845 candidates answered Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey in 2023

Welcome to the Wednesday, January 24, Brew. 

By: Mercedes Yanora

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

  1. 845 candidates answered Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey in 2023
  2. Minnesota Supreme Court to hear challenge of new felon voting law 
  3. 85 candidates filed for congressional and statewide offices last week

845 candidates answered Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey in 2023

Here at Ballotpedia, we’ve asked candidates to take part in our Candidate Connection survey every year since 2018. Candidates’ responses help voters better understand how they think about the world and how they intend to govern. Any candidate for elected office can take the survey, including from the federal, state, and local levels. 

Last year, 845 candidates from 38 states answered the survey. One hundred eleven of those candidates were part of our effort to gather responses from local candidates beyond our core coverage scope. The remaining 734 candidates represent 12.7% of the 5,782 candidates we covered in 2023. 

Colorado had the highest number of survey respondents, with 116 candidates answering our survey, followed by Virginia with 100 respondents. Candidates for city offices made up the greatest percentage of respondents at 36.2%, followed by school board candidates at 31%. A total of 200 candidates, or 23.7% of respondents, won their elections.

In the past two even-year cycles, a majority of respondents ran for state offices: 58.9% in 2020 and 57.2% in 2022. By contrast, a majority of the 2023 respondents (74.9%) ran for local offices.

Learn more about these candidates in our new report, which highlights several notable candidates, features the respondents who won their elections, and lists all of the 845 candidates who sent in answers. 

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Minnesota Supreme Court to hear challenge of new felon voting law  

The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear a challenge to a new law that automatically restores voting rights to people convicted of a felony who are still on parole, probation, or supervised release in the state.

The new law restored voting rights upon completion of incarceration, regardless of other conditions of the person’s sentence. According to reporting from Minnesota Reformer, 55,000 individuals in the state were permitted to vote in 2023 under the new law that otherwise would not have been eligible to vote.

On March 3, 2023, Governor Tim Walz (D) signed House File 28 into law. Previously in Minnesota, the state restored voting rights to people convicted of a felony after they completed all aspects of their sentence, including parole or probation. 

In June 2023, the Minnesota Voters Alliance, which describes itself as an “organization focusing primarily on election integrity, research, voter education, and advocacy,” challenged the new law’s constitutionality in state court. They wrote, “The Constitution does not create legislative authority to restore the singular right to vote before all civil rights are restored to an individual convicted of a felony.”

In December 2023, a state judge dismissed the case. The Minnesota Voters Alliance appealed the decision and asked that the Minnesota Supreme Court hear the case directly, skipping the state court of appeals.

On Jan. 16, 2024, Chief Justice Natalie E. Hudson issued an order granting the appeal and scheduled oral arguments for April 1. 

Although judges in Minnesota participate in nonpartisan elections in even-numbered years, governors initially appointed all seven justices currently serving on the state’s highest court. Democratic governors appointed six of the current justices, while a Republican governor appointed one.

In 2020, we conducted a study identifying the partisan balance on every state supreme court. Minnesota was one of 15 state supreme courts where a majority of justices had Democratic Confidence Scores. At the time of the report, we ranked two of the court’s justices as strong Democratic, two as mild Democratic, two as mild Republican, and one as indeterminate. Five of the seven scored justices still serve on the court: Paul Thissen (strong Democratic), Natalie E. Hudson (mild Democratic), Margaret Chutich (mild Democratic), Barry Anderson (mild Republican), and Anne K. McKeig (indeterminate).

Currently, 38 states automatically restore voting rights to people convicted of a felony upon their release or at some point after that. Twenty-two of these states restore voting rights automatically upon completion of a prison sentence. In those 22 states, 14 have Democratic trifectas, six have Republican trifectas, and two have divided governments. Ten states do not automatically restore voting rights, and two states allow people convicted of a felony to vote while incarcerated.

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85 candidates filed for congressional and statewide offices last week

Eighty-five people declared their candidacies for congressional or statewide offices in the past week, 41 more than last week. All of these candidates declared before their state’s official filing deadline.

Twenty-four of those candidates are Democrats, while 55 are Republican. Six are minor-party candidates or running in nonpartisan races.

Fifty-one candidates are running for Congress, 29 for state legislatures, one for a governorship, three for a lower state executive office, and one for a state intermediate appellate court. 

Since the beginning of the year, we’ve identified 148 newly-declared candidates for federal and statewide offices. At this time in 2021, we had identified 71 declared candidates for 2022, 2023, and 2024 races.

An official candidate is someone who registers with a federal or state campaign finance agency before the candidate filing deadline or appears on candidate lists released by government election agencies. A declared candidate is someone who has not completed the steps to become an official candidate but who might have done one or more of the following:

  1. Appeared in candidate forums or debates
  2. Published a campaign website
  3. Published campaign social media pages
  4. Advertised online, on television, or through print
  5. Issued press releases
  6. Interviewed with media publications

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