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.
Summer usually means lessened state legislative activity, as most states wrap up their work in the first half of the year. As of July 7, 41 states’ regular sessions have ended. Nine states are in regular session: Arizona (currently recessed), California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Maine, Oklahoma, and Texas are in special sessions.
- States enacted one bill during the past week. In the same week in 2022, states enacted six bills.
- States have enacted 269 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 198 bills.
- Of the bills active over the past week, Democrats sponsored 17, a 10.5% decrease from the 19 Democrat-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before. Republicans sponsored three of the bills acted on this past week, a 66.7% decrease from the nine Republican-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were election dates and deadlines (5), voter assistance (3), absentee/mail-in voting (1), ballot access (1), ballot verification (1), contest-specific procedures (1), and litigation (1).
Recent activity and status changes
We’ve tracked the following election-related bills in 2023:
- 269 enacted bills (20 more than in our last edition)
- 31 that have passed both chambers (+1)
- 197 that have passed one chamber (-4)
- 1,743 introduced bills (+67)
- 482 dead bills (+65)
States have enacted 269 election-related bills in 2023, compared to the 198 bills enacted at this point in 2022. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 57 (21.2%), Republicans sponsored 147 (54.6%), and 41 (15.2%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 24 (8.9%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
Bills enacted since our last edition, with their official titles, are listed below.
New York (Democratic trifecta)
- NY S00818: Adjusts the effective date of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York to July 1, 2023.
Bills that passed both chambers
31 bills have passed both chambers and are awaiting gubernatorial action, compared to 48 bills that had passed both chambers at this point in 2022. To see all bills that have currently passed both chambers, click here.
Bills that passed both chambers since our last edition, with their official titles, are listed below.
New Jersey (Democratic trifecta)
- NJ A5175: Changes certain General Election deadlines.
Governors have vetoed 32 bills this year, compared to 16 at this point in 2022. To see all bills vetoed in 2023, click here.
No bills were vetoed since our last edition.
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 our last edition. 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 2,777 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 (95.2%) of the 21 bills with activity this week are in Democratic trifecta states, and one (4.8%) is in a Republican trifecta state.
Of the 14 bills acted on in the same week in 2022, 13 (92.9%) were from states with Democratic trifectas and 1 (7.1%) was from a state with divided government.
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, 1,238 (44.6%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,205 (43.4%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 334 (12%) are in states with divided governments.
Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (393). Texas holds legislative sessions in odd years only, and so had no activity in 2022. The Texas Legislature is in a special session as of July 6, with the regular session adjourning on May 29. New York was the most active state at this point in 2022, with 418 bills introduced. Texas has enacted the most bills this year (33). In 2022, Arizona had enacted the most bills at this point (18).
The map below shows the number of election-related bills introduced by state in 2023 by state trifecta status.
District court judge blocks Florida election law
On July 3, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued a preliminary injunction blocking S7050, a Florida law making a variety of changes to the state’s elections, including 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. Plaintiffs in the case argued that these restrictions on voter registration organizations are unconstitutional. In the court’s ruling, Judge Mark Walker, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, said, “Florida may, of course, regulate elections, including the voter registration process. Here, however, the challenged provisions exemplify something Florida has struggled with in recent years; namely, governing within the bounds set by the United States Constitution.” ACLU of Florida Legal Director Daniel Talley said, “While this is a step in the right direction, our work is not finished. People in our communities, including noncitizens, work tirelessly to assist in voter registration efforts to empower Floridians to vote on issues that impact their daily lives.” Rep. Lawrence McClure (R), a supporter of the bill, said, “This is a bill that’s about efficiency. It’s about protecting the Florida voter and making sure that we continue to have successful elections.” If appealed, the case will go before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Lawsuit seeks to halt Nevada election worker law
On June 29, four Nevada residents who were previously poll observers in Clark County and Washoe County sued in federal court to block a state law concerning election workers. SB406 prohibits any person from threatening or attempting to use force against an election official to prevent them from carrying out their duties. Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) signed the bill on May 24. The lawsuit argues that “an election observer, or a volunteer poll-observer (under NRS 293.274) may potentially not only be a victim of SB406 but also be subject to a prosecution under SB406, for a Class E felony, if an election observer vocally objects to any conduct which may be subjectively viewed as intimidation or undue influence, by a purported victim under SB406.” Attorney for the plaintiffs Sigal Chattah said, “This law subjects individuals to criminal prosecution for engaging in lawful activity and we therefore believe it is unconstitutional.” Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar (D) said, “The harassment that election workers have had to deal with, just for doing their jobs, is unacceptable. We have to make sure that election workers feel safe.” Nevada has a divided government in which the governor is a Republican and Democrats control both chambers of the state legislature.