Day 5 of our Top 15 stories to watch in 2023 – looking to 2024

Welcome to the Friday, March 10, Brew. 

All this week, we celebrated Ballotpedia’s 15th Anniversary by bringing you to the top 15 political stories to keep an eye on this year.

Today, we’re looking ahead at how what happens in 2023 might affect elections in 2024.

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

  1. Legislators have introduced more than 1,700 election-related bills this year
  2. Republican presidential primary debates to begin in August
  3. Ballot measures in 2023 and beyond
  4. Eleven members of Congress are not seeking re-election in 2024

Legislators have introduced more than 1,700 election-related bills this year

Before we get to the who’s and what’s of 2024, let’s look at how state legislative activity this year might affect how elections operate next year.

We have tracked 1,742 pieces of election-related state legislation this year through our Election Administration Legislation Tracker. State legislators introduced these bills this year or crossed them over from last year’s legislative sessions.

Of these bills:

  • 59 have advanced from committee but not from the chamber where they were introduced;
  • 98 passed one chamber;
  • 28 passed both chambers; and,
  • 24 were defeated in committee or by a chamber vote.

Governors in six states have signed nine election-related bills into law, including:

  • Michigan’s SB13, which sets the state’s presidential primary on the fourth Tuesday of February and establishes qualifications for parties to participate; 
  • Minnesota’s HF28, which restores voting rights to individuals charged or convicted of a felony who are not currently incarcerated; and,
  • Wyoming’s HB79, which allows voters to use a valid concealed carry permit as a form of voter identification.

We’ve tracked the most election-related legislation across the 17 states with Democratic trifectas at 887.

In the 22 states with Republican trifectas, we’ve tracked 685 pieces of legislation and identified 170 bills in the 11 states with divided governments.

Among states with Democratic trifectas, legislators in New York have introduced the most election-related legislation at 248 bills, also the nationwide high. Among those with Republican trifectas, legislators in Texas have introduced 106 bills. In states with divided governments, legislators in Arizona top the list with 43 bills introduced.

Legislators in Louisiana, Massachusetts, and West Virginia have not introduced any election-related legislation to date.

Party sponsorship is roughly equal, with Republican legislators sponsoring 45% of the bills and Democratic legislators sponsoring 42%. A combination of Republicans and Democrats have sponsored 5% of these bills, and partisan sponsorship for 8% is unavailable.

In 2022, legislators introduced 2,596 election-related bills, 266 of which (10%) became law. 

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Republican presidential primary debates to begin in August

The first debate of the 2024 presidential election cycle is five months away, with Republican candidates set to debate in Milwaukee, Wisc., sometime this August.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) selected the location and month at their Feb. 23 meeting, though the specific date has yet to be determined.

The Associated Press’ Steve Peoples reported that the RNC is planning 10 to 12 debates between August 2023 and the Republican National Convention, which begins on July 15, 2024.

To qualify for these debates, the RNC is considering a number of donors threshold, a polling threshold of 1 or 2%, and a pledge from each candidate that they will support the party’s nominee in the general election.

As of March 9, Ballotpedia has identified four noteworthy candidates seeking the Republican nomination, but the field is expected to grow in the coming months. This list includes former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Montana Sec. of State Corey Stapleton, and former President Donald Trump.

National Democrats have not announced any plans for primary debates. Incumbent Joe Biden (D) has not yet declared his candidacy, though Marianne Williamson, who sought the party’s nomination in 2020, recently announced a primary bid.

In 2020, the Democratic Party held 11 primary debates, two of which took place over two nights to account for the large candidate field at the start of the race. Republicans held no primary debates since then-incumbent Donald Trump (R) was seeking re-election.

In 2016, the presidency was open. Democrats held nine primary debates, and Republicans held 12.

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Ballot measures in 2023 and beyond

Looking ahead through 2023 and into 2024, we expect to see notable ballot measures relating to marijuana, law enforcement, abortion, minimum wage, and ranked-choice voting.

Already, we are tracking more than 30 potential ballot measures for 2023, including initiatives relating to:

  • Abortion, minimum wage increases, and marijuana legalization in Ohio
  • Right-to-repair, campaign finance, and energy in Maine;
  • An amendment to re-establish the initiative process in Mississippi; and,
  • Six constitutional amendments in Pennsylvania.

And five measures already qualified for the 2023 ballot in three states:

  • Oklahoma, where voters defeated a recreational marijuana legalization initiative 62-38% on March 7; 
  • Wisconsin, which has three measures—two constitutional amendments and one advisory question—on its April 4 ballot; and,
  • Louisiana, where voters will decide a constitutional amendment regarding gubernatorial deadlines and legislative veto sessions on Nov. 18.

Looking ahead to 2024, 17 measures have been certified in eight states.

Seven of those measures are on the ballot in California, including propositions increasing the state’s minimum wage to $18 per hour, changing laws governing labor violations, and requiring all new taxes to receive a two-thirds legislative vote and voter approval before enactment.

Nevada voters will decide on two constitutional amendments. One would repeal language allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishment, a popular ballot measure topic in recent years. The other would create a top-five primary system and ranked-choice voting. Voters approved this measure in 2022, 53-47%. Since it is an initiated constitutional amendment, voters must approve it in two consecutive elections to be enacted.

New Yorkers will decide on a measure to amend the Equal Protection Clause, adding “sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy” as protected classes.

Arizona, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming voters will also have measures on their 2024 ballots.

Looking at some of the most popular topics, there were six abortion-related measures on statewide ballots in 2022, the most ever. So far, there are two potential abortion-related measures for 2023 (Pennsylvania and Ohio), and three potential measures for 2024 (Florida, Iowa, and south Dakota).

Voting policy changes, like ranked-choice voting, have also been filed in Missouri and Oregon, in addition to the measure set for Nevadans’ 2024 ballots.

Minimum wage increases will likely be on several statewide ballots in the coming years. In addition to the measure set to go before Californians in 2024, proponents for one measure in Michigan have submitted signatures, and proponents are gathering signatures for others in Arizona and Missouri.

From 2011 to 2021, voters decided an average of 33 statewide ballot measures in odd-numbered years. Over the last decade, voters have decided an average of 161 statewide measures in even-numbered years.

Click here for 2023 measures and here for those in 2024.

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Eleven members of Congress are not seeking re-election in 2024

Over the next 12 months, we will learn who is and who is not seeking re-election to Congress in 2024. Most retirement announcements come during the odd-numbered year before and the first few months of the election year, setting the stage for some of the most competitive primaries and general elections.

As of March 9, 11 members of Congress—three U.S. Senators and eight U.S. Representatives—have announced they will not seek re-election in 2024.

This includes seven Democrats—U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and five House members—as well as four Republicans—U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and three House members.

Fewer Senators have announced their retirements this year than at the same point in the 2022 election cycle (four) but more than the number at this point in the 2020 (two) and 2018 (none) election cycles.

More House members have announced their retirements this year than at the same point in the 2022 election cycle, when only Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) had announced her retirement. Retirements in this election cycle also currently exceed those at the same point in the 2020 (two) and 2018 (four) election cycles.

Of the Senators not running for re-election, Feinstein and Stabenow are retiring from public office. Braun is running for governor of Indiana.

Seven of the eight U.S. House members not running for re-election are running for the U.S. Senate, including five running for the open seats in California, Michigan, and Indiana, specifically:

  • Reps. Barbara Lee (D), Katie Porter (D), and Adam Schiff (D) are running to replace Feinstein;
  • Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D) is running to replace Stabenow; and,
  • Rep. Jim Banks (R) is running to replace Braun.

And two other House members are challenging incumbent senators:

  • Rep. Alex Mooney (R) is running against Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in West Virginia, though Manchin has not yet announced whether he will seek re-election; and,
  • Rep. Rubén Gallego (D) is running against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) in Arizona.

Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) is the only House incumbent to announce retirement from public office.

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