Of the 55 bills with activity this week, 29 (52.7%) are in states with a divided government.
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. 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 24 of the bills active over the past week, a 4.3% increase from the 23 Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored 17 bills that moved, a 112.5% decrease from the eight Republican-sponsored bills the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were absentee/mail-in voting (18), voter registration and list maintenance (16), audits and oversight (12), enforcement and election fraud (12), and ballot access (9).
Recent activity and status changes
Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills:
- 375 enacted bills (No change)
- 15 that have passed both chambers (+8)
- 111 that have passed one chamber (+2)
- 1,419 introduced bills (-5)
- 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.
No bills have been approved since our last edition.
Bills that passed both chambers
Fifteen 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.
Massachusetts (Democratic trifecta)
- MA H2081: Relative to the charter of the town of Dedham
Michigan (Democratic trifecta)
- MI SB0572: Elections: other; precinct size; modify. Amends sec 658 of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.658).
- MI HB4986: Traffic control: driver license; option to decline voter registration on an enhanced driver license or state identification card application; remove. Amends sec. 5 of 2008 PA 23 (MCL 28.305).
- MI SB0385: Elections: election officials; electronically submitting precinct election inspector applications; allow. Amends sec. 677 of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.677).
- MI HB4984: Traffic control: driver license; option to decline voter registration on a driver license application; clarify. Amends sec. 307 of 1949 PA 300 (MCL 257.307). TIE BAR WITH: HB 4983’23
- MI SB0573: Elections: other; precinct size; modify. Amends sec. 661 of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.661).
- MI HB4570: Elections: absent voters; online application for absent voter ballots; provide for. Amends sec. 759 of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.759).
- MI HB4985: State: identification cards; option to decline voter registration on a state identification card application; clarify. Amends sec. 1 of 1972 PA 222 (MCL 28.291). TIE BAR WITH: HB 4983’23
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 3,178 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, 23 (41.8%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, three (5.5%) are in a state with a Republican trifecta, and 29 (52.7%) are in states with a divided government.
Two bills were acted on in the same week in 2022. One of these bills was from a state with a Democratic trifecta, and one 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, 1,390 (43.7%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,356 (42.7%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 432 (13.6%) 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.
Washington group challenges residency requirement
On Nov. 7, the Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington challenging a Washington law requiring prospective voters to live in the state for at least 30 days before an election. Secretary of State Steve Hobbs (D), Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall (D), and King County Auditor Kymberly Waltmunson are listed as defendants in the case. Voters approved the law in 1974 through SJR 143, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. Plaintiffs allege the law violates Section 202(c) of the Voting Rights Act, saying the requirement “is longer than the registration deadline and…therefore prevents voters who could otherwise lawfully register and cast ballots from doing so just because they moved into the state, county or precinct too recently.” The section prohibits states from preventing otherwise eligible voters from voting for president “because of the failure of such citizen to comply with any durational residency requirement of such State or political subdivision” or because of the failure of such citizen to be physically present in such State or political subdivision at the time of such election.” The defendants have not yet commented on the lawsuit.
New Hampshire judge dismisses challenge to provisional ballot law
On Nov. 3, a Hillsborough County, New Hampshire Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging a state law requiring certain voters to use provisional ballots. The law, enacted through NH SB418, requires voters lacking a photo ID who register on Election Day to use an affidavit ballot, which is then counted separately from other ballots. In the dismissal order, Judge Charles S. Temple determined the plaintiffs lacked standing. Temple wrote, “In sum, it seems abundantly clear to the Court that the ‘rights’ at issue in this litigation are the constitutional rights of New Hampshire’s voters, which the organizational plaintiffs maintain have been ( or will be) violated by SB 418. However, under long-standing case law, the organizational plaintiffs may only challenge the constitutionality of SB 418 based on an invasion of their own rights.” In previous court filings, the plaintiffs said “[t]here is no credible evidence that voter fraud is, in fact, a problem in New Hampshire. Yet, on this basis, SB 418 significantly alters New Hampshire’s election procedures to make it harder for new registrants to vote. The legislation was passed on a strictly party-line vote.” SB418’s author, Sen. Bob Giuda (R), said, “[a]llowing unverified votes to count in an election enables the corruption of New Hampshire’s electoral process. This must be addressed immediately to restore the integrity of New Hampshire elections.”