In this week’s issue, we provide a preview of state and local election-related ballot measures voters will decide on this November.
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.
Election-related ballot measures
Although we normally focus on legislative activity, we wanted to give our readers an update on election-related ballot measures ahead of the November election. On Nov. 7, voters in five states will decide on 28 statewide ballot measures, and we are covering local ballot measures in 20 states. Two statewide election-related measures will appear on the ballot in Maine. Voters will also decide on at least 18 local election-related ballot measures across 10 states.
In 2022, voters in 37 states decided on 132 statewide ballot measures in November. Eleven statewide election-related measures appeared on the ballot in eight states. Ballotpedia also covered 25 local election-related measures across seven states. In 2021, 24 statewide measures were on the Nov. 2 ballot in six states. Three statewide election-related measures were on the ballot in New York. We also covered local measures in 19 states in 2021.
Below is a list of all election-related state and local ballot measures on the ballot in November 2023. For more on 2023 ballot measures, click here.
- Statewide ballot measures
- Maine Question 2, Prohibit Foreign Spending in Elections Initiative (2023)
- This measure would prohibit foreign governments, or entities with at least 5% foreign government ownership or control, from spending money to influence ballot measures or candidate elections.
- Maine Question 8, Repeal Constitutional Provision Prohibiting Voting for Individuals Under Guardianship Due to Mental Illness Amendment (2023)
- This measure would remove a constitutional provision, found unconstitutional by a federal district court in 2001, that says individuals under a guardianship for reasons of mental illness cannot vote for governor, senators, and representatives.
- Maine Question 2, Prohibit Foreign Spending in Elections Initiative (2023)
- Local ballot measures
- East Lansing, Michigan, Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative (November 2023)
- Burlington, Vermont, Question 6, Ranked-Choice Voting for Mayor, School Commissioner, and Ward Election Officer Amendment (March 2023)
- Minnetonka, Minnesota, Repeal of Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative (November 2023)
- Hanover County, Virginia, Election of School Board Members Measure (November 2023)
- Santa Fe, New Mexico, Reduce Signature Requirement for Initiatives Measure (November 2023)
- Santa Fe, New Mexico, Reduce Signature Requirement for Referendums Measure (November 2023)
- Santa Fe, New Mexico, Percentage of Voters for Initiative Signature Requirement Measure (November 2023)
- Cincinnati, Ohio, Issue 23, Changes to Local Initiative and Elections Processes Charter Amendment (November 2023)
- Redondo Beach, California, Measure CA5, Ranked-Choice Voting Amendment (March 2023)
- Boulder, Colorado, Issue 2B, Elections Charter Amendment (November 2023)
- East Lansing, Michigan, Change City Elections to Even-Numbered Years Charter Amendment (November 2023)
- Kalamazoo, Michigan, Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative (November 2023)
- Royal Oak, Michigan, Proposal B, Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative (November 2023)
- Cleveland, Ohio, Issue 38, People’s Budget Initiative (November 2023)
- El Paso, Texas, Proposition F, Remove Requirement for Second Petition for Initiatives Charter Amendment (May 2023)
- Irving, Texas, Proposition I, Election-Related Provisions Update Amendment (May 2023)
- Irving, Texas, Proposition B, City Council Candidate Ballot Placement Amendment (May 2023)
- Thurston County, Washington, Proposition 1, 0.2% Sales Tax for Law Enforcement, Prosecution and Public Defense Services, and Elections Security Funding Measure (November 2023)
- No bills have been approved since our last edition. No bills were enacted in the same period in 2022.
- States have enacted 371 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 231 bills.
- Democrats sponsored 32 of the bills active over the past week, a 300% increase from the eight Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored 16 bills that moved, a 220% increase from the five Republican-sponsored bills the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were voter qualifications (11), voter registration and list maintenance (11), contest-specific procedures (9), alternative voting methods (6), and ballot access (6).
Recent activity and status changes
This week, we identified additional enacted election bills that did not have activity this past week but have been added to or updated in 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:
- 371 enacted bills (+22)
- 9 that have passed both chambers (-19)
- 110 that have passed one chamber (+3)
- 1,402 introduced bills (+22)
- 1,222 dead bills (+1)
States have approved 371 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 231 at this point last year. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 108 (29.1%), Republicans sponsored 170 (45.8%), and 58 (15.6%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 35 (9.4%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
No bills have been approved since our last edition.
Bills that passed both chambers
Nine 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.
Michigan (Democratic trifecta)
- MI HB4568: Elections: offenses; prohibition on the hiring of transportation assistance to the polls; eliminate. Amends sec. 931 of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.931).
- MI HB4567: Elections: voters; certain references to challenged ballots; remove. Amends secs. 497 & 761 of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.497 & 168.761).
- MI SB0470: Elections: absent voters; electronic return of absent voter ballots by uniformed services voters; amend start date. Amends sec. 759a of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.759a).
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 3,150 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 55 bills with activity this week, 28 (50.9%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, four (7.3%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 23 (41.8%) are in states with a divided government.
Of the four bills acted on in the same week in 2022, all were from states 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 (43.9%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,354 (43.0%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 414 (13.1%) are in states with divided governments.
Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (405). 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 298 bills introduced. Texas has enacted the most bills this year (34). 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.
RNC and Montana Republicans move to join voting lawsuit
On Oct. 24, the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Republican Party of Montana requested to join a lawsuit challenging a state law making it a felony to vote twice. This motion to intervene would allow the RNC and the state Republican Party to argue their interest in upholding the new law. HB892, which Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed on May 22, made it a felony to vote more than once at any election held in the state or an equivalent election in another state, except in a special district election. It also prohibits a voter from purposefully remaining registered to vote in more than one place in Montana or another state. The Montana Federation of Public Employees (MFPE) and the Montana Public Interest Research Group filed the suit challenging the law in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana in September. The RNC and Montana GOP alleged in their motion to intervene that the law “helps preserve resources for (their) get-out-the-vote efforts by ensuring that the voter rolls contain only voters eligible to participate in Montana elections.” In response, MFPE President Amanda Curtis said, “This is a non-partisan issue, and MFPE members span the political spectrum. None of them deserve to be threatened with a felony for failing to follow a de-registration process that doesn’t exist.” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said, “Making sure that folks can only vote once in each election is just common sense. The RNC and MTGOP have intervened in this lawsuit because Montanans deserve election integrity, not underhanded Democrat schemes.”
District court dismisses challenge to Nevada election worker law
On Oct. 20, a U.S. district court judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging SB406, which Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) signed on May 24. The new law imposed stiffer penalties for harassing election workers. It also created a separate offense for knowingly disseminating an election official’s personal information without their consent. Nevada Republican National Committeewoman Sigal Chattah filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on June 29 on behalf of four Nevada residents. The lawsuit alleged that plaintiffs were “entitled to engage in conduct without criminal prosecution of basic First Amendment freedoms under a statute that should avoid chilling the exercise of First Amendment rights.” U.S. District Judge Cristina D. Silva said, “Plaintiffs at no point allege that they intend or plan to engage in behavior for the purpose of intimidating or coercing poll workers.” Silva also wrote that a “plaintiff’s subjective and irrational fear of prosecution is not enough to confer standing.” The Nevada Secretary of State’s Office released a statement saying, “Secretary Aguilar is proud of his work to introduce and pass SB406, and remains focused on protecting Nevada’s election workers moving forward.” Silva said she would allow the plaintiffs to submit an amended complaint. Chattah said she would file an amended complaint within two weeks of the ruling.