Welcome to the Thursday, February 1st, 2024, Brew.
By: Juan Garcia de Paredes
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- 75 bills introduced in legislative sessions so far on RCV
- Three candidates are running in the March 5 Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio
- Learn how states are approaching A.I. legislation in the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast
75 bills introduced in legislative sessions so far on RCV
Republican legislators have introduced new ranked-choice voting (RCV) prohibitions in five states so far this year. These efforts come after Republican-sponsored bans were approved in three states last year.
The number of active bills supporting RCV continues to outnumber those banning or repealing its use.
Of the 75 RCV bills currently active in state legislatures:
- 55 would allow or require a new use of ranked-choice voting, including two bills in Florida that would repeal a statewide ban.
- Nine would ban or otherwise prohibit its use.
- Three, all in Alaska, would repeal an existing use of RCV.
- Eight would make changes to existing uses of RCV or authorize studies on the use of the electoral system.
Twenty-three of the 75 active bills were introduced this year. The remaining 52 were introduced in 2023 and carried over to current legislative sessions.
One of the 23 bills introduced this year has advanced beyond the initial stage: Republican-sponsored SB355 in Georgia. The bill, which prohibits the use of ranked-choice voting in the state, passed the Georgia Senate 31-19 on Jan. 26. No jurisdiction in Georgia, which has a Republican trifecta, currently uses RCV. Military and overseas voters use ranked ballots when voting in runoff elections. The legislation makes an exception for these voters.
Of the remaining bills introduced since the beginning of the year:
- Republicans have sponsored five in four states: Arizona, Missouri, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. All five bills would ban RCV. One other Republican-sponsored ban has been pre-filed in Oklahoma, where the session begins on Feb. 5th.
- Democrats have sponsored 17 bills in nine states. Fifteen of these bills would newly allow or require the use of RCV for certain elections.
Of the bills carried over, only Alaska’s AB4 has advanced. It would repeal the state’s use of ranked-choice voting and open top-four primary system. Voters approved the use of both systems in 2020 when they passed Alaska Ballot Measure 2 50.55% to 49.45%. The repeal bill was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee with a favorable recommendation on Jan. 18. Republicans sponsored AB4.
Separately, the group Alaskans for Honest Elections submitted around 42,000 signatures on Jan. 12 to the Division of Elections in support of the Alaska Repeal Top-Four Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative. The campaign needs 26,705 valid signatures for the measure to move to the next step in the process—the Alaska Legislature. The Legislature can approve the initiative or let it go to the ballot for voters to decide on Nov. 5.
Other noteworthy bills carried over from 2023 include:
- Wisconsin’s AB563, a bipartisan ranked-choice voting bill with 11 Democratic and Republican sponsors apiece. The bill, which received a public hearing on Jan. 9, would implement ranked-choice voting for congressional elections. Wisconsin currently has a divided government, with Democrats controlling the governorship and Republicans controlling both chambers of the legislature.
- Maine’s LD1991, a Democratic-sponsored bill that would have expanded the use of RCV for a number of statewide primary elections including for governor and Congress. On Jan. 17, Maine lawmakers recommended the bill ought not to pass. Maine has a Democratic trifecta.
In 2023, a total of 116 ranked-choice voting bills were introduced nationwide. Eleven of these bills were enacted, including new prohibitions in Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota. No state adopted the use of RCV for the first time through legislation last year, but lawmakers in Vermont did expand its use of RCV in the state’s largest city, Burlington. In total, 81 of the 116 bills (69.8%) allowed or required the use of RCV for certain elections, while 18 bills (15.5%) repealed or prohibited the use of RCV.
Currently, two states, Alaska and Maine, use ranked-choice voting in statewide elections. Hawaii also uses ranked-choice voting for special congressional elections. Thirteen other states use ranked-choice voting in some local elections.
Five states with Republican trifectas—Florida, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, and Tennessee—have passed laws banning or prohibiting the use of ranked-choice voting statewide. The five state bans have all occurred since 2022, each through legislation.
To learn more about ranked-choice voting, click the link below. To use our Legislation Tracker to search for RCV-related bills and other legislation, click here. Also, check out our recent four-part On the Ballot series in which we took a comprehensive look at RCV and featured guests taking on different parts of—and perspectives on—the RCV story.
Three candidates are running in the March 5 Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio
Throughout the year, we’ll bring you coverage of the most compelling primaries—the battleground elections we expect to have a meaningful effect on the balance of power in governments or to be particularly competitive.
Earlier this week, we previewed the March 5 Democratic primary for Harris County District Attorney in Texas. You can catch our previous coverage of other battleground races here.
Today, we’re looking at the March 19 Republican Party primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio.
Matt Dolan (R), Frank LaRose (R), and Bernie Moreno (R) are running. The primary winner will face Incumbent Sherrod Brown (D) in the general election. Brown, in office since 2007, is running for a fourth term this year.
Brown won re-election 53%-47% in 2018, but other recent statewide elections have favored Republicans. In 2022, J.D. Vance (R) defeated Tim Ryan (D) 53% to 47% in the general election for Ohio’s other U.S. Senate seat. Brown is currently the only Democrat to hold a statewide elected office in Ohio.
Dolan is an attorney and state legislator who is running on his legislative record. Dolan said that, as a state senator, he kept his “promises to reduce the size and scope of government, protect Ohio communities, and deliver record-breaking tax cuts to Ohio families and businesses.” Dolan said his opponents, meanwhile, “have routinely broken their promises to voters and committed gaffes that place Republican efforts to defeat Sherrod Brown and take back the U.S. Senate in jeopardy.”
LaRose, a former state legislator, has served as Ohio’s Secretary of State since 2019. LaRose said he is a “battle-tested conservative with the experience, work ethic, consistent record, and sense of service to make a difference.” LaRose has also highlighted his electoral record, saying he is the only candidate to have never lost a statewide primary or election and the only candidate to have never registered as a Democrat.
Moreno is a Colombian-born businessman with a background in auto sales. Moreno said he is running because “for too long, the men and women who move Ohio forward, American workers, have been left behind by career politicians like Sherrod Brown and Joe Biden.” Moreno said that, like Donald Trump (R), he is a “businessman and a political outsider,” and would “be an outsider in Washington too.” Trump (R) endorsed Moreno in December 2023.
Additionally, all three candidates have highlighted border security as the top issue in the election.
As of Jan. 26, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball each rated the general election a toss-up.
Learn how states are approaching A.I. legislation in the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast
In this week’s episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, Ballotpedia’s Frank Festa fills in for host Victoria Rose and sits down with political reporter Austin Jenkins, who covers infrastructure and the disruption industry for Pluribus News. Over the last year, Jenkins’s beat has increasingly focused on the emergence of artificial intelligence, and how states have addressed A.I. regulation.
Jenkins discusses why some states are targeting specific A.I.-related issues while others are adopting a more comprehensive approach. Jenkins also discusses the key issues states are focusing on and whether there are any differences in how Democratic and Republican-led states are approaching A.I. legislation. Plus, he shares his insights on a fascinating meta-debate playing out in New York: whether legislators should use A.I. to help write legislation.
To listen to our full conversation with Austin Jenkins, click the link below!
And remember, new episodes of On the Ballot drop every Thursday afternoon. If you’re reading this on the morning of Feb. 1, there’s still time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your preferred podcast app and catch this week’s release!