislative status: The number of bills introduced, voted on, or enacted into law.
    • Concentration of activity: The states that have seen the most legislative activity.
    • Partisan affiliation of sponsorship: The number of bills that Democrats and Republicans have sponsored. 
  • Recent news: Noteworthy developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local levels, including litigation and ballot measures. 

Legislative activity

Since Feb. 3, state legislatures have acted on 351 bills, a 9% increase from last week’s 322 bills. These 351 bills represent 25.7% of the 1,366 pieces of legislation we are currently tracking this year. Ninety-eight of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, 178 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 75 are from states with a divided government.

One bill was defeated in committee or by floor vote.

  • Republican trifectas: 1

295 bills were introduced (or saw pre-committee action).

  • Democratic trifectas: 89
  • Republican trifectas: 147
  • Divided governments: 59

19 bills advanced from committee. 

  • Democratic trifectas: 5
  • Republican trifectas: 4
  • Divided governments: 10

34 bills passed one chamber (or had pre-adoption action in the second chamber). 

  • Democratic trifectas: 4
  • Republican trifectas: 24
  • Divided governments: 6

Two bills passed both chambers. Those bills, with their official bill titles, are:

  • Republican trifectas: 2
    • SD HB1057: Allow for the appointment of county coroner by all counties.
    • SD HB1062: Clarify the convening of recount boards for primary elections.

The big picture

To date, we have tracked 1,366 election-related bills. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. 

Legislative status 

The pie charts below show the legislative status of the bills we are tracking. The following status indicators are used: 

  • Introduced: The bill has been pre-filed, introduced, or referred to committee but has not otherwise been acted on.
  • Advanced from committee: The bill has received a favorable vote in committee. It has either advanced to another committee or to the floor for a vote. 
  • Passed one chamber: One chamber has approved the bill.
  • Conference committee: Chambers have passed differing versions of the bill, and a conference committee has been appointed to reconcile the differences. 
  • Passed both chambers: The bill has cleared both chambers of the legislature. 
  • Enacted: The bill has been enacted into law, by gubernatorial action or inaction or veto override. 
  • Vetoed: The bill has been vetoed. 
  • Dead: The bill has been defeated in committee or on the floor. 

The pie charts below show the legislative status of bills in Democratic and Republican trifectas, respectively. 

Concentration of activity

The map below shows the concentration of legislative activity across the nation. A darker shade of orange indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been introduced. A lighter shade of orange indicates a lower number of relevant bills. 

Partisan affiliation of sponsor(s)

The pie chart below shows the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors.

Bills by topic

The chart below shows the topics of a sample of the 1,366 bills we have tracked this year. The number listed on the blue portion of each bar indicates the number of Democratic-sponsored bills dealing with the subject in question. The number listed on the red portion of the bar indicates the number of Republican-sponsored bills. The purple and gray portions of the bar indicate the number of bipartisan-sponsored bills and bills with unspecified sponsorship, respectively. Note that the sums of the numbers listed do not equal the total number of bills because some bills deal with multiple topics.

Recent news

Court settlement prompts changes to Indiana absentee voting regulations

On Feb. 6, parties in a lawsuit seeking accommodations for voters with visual disabilities settled, allowing these voters to use a computer software program to complete their ballot and submit it via email. Attorneys acting on behalf of three Indiana voters with visual disabilities sued the Indiana Election Commission and the Indiana Secretary of State in December 2020 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Before the settlement, Indiana voting regulations required voters with visual disabilities to fill out absentee ballots with the assistance of county election officials. As part of the settlement, the new software system will be available to voters in advance of the May 2023 primary election.

South Dakota bill would prohibit ranked-choice voting

On Feb. 2, the South Dakota Senate passed SB55, a bill that would prohibit ranked-choice voting in the state. State Sen. John Wiik (R) introduced the bill on Jan. 11, and the bill cleared the Senate State Affairs committee on Feb. 1. Although South Dakota does not currently use ranked-choice voting, the bill would prohibit it from ever being implemented.  The bill is currently in the House State Affairs committee. 

Future of photo ID bill in Pennsylvania lies with Democratic majority in the state House

The Pennsylvania state Senate passed SB1 on Jan. 11, a bill proposing a constitutional amendment to require photo identification from all voters. The bill needs majority support in the state House in order to move forward. In November 2022, Democrats won a 102-101 majority in the state House, gaining majority control for the first time since 2010. However, three Democratic-held districts became vacant after the election, giving Republicans a functional 101-99 majority when the legislative session began in January 2023. On Feb. 7, Democrats won all three special elections held to fill these vacancies. Joe McAndrew (D) won in District 32, Abigail Salisbury (D) won in District 34, and Matthew Gergely (D) won in District 35. House Speaker Mark Rozzi (D) and other House Democrats have expressed opposition to the voter ID amendment.