Twenty-four states have adopted 59 election-related laws this year

Welcome to the Wednesday, March 27, Brew. 

By: Ethan Sorell

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

  1. Twenty-four states have adopted 59 election-related laws this year 
  2. Twenty-two candidates running in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District 
  3. Amendment to create Georgia Tax Court will be on the November 2024 ballot

Twenty-four states have adopted 59 election-related laws this year 

Through nearly three months of 2024, legislators have introduced more than 2,500 new election-related bills, with 24 states adopting 59 new election-related laws. 

This update comes from our second monthly analysis of state legislative election administration bill activity in 2024. The report pulls from our free Election Administration Legislation Tracker, which allows users to follow election administration bills in all 50 states through every step of the legislative process.

Figures in this report are current through March 21, 2024. Click here for coverage of our last report in the Brew on Feb. 23.  

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Twenty-four states have passed 59 new laws so far in 2024—fewer than this point in 2023 but more than in 2022.
  • Of the bills passed so far, 54% are in states with Republican trifectas, while 32% came from states with Democratic trifectas. 

Last year, Republican trifecta states passed 57 bills in the same period, Democratic trifecta states passed eight, and states with divided governments passed 16. In 2022, Republican trifecta states had passed 21, while states with Democratic trifectas and divided governments passed a combined 12 bills.

Finally, of the 59 passed bills, Democrats sponsored 13, and Republicans sponsored 23. Sixteen bills had bipartisan sponsorship, and the remaining seven bills were introduced without partisan sponsorship.

Municipal election procedures (11 bills) and ballot access for candidates (8) were frequent topics of newly adopted laws. Administrative deadlines, elections officials, elections in specific jurisdictions, and primary systems were each topics on five bills.  

Overview of introduced legislation

In total, there are 3,361 active election-related bills, with more than 2,500 introduced since the beginning of the year and the remainder carried over from last year’s sessions. There are more active bills in Democratic trifectas than in either Republican trifectas or states with divided governments. 

The most common topics among active bills in 2024 are voter registration (319), followed by municipal election procedures (298), ballot access for candidates (238), and in-person voting and polling places (211). To learn more about Ballotpedia’s election-related legislation topic categories, see here

What’s moving and where?

Four hundred and seventy-eight bills have passed at least one legislative chamber this year. Legislators in two states with divided governments, Arizona (49 bills) and Virginia (44)  have moved the most legislation. Georgia is the most active Republican trifecta state (41), and New York (32) is the most active Democratic trifecta state. 

The most frequent topic of these bills is municipal election procedures, with 69 such bills, followed by ballot access for candidates (48), election dates (33), in-person voting and polling places (31), and voter registration (30). 

Five states have convened sessions this year but have not passed any election-related legislation out of either chamber: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, and Wyoming. 

Other topics

Our report includes a deep dive into legislation on ranked-choice voting (RCV), voter registration, and ballot access for candidates. 

Here’s a key point on each topic: 

  • RCV: Legislators in 19 states have introduced bills that would ban or repeal ranked-choice voting in their states. Seven of these bills, in six states, have passed at least one legislative chamber. All but one of these states has a Republican trifecta. 
  • Voter registration: There are 450 active bills in 40 legislatures that deal with voter registration. Forty-eight of these bills have advanced past at least one legislative chamber, including seven bills in Virginia and six in Arizona.
  • Ballot access for candidates: More than 20 states are considering changes to their ballot access laws. Ballot access laws determine whether and how a candidate or party can appear on an election ballot. 

We will release our next update in April, with regular monthly updates leading up to our mid-year report in June.

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Twenty-two candidates running in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District 

Throughout the year, we’ll bring you coverage of the most compelling elections—the battlegrounds we expect to have a meaningful effect on the balance of power in governments or to be particularly competitive. 

Today, we’re looking at the May 14th Democratic primary for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District. Twenty-two candidates are running. Four lead in polling and media attention: Juan Dominguez, Harry Dunn, Sarah Elfreth, and Mike Rogers 

Incumbent Rep. John Sarbanes (D) is not running for re-election, and independent election observers say the district is solidly Democratic.

Juan Dominguez says his military experience, private sector, and public service make him a unique candidate. He supports increasing taxes on high-income earners to pay for social services, raising the minimum wage, expanding healthcare access, and implementing 12-year term limits for members of Congress.

Harry Dunn says his experience as a capitol police officer during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, caused him to run for Congress. Dunn says he would support the Freedom to Vote Act and John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to expand voting access and protections to eligible voters, overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC by constitutional amendment, and ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks.

Sarah Elfreth said she would focus on economic issues affecting families, including lowering child care and prescription drug costs. Elfreth supports expanding abortion access, increasing access to prenatal healthcare, and cleaning the Chesapeake Bay. Elfreth received endorsements from Maryland State Sens. Pam Beidle (D), Dawn Gile (D), and Maryland Del. Dana Jones (D).

Mike Rogers said the leadership skills he gained in the military, private sector, and the Maryland House of Delegates would help him be an effective leader in Congress. Rogers said he would improve trust in government by focusing on constituent services and would work on increasing affordable housing, increasing Veterans Affairs funding, and lowering prescription drug costs. Rogers received endorsements from Maryland Dels. Shaneka Henson (D) and Scott Phillips (D).

Also running in the primary are Mark S. Chang, Michael Coburn, Malcolm Colombo, Abigail Diehl, Lindsay Donahue, Mark Gosnell, Terri L. Hill, Aisha Khan, Clarence Lam, Matt Libber, Kristin Lyman Nabors, John Morse, Jake Pretot, Don Quinn, Dan Rupli, Gary Schuman, Stewart Silver, and Jeffrey Woodard.

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Amendment to create Georgia Tax Court will be on the November 2024 ballot

In Georgia, a constitutional amendment to create a new court, the Georgia Tax Court, will be on the ballot in November 2024.

The Georgia Tax Court, along with the state business court and superior courts, would have jurisdiction in equity cases. A superior court could order the removal of a case to the business court or tax court. The Legislature could determine additional details about the court’s jurisdiction by passing laws.

The governor would appoint Georgia Tax Court judges, who would require committee approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Judiciary Committee before assuming the bench. Judges would serve for year terms. The amendment would authorize the Legislature to provide for the number of judges on the court and the qualifications to serve.

The state House unanimously approved the amendment as House Resolution 598 (HR 598) on Feb. 27. The Senate approved the amendment 49-1 on March 20. Both chambers require a two-thirds (66.67%) vote to put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters. 

Georgia has had a Tax Tribunal since 2013 with jurisdiction to review cases concerning tax matters involving the Georgia Department of Revenue. The Tax Tribunal is not a part of the state judicial system, but is a part of the executive branch within the Office of State Administrative Hearings.

Between 2002 to 2022, 36 constitutional amendments have been on the ballot in Georgia. Voters approved 30 (83.33%) and rejected six (16.67%). An average of three constitutional amendments are on the ballot during each even-year election. The Legislature can refer additional amendments to the ballot during the 2024 legislative session.

Nine other amendments have passed one legislative chamber. If any of them win approval in a second chamber before the end of the session on March 28, they will also appear on the November ballot.

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