2023 in review: state legislative activity on election administration

Welcome to the Tuesday, December 19, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. A year-end look at the state of election administration legislation
  2. Signatures submitted for Washington initiative to remove restrictions on police officers’ ability to engage in car chases

A year-end look at the state of election administration legislation 

In June, we published our report on trends in election administration legislation in the first half of the year, covering bill topics like ranked-choice voting (RCV), bans on private funding for election administration, and photo ID requirements. The report coincided with the first anniversary of our Election Administration Legislation Tracker, a free tool that allows you to keep track of the latest bills affecting elections in your state—and around the country. 

With 2023 coming to a close in a week and a half (need some last-minute gifts? Check out our official merchandise store!), we’re taking a step back to look at what happened in the world of election administration in 2023.

Below is a quick rundown of trends in election administration legislation. Then, we’ll take a look at a few policy issues. 

  • We tracked 3,199 election-related bills between Jan. 1 through Dec. 1—a 25% increase from 2022. Last year, we tracked 2,520 bills.
  • Lawmakers enacted 379 of those 3,199 bills. Last year, lawmakers enacted 236 such bills. 
  • Republicans sponsored 1,406 bills, Democrats sponsored 1,351, and 268 had bipartisan sponsorship. Last year, Democrats sponsored slightly more bills in total than Republicans—1,102 to 1,092.
  • Governors signed 13% of the 1,406 Republican-backed bills this year. Governors signed 9.1% of Democratic-sponsored bills.  
  • Governors vetoed 39 election-related bills. In 2022, they vetoed 17 such bills.
  • States with Democratic trifectas passed 124 bills, while states with Republican trifectas passed 207. Lawmakers in states with divided governments passed 48. 

We cover many policy areas in the report. Let’s walk through the following:

  1. RCV
  2. Ballot access
  3. Private funding bans


Legislators considered 113 RCV-related bills this year, compared to 44 in 2022. Seventy-nine of the 113 total bills introduced this year either allowed or required new uses of RCV. The number of bills prohibiting RCV also doubled, from nine bans or repeals introduced in 2022 to 18 such bills this year.

Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota adopted new RCV bans—joining Florida and Tennessee, the first states to do so in 2022. The five states that banned RVC all had Republican trifectas. Similar Republican-sponsored bills advanced in other states, as well: Arizona HB2552 (vetoed), Montana HB598, North Dakota HB1273 (vetoed), and Texas SB921 (passed one chamber; died). 

Republican lawmakers in Alaska and Maine, where voters have used the initiative process to implement RCV, introduced legislation that would repeal RCV. As of Dec. 1, none of those bills had advanced out of committee.

We recently devoted four episodes of our weekly podcast, On the Ballot, to RCV. Click to listen to:

Ballot access

Lawmakers introduced 11 bills that would have made it more difficult for parties to get their candidates on the ballot—up from three in 2022. Lawmakers in Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Texas introduced those bills. 

Overall this year, we tracked 39 party ballot access bills. Eight—in Arkansas, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and West Virginia—would ease ballot access requirements for parties.

In 2022, we followed 29 party ballot access bills. We determined that 17 would have eased ballot access requirements. A set of three companion bills in Iowa would have increased requirements for non-party political organizations (political organizations not meeting the conditions to be a political party) to nominate a candidate at a nominating convention.

Private funding bans

Fewer states considered new bans on the private funding of election administration than in 2022, but several states adopted new laws and amendments. Heading into 2023, 22 of the 28 states where the GOP controls both chambers of the legislature had already enacted such bills over the past two years. Three of the remaining six states approved bans this year—Montana and North Carolina did so through legislation, while Louisiana voters approved ballot measures.

Neither Wyoming nor New Hampshire have enacted laws prohibiting the private funding of election administration. Wisconsin will vote on an amendment that would ban such activity in April 2024. 

Four other states—Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho and Oklahoma—amended their existing bans on the private funding of election administration. 

There’s a lot more in our full report. We also explore bills related to election audits and qualifications for auditors, photo ID requirements, and noncitizen voting. Find more at the link below.

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Signatures submitted for Washington initiative to remove restrictions on police officers’ ability to engage in car chases

Let’s look at a measure in Washington that could appear on the 2024 ballot. So far, 56 measures have been certified for the ballot next year in 25 states.

Let’s Go Washington, a committee sponsoring six citizen initiatives for 2024, submitted signatures for a third initiative—Initiative 2113—on Dec. 14. Initiative 2113 would remove certain restrictions on police pursuits. According to King 5 News’ Adel Toay, “In 2021 state lawmakers passed legislation that increased the threshold for evidence required for a police pursuit. In 2023 lawmakers lowered the threshold for police to pursue a suspect from probable cause to reasonable suspicion for limited crimes. The limited crimes include violent offense, sex offense, or an escape; or DUI, vehicular assault, and domestic violence assault in the first, second, third, or fourth-degree offense.”

Initiative 2113 would allow police pursuits if “there is a reasonable suspicion that a person has violated the law; the pursuit is necessary to identify and apprehend the person; and the person poses a threat to the safety of others and the safety risks of failing to apprehend the person are greater than the safety risks of the pursuit.”

Sponsors reported submitting more than 400,000 signatures in anticipation of the Dec. 29 deadline. At least 324,516 of the signatures need to be valid.

The initiative is an indirect initiated state statute, known as an Initiative to the legislature in Washington. If enough signatures are verified, the initiative is presented to the state legislature at the 2024 legislative session in January. The legislature then has four options, one of which is to vote to enact the measure into law. If the legislature rejects or does nothing with the proposed initiative, it goes on the ballot for voters to decide. The legislature’s fourth option is to approve an alternative initiative, in which case the original and alternative both appear on the ballot. 

Let’s Go Washington was founded by Brian Heywood, a Republican donor and the CEO of Taiyo Pacific Partners. The organization recently submitted signatures for other initiatives, including one that would prohibit carbon tax credit trading and another to allow parents to review educational materials, receive certain notifications, and opt their children out of sexual health education.Learn more at the link below.

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