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 have been approved since our last edition. Thirteen bills were enacted in the same period in 2022.
- States have enacted 340 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 229 bills.
- Democrats sponsored 29 of the bills active over the past week, a 38.3% decrease from the 47 Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored nine bills that moved, a 22.2% decrease from the 11 Republican-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were audits and oversight (7), absentee/mail-in voting (6), ballot access (5), contest-specific procedures (5), and election dates and deadlines (4).
Recent activity and status changes
This week, we identified 18 additional election bills from earlier in this session that did not have activity this past week but have been newly added to our database. A portion of the increases in the number of bills for each status below result from these additions. Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills, including those we have recently added:
- 340 enacted bills (+4 from our last edition)
- 35 that have passed both chambers (+5)
- 99 that have passed one chamber (+2)
- 1,353 introduced bills (+11)
- 1,222 dead bills (No change)
States have approved 340 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 229 at this point last year. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 85 (25.6%), Republicans sponsored 166 (48.8%), and 53 (15.6%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 34 (10.0%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
No bills have been approved since our last edition.
Bills that passed both chambers
Thirty-five bills have passed both chambers and are awaiting gubernatorial action, compared to 41 bills at this point last year. To see all bills that have currently passed both chambers, click here.
Bills passing both chambers since our last edition, with their official titles, are listed below.
California (Democratic trifecta)
- CA SB52: Redistricting: large charter cities.
- CA AB63: Canvass of the vote: reporting results.
- CA SB485: Elections: election worker protections.
- CA AB1248: Local redistricting: independent redistricting commissions.
- CA SB386: Elections.
Massachusetts (Democratic trifecta)
- MA H4023: Changing the timing of preliminary elections in the city known as the town of Agawam to eight weeks preceding regular elections
- MA H3884: Merging certain voting precincts in the Town of Groton
- MA H4093: Relative to the home rule charter of the city of Beverly
North Carolina (divided government)
Governors have vetoed 36 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 refer 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 3,103 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 48 bills with activity this week, 29 (60.4%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, eight (16.7%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 11 (22.9%) are in states with a divided government.
Of the 15 bills acted on in the same week in 2022, six (40.0%) were from states with Democratic trifectas and nine (60.0%) were from states with divided governments.
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, 1,365 (44.0%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,348 (43.4%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 390 (12.6%) 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 297 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.
Michigan legislators sue state over election law
On Sept. 28, 11 Republican state legislators in Michigan sued the state in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan alleging that two election-related constitutional amendments – Proposal 2 and Proposal 3 – were unconstitutionally enacted. Voters approved Proposal 3, the Voting Policies in State Constitution Initiative, 67-33% in 2018. The measure added eight voting policies to the Michigan Constitution, including straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting. Proposal 2 passed in 2022 with 60% of the vote. Proposal 2 modified several voting and election policies in the Michigan Constitution, including creating a nine-day early voting period, requiring state-funded absentee ballot drop boxes, requiring voters to present photo identification or sign an affidavit when voting in person or applying for an absentee ballot, and requiring military and overseas ballots postmarked by election day to be counted. State Sen. Jonathan Lindsey (R), one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said, “For years leftist activists had tried to get the Michigan legislature to pass laws making our Michigan elections more vulnerable. Failing, they tried to use an end-around unconstitutional process.” House Speaker Joe Tate (D) released a statement saying, “The lawsuit is a direct attack on the voters of Michigan and seeks to undermine the will of the people. Republicans in the state legislature have partnered with the same Minnesota law firm that sought to prevent electoral votes from being counted in 2020 to bring this action. It’s shameful.” The court had not set a hearing date for the case as of this writing.
U.S. Supreme Court issues ruling in Alabama redistricting case
On Sept. 26, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected Alabama’s request to continue using revised congressional district boundaries a federal court overturned earlier this month. On June 8, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Alabama”s congressional redistricting plan, adopted in 2021, violated the Voting Rights Act and needed to be redrawn to include a second majority-Black district. On Sept. 5, a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama ruled the revised district boundaries were still not in accordance with the Voting Rights Act. The court ordered Special Master Richard Allen to submit three possible remedial plans with the court that comply with the Act and “traditional redistricting principles to the extent reasonably practicable.” This week’s ruling allowed the judges to continue their consideration of Allen’s proposed maps. Abha Khanna, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “Alabama’s open defiance of the Voting Rights Act stops today. For the second time this year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state’s attempt to subject Alabama voters to a discriminatory congressional map.” In a court filing, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) said creating a compliant district “would require the state to “sacrifice traditional districting criteria to join voters from different communities, based on their race, to hit a 50 percent racial target, ‘or something quite close to it.’”