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, nationwide trends, and recent news.
In today’s issue, you’ll find:
- Legislative activity: About the bills acted on this week and a big-picture look at all the bills we have tracked this year.
- Recent news: Noteworthy developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local levels, including litigation and ballot measures.
State legislatures acted on 261 election-related bills from March 24 to March 30, down from 351 bills the previous week.
- These 261 bills are 11.6% of the 2,254 election-related bills introduced in 2023. At this point in 2022, we were tracking 2,358 election-related bills in state legislatures, 4.6% more than this year.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were voter registration and list maintenance (35), contest-specific procedures (32), ballot access (30), audits and oversight (27), and absentee/mail-in voting (26).
- Fifty-one (19.5%) of the bills with activity this week are in Democratic trifecta states, 167 (64.1%) are in Republican trifecta states, and 43 (16.4%) are in states with divided governments.
- South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) and Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) both signed bills prohibiting ranked-choice voting in the past week. Noem signed SB55 on March 27. This Republican-sponsored bill prohibits ranked-choice voting at any level of government. Little signed H0179 on March 24. This bill prohibits ranked-choice voting or instant runoff voting for any election or candidate nomination in the state. Republicans currently have a state government trifectas in both states, controlling the governorship and both chambers of the legislature. Idaho and South Dakota are two of 37 states that do not use ranked-choice voting in any form. Montana legislators are considering a bill to prohibit ranked-choice voting, and Florida and Tennessee both enacted similar laws in 2022. We are currently tracking over 60 bills related to ranked-choice voting, a similar number to what we tracked in 2022. Democrats have sponsored 31 of these bills, while Republicans have sponsored 19.
Recent activity and status changes
Of all election-related bills in state legislatures in 2023:
- 67 have been enacted (+47 from last week)
- 15 passed both chambers (-31)
- 162 passed one chamber (+38)
- 2 advanced from committee (-65)
- 1,957 have been introduced (+236)
- 50 are dead (+24)
States have enacted 67 election-related bills in 2023, 54.5% of the 123 bills states had enacted at this point in 2022. Twenty-five of these bills have been enacted since March 24. To see all bills enacted this year, click here.
Bills enacted since March 24, with their official titles, are below.
Arkansas (Republican trifecta)
- AR SB293: To Amend The Law Concerning The Correction Of Errors On Ballots; To Amend The Law Concerning Election Procedures; And To Create A Procedure For Candidate Review Of Ballots.
- AR SB255: To Amend The Law Concerning The Allocation Of Election Expenses; And To Restrict The Source Of Election Funding.
- AR SB258: To Amend The Method Of Voting Absentee; And To Prohibit The Use Of Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes.
- AR SB250: To Amend The Law Concerning Paper Ballots; To Amend The Law Concerning Marking And Counting Paper Ballots; To Amend The Law Concerning The Declaration Of Election Results; And To Declare An Emergency.
Idaho (Republican trifecta)
- ID H0179: Adds to existing law to prohibit the use of ranked choice voting in Idaho.
North Dakota (Republican trifecta)
- ND HB1192: Electronic voting systems, electronic voting devices, absentee voting, meeting of presidential electors, and canvassing boards.
- ND HB1293: Election of city commissioners, city council members, and park district commissioners.
- ND SB2050: A political subdivision’s ability to establish a library without an election and local maintenance efforts of public libraries; and to provide an effective date.
- ND SB2292: Election offenses and election observers; and to provide a penalty.
- ND SB2163: Language on voting ballots.
New York (Democratic trifecta)
- NY S01327: Relates to certain deadlines for voter registration; changes the amount of time required with respect to certain deadlines for voter registration procedures.
South Dakota (Republican trifecta)
- SD SB139: Revise residency requirements for the purposes of voter registration.
- SD HB1165: Modify certain provisions pertaining to absentee voting.
- SD SB160: Establish post-election audits.
- SD SB140: Revise certain provisions relating to voter registration.
- SD HB1148: Clarify registration and residence requirements for voting at a township meeting.
- SD HB1124: Modify provisions pertaining to the testing of automatic tabulating equipment.
- SD HB1123: Authorize school boards to modify the length of terms for members to allow for holding joint elections.
- SD SB55: Prohibit ranked-choice voting.
- SD SB161: Make an appropriation to the Office of the Secretary of State for voter roll maintenance, ballot machines, and election security.
- SD SB113: Establish and modify provisions related to initiated petitions.
Virginia (Divided government)
- VA SB1150: 2011 district descriptions; legal boundaries.
- VA SB1151: Local government; standardization of public notice requirements for certain intended actions.
- VA HB2161: Local government; standardization of public notice requirements for certain intended actions.
West Virginia (Republican trifecta)
- WV SB522: Allocating percentage of county excise taxes for funding improvements to election administration
Bills that passed both chambers
Fifteen bills have passed both chambers (but have not yet been enacted) in 2023, 36.6% of the 41 bills that had passed both chambers at this point in 2022. To see all bills that have currently passed both chambers, click here.
Active bills that passed both chambers since March. 24, with their official titles, are below.
Idaho (Republican trifecta)
- ID H0138: Amends and repeals existing law to consolidate presidential primaries with the primary election.
Indiana (Republican trifecta)
Montana (Republican trifecta)
- MT HB172: Revise laws related to post-election audits
Tennessee (Republican trifecta)
- TN SB1541: AN ACT to amend Chapter 563 of the Acts of 1903; as amended by Chapter 64 of the Acts of 1907; Chapter 647 of the Private Acts of 1911; Chapter 158 of the Private Acts of 1915; Chapter 170 of the Private Acts of 1915; Chapter 3 of the Private Acts of 1917; Chapter 397 of the Private Acts of 1919; Chapter 23 of the Private Acts of 1919; Chapter 231 of the Private Acts of 1919; Chapter 764 of the Private Acts of 1927; Chapter 232 of the Private Acts of 1941; Chapter 669 of the Private Acts of 1947
Virginia (Divided government)
- VA HB1948: Absentee voting; removes witness requirement, required information on return ballot envelope.
Fifty bills have been defeated in 2023, 31.6% of the 158 bills that were defeated at this point in 2022. To see all bills that have been defeated in 2023, click here.
Bills that were defeated in committee or by a floor vote since March 24, with their official titles, are below.
Tennessee (Republican trifecta)
- TN SB0942: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 2, relative to voter registration.
Recent activity by topic and sponsorship
The chart below shows the topics of the bills state legislatures acted on since March 24. Click here to see a full list of bill categories and their definitions.
* Note: Contest-specific procedures refers to primary systems, municipal election procedures, recall elections, special election procedures, and other systems unique to a particular election type.
All 2023 bills by topic and sponsorship
The chart below shows the topics of a sample of the 2,254 bills we have tracked this year. Note that the sums of the numbers listed do not equal the total number of bills because some bills deal with multiple topics.
Recent activity by state and trifecta status
Of the 261 bills state legislators acted on this week:
- 51 are in Democratic trifectas
- 167 in Republican trifectas
- 43 are in divided governments.
The map below shows election-related bills acted on in the past week by state trifecta status.
All 2023 bills by state and trifecta status
The map below shows the number of election-related bills introduced by state in 2023 by state trifecta status.
Ohio voter ID law to take effect
A bill modifying Ohio’s election laws is set to take effect on Thursday, April 7. Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed HB458 into law on Jan. 6, 2023. The bill makes several changes to Ohio’s election laws, including adding a photo identification (ID) requirement for registration and voting, shortening the early voting period, changing the deadlines to request, return, and cure absentee/mail-in ballots, and adjusting the number of ballot dropboxes allowed in each county. Dewine said in a statement that, “Elections integrity is a significant concern to Americans on both sides of the aisle across the country. At the same time, I have long believed that Ohio does a good of administering elections, as we have provided ample opportunities to cast votes while avoiding the problems we have seen in recent federal elections in other states.” Ohio Democrats criticized the bill, with Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters (D) saying HB458 was “one of the worst anti-voter bills in the entire country” and that “Ohio Republicans know that their out-of-touch agenda and anti-worker policies are betraying Ohio voters, and they don’t want to be held accountable.”
Virginia governor changes felon voting restrictions
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) announced on March 22 that he would change how Virginia voters with felony records regain the right to vote. Virginia’s state constitution says, “No person who has been convicted of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority.” Former governors Terry McAuliffe (D) and Ralph Northam (D) had previously automatically restored voting rights to felons upon completion of their prison sentences. Youngkin announced he would instead consider individual applications for voting rights restoration after the completion of a felony sentence, including prison time, parole, and probation. Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said, “Restoration of rights are assessed on an individual basis according to the law and take into consideration the unique elements of each situation, practicing grace for those who need it and ensuring public safety for our community and families.” State Senator Scott Surovell (D) said “multiple studies that have shown that when you restore someone’s rights, the odds of them recidivating, committing another crime, go down by 18%. If you’re actually tough on crime, you’re trying to prevent crime, you restore rights.”