The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration, March 17, 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 10, state legislatures have acted on 379 bills, a 35.6% increase from last week’s 280 bills. Of these, 147 are from states with Democratic trifectas, 208 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 24 are from states with divided governments. These 379 bills represent 20.1% of the 1,889 pieces of legislation we are currently tracking. At this point in 2022, we were tracking 2,288 pieces of legislation. 

The topics with the most activity this week were:

  • Ballot access: 50
  • Voter registration and list maintenance: 46
  • Audits and oversight: 42
  • Ballot counting and certification: 41
  • Contest-specific procedures (Primary systems, municipal election procedures, recall elections, special election procedures, and other systems unique to a particular election type): 41

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

  • Democratic trifectas: 128
  • Republican trifectas: 160
  • Divided governments: 12

16 bills advanced from committee. 

  • Democratic trifectas: 7
  • Republican trifectas: 8
  • Divided governments: 1

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

  • Democratic trifectas: 8
  • Republican trifectas: 27
  • Divided governments: 10

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

  • Democratic trifectas: 4
  • Republican trifectas: 13
    • AR HB1461: To Require Legislative Review Of New Federal Election Guidance; And To Amend The Duties Of The Secretary Of State.
    • GA HB532: Pike County; Magistrate Court; chief judge; provide nonpartisan elections
    • ID H0124: Amends existing law to revise provisions regarding accepted voter identification at the polls.
    • IN SB0106: Local powers concerning elections.
    • ND SB2292: Relating to election offenses and election observers; and to provide a penalty.
    • SC H3961: Dorchester School District 2
    • UT SB0043: Public Notice Requirements
    • UT SB0063: Election Candidate Replacement Amendments
    • UT HB0162: Voter Accessibility Amendments
    • UT SB0017: Voting and Voter Residency Amendments
    • UT HB0303: Elections Record Amendments
    • UT HB0037: Voter Signature Verification Amendments
    • UT HB0365: Voter Affiliation Amendments
  • Divided governments: 1
    • VA HB2161: Local government; standardization of public notice requirements for certain intended actions.

The big picture

To date, we have tracked 1,889 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.

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 1,889 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

Minnesota enacts bill on felon voting rights

On March 3, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed HF28, a bill allowing convicted felons who have completed their sentences to vote. Walz said, “Minnesotans who have completed time for their offenses and are living, working, and raising families in their communities deserve the right to vote.” State Sen. Warren Limmer (R), who opposed the bill, said, “There are some offenders that have committed heinous crimes against innocent citizens. I don’t think the Senate understands that. Because this bill treats it as a one-size-fits all — all criminals get the same treatment.” Minnesota, which has a Democratic trifecta, joins 21 other states in granting voting rights to individuals convicted of a felony after completion of their sentences. The New Mexico State Legislature passed a similar bill, HF4, on March 13, submitting it to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D). New Mexico also has a Democratic trifecta. 

North Carolina Supreme Court reconsiders voter ID requirements

On March 15, the North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments in a case concerning a 2018 law requiring a photo ID to vote. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed the lawsuit on behalf of six state residents against the North Carolina Board of Elections, Speaker of the House Timothy K. Moore (R), Senate President Phil Berger (R), state Sen. Ralph Hise (R), and former state Rep. David Lewis, Sr. (R). In December 2022, the court, which had a 4-3 Democratic majority, upheld a lower court’s determination that the law was unconstitutional. After Republicans won both of the state’s supreme court seats up for election in the 2022, gaining a 5-2 majority the court, the justices agreed to re-hear the case. In the most recent hearing, Attorney Paul Brachman, said, “This law does bear more heavily on African American voters because they’re more likely to lack a qualifying ID, more likely to face difficulties acquiring an ID.” The defendants’ attorney Pete Patterson said, “The law does not bespeak discriminatory intent, racially discriminatory intent, to enact a voter ID law that allows everyone to vote.”