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.
- States enacted five bills since our last edition. In the same period in 2022, 10 bills were approved.
- States have enacted 298 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 211 bills.
- Democrats sponsored four of the bills active over the past week, a 71.4% decrease from the 14 Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored two of the bills acted on this past week, a 50% decrease from the four Republican-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were Contest-specific procedures (4), Audits and oversight (3), Redistricting (2), Voter qualifications (2), Counting and certification (1), Early voting (in-person) (1), Election dates and deadlines (1), Litigation (1), Voter registration and list maintenance (1), and Voting security (1).
Recent activity and status changes
Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills:
- 298 enacted bills (8 more than in our last edition)
- 16 that have passed both chambers (-6)
- 200 that have passed one chamber (-1)
- 1,819 introduced bills (+1)
- 499 dead bills (No change)
States have enacted 298 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 211 at this point last year. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 68 (22.8%), Republicans sponsored 150 (50.3%), and 47 (15.8%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 33 (11.1%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
Bills enacted since our last edition, with their official titles, are listed below.
Alabama (Republican trifecta)
- AL SB5: To amend Section 17-14-70, Code of Alabama 1975, to provide for the reapportionment and redistricting of the state’s United States Congressional districts for the purpose of electing members at the General Election in 2024 and thereafter, until the release of the next federal census; and to add Section 17-40-70.1 to the Code of Alabama 1975, to provide legislative findings.
California (Democratic trifecta)
- CA AB507: Presidential electors.
Delaware (Democratic trifecta)
- DE SB149: An Act To Amend Title 15 Of The Delaware Code Relating To Presidential Primary Elections.
- DE HB148: An Act To Amend Title 15 Of The Delaware Code Relating To Elections.
New York (Democratic trifecta)
- NY A5175: Changes certain General Election deadlines.
Bills that passed both chambers
16 bills have passed both chambers and are awaiting gubernatorial action, compared to 39 bills at this point last year. To see all bills that have currently passed both chambers, click here.
No bills passed both chambers since our last edition.
Governors have vetoed 34 bills this year, compared to 17 at this point in 2022. To see all bills vetoed in 2023, click here.
No bills have been 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 2,890 bills we’ve kept track of 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
Seven (77.8%) of the nine bills with activity this week are in Democratic trifecta states, and two (22.2%) are in Republican trifecta states.
Of the 15 bills acted on in the same week in 2022, 14 (93.3%) were from states with Democratic trifectas and one (6.7%) 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, 1,316 (45.6%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,235 (42.7%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 339 (11.7%) are in states with divided governments.
Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (396). Texas holds legislative sessions in odd years only, and so had no activity in 2022. The Texas Legislature held a special session, with the regular session adjourning on May 29. New York was the most active state at this point in 2022, with 416 bills introduced. Texas has enacted the most bills this year (33). In 2022, Louisiana and 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.
Groups sue to allow absentee ballot drop boxes in Wisconsin
On July 20, the Elias Law Group, which describes itself as a “mission-driven firm committed to helping Democrats win, citizens vote, and progressives make change,” sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission alleging that a 2022 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision prohibiting the use of drop boxes in the state violates voters’ rights. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs Priorities USA, the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, and a Dane County resident, said that, “By restricting Wisconsin voters’ options for returning their absentee ballots and having those ballots properly counted, the Drop Box Prohibition severely burdens the right to vote. Without the opportunity to drop off their absentee ballots at drop boxes, voters must instead rely on the U.S. Postal Service – and its unsecured mailboxes to deliver their absentee ballot and simply hope that the ballot arrives by election day.” Some Republicans have said drop boxes could result in fraud, with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R) saying the 2022 decision prohibiting the use of absentee ballot drop boxes was “a big step in the right direction.” With Janet Protasiewicz defeating Daniel Kelly for a seat on the state supreme court, the ideological balance of the body has changed from a 4-3 conservative majority to a 4-3 liberal majority. The election determined who would succeed retiring conservative Justice Patience Roggensack, whose term expires this month.
U.S. District Judge dismisses challenge to Illinois absentee ballot law
On July 26, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed a challenge to Illinois’ mail-in ballot receipt deadline allowing officials to count mail-in ballots during the two weeks after Election Day. The plaintiffs, including U.S. Rep. Mike Bost (R) and conservative group Judicial Watch, argued, “By counting untimely and illegal ballots received after Election Day and diluting Plaintiffs’ timely cast and received ballots, Defendants, acting under color of Illinois law, have deprived and are depriving Plaintiffs of rights protected under the First Amendment and 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.” In the court’s ruling, Judge John Kness (nominated by President Donald Trump (R)) ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue the State Board of Elections. Kness said, “By implementing the statute, Illinois is following the constitutional command that states determine the time, place, and manner of elections. In addition, the statute further does not conflict with the federal mandate that Election Day be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Kness said, “By counting only mail-in ballots postmarked on or before Election Day, the statute does not extend the day for casting votes in a federal election.” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “I presume we will appeal and seek to just stop this obviously improper counting of ballots for forever and a day.”