Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed three election bills into law this week as the state continues to have the highest rate of election-related legislative activity this year.
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.
- States enacted five bills during the past week. In the same week in 2022, states enacted 12 bills.
- States have enacted 174 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 142 bills.
- Of the bills active over the past week, Democrats sponsored 32, a 37.3% decrease from the 51 Democrat-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before. Republicans sponsored 30 of the bills acted on this past week, a 56.5% decrease from the 69 Republican-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were voter registration and list maintenance (12), audits and oversight (11), ballot access (11), election dates and deadlines (11), and Election Day voting (10).
Recent activity and status changes
We’ve tracked the following election-related bills in 2023:
- 174 enacted bills (10 more than in our last edition)
- 5 that have passed both chambers (-1)
- 242 that have passed one chamber (+10)
- 2 that have advanced from committee (No change)
- 1,856 introduced bills (-10)
- 261 dead bills (No change)
States have enacted 174 election-related bills in 2023, compared to the 142 bills enacted at this point in 2022. Of these 174 bills, Democrats sponsored 32 (18.4%), Republicans sponsored 106 (60.9%), and 20 (11.5%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 16 (9.2%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
Bills enacted since May 26, with their official titles, are listed below.
Connecticut (Democratic trifecta)
- CT HB05004: An Act Implementing Early Voting.
Texas (Republican trifecta)
- TX SB2258: Relating to authorizing certain cities to change the date on which their general election for officers is held.
- TX SB1054: Relating to requirements for a trial in the contest of an election on a proposed constitutional amendment.
- TX SB825: Relating to the deadline for submitting certain recount petitions.
Vermont (Divided government)
- VT H0508: An act relating to approval of an amendment to the ranked choice voting provisions of the charter of the City of Burlington
Bills that passed both chambers
Five bills have passed both chambers (but have not yet been enacted or defeated) in 2023, compared to 65 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 26.
Governors have vetoed 17 bills this year, compared to 12 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 26. They are listed with their official titles below.
Arizona (Divided government)
- AZ SB1180: Voter registrations; payment prohibited
- AZ SB1066: Election mailings; third-party disclosures
- AZ SB1135: Spoiled early ballots; election day
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 26. 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 2,557 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
Twenty-seven (36%) of the 75 bills with activity this week are in Democratic trifecta states, 26 (34.7%) are in Republican trifecta states, and 22 (29.3%) 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, 1,109 (43.4%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,141 (44.6%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 307 (12%) are in states with divided governments.
Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (389). Texas holds legislative sessions in odd years only, and so had no activity in 2022. The Texas State Legislature is in a special session as of June 2, with the regular session having adjourned on May 29. New York was the most active state at this point in 2022. Tennessee has enacted the most bills this year (17). 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.
Groups challenge Mississippi voter assistance bill
On May 31, Disability Rights Mississippi and the League of Women Voters of Mississippi filed a lawsuit challenging SB2358, a bill regulating who can assist voters with completing mail-in ballots, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The bill prohibits anyone other than election officials, postal workers, family members, household members, or caregivers from assisting voters with completing and returning mail-in ballots. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed the bill into law on March 23. Co-president of the League of Women Voters of Mississippi Peg Ciraldo said, “Voters — especially those with disabilities — depend on the assistance of community groups, friends, and neighbors. Now these neighborly efforts are being criminalized, and Mississippi voters in need of assistance are being silenced. Democracy in Mississippi cannot be whole when these voters are disenfranchised.” Reeves said the bill was needed to preserve “the absolute integrity of our election process,” adding that, “Ballot harvesting is when a political operative collects and handles massive amounts of absentee ballots. This process is an open invitation for fraud and abuse and can occur without the voter ever even knowing.” So far in 2023, legislators have introduced 80 bills dealing with voter assistance, 50 of which relate specifically to absentee/mail-in voting assitance. States have enacted six absentee/mail-in voting assitance bills this year.
Montana voters request redo of local election
Four voters in Cascade County, Montana filed a lawsuit on May 26 arguing that county officials mishandled a May 2 school board election. The suit asks the court to order a redo of the election at least 85 days after a decision in the case. Plaintiffs said Cascade County officials sent ballots to ineligible residents in the Fort Shaw Irrigation and West Great Falls Flood Districts, while eligible voters in these districts received no ballots. They also argued that officials did not “accept valid change documents regarding qualified electors and/or designated agents at least 14 days prior to the election, by failing to notify the election office within four days of receiving said change documents, and by failing to provide the necessary information regarding the changes to the election office in order for the election office to administer the proper ballots.” The county’s election office published a statement on the official county website saying that although election officials faced “many obstacles, some of which included the closing of our mail services, COVID, and technical difficulties with the vote tabulation equipment, and a completely new election system at the state level, the election was completed.” In another lawsuit filed this month in response to the May 2 election, a county judge granted plaintiffs’ request to appoint an election monitor to oversee an upcoming mill levy election.