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 each issue, you’ll find updates on legislative activity and recent news.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed S7050, an omnibus elections bill making multiple changes to the state’s election law, on May 24.
- States enacted 12 bills during the past week. In the same week in 2022, states enacted 16 bills.
- States have enacted 164 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 131 bills.
- Of the bills active over the past week, Democrats sponsored 51, a 25% decrease from the 68 Democrat-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before. Republicans sponsored 69 of the bills acted on this past week, a 10.4% decrease from the 77 Republican-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were audits and oversight (29), ballot access (21), voter registration and list maintenance (21), counting and certification (18), contest specific procedures (17), and election dates and deadlines (17).
Recent activity and status changes
We’ve tracked the following election-related bills in 2023:
- 164 enacted bills (16 more than in our last edition)
- 6 that have passed both chambers (-3)
- 232 that have passed one chamber (-8)
- 2 that have advanced from committee (No change)
- 1,859 introduced bills (-10)
- 261 dead bills (+23)
States have enacted 164 election-related bills in 2023, compared to the 131 bills enacted at this point in 2022. Of these 164 bills, Democrats sponsored 26 (15.9%), Republicans sponsored 103 (62.8%), and 19 (11.6%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 16 (9.8%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
Bills enacted since May 19, with their official titles, are listed below.
Florida (Republican trifecta)
- FL S7050: Elections
Minnesota (Democratic trifecta)
- MN HF1830: State government finance bill.
Montana (Republican trifecta)
- MT SB93: Generally revising ballot issues
- MT SB123: Require ballot for bond election to estimate additional taxes for residence
- MT HB947: Revise election laws
North Carolina (Divided government)
- NC H229: Stagger/Extend Terms of Town Officers/Halifax
Oklahoma (Republican trifecta)
- OK HB2052: Elections; multistate voter list maintenance organizations; modifying authority to join certain organizations; providing penalties; effective date.
South Carolina (Republican trifecta)
- SC S0764: Rock Hill School District 3 in York County
Tennessee (Republican trifecta)
- TN SB0526: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 2 and Title 6, relative to local elections.
- TN SB1182: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 2, relative to elections.
- TN HB0828: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 2, relative to polling places.
Texas (Republican trifecta)
- TX SB2038: Relating to release of an area from a municipality’s extraterritorial jurisdiction by petition or election.
Bills that passed both chambers
Six bills have passed both chambers (but have not yet been enacted or defeated) in 2023, compared to 50 bills that had passed both chambers at this point in 2022. To see all bills that have currently passed both chambers, click here.
No bills have passed both chambers since May 19.
Governors have vetoed 13 bills this year, compared to nine vetos at this point in 2022. To see all bills that have been vetoed in 2023, click here.
Three bills have been vetoed since May 19. They are listed with their official titles below.
Arizona (Divided government)
- AZ HB2305: Ballots; signature verification; observers
- AZ HB2560: Images; voter lists; records; contest.
- AZ HB2308: Secretary of state; election; recusal
Enacted bills by topic and sponsorship, 2022 vs. 2023
Recent activity by topic and sponsorship
The chart below shows the topics of the bills state legislatures acted on since May 19. 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 2,537 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
Fifty-six (39.2%) of the 143 bills with activity this week are in Democratic trifecta states, 58 (40.6%) are in Republican trifecta states, and 29 (20.3%) are in states with divided governments.
Of the 69 with activity over the same week in 2022, 36 (52.2%) were from states with Democratic trifectas, 11 (15.9%) were from states with Republican trifectas, and 22 (31.9%) were from states with 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
Of the total bills introduced in 2023, 1,103 (43.4%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,140 (44.8%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 301 (11.8%) are in states with divided governments.
Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year. Texas holds legislative sessions in odd years only, and so had no activity in 2022. 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.
The map below shows the number of election-related bills introduced by state in 2023 by state trifecta status.
Two lawsuits challenge voter registration regulations in newly enacted Florida elections bill
Several groups filed lawsuits against the state of Florida on May 24 after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed S7050, which makes numerous changes to the state’s election laws. The Campaign Legal Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida, and Elias Law Group filed another lawsuit on behalf of the Florida NAACP and seven other organizations. Both lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and allege the newly enacted bill unconstitutionally restricts these organizations. At issue in both lawsuits are the provisions regulating third-party voter registration organizations. The bill requires these organizations to provide a receipt to each applicant when accepting their application, prohibits an organization from using pre-filled applications or using a voter’s personal information for any purpose other than registration, and increases the penalties for violations. The bill also requires any person handling voter registration applications for a third-party organization to be a U.S. citizen and not have been convicted of a felony.
In both lawsuits, the plaintiffs argued that the bill will decrease voter participation. League of Women Voters of Florida President Cecile Scoon said, “Senate Bill 7050 is yet another assault on democracy and attempt to muzzle Floridians.” Abha Khanna, a partner at Elias Law Group, the firm representing the plaintiffs in the second suit, said, “Third-party voter registration organizations play a critical role in ensuring that every eligible Floridian has an opportunity to vote, especially Black and brown Floridians.” Republican lawmakers in Florida said the bill protects voter information and the integrity of the state’s elections. Rep. Tyler Sirois (R) said, “These laws are the foundation of our democracy. Election reform should be something we look at every session.” Rep. Lawrence McClure (R) said, “We are putting a priority on that voter’s personal information. It should be the most sacred part of the entire interaction. This bill protects the Florida voter, while making sure our elections remain the best in the nation.”
Lawsuit challenges Arkansas U.S. House district map
A group of Arkansas voters and the Christian Ministerial Alliance filed a lawsuit on May 23 arguing that Arkansas’ congressional districts are unconstitutional and racially motivated. The suit names Secretary of State John Thurston (R) and six members of Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners as defendants. The challenge centers on Pulaski County, which contains the city of Little Rock. The state’s newest congressional district map divides the county into three districts, while under earlier district maps, the county was only in the 2nd Congressional District. Plaintiffs said, “The 2021 redistricting plan is but the latest effort by Arkansas officials to limit Black voters’ access to representation and otherwise the political process.” Attorney General Tim Griffin (R) said, “This latest suit simply regurgitates those same failed claims. I look forward to defeating these allegations in court for the second time.” This lawsuit is the third to challenge the state’s congressional district boundaries in Pulaski County. The first suit filed on March 7 is ongoing, while another filed on March 21 was dismissed on May 11.
Harris County officials to challenge Texas election bills on constitutional grounds
On May 24, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (D), Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, and Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis (D) said they will sue the state over two election-related bills. The first bill, SB1750, would transfer all powers and duties of the county elections administrator to the county tax assessor-collector and county clerk in counties with a population of more than one million. The second piece of legislation, SB1993, would permit the secretary of state to order a new election in Harris County if more than 2% of polling places run out of ballot paper for more than one hour. Menefee said, “We’re suing state officials because these bills are clearly unconstitutional – our state’s constitution bars lawmakers from passing laws that target one specific city or county, putting their personal vendettas over what’s best for Texans. Republican lawmakers are disregarding the will of Harris County voters. But to protect Harris County communities, our public servants, and our residents – we’re going to fight.” Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R), the author of both bills, said, “The public’s trust in elections in Harris County must be restored after a continuing set of problems culminating the fact that the current EA couldn’t or wouldn’t get millions of sheets [of] ballot paper out of the warehouse to the polls for voters to vote on, and that’s real voter suppression! It can NOT be tolerated in the Nation’s 3rd Largest County.”