Two of the three bills approved since our last edition are the result of veto overrides in North Carolina.
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.
- Three bills have been approved since our last edition. One bill was enacted in the same period in 2022.
- States have enacted 349 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 230 bills.
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vetoed two bills this week. Governors have vetoed 37 pieces of election-related legislation this year.
- Democrats sponsored 16 of the bills active over the past week, a 30.4% decrease from the 23 Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored eight bills that moved, an 11.1% decrease from the nine Republican-sponsored bills the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were voter registration and list maintenance (8), audits and oversight (7), redistricting (7), contest-specific procedures (6), absentee/mail-in voting (5), and ballot verification (5).
Recent activity and status changes
Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills:
- 349 enacted bills (+3 from our last edition)
- 27 that have passed both chambers (-3)
- 107 that have passed one chamber (+6)
- 1,365 introduced bills (+1)
- 1,222 dead bills (No change)
States have approved 349 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 229 at this point last year. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 92 (26.4%), Republicans sponsored 169 (48.4%), and 54 (15.5%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 34 (9.7%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
Bills approved since our last edition, with their official titles, are listed below.
California (Democratic trifecta)
- CA AB969: Elections: voting systems.
North Carolina (divided government)
Bills that passed both chambers
Twenty-seven 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.
Two bills have been vetoed since our last edition:
California (Democratic trifecta)
- CA SB52: Redistricting: large charter cities.
- CA AB1248: Local redistricting: independent redistricting commissions.
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 3,125 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 28 bills with activity this week, 17 (60.7%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, four (14.3%) are in a state with a Republican trifecta, and seven (25.0%) are in states with a divided government.
Of the five bills acted on in the same week in 2022, all five (100.0%) 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, 1,375 (44.0%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,351 (43.2%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 399(12.8%) are in states with divided governments.
Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (401). 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. A third special session began on Oct. 9. 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.
North Carolina General Assembly overrides governor’s veto of election bills
On Oct. 10, the North Carolina General Assembly overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) vetoes of two election-related bills. The General Assembly passed one of the bills, S747, on Aug. 17, and Cooper (D) vetoed it on Aug. 24. S747 will make the following changes to North Carolina’s election laws. These changes will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
- Established same-day voter registration during the early voting period and defined acceptable forms of ID.
- Specified that a second primary date for congressional elections should occur ten weeks after the first primary if required.
- Created an open primary system that allows unaffiliated voters to vote in the primary of their choosing.
- Defined early voting as “casting a ballot in person prior to election day at the county board office or another location designated by the county board of elections for the purpose of casting ballots.”
- Created a process that requires county boards of elections to notify voters about certain issues with their absentee/mail-in ballots and specified those issues.
- Set the deadline for voters to cure deficiencies with their absentee/mail-in ballots to “no later than the end of business on the business day before the canvass conducted by the county board of elections.”
- Specified that voters can cure deficiencies with their absentee/mail-in ballots via email.
- Established the deadline for returning absentee/mail-in ballots. They must be received by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.
- Prohibited the use of dropboxes to return absentee/mail-in ballots.
- Established a signature verification pilot program for absentee/mail-in ballots that will be used in 10 counties during the 2024 primary.
S747’s enactment means North Carolina will become an open primary state once the bill goes into effect. An open primary is a type of primary election where voters do not have to formally affiliate with a political party in advance in order to vote in its primary. In 20 states, at least one political party conducts open primaries for congressional and state-level offices.
The other bill, S749, passed both chambers of the legislature on Sept. 22 and was vetoed on Sept. 28. The bill transfers the authority to appoint State Board of Elections members from the governor to the General Assembly and places the board under administrative control of the Department of the Secretary of State. Like S747, it will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. The state Republican Party released a statement saying, “The North Carolina Republican Party applauds the N.C. General Assembly for successfully overriding Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoes of common-sense legislation to increase confidence and integrity in our elections.” Gov. Cooper said, “Every single eligible voter deserves fair access to the ballot box and to have their vote count, and North Carolinians will not stand for this voter suppression.”
California governor vetoes two election-related bills
On Oct. 10, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vetoed two Democrat-sponsored bills that would have changed redistricting procedures in the state. AB1248 would have required counties and cities with populations over 300,000 and education districts with a population over 500,000 to establish independent redistricting commissions. SB52 would have required any municipality classified as a charter city with a population greater than 2,500,000 people to create an independent redistricting commission. Los Angeles is the only city in California that would have exceeded that population threshold. In a letter announcing his veto of AB1248, Newsom said, “While I share the author’s goal of ensuring community control over the redistricting process, this bill creates a state-reimbursable mandate in the tens of millions and should therefore be considered in the annual budget process.” Newsom said he vetoed SB52 because it was contingent on the enactment of AB1248. California Common Cause Executive Director Jonathan Mehta said, “We’re deeply confused and frustrated, why the governor would choose to veto a proven democracy reform that provided California an opportunity to not just eliminate gerrymandering in the state but also lead the nation in pro-democracy reform. It’s an enormous missed opportunity.”
Federal court approves new Alabama congressional districts
On Oct. 5, a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama approved a new congressional district map for the state. The court ruled on Sept. 5 that the revised district boundaries the Alabama legislature enacted on July 21 were not in accordance with the Voting Rights Act and ordered a special master to submit three proposed remedial plans to the court. In its latest decision, the three-judge panel said “this plan satisfies all constitutional and statutory requirements while hewing as closely as reasonably possible to the Alabama legislature’s 2023 Plan.” NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney Deuel Ross said, “It’s a historic day for Alabama. It will be the first time in which Black voters will have an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice in two congressional districts.” Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen (R) said in a statement, “The Office of the Secretary of State will facilitate the 2024 election cycle in accordance with the map the federal court has forced upon Alabama and ordered us to use. It is important for all Alabamians to know that the legal portion of this process has not yet been completed.” For more information on redistricting in Alabama after the 2020 census, click here.