States have enacted 304 bills so far this year, 93 more than at this point in 2022.
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 nationwide trends, legislative activity, updates on notable lawsuits and policy changes.
- States enacted two bills since our last edition. In the same period in 2022, no bills were enacted.
- States have enacted 304 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 100% increase from the two Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were: Voting security (3), Audits and oversight (2), Election Day voting (2), Election funding (2), Voter qualifications (2), and Voter registration and list maintenance (2).
Recent activity and status changes
Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills:
- 304 enacted bills (one more than in our last edition)
- 9 that have passed both chambers (-2)
- 132 that have passed one chamber (-54)
- 1,368 introduced bills (-377)
- 1,101 dead bills (+602)
States have enacted 304 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 211 at this point last year. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 69 (22.7%), Republicans sponsored 151 (49.7%), and 47 (15.5%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 37 (12.2%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
Bills enacted since our last edition, with their official titles, are listed below.
Illinois (Democratic trifecta)
- IL SB2123: COUNSELING COMPACT
Oregon (Democratic trifecta)
- OR SB166: Relating to elections; and declaring an emergency.
Bills that passed both chambers
Nine bills have passed both chambers and are awaiting gubernatorial action, compared to 36 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 with legislative activity 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 2,882 bills we’ve followed 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
Of the five bills with activity this week, four are in states with Democratic trifectas and one is in a state with a divided government.
Of the 13 bills acted on in the same week in 2022, 12 (92.3%) were from states with Democratic trifectas and one (7.7%) 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 all the election-related bills introduced this year, 1,312 (45.5%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,230 (42.7%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 340 (11.8%) 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 two special sessions spanning from May 29 to July 13, 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 challenge Tennessee district maps
On Aug. 9, civil rights groups and Tennessee residents filed a lawsuit alleging the state’s new congressional and state Senate maps are racially discriminatory. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, focuses on congressional district boundaries in Davidson County, which includes Nashville, and Senate District 31 in Shelby County, which includes Memphis. Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed the new boundaries into law in February of 2022. Defendants named in the case include Gov. Lee, Secretary of State Tre Hargett (R), election coordinator Mark Goins (R), the state’s election commission, and the commission’s members. Plaintiffs, including Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Tennessee, the Equity Alliance, several Tennessee voters, say the new maps, “dilute the votes of Black voters and other voters of color by ‘cracking’ and ‘packing’ these communities to minimize their electoral voices,” and that they “destroyed a previously functioning crossover district … that had reliably elected voters of color’s candidates of choice for nearly two decades. It also subordinated traditional redistricting — such as core retention, maintaining communities of interest and political subdivisions whole, and compactness — to race.” A representative for Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R) said, “The maps approved by the General Assembly were carefully considered fair and legal maps. Lt. Governor McNally is confident the court will agree.”
RNC and Wisconsin GOP seek to intervene in absentee voting lawsuit
On Aug. 8, the Republican National Committee, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and GOP chapters in Rock and Walworth counties filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s absentee voting laws. The Elias Law Group, which describes itself as a “mission-driven firm committed to helping Democrats win, citizens vote, and progressives make change,” filed the original suit on July 20 alleging that a 2022 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision prohibiting the use of drop boxes in the state violates voters’ rights. Plaintiffs in the case include Priorities USA, the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, and a Dane County resident. Republican National Committee Director of Legal Communications Gates McGavick said, “Early voting, absentee voting is something the RNC is very much coming to embrace, but there have to be appropriate safeguards in place. The issue with this lawsuit is it tries to get rid of some of those safeguards.” Priorities USA Deputy Executive Director Aneesa McMillan said, “Previous campaign cycles have put a much-needed spotlight on the blatant attempts to use restricted access to absentee voting as a means of voter suppression. As a result of this, vulnerable communities, including people of color, face extraordinary barriers to casting their ballots. We hope this legal effort will bring relief to Wisconsin voters while expanding access to the ballot for every eligible voter in the state.”