The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration, March 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 had 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 March 3, state legislatures have acted on 264 bills, a 6.4% decrease from last week’s 280 bills. Of these bills, 109 are from states with Democratic trifectas, 118 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 37 are from states with divided governments. These 264 bills represent 14.8% of the 1,773 pieces of legislation we are currently tracking. At this point in 2022, we were tracking 2,252 pieces of legislation. 

The bill topic with the most activity this week was contest-specific procedures (25), a category that includes primary systems, municipal election procedures, recall elections, special election procedures, and other systems unique to a particular election type. Other topics with the most activity included voter registration and list maintenance (24), audits and oversight (23), ballot verification (23), and ballot access (17). 

5 bills were defeated in committee or by floor vote.

  • Republican trifectas: 5

185 bills were introduced (or had pre-committee action).

  • Democratic trifectas: 97
  • Republican trifectas: 69
  • Divided governments: 19

12 bills advanced from committee. 

  • Democratic trifectas: 3
  • Republican trifectas: 9

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

  • Democratic trifectas: 5
  • Republican trifectas: 21
  • Divided governments: 17

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

  • Democratic trifectas: 1
  • Republican trifectas: 13
    • AR HB1419: To Create The Ensuring Access For All Arkansans And Voter Protection Act Of 2023; To Amend The Procedure For The Filing Of A Ballot Initiative And Referendum Petition; And To Declare An Emergency.
    • SD HB1123: Authorize school boards to modify the length of terms for members to allow for holding joint elections.
    • SD SB161: Make an appropriation to the Office of the Secretary of State for voter roll maintenance, ballot machines, and election security.
    • SD SB140: Revise certain provisions relating to voter registration.
    • SD SB160: Establish post-election audits.
    • SD HB1124: Modify provisions pertaining to the testing of automatic tabulating equipment.
    • SD SB55: Prohibit ranked-choice voting.
    • SD SB113: Establish and modify provisions related to initiated petitions.
    • SD SB139: Revise provisions qualifications for the purposes of voter registration.
    • SD SJR505: Proposing and submitting to the electors at the next general election an amendment to the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, updating references to certain officeholders and persons.
    • UT HB0365: Voter Affiliation Amendments
    • UT HB0303: Elections Record Amendments
  • Divided governments: 1
    • VA HB2161: Local government; standardization of public notice requirements for certain intended actions.

4 bills were enacted. Those bills, with bill titles and summaries, are:

  • Democratic trifectas: 3
    • NY S00852: Relates to the accessibility of congressional, senatorial, assembly and election district maps in downloadable digital file formats compatible with geographic information (GIS) software.
      • This bill requires the board of elections to make district maps in a digital format compatible with geographic information system (GIS) software, including shapefile, geodatabase, KML, or other similar vector-based GIS file types.
    • NY S00822: Permits electronic correspondence with regard to determinations on objections to designating petitions, independent nominating petitions, certificates of nomination or ballot access documents upon the consent of the objector.
      • This bill allows state agencies to notify objectors to designating petitions, independent nominating petitions, certificates of nomination, or ballot access documents of the date they will consider the petition through email in addition to overnight mail. 
    • MN HF28: Right to vote restored to individuals convicted of a felony upon completion of any term of incarceration imposed and executed by a court for the offense.
      • This bill restores voting rights to individuals charged or convicted of a felony that are not currently incarcerated.
  • Republican trifectas: 1
    • SD SB46: Enhance the penalty for petition circulation perjury.
      • This bill creates additional requirements for filing a petition to initiate an amendment to the state constitution, including requiring a petition circulator to sign a verification form. The bill also makes falsely attesting to petition verification a felony.

The big picture

To date, we have tracked 1,773 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 1,773 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. Click here to see a full list of subject categories.

Recent news

U.S. Supreme Court requests additional briefs in North Carolina redistricting case 

On March 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered both parties in a case involving North Carolina’s congressional district maps to provide additional briefings. North Carolina Republican lawmakers originally submitted an emergency filing with the United States Supreme Court on Feb. 25, 2022, challenging the congressional district boundaries enacted after the 2020 census. In the order, the court requested “supplemental letter briefs addressing the following question: What is the affect on this Court’s jurisdiction under 28 U. S. C. §1257(a)  and Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U. S. 469 (1975), of the North Carolina Supreme Court’s February 3, 2023 order granting rehearing, and any subsequent state court proceedings?” The parties must file the additional briefing simultaneously on or before 2 p.m., Monday, March 20.

Three more states withdraw from voter data organization

Missouri, Florida, and West Virginia withdrew from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) on March 6. Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) said the state was withdrawing because ERIC would not “require member states to participate in addressing multi-state voter fraud.” West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) said, “It truly is a shame that an organization founded on the principle of nonpartisanship would allow the opportunity for partisanship to stray the organization from the equally important principle of upholding the public’s confidence.” ERIC Executive Director Shane Hamlin said, “ERIC is never connected to any state’s voter registration system. Members retain complete control over their voter rolls and they use the reports we provide in ways that comply with federal and state laws.” Hamlin also said ERIC “follow[s] widely accepted security protocols for handling the data we utilize to create the reports.” The announcements follow withdrawals by Alabama and Louisiana in January of 2023 and 2022, respectively. According to its website, ERIC is a nonprofit organization of member-states who share information like voter registration and motor vehicle registration records in order to improve the accuracy of each state’s voter rolls. Twenty-eight states and Washington, D.C. remain members of ERIC.