The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration, November 17, 2023

Publishing note: We will not be sending a Nov. 24 edition in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, but our coverage of election-related legislation and news will resume on Dec.1. 

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.

Legislative highlights


  • Three bills have been approved since our last edition. No bills were enacted in the same period in 2022. 
  • States have enacted 378 bills in 2023, 63.6% more than in 2022. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 231 bills. In 2021, states enacted 183 bills. 
  • Democrats sponsored 22 of the bills active over the past week, an 8.3% decrease from the 24 Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored 17 bills that moved, the same as the week before. 
  • The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were voter registration and list maintenance (23), absentee/mail-in voting (16), audits and oversight (15), election dates and deadlines (12), and contest-specific procedures (11).

Recent activity and status changes

Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills:

  • 378 enacted bills (+3)
  • 28 that have passed both chambers (+13)
  • 107 that have passed one chamber (-4)
  • 1,414 introduced bills (-5)
  • 1,228 dead bills (+6)

Enacted bills

States have approved 378 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 231 at this point last year. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 110 (29.2%), Republicans sponsored 174 (45.9%), and 59 (15.6%) 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 below.

Massachusetts (Democratic trifecta)

  • MA H2081: Relative to the charter of the town of Dedham

Wisconsin (divided government)

  • WI SJR78: Prohibiting state and local governments from using privately sourced moneys or equipment in connection with the conduct of elections and specifying who may perform tasks related to the conduct of an election (second consideration).
  • WI SJR71: Eligibility to vote in Wisconsin (second consideration).

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.

Massachusetts (Democratic trifecta)

  • MA H2081: Relative to the charter of the town of Dedham

Michigan (Democratic trifecta)

  • MI SB0590: Elections: other; contesting post-certification presidential election results; provide for. Amends sec. 13 of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.13) & adds sec. 845a. TIE BAR WITH: SB 0529’23, SB 0591’23
  • MI HB4695: Elections: voting procedures; early voting procedures; clarify, and clarify appointing election inspectors to early voting sites. Amends secs.674 & 720j of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.674 & 168.720j).
  • MI SB0374: Elections: other; precinct size; modify, and require candidates for office to file financial disclosure report before assuming office. Amends secs. 658 & 661 of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.658 & 168.661) & adds sec. 847a. TIE BAR WITH: SB 0614’23
  • MI HB4129: Elections: offenses; intimidating an election official or preventing an election official from performing the election official’s duties; prohibit. Amends 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.1 – 168.992) by adding sec. 931b.
  • MI SB0505: Criminal procedure: sentencing guidelines; sentencing guidelines for certain Michigan election law violations dealing with intimidating an election official; provide for. Amends sec. 11d, ch. XVII of 1927 PA 175 (MCL 777.11d). TIE BAR WITH: HB 4129’23
  • MI HB5144: Elections: offenses; penalties for distributing materially deceptive media; provide for, and provide procedure for enjoining materially deceptive media. Amends 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.1 – 168.992) by adding sec. 932f.
  • MI SB0529: Elections: presidential electors; certain provisions of the federal electoral count reform act; implement, clarify straight party ticket voting, modify the election tie-breaking procedure, revise the selection process for members of the board of state canvassers, and modify certain recount timelines. Amends secs. 22a, 22b, 46, 47, 581, 795c, 822, 842, 846 & 882 of 1954 PA 116 (MCL 168.22a et seq.) & adds sec. 814.
  • MI HB5145: Criminal procedure: sentencing guidelines; sentencing guidelines for certain election law offenses involving materially deceptive media and intimidating an election official; provide for. Amends sec. 11d, ch. XVII of 1927 PA 175 (MCL 777.11d). TIE BAR WITH: HB 4129’23, HB 5144’23

New York (Democratic trifecta)

  • NY S01381: Requires a proposed amendment to the constitution or other question provided by law to be submitted to a statewide vote be submitted to the people for their approval in plain language which is deemed to be no higher than an eighth grade reading level.
  • NY A06919: Provides for the reinstatement of state recognition and acknowledgement of the Montaukett Indian Nation; provides that the Montaukett Indian nation shall have a chief or sachem, three tribal trustees and a tribal secretary; provides for the qualification of voters; makes related provisions.

Wisconsin (divided government)

  • WI SB98: Verifying citizenship of individuals on the official voter registration list and contents of operator’s licenses and identification cards. 
  • WI AB396: Fees for obtaining the official voter registration list. 

Vetoed bills

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 3,190 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 50 bills with activity this week, 15 (30.6%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, five (10.2%) are in a state with a Republican trifecta, and 30 (59.2%) are in states with a divided government. 

Four bills were acted on in the same week in 2022. Two of these bills were from states with Democratic trifectas, and two 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, 1,390 (43.6%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,364 (42.8%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 436 (13.7%) are in states with divided governments. 

Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (412). 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, and a fourth on Nov. 7. New York was the most active state at this point in 2022, with 377 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.

Recent news

Texas judge dismisses Harris County lawsuits

On Nov. 10, a Texas district judge dismissed a series of lawsuits challenging election results in Harris County, the largest county in the state. Twenty-two Republican candidates initially filed lawsuits challenging the Harris County results after they were defeated in the 2022 general election. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits alleged polls running out of paper ballots, voter registration errors, and non-matching signatures on mail-in ballots affected the results. Judge David Peeples (R) wrote that although “[t]he court has found many mistakes and violations of the Election Code by the Harris County Elections Administration Office and other election officials,” the number of mistakes was “not large enough to put the true outcome in doubt. That is the ultimate question in this case.” Peeples is a retired judge of the 224th District Court (1995-2004), an elected position, but “continues to arbitrate and to take occasional assignments as a visiting judge.” Andy Taylor, a lawyer for 189th judicial district court candidate Erin Lunceford (R), said, “Just the lack of ballot paper is enough evidence we believe to support a new election.” Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee said he was “glad the judge confirmed what we’ve all known for a year now. These Republican candidates lost the 2022 election. We at the county have moved on. Voters have moved on. I hope the Harris County Republican Party will move on, too.”

Federal judge sets trial date for Georgia voting machine lawsuit

On Nov. 10, a U.S. district court judge set a trial date of Jan. 9, 2024, to decide a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s use of electronic voting devices. Coalition for Good Governance originally filed the lawsuit in 2017, arguing that electronic voting machines were not secure because two cybersecurity experts were able to access the state’s election server via the internet. Plaintiffs also allege that because the voting system doesn’t provide verifiable paper ballots, it violates the Fourteenth Amendment. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Judge Amy Totenberg, a Barack Obama (D) appointee, said, “The Court cannot wave a magic wand in this case to address the varied challenges to our democracy and election system in recent years, including those presented in this case. But reasonable, timely discussion and compromise in this case, coupled with prompt, informed legislative action, might certainly make a difference that benefits the parties and the public.” Coalition for Good Governance Executive Director Marilyn Marks said, “The Court’s Order makes it clear that the status quo is far too risky, and that these concerning issues merit a trial.” The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office released a statement saying, “We don’t negotiate with election deniers…If [plaintiffs] have an idea that wouldn’t take Georgia back to the days of hanging chads and stuffed ballot boxes, they should offer it.”