Four of the five bills approved since our last edition were in Democratic trifectas.
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.
- Five bills have been approved since our last edition. No bills were enacted in the same period in 2022.
- States have enacted 345 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 229 bills.
- Democrats sponsored 23 of the bills active over the past week, a 20.7% decrease from the 29 Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored nine bills that moved, the same as the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were absentee/mail-in voting (11), contest-specific procedures (11), audits and oversight (8), voter registration and list maintenance (6), and election dates and deadlines (5).
Recent activity and status changes
Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills:
- 345 enacted bills (+5 from our last edition)
- 30 that have passed both chambers (-5)
- 101 that have passed one chamber (+2)
- 1,364 introduced bills (+11)
- 1,222 dead bills (No change)
States have approved 345 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 229 at this point last year. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 90 (26.1%), Republicans sponsored 167 (48.4%), and 54 (15.7%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 34 (9.9%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
Bills approved since our last edition, with their official titles, are listed below.
Connecticut (Democratic trifecta)
- CT HB07001: An Act Concerning The Administration Of Epinephrine By Emergency Medical Services Personnel And Provisions Related To Elections.
Massachusetts (Democratic trifecta)
- MA H4023: Relative to the home rule charter of the city of Beverly
- MA H4093: Relative to the home rule charter of the city of Beverly
- MA H3884: Merging certain voting precincts in the Town of Groton
North Carolina (divided government)
- NC H259: 2023 Appropriations Act
Bills that passed both chambers
Thirty 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.
No bills passed both chambers since our last edition.
Governors have vetoed 37 bills this year, compared to 17 at this point in 2022. To see all bills vetoed in 2023, click here.
One bill has been vetoed since our last edition:
North Carolina (divided government)
- NC S749: No Partisan Advantage in Elections
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 3,117 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 41 bills with activity this week, 27 (65.9%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, one (2.4%) is in a state with a Republican trifecta, and 13 (31.7%) are in states with a divided government.
Of the 36 bills acted on in the same week in 2022, 11 (30.6%) were from states with Democratic trifectas, and 25 (69.4%) 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, 1,371 (44.0%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,349 (43.3%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 397 (12.7%) are in states with divided governments.
Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (394). Texas only holds legislative sessions in odd years and 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.
Elias Law Group sues over Wisconsin absentee voting law
On Oct. 2, the Elias Law Group filed a lawsuit on behalf of four Wisconsin voters challenging the state’s absentee voting witness requirements. The group, which describes itself as “the nation’s largest law firm focused on representing the Democratic Party,” alleges that a state law requiring a witness signature on absentee ballot envelopes violates the Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit names the Wisconsin Elections Commission and its members as defendants. In the complaint, attorneys for the plaintiffs said, “The mere act of complying with the Witness Requirement injures Plaintiffs. The requirement to locate a witness willing to attest to the voter’s procedural and substantive qualifications to vote is, in itself, a concrete and particularized burden on Plaintiffs’ legally protected right to vote.” Elias Law Group attorney Uzoma Nkwonta said, “The pernicious practice of requiring voters to seek a witness who can vouch for their qualifications can be traced back to efforts to disenfranchise Black voters in southern states after the Civil War.”
The Elections Commission had not issued a statement on the lawsuit as of this writing. Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brian Schimming said, “While Democrats attempt to undo common sense voting measures like requiring witness signatures on absentee ballots, we will continue to fight back against Democrat efforts to undermine safeguards every step of the way.”
Nine other states require witness signatures to verify absentee ballots: Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.
District judge dismisses challenge to Idaho voter ID law
On Oct. 2, an Idaho Fourth Judicial District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter ID requirements. The plaintiffs, Babe Vote and the League of Women Voters, challenged H0124, a bill removing student IDs as an acceptable form of voter ID. The suit alleged the law would make voting more difficult for students and individuals without a driver’s license. Judge Samuel Hoagland said, “In this case, the legislature has eliminated student identification cards as one of the previously acceptable forms of identification; however, it has also provided for free state identification cards as an alternate form of acceptable voter identification.”
Babe Vote released a statement saying, “We are of course disappointed with this result but are closely reviewing the court’s decision and will be deciding in the coming weeks whether to appeal.”
Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane (R) said, “I firmly believe that ensuring access to voting and maintaining security in elections are not conflicting goals. We have a great elections system here in Idaho, and it was great to see that affirmed in this case.”
Thirty-four states require individuals to present identification in order to vote. Of these, 23 require photo ID, while 11 accept other forms of identification.