Voter registration and list maintenance was the most active subject category this week, with 12 bills seeing legislative action.
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.
- Two bills have been approved since our last edition. No bills were enacted in the same period in 2022.
- States have enacted 375 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 231 bills.
- Democrats sponsored 23 of the bills active over the past week, a 28.1% decrease from the 32 Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored eight bills that moved, a 50.0% decrease from the 16 Republican-sponsored bills the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were voter registration and list maintenance (12), alternative voting methods (10), voter qualifications (9), audits and oversight (7), and absentee/mail-in voting (6).
Recent activity and status changes
Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills:
- 375 enacted bills (+2)
- 7 that have passed both chambers (-2)
- 109 that have passed one chamber (-1)
- 1,424 introduced bills (+22)
- 1,222 dead bills (No change)
States have approved 375 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 231 at this point last year. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 109 (29.1%), Republicans sponsored 172 (45.9%), and 59 (15.7%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 35 (9.3%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
Bills approved since our last edition, with their official titles, are listed below.
Massachusetts (Democratic trifecta)
- MA H2093: Increasing the number of members for the select board of the town of Lakeville
North Carolina (divided government)
- NC S68: Various Local Changes
Bills that passed both chambers
Seven 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 18 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 3,173 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 36 bills with activity this week, 25 (69.4%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, one (2.8%) is in a state with a Republican trifecta, and 10 (27.8%) are in states with a divided government.
No bills were acted on in the same week in 2022.
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, 1,389 (43.8%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,355 (42.7%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 429 (13.5%) 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.
Three-judge panel hears Michigan legislative redistricting lawsuit
On Nov. 1, trial began in a lawsuit challenging Michigan’s state legislative district maps. A group of voters filed the lawsuit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) on March 23, 2022, alleging the new maps violate the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. The Commission, established through a 2018 ballot measure, is composed of 13 members: four Democrats, four Republicans, and five independents or members of third parties. The lawsuit originally challenged 17 legislative districts near Detroit, but the panel hearing the case limited the case to consideration of nine districts. Plaintiffs alleged the MICRC “persistently pair[ing] some of the poorest, predominantly Black urban municipalities in the State with some of the wealthiest, white-dominated suburban municipalities” diluted the voting power of Black residents. The MICRC said its “data-driven approach may be the most thorough and precise a federal court has ever seen in any redistricting case. The Commission relied on a comprehensive election analysis and determined that white crossover voting can facilitate equal Black opportunity without majority-minority districts.” According to The American Redistricting Project, there are 31 ongoing lawsuits in 15 states challenging legislative district boundaries enacted after the 2020 census. To read more about redistricting in Michigan, click here.
U.S. district judge overturns Georgia congressional and legislative district maps
On Oct. 26, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled that the state’s congressional and legislative district boundaries violated the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and prohibited the state from using them for future elections. The court gave the Georgia General Assembly a Dec. 8. deadline to draw new maps. In the Oct. 26 opinion, Judge Steve Jones, a Barack Obama (D) appointee, wrote, “After conducting a thorough and sifting review of the evidence in this case, the Court finds that the State of Georgia violated the Voting Rights Act when it enacted its congressional and legislative maps…in conjunction with all of the evidence and testimony in this case, the Court determines that Georgia’s congressional and legislative maps violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and enjoins their use in any future elections.” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler (D) said, “I applaud the district court’s decision ordering Georgia to draw maps compliant with the Voting Rights Act.” Republicans in the state Senate released a statement saying, “Obviously, we strongly disagree with the ruling and expect that all legal options will be explored to maintain the maps as passed by the legislature.” State officials have said they will appeal the case, and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced a special legislative session will convene on Nov. 29 to address the district maps. To read more about redistricting in Georgia, click here.