Nineteen of the 25 bills with activity this week relate to contest-specific procedures, which refer to primary systems, municipal election procedures, recall elections, special election procedures, and other systems unique to a particular election type.
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. 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 231 bills.
- Democrats sponsored eight of the bills active over the past week, a 50% decrease from the 16 Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored five bills that moved, a 37.5% decrease from the eight Republican-sponsored bills the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were contest-specific procedures (19), redistricting (8), ballot access (6), voter registration and list maintenance (6), absentee/mail-in voting (5), and Election Day voting (5).
Recent activity and status changes
Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills:
- 349 enacted bills (No change from our last edition)
- 28 that have passed both chambers (+1)
- 110 that have passed one chamber (+3)
- 1,380 introduced bills (+15)
- 1,221 dead bills (No change)
States have approved 349 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 231 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.
No bills have been approved since our last edition.
Bills that passed both chambers
Twenty-eight bills have passed both chambers and are awaiting gubernatorial action, compared to 32 bills at this point last year. To see all bills that have currently passed both chambers, click here.
Bills that passed both chambers since our last edition, with their official titles, are below.
California (Democratic trifecta)
- CA AB1219: Elections: ballots.
Massachusetts (Democratic trifecta)
- MA H2093: Increasing the number of members for the select board of the town of Lakeville
Governors have vetoed 37 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 3,143 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 25 bills with activity this week, 10 (40.0%) are in states with Democratic trifectas and 15 (60.0%) are in states with a divided government.
Of the three bills acted on in the same week in 2022, two (66.6%) were from states with Democratic trifectas, and one (33.3%) was from a state with a 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, 1,382 (44.0%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,353 (43.0%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 408 (13.0%) are in states with divided governments.
Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (403). 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 governor, groups challenge new election laws
On Oct. 17, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and a coalition of groups filed two separate lawsuits challenging two election-related bills the General Assembly enacted last week through veto overrides. Cooper filed a suit in state court alleging that S749, which gives authority to appoint and replace Board of Elections members to the Legislature, violates the separation of powers provisions in the North Carolina Constitution. Cooper said, “The deadlocks that will be created on these new Boards of Elections at the state and local levels likely will reduce early voting and create longer lines at the polls. It will also undermine fair elections and faith in our democracy by sending disputes to our highly partisan legislature and courts.” Democracy North Carolina, the North Carolina Black Alliance, and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina alleging S747 discriminates against young voters. The bill allows same-day voter registration applications and cast ballots to be rejected if a United States Postal Service address verification notice is returned. Plaintiffs said, “[t]he random nature of postal mistakes, delays, and misdirections with no mechanism for curing such error introduces an arbitrary and unnecessary barrier to participation in the electoral process.” The state Republican Party has defended the new laws, 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.”
Plaintiffs ask Wisconsin Supreme Court to redraw district boundaries
On Oct. 16, attorneys representing a group of Wisconsin voters asked the state supreme court to redraw the state’s legislative district maps before March and require all 2024 elections to be held under the new boundaries. The group of voters originally filed the lawsuit in August alleging that the maps the Legislature approved on April 15, 2022, are unconstitutional. In their complaint, plaintiffs allege that “Wisconsin’s current legislative districts are unconstitutional in multiple ways. They are extreme partisan gerrymanders that violate multiple provisions of the Wisconsin Constitution.”
Senior Director of Redistricting for Campaign Legal Center Mark Gabver said, “State courts across the country have invalidated partisan gerrymandered maps that are far less extreme than this. What we’re asking the court to do here is follow the lead of those state courts who are enforcing their constitution’s principles of equal protection, free speech, freedom of association and the right to have a free government.” Attorneys for the Legislature said Democrats were using the new Democrat majority on the court to overturn its 2021 decision approving the current maps. The attorneys said, “A change in this Court’s membership cannot justify overturning that precedent.” Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Oct. 21, and Gov. Tony Evers (D) filed a motion to intervene in the case on Oct.11.
Janet Protasiewicz defeated Daniel Kelly in the nonpartisan general election for Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 4, 2023. Protasiewicz’s election meant the balance of the court would switch from a 4-3 conservative majority to a 4-3 liberal majority for the first time in 15 years. Speaker of the House Rep. Robin Vos (R) has said the Legislature would consider impeaching Protasiewicz if she did not recuse herself from the redistricting case.