It’s (Primary) Election Day in Virginia!

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Welcome to the Tuesday, June 20, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Virginia voters go to the polls today—here is what is on the ballot
  2. Five vacancies announced in state supreme courts in second quarter of 2023, bringing total this year to 21
  3. Ballotpedia’s mid-year recall report is approaching

Virginia voters go to the polls today—here is what is on the ballot

Because this is an off-cycle election year, only four states are holding regularly-scheduled legislative elections. That includes Virginia, whose General Assembly primaries are today.

Let’s take a look at what’s at stake. 

All 140 General Assembly districts are holding elections for the first time since 2019—40 in the Senate and 100 in the House. These are Virginia’s first legislative elections since redistricting. In 2020, voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing a redistricting commission. But this commission missed the required deadlines to submit new maps. The state supreme court assumed control and approved new maps on Dec. 28, 2021.

Democrats have controlled the Senate since 2019 and enter the election with a 22-18 majority (after winning a special election in January). 

Republicans have controlled the House since 2021 and enter the election with a 50-46 majority in the House (with four vacancies). This—plus the state’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, whose term ends in 2025—makes Virginia one of 11 states with a divided government. Virginia and Pennsylvania are the only two states where both major parties control one chamber. 

We’ve identified eight battleground primaries in the Senate. 

  • District 11
  • District 13
  • District 18
  • District 33
  • District 35
  • District 36

Click here to learn more about these races.

Not all candidates are running in primaries. In Virginia, party committees can choose to select their nominees through mass meetings or conventions as an alternative to primaries. If a party picks this method, it typically issues an official notice describing how and when the nomination will happen.

We’ve identified 13 Senate districts and 42 House districts—all of them for the Republican candidate nomination only—holding nominating contests other than primaries. In 2021, there were nine Democratic nominating contests and 19 for Republicans. Parties in districts not using primaries have until today (June 20) to select their nominees. Most did so in May.

Virginia will hold general elections on Nov. 7. As of June 16, CNalysis rates the Senate election as Tilt Democratic, with 20 districts trending toward Democrats and 18 toward Republicans. Two districts are rated as Toss-ups. The outlet rates the House election as Lean Democratic, with 49 districts trending toward Democrats and 47 toward Republicans. Four districts are rated as Toss-ups.

We’ll be back Thursday with an analysis of the results. In the meantime, click below to learn more about Virginia’s primaries. 

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Five vacancies announced in state supreme courts in second quarter of 2023, bringing total this year to 21 

States have different methods for replacing state supreme court justices. In 29 states, voters elect replacement judges (click here to read our coverage of this year’s state supreme court election in Wisconsin—the most expensive state judicial election in U.S. history). But in 21 states, replacement judges are only appointed instead of elected. 

This year, in those 21 states, there have been 13 state supreme court vacancies or announced vacancies. State supreme courts in Connecticut, Florida, New York, Hawaii, and Idaho announced five new vacancies in the second quarter of 2023. 

Of the 13 announced vacancies:

  • Four justices have yet to vacate their seat. 
  • Seven have vacated and been replaced.
  • Two have vacated but have not been replaced. 

Six vacancies are in states where a Democratic governor appoints a replacement. Seven vacancies are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Nine justices retired or plan to retire in 2023, three became federal judges, and one ascended to a chief judge position.

Supreme courts do not hear trials of cases. Instead, they hear appeals of decisions made in lower courts. The number of justices on each state supreme court ranges between five and nine.

In 2020, we conducted a study identifying the partisan balance on every state supreme court. You can find that research here. We also identified which justices ruled together most often in our Determiners and Dissenters report found here.

Click below to learn more about state supreme court vacancies.

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Ballotpedia’s mid-year recall report is approaching

At the midway point of each year, we publish our annual mid-year recall report. This report comprehensively looks back at recall elections over the last six months at all levels of government, and provides comparisons to previous years. 

In anticipation of that report, here is a look back at the 2022 recall landscape and a glance at a few of the notable recall elections we’re tracking this year.

In 2022, we tracked 261 recall efforts against 437 officials. These figures represent the second-highest number of recall efforts since Ballotpedia began tracking this statistic in 2012. Only 2021—with 357 recall efforts against 545 officials—had more recall activity.

City council members drew more recall petitions than any other group in 2022, which was a return to a pattern from 2016 to 2020. In 2021 and the first half of 2022, school board members drew the most recall petitions.

Michigan and California were the states in which the most officials were targeted for recall, respectively. From 2016 to 2021, California had the most officials targeted in five of the six years. 

Here are some notable recall elections we’re covering in 2023:

  • Richland School District recall, Washington: Recall elections against three of the five members of the Richland School District school board in Washington are being held on Aug. 1. M. Semi Bird, Audra Byrd, and Kari Williams are on the ballot. Recall supporters said that the board members violated the Open Public Meetings Act; violated district policies, procedures, and code of ethics; and voted to make masks optional while a statewide mask requirement was in place. All three board members denied any wrongdoing.
  • Tom Crosby recall, Cochise County, Arizona: An attempt to recall Cochise County District 1 Supervisor Tom Crosby in Arizona failed after supporters did not collect the required number of signatures by the May 3 deadline. During the 2022 election in Cochise County, Crosby, along with District 3 Supervisor Peggy Judd, declined to certify the county’s election results. After Pima County Superior Court judge Casey McGinley ordered the county to certify its results, Judd and District 2 Supervisor Ann English voted to do so. Crosby did not participate in the vote. Supporters of the recall argued that Crosby attempted to obstruct the county’s election procedures by refusing to certify thousands of ballots. They also argued that he improperly advocated for the hand count of ballots and needlessly cost taxpayer money. We did not identify a response to the recall effort from Crosby.

We’ll bring you full coverage of the 2023 mid-year recall report next week. In the meantime, you can learn more about 2023 recall elections at the link below. 

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