Ballot access was the most active bill topic this week, followed by election dates and deadlines.
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, and updates on notable lawsuits and policy changes.
- No bills were enacted since our last edition. In the same period in 2022, states enacted one bill.
- States have enacted 305 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 217 bills.
- Democrats sponsored 16 of the bills active over the past week, a 33.3% increase from the 12 Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored three bills that moved, the same as the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were ballot access (6), election dates and deadlines (5), contest-specific procedures (3), Election Day voting (3), audits and oversight (2), voter registration and list maintenance (2), absentee/mail-in voting (2), ballot verification (2), and voting equipment (2).
Recent activity and status changes
Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills:
- 305 enacted bills (No change from our last edition)
- 8 that have passed both chambers (-1)
- 127 that have passed one chamber (+1)
- 1,316 introduced bills (+8)
- 1,082 dead bills (+71)
States have enacted 305 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 217 at this point last year. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 69 (22.6%), Republicans sponsored 151 (49.5%), and 47 (15.4%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 38 (12.5%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
No bills have been enacted since our last edition.
Bills that passed both chambers
Eight bills have passed both chambers and are awaiting gubernatorial action, compared to 40 bills at this point last year. To see all bills that have currently passed both chambers, click here.
No bills have passed both chambers since our last edition.
Governors have vetoed 35 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 2,891 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 23 bills with activity this week, 17 are in states with Democratic trifectas, one is in a state with a Republican trifecta, and five are in states with a divided government.
Of the seven bills acted on in the same week in 2022, all seven (100%) were from states with Democratic trifectas.
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, 1,317 (45.6%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,230 (42.5%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 344 (11.9%) are in states with divided governments.
Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (394). Texas holds legislative sessions in odd years only, and so had no activity in 2022. The Texas Legislature held two special sessions 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 295 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 and trifecta status this year.
Pennsylvania bill would change primary election date
The Pennsylvania Senate is considering a bill that would change the date of the state’s primary election. Sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, SB224 would change the general primary in a presidential nomination year from the fourth Tuesday of April to the third Tuesday of March. The bill advanced from the Senate State Government Committee in a 10-0 vote on Aug. 30 and will now be considered by the full Senate. County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania representative John Buffone said, “Counties will have to reschedule more than 9,000 polling places in about six months, when they are typically contracted a year or more in advance. With that also comes the responsibilities of notifying residents of any changes and rescheduling thousands of poll workers for the 2024 primary.” Rep. Keith Greiner (R) said, “The reality is we are still a very heavy electoral college state and we need to be impactful in the nation.” Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) said, “I know that there is some interest amongst the Senate leadership to move up that date so that they can have more of a say in this Commonwealth in the Republican primary. I am certainly fine with that. I am fine really with whatever date that lawmakers are able to come up with.” Pennsylvania has a divided government. The Democratic Party controls the office of governor and the House, while the Republican Party controls the state Senate.
Group sues Ohio Ballot Board over ballot measure language
On Aug. 28, Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights sued the Ohio Ballot Board in the state’s Supreme Court over the description of a ballot measure the group sponsored. The measure would establish a state constitutional right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including decisions about abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing pregnancy. While supporters requested that the board print the entire amendment on the ballot, Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) approved a ballot description that includes the term “unborn child,” which does not appear in the amendment itself. The plaintiffs allege the board’s language is misleading. Plaintiffs said, “The ultimate question before the Court is accordingly quite simple: whether the people of Ohio can be trusted, on November 7, to read, interpret, and weigh the Amendment’s text (or an accurate summation of it) for themselves, or whether they will instead be subjected to a naked attempt to mislead perpetrated by their own elected officials.” State Rep. Elliot Forhan (D) said, “Extremists led by Frank LaRose ignored medical experts and legal experts by approving ballot language that is blatantly misleading and purposefully inaccurate solely for their own personal and political gain.” Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser said, “While the amendment says it allows a health exception for abortions after viability, it uses language that has been interpreted by the courts to include mental, financial, and social health—making it effectively impossible to enforce any protections for children before birth.” The Ohio secretary of state’s office, which oversees the Ballot Board, had no comment.