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 176 election-related bills from March 31 to April 6, down from 261 bills the previous week.
- These 176 bills represent 7.3% of the 2,401 election-related bills introduced in 2023.
- At this point in 2022, 134 bills had been acted on in some way in the past week, and we were tracking 2,494 election-related bills, 3.9% more than this year.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were ballot access (28), audits and oversight (27), voter registration and list maintenance (24), contest specific procedures (22), and counting and certification (19).
- Fifty-one (29%) of the bills with activity this week are in Democratic trifecta states, 105 (59.7%) are in Republican trifecta states, and 20 (11.4%) are in states with divided governments.
- During this week in 2022, 38 (28.4%) were from states with Democratic trifectas, 50 (37.3%) were from states with Republican trifectas, and 46 (34.3%) were from states with divided governments.
- Texas has introduced the most election-related bills this year. New York was the most active state at this point in 2022. South Dakota has enacted the most bills this year. In 2022, New York and California had enacted the most bills at this point.
- Of the bills enacted this year, Democrats have sponsored 20 and Republicans have sponsored 49. Of the enacted bills at this point in 2022, Democrats had sponsored 40 and Republicans had sponsored 78.
Recent activity and status changes
Of all election-related bills in state legislatures in 2023:
- 95 have been enacted (+28 from last week)
- 15 passed both chambers (No change)
- 174 passed one chamber (+12)
- 2 advanced from committee (No change)
- 2,055 have been introduced (+58)
- 58 are dead (+8)
States have enacted 95 election-related bills in 2023, 76% of the 125 bills states had enacted at this point in 2022. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
Bills enacted since March 31, with their official titles, are below.
Hawaii (Democratic trifecta)
- HI HB130: Relating To Validation Of Ballots.
New York (Democratic trifecta)
- NY A05057: Relates to the dates to file a designating petition; provides for the repeal of such provisions.
Bills that passed both chambers
Fifteen bills have passed both chambers (but have not yet been enacted) in 2023, 35.7% of the 42 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. 31, 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)
North Dakota (Republican trifecta)
- ND HB1424: A candidate’s contact information and the form of a nominating petition and a certificate of endorsement.
Montana (Republican trifecta)
- MT HB172: Revise laws related to post-election audits
Fifty-eight bills have been defeated in 2023, 33% of the 176 bills that were defeated at this point in 2022. To see all bills that have been defeated in 2023, click here.
No bills have been defeated since March 31.
Recent activity by topic and sponsorship
The chart below shows the topics of the bills state legislatures acted on since March 31. 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 2,401 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.
Enacted bills by topic and sponsorship, 2022 vs. 2023
Recent activity by state and trifecta status
Of the 176 bills state legislators acted on this week:
- 51 are in Democratic trifectas
- 105 in Republican trifectas
- 20 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.
Parties settle in Colorado voter registration lawsuit
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) and advocacy group Judicial Watch agreed to settle a lawsuit over the state’s voter registration list maintenance on March 31. The group originally filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in October 2020. Judicial Watch alleged Colorado did not maintain voter rolls as required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The NVRA requires states to keep voter registration lists accurate and current, such as identifying people who have died or moved outside the jurisdiction. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “Coming on the heels of a massive voter roll clean up in Colorado thanks to our lawsuit, this settlement agreement is a major victory for all Colorado voters. Simply put: Cleaner voter rolls mean cleaner elections.” Griswold said, “We have a very rigorous list maintenance process and I do not believe that this litigation is about anything based in fact. Election disinformation continues to plague the nation and Colorado, and organizations like Judicial Watch share responsibility for the ongoing threats to democracy.” As part of the agreement, the state denied having violated federal law, but agreed to send yearly reports to Judicial Watch detailing its cleanup of voter registration lists for the next five years.
New Mexico enacts felon voting rights restoration
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed HB4 into law on March 30. Proponents of the law referred to it as the New Mexico Voting Rights Act. The bill makes automatic voter registration, which was previously only available throught the Department of Motor Vehicles, available at other state or local public offices designated by the secretary of state. The state will also join 16 other states that automatically restore voting rights to individuals convicted of a felony immediately after their prison time is completed. In the past, New Mexico restored voting rights to individuals convicted of a felony after completion of their entire sentence, including prison, probation, and parole. Grisham said, “Today, New Mexico is leading the nation by example, declaring that we believe, unequivocally, in the fundamental right of every American to choose those who represent them.” Republican Party of New Mexico spokesperson Ash Soular said, “Instead of focusing on crime this session, progressives rewarded felons who have not completed their parole by restoring their voting rights. RPNM believes felons should have their voting rights restored once they complete their sentence.”
Idaho enacts voter ID bills
On April 6, Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed H0340 into law, making it the sixth voter ID bill enacted this year. At this point in 2022, only two states, Indiana and Utah, had enacted bills on this topic. Idaho enacted another voter ID bill, H0124, earlier this month, which removes student IDs from the list of acceptable ID for in-person voting. Of the six voter ID laws approved this year, one is from a state with a Democratic trifecta, while five are from states with a Republican trifecta.