Author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Roundup of noteworthy court challenges involving redistricting (Oct. 19)

Here’s a summary of recent court challenges involving redistricting.

Former Republican elected officials file lawsuit challenging Oregon’s congressional map

On Oct. 11, four former Oregon elected officials—former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R), former Oregon House Republican leader Gary Wilhelms (R), former Mayor of The Dalles James Wilcox, and former Oregon House Speaker Larry Campbell (R)—filed a lawsuit with the Oregon Supreme Court challenging the validity of the state’s enacted congressional map. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said the map was “an unconstitutional partisan gerrymandered redistricting map, as the Democrats drew the map with impermissible partisan intent to favor the Democratic Party, and [the map] will have impermissible partisan effects.” The plaintiffs requested the court declare the congressional map invalid and draw a different congressional map.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the new congressional map into law on Sept. 27. It was approved by the Oregon House of Representatives 33-16 and approved by the Oregon State Senate 18-6.

ACLU, NAACP file lawsuit in federal court regarding South Carolina redistricting timeline

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP filed a lawsuit in federal court on Oct. 12 against the South Carolina legislature asking the court to set a deadline for legislators to return to session. South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler (R) canceled a special Senate session originally scheduled to begin Oct. 12 and indicated that lawmakers may not reconvene to address redistricting until December or January.

The ACLU and NAACP said the delay would prevent any potential lawsuits from being resolved before the new districts take effect. Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation at the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said “In every redistricting cycle for the last 50 years — since Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act — voters and others have been compelled to go to court to fix the legislature’s maps…The state’s refusal to tell the public when it will reconvene to take up its obligation to redraw the lines and make it difficult, if not impossible, to resolve any court challenge before the consequential 2022 primaries is unacceptable.”

Three-judge panel named for federal lawsuit asking Virginia to hold legislative elections in both 2021 and 2022

A three-judge panel was selected in a federal lawsuit filed by former state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman that argues that the state’s November 2021 legislative elections with districts drawn after the 2010 census violates the state’s constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. Goldman filed the suit in July.

Goldman argued that Virginia should also hold legislative elections in November 2022 after the state completes redistricting since urban areas have seen increased population growth relative to other parts of the state. Goldman stated that votes in the areas where the population has risen more rapidly are less valuable than those in other parts of the state if the 2010 maps are used for the entire two-year cycle.

U.S. District Judge David Novak ruled the case could move forward and appointed himself, Fourth Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker, and U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson to hear the case. Novak was appointed to the court by President Donald Trump (R), Thacker was appointed by President Barack Obama (D), and Jackson was appointed by President Bill Clinton (D).

Additional reading:



Updates on redistricting lawsuits in Wisconsin, Illinois

Federal court pauses lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s redistricting until Nov. 5

On Oct. 6, a three-judge federal court panel agreed to temporarily halt proceedings in a lawsuit asking the court to set a deadline for legislators to redraw district maps and intervene by drawing its own maps. Attorney Mark Elias filed the lawsuit on behalf of six Wisconsin Democrats. The court postponed further action in the case until at least Nov. 5, but said that it would prepare for a trial in January 2022 if maps are not enacted.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel said, “Federal rights are at stake, so this court will stand by to draw the maps — should it become necessary. The court recognizes that responsibility for redistricting falls first to the states, and that this court should minimize any interference with the state’s own redistricting efforts. But the Wisconsin Supreme Court did not commit to drawing new legislative or congressional maps, and has not yet set a schedule to do so, or even to decide whether it will do so.”

On Sept. 24, lawyers for Republican state legislators in Wisconsin asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the federal lawsuit, arguing that redistricting challenges should be heard in state, rather than federal courts. On Sept. 22, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided 4-3 to hear a redistricting case filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty asking the court to establish a timeline for the legislature and Gov. Tony Evers (D) to agree on new maps and to draw the maps themselves should they be unable to.

Plaintiffs amend filings in lawsuits challenging enacted legislative maps in Illinois

The plaintiffs in two lawsuits challenging Illinois’ newly enacted state legislative district boundaries amended their filings on Oct. 6 after Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed the new maps into law on Sept. 24. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Illinois House and Senate Republican leaders Jim Durkin and Dan McConchie argue that the redrawn district boundaries reduce the number of districts where Latino voters comprise a majority of the voting-age population.

Both lawsuits were originally filed in June and argued at the time that the original state legislative maps enacted on June 4 were invalid because they used data from the American Community Survey rather than from the 2020 census. Both lawsuits ask the court to invalidate the enacted maps. The lawsuit filed by Illinois’ House and Senate Republican leaders further argues that the state failed to meet the June 30 constitutional deadline for new district boundaries since the maps that the legislature passed were invalid. If a court rules that the Illinois legislature failed to approve a redistricting plan by the deadline, responsibility for drawing new maps would go to an eight-member backup commission where no more than four members may belong to the same political party.

Additional reading:



Indiana adopts new congressional, legislative district boundaries

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed new congressional and state legislative district maps into law on Oct. 4, 2021. The Indiana General Assembly approved the new maps on Oct. 1.

The Indiana state Senate approved the final congressional and legislative district boundaries on Oct. 1 by a vote of 36-12, with all votes to approve coming from Republicans. Eleven Senate Democrats joined State Sen. Ron Grooms (R) in voting against the maps. On the same day, the Indiana House of Representatives approved the final district maps by a vote of 64-25. All votes in favor were by Republicans with 22 Democrats and three Republicans voting against.

The Indiana House Republican caucus released the first draft of congressional and state House district boundaries on September 14, 2021. The Indiana Senate Republican caucus released the first draft of proposed state Senate districts on September 20, 2021. The full legislative history of Indiana’s redistricting proposals, including House and Senate committee reports and proposed amendments, can be found here at the Indiana General Assembly’s website. 

In a statement issued after signing the state’s new district boundaries, Gov. Holcomb said, “Today I signed HB 1581, completing this once-in-a-decade constitutionally required process. I want to thank both the House and Senate for faithfully following through in an orderly and transparent way. And, a special thanks to every Hoosier who participated in the process by sharing their local perspective and input.” 

Kaitlin Lange of the Indianapolis Star wrote that the “congressional map also likely will enable Republicans to keep seven of the nine congressional seats in Indiana and make the 5th District, which contains suburban Hamilton County, a more reliably Republican district.”

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R) said of the maps, “We have said all along that we were committed to drawing fair maps in a transparent way, and I believe we have done that. We prioritized keeping communities of interest together and drawing districts that make sense for the Hoosiers who live there while maintaining nearly equal populations in each district. I believe these maps reflect feedback from the public and will serve Hoosiers well for the next decade.”

State Sen. Eddie Melton (D) said, “I’m very disappointed by the partisan nature of the redistricting process as well as the actions by the supermajority to deliberately dilute minority voices. In Northwest Indiana, two of my colleagues were drawn into the same district, and in West Lafayette and Lafayette, communities of interest were inexplicably split up. The supermajority’s intent to secure complete political control by drowning out certain voices seems clear from their actions, and it’s truly a disservice to our residents.”

All three maps take effect for Indiana’s 2022 congressional and legislative elections.

Additional reading:



Maine enacts new congressional and state legislative district maps

On September 29, 2021, Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed legislation enacting redrawn congressional and state legislative district boundaries as a result of the 2020 census. The Maine Apportionment Commission approved a final congressional district plan on Sept. 24 and final state legislative district plans on Sept. 27. 

The Maine legislature unanimously approved the state’s new congressional and state Senate maps. The Senate unanimously approved new state House district boundaries and the Maine House approved them, 119-10. A two-thirds majority was required to approve new district boundaries.

According to the Bangor Daily News, “The only changes to the state’s congressional maps will take place in Kennebec County, where about 54,000 Mainers will switch districts. Augusta, the capital city, will move from the 1st to the 2nd District, along with Chelsea, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Manchester, Readfield and Winthrop. Meanwhile, Albion, Benton, Clinton, Litchfield, Unity township and West Gardiner will move from the 2nd District to the 1st.”

The Maine Wire reported that the legislature did not change any of the maps submitted by the Apportionment Commission, but some members objected to changes made to the composition of their districts.

Upon signing the new district plans, Gov. Mills released a statement saying, “I applaud Maine’s Apportionment Commission, especially its Chair, former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Donald Alexander, as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for preparing and approving new maps that fulfill our commitment to making sure Maine people are equally and fairly represented in their government. To have done so without rancor and partisanship and under a constrained timeline is something Maine people can be proud of.”

After the maps’ approval, State Sen. Rick Bennett (R), a member of the apportionment commission, said, “Extremely happy that we reached the deadline and we were able to deal with it in a legislative context and not send any part of it to the court. I was pleased, while there was some elbows here and there, that we did our work, we worked collaboratively and we got the job done.”

All maps will take effect for Maine’s 2022 congressional and legislative elections.

Additional reading:



The Daily Brew: 2021 voter registration deadline round up

Welcome to the Friday, October 1, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 2021 voter registration deadline roundup
  2. Recall elections scheduled for four Wisconsin school board members
  3. #FridayTrivia: By this date in 2011, how many states had enacted congressional district maps?

Quick reminder: This is my last day writing the Daily Brew as I begin to help drive and facilitate Ballotpedia’s coverage of the once-a-decade redistricting process. My team members will be taking the reins from here. You can expect them in your inbox at the same time each morning, but the email will be delivered from Ballotpedia instead of Dave Beaudoin. 

Thank you for all the kind words this week. It has been an honor to be part of your morning news routine. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you around Ballotpedia. 

Sincerely, 

Dave

2021 voter registration deadline roundup

With 32 days until the Nov. 2 general election, we are beginning to see voter registration deadlines approaching. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of those deadlines.

Texas: the voter registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 4. Voters can check their registration status here.

  • Ballot measures: Voters in Texas will decide eight statewide ballot measures at the general election. All eight measures are constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the Texas State Legislature.

Virginia: the voter registration deadline is Oct. 11. Voters can check their registration status here.

  • State executives: Three state executive offices are on the statewide ballot this year: governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Democrats currently hold all three positions but only one incumbent—Atty. Gen. Mark Herring (D)—is seeking re-election, leaving the other two offices open. 
  • State legislative: All 100 seats of the Virginia House of Delegates are also up for election making this the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber. 

New Jersey: the voter registration deadline is Oct. 12. Voters can check their registration status here.

  • State executive: Voters will cast their ballots for governor and lieutenant governor as incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) faces former state Assm. Jack Ciattarelli (R) and three others. In New Jersey, the outcome of the gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial election defines the rest of the executive branch: the offices—elected on a joint ticket—are the only directly-elected executive officials in the state, with the remainder being appointed by the governor. 
  • State legislative: All state legislative seats in the state Senate and General Assembly are also up for election. Democrats currently hold majorities in both chambers. 
  • Ballot measures: Voters will also decide two statewide ballot measures, both of which are constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the legislature. 

Pennsylvania: the voter registration deadline is Oct. 18. Voters can check their registration status here.

  • State courts: Pennsylvanians will elect a new state supreme court justice. Justice Thomas Saylor (R) could not seek re-election due to reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75. Voters will decide his replacement between Maria McLaughlin (D), a judge of the Pennsylvania Superior Court, and Kevin Brobson (R), a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge. In addition to the supreme court election, seven positions on the state’s intermediate appellate courts are also up for election. Three of those are partisan elections while the other four are retention elections.
  • Ballot measures: Voters will also decide four statewide ballot measures, three of which are constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the legislature. The fourth measure is a legislatively referred state statute.

Washington: the voter registration deadline is Oct. 25. Voters can check their registration status here.

Keep reading 

Recall elections scheduled for four Wisconsin school board members

Recall elections seeking to remove four of the seven members on the Mequon-Thiensville School District Board of Education in Wisconsin will be held on Nov. 2, 2021. Board members Wendy Francour, Erik Hollander, Akram Khan, and Chris Schultz are on the ballot. The three remaining board members were not eligible for recall as they had not served in office for at least one year.

Recall supporters said they began the process due to concerns about the school district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the topic of race in education, and a decline in academic performance metrics.

A spokeswoman for the district said, “MTSD’s focus remains on advancing our vision and planning for a robust learning experience for all students for the 2021-2022 school year.”

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to collect around 4,200 signatures per board member in 60 days. Supporters submitted more than 4,400 signatures on Aug. 23. All four members named in the recall petitions filed challenges on Sept. 2. On Sept. 21, the petitions were found to be sufficient, allowing the recall elections to be scheduled.

Ballotpedia has tracked 70 school board recall efforts against 182 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year since beginning this coverage in 2010. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In addition to the recalls in the Mequon-Thiensville School District, Ballotpedia is tracking four other recall elections on Nov. 2: a school board recall in Kansas and three city official recalls in Michigan, Missouri, and Colorado.

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: By this date in 2011, how many states had enacted new congressional district maps?

In Thursday’s Brew, we took a look at Oregon, which, on Sept. 27, became the first state in the 2020 redistricting cycle to enact redrawn congressional district maps. By this date—Oct. 1—in 2011, following the 2010 census, how many states had enacted congressional district maps?

  1. 4
  2. 21
  3. 44
  4. 32

Correction: At this point in the 2018 election cycle, 65% of members of Congress who did not run for re-election did so in order to seek another office, a larger percentage than in this cycle. The lead story in Wednesday’s Brew misstated this figure.



The Daily Brew: Oregon enacts first congressional map after 2020 census

Welcome to the Thursday, September 30, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1.  Redistricting Roundup: Oregon becomes first state to enact congressional maps after 2020 census
  2.  How vacancies are filled on state supreme courts
  3.  Announcing Ballotpedia’s Newest Learning Journey on Agency Dynamics in Adjudication

Quick reminder: This is my last week writing the Daily Brew as I transition to a different role at Ballotpedia. My excellent team members will be taking over from here. You can expect them in your inbox at the same time each morning, but the email will be delivered from Ballotpedia instead of Dave Beaudoin. Thanks for reading! – Dave

Redistricting Roundup: Oregon becomes first state to enact congressional maps after 2020 census

Here’s a summary of the week’s noteworthy redistricting news from Oregon and Colorado:

Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and state legislative maps into law on Sept. 27, making Oregon the first state to enact congressional maps. If the maps are not changed by the state supreme court after any possible legal challenges, this would be the third time since 1910 that Oregon’s redistricting maps were approved by the legislature and governor without alteration.

The congressional maps were approved by the state Senate, 18-6, and the state House of Representatives, 33-16. The state legislative maps were approved by the state Senate, 18-11, and the House of Representatives, 31-18. The Oregonian stated the map created three safe Democratic seats, one safe Republican seat, one seat that leans Democratic, and one seat that is a toss-up.

​​After signing the maps, Brown said in a statement, “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.” Both the enacted congressional and legislative maps were amended after their initial proposal during the redistricting session.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R) criticized the maps, saying, “This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”

Following the 2010 census, Ohio legislators passed a revised congressional redistricting plan on Dec. 14, 2011, which Gov. John Kasich (R) signed on Dec. 15.

By this date in 2011, 19 states had finalized their congressional district maps. Seven states did not have to do congressional redistricting since they were only apportioned one congressional district

Colorado: The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission approved a final map of the state’s congressional districts on Sept. 28. Eleven of the 12 commissioners agreed on the final vote, satisfying the group’s constitutional requirement of at least eight votes in favor, two of which must come from unaffiliated members. Of the nine proposals from which to choose, the commission ultimately selected a version of the third staff plan amended by Commissioner Martha Coleman (D).

This is the state’s first redistricting process using an independent commission after voters approved Amendment Y in 2018. That amendment also requires that the Colorado Supreme Court approve new congressional district boundaries. 

The Denver Post’s Alex Burness said that the approved map “gives comfortable advantages to each of Colorado’s seven incumbent members of Congress — Democrats Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette, and Ed Perlmutter and Republicans Ken Buck, Lauren Boebert and Doug Lamborn.” Regarding the state’s new eighth district, Burness wrote, “Recent election results suggest the new 8th Congressional District will be a close race in 2022.”

Under Amendment Y, redrawn congressional districts must be competitive, which is defined as having a reasonable potential to change parties at least once every ten years. After the commission approves a final map, it is required to create a report demonstrating the extent to which districts are competitive. The legislature does not approve redrawn congressional districts and the governor cannot veto the plan. It is also not subject to the state’s veto referendum process.

Keep reading 

How vacancies are filled on state supreme courts

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia Clark died on Sept. 24, creating a vacancy on the five-member supreme court.

The process for filling vacancies on state supreme courts varies by state. Under Tennessee law, midterm vacancies on the supreme court are filled via gubernatorial appointment with legislative approval. In most states, the governor appointments a replacement justice, either outright or with assistance from a nominating commission.

Here are the five primary methods used:

  1. 18 states fill vacancies on the state supreme court through direct gubernatorial appointments.
  2. 28 states fill vacancies through a gubernatorial appointment with assistance from a nominating commission.
  3. Two states—South Carolina and Virginia—fill vacancies through legislative appointments.
  4. In Illinois, the state supreme court nominates a replacement justice.
  5. In Louisiana, voters elect a replacement in a special election.

The methods that courts use to fill vacancies do not necessarily line up with how they regularly select judges. For example, only one state uses elections to fill vacancies, while 20 states use them to regularly select judges.

The most common reasons for a vacancy on a state supreme court include reaching the mandatory retirement age, retiring before the end of a term, death, or appointment to another office.

Keep reading 

Announcing Ballotpedia’s Newest Learning Journey on Agency Dynamics in Adjudication

Adjudication is a quasi-trial-like process that aims to resolve regulatory disputes between agencies and private parties or between two private parties. One of the primary functions of agencies is to adjudicate disputes.

This Learning Journey will walk you through how this process works as well as the main areas of contention in this space.

To learn more and sign up, click here.



The Daily Brew: What’s different about Congressional retirements this year?

Welcome to the Wednesday, September 29, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. More members of Congress leaving for other offices than in recent cycles
  2. The Heart of the Primaries returns for the 2022 cycle!
  3. One three-term, three two-term incumbents on the ballot in Clallam County, Washington

Fewer members of Congress have retired from public office this cycle than in any since 2018

So far this year, 23 members of Congress have announced they will not run for re-election in 2022. Thirteen (56%) are not running for a different office, while the remaining 10 (44%) are running for a different office. This is the largest proportion of retiring members of Congress running for a different office since 2018.

At this point in the 2020 cycle, 25 members of Congress had announced they would not run for re-election. Nineteen (76%) did not run for a different office, while six (24%) did. At this point in 2018, 26 members of Congress had announced their retirements. Nine of them (35%) did not run for a different office, while 17 (65%) did.

More departing Republican members are choosing to run for another office this year than in 2020, driving the change in overall retirement trends. So far this year, six of the 14 departing Republicans (43%) are running for a different office rather than retiring from politics. Across the 2016, 2018, and 2020 cycles, 92 Republican members of Congress did not seek re-election. Twenty-two of them (24%) ran for a different office—roughly half the proportion that chose to do so this year.

On the Democratic side, nine members of Congress are not running for re-election, four of whom (44%) are running for a different office. In 2020, 40% of departing Democrats ran for another office, down from 50% in 2018 and 47% in 2016.

Between 2016 and 2020, 44 members of Congress left to run for a different office, including 22 Democrats and 22 Republicans. More than half of them (27) ran for the U.S. Senate, 10 ran for governor, two ran for president, and five ran for other offices.

Keep reading

The Heart of the Primaries returns for the 2022 election cycle!

It’s back! Ballotpedia is revving up our weekly newsletter Heart of the Primaries to keep you abreast of developments in the 2022 state and congressional primaries.

Beginning Oct. 13, we’ll send a series of five newsletters reviewing the biggest stories from 2018 and 2020 and setting the stage for 2022. Then, every two weeks beginning Nov. 11, and weekly starting in January, we’ll send out one Democratic and one Republican version of The Heart of the Primaries. You can subscribe to one or both depending on which party’s stories you want to follow. In the meantime, stay tuned for emails looking back to some of our best Heart of the Primaries stories from 2018 and 2020 and looking forward to what may come in 2022.

Keep reading 

One three-term, three two-term incumbents on the ballot in Clallam County, Washington

This year, Ballotpedia is following municipal elections taking place in Clallam County, Wash. Located on the Olympic Peninsula in coastal Washington, Clallam has the longest-running record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980.

This year, 26 offices are up for election across the county’s three cities (Port Angeles, Forks, and Sequim). Nineteen of those races have incumbents running for re-election.

The county’s longest-serving incumbent, Port Angeles School Board president Sarah Methner, is running for re-election. Methner was first elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2013 and 2017. Methner and Lola Moses are running for a four-year term on the board.

Three more incumbents are running who were first elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017: Port of Port Angeles Commissioner Colleen McAleer, Sequim Parks and Recreation Commissioner Frank Pickering, and Quillayute Parks and Recreation Commissioner Donald Grafstrom. All three are running unopposed.

Keep reading 



The Daily Brew: National major party committees have raised $531 million in 2021

Welcome to the Tuesday, September 28, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Major party committees have raised $531 million in 2021
  2. Map of the week: approved redistricting maps
  3. Arizona State Rep. Aaron Lieberman (D) resigns to run for governor

Quick personal note from me: This will be my last week writing the Brew as I move into a different role at Ballotpedia. Among other things, I’ll be helping to coordinate our redistricting coverage. The basics of the Brew will stay the same, but my excellent team members will be taking the reins from here. You can expect them in your inbox at the same time each morning, but your email will come from Ballotpedia instead of Dave Beaudoin.

Thank you for making the Brew a part of your routine. It’s been an honor to spend the mornings with you. Please reach out anytime at Dave@ballotpedia.org.

Now, on to the news,

-Dave

Major party committees have raised $531 million in 2021

Six major party political committees have raised a combined $531 million over the first eight months of the 2022 election cycle. In August, these six committees raised a combined $58 million, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

These six committees represent the main national political branches of the two major parties. For Democrats, they include the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). For Republicans, they include the Republican National Committee (RNC), the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

Collectively, the three Republican committees have raised 3.1% more than the Democratic committees and currently have $158 million on hand compared to Democrats’ $132 million. This is the first election cycle since at least 2018 where each of the three Republican committees had more cash on hand than their Democratic counterparts.

Looking ahead towards 2022, each of the three Republican committees has more cash on hand compared to their Democratic counterparts, with the RNC leading the field at $74.6 million. The DSCC has the least on hand of the six at $10.5 million.

Keep reading 

Map of the week: approved redistricting maps

We are beginning to see states finalize and approve new maps as part of the 2020 census redistricting cycle. During redistricting, states use decennial census data to redraw the boundaries of their state legislative and congressional districts to account for any population changes.

As of Sept. 27, three states—Illinois, Ohio, and Oklahoma—have approved state legislative maps, but the process is not over. In Illinois and Ohio, challengers have filed lawsuits against the approved maps and in Oklahoma, legislators must re-review the approved maps.

At this point in 2011, 22 states had enacted new state legislative maps and 20 states had enacted new congressional maps during the 2010 census redistricting process.

Redistricting varies by state. In Illinois and Oklahoma, the legislature redraws its own districts, plus those of the state’s congressional delegation. The governor must sign off on the new maps and has the right to veto the proposals. This is the same process in Ohio regarding congressional district lines. The Ohio Redistricting Commission—a politician commission made up of five Republican elected officials and two Democrats—is responsible for redrawing the state legislative district lines.

Keep reading 

Arizona state Rep. Aaron Lieberman (D) resigns to run for governor

Arizona state Rep. Aaron Lieberman (D) announced on Sept. 20 that he would resign his seat in the Arizona House of Representatives to focus on his 2022 campaign for governor. Lieberman was first elected to the House representing District 28 in 2018, defeating incumbent Rep. Maria Syms (R).

Arizona will elect a new governor next year. Incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is term-limited. As of Sept. 27, Ballotpedia has identified three Democratic candidates, five Republican candidates, and two third-party candidates who have declared their intent to run in the election. Republicans have won the three most recent gubernatorial elections in 2010, 2014, and 2018. Democrats won the two statewide elections—for U.S. President and U.S. Senate—in 2020.

While Arizona is one of five states that require officeholders to resign from their current office in order to run for another, the resignation requirement does not apply to officeholders who are in the final year of their term, which would have been the case with Lieberman in 2022. Two other incumbent officeholders—Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and Treasurer Kimberly Yee (R)—have declared their intention to run for governor but will similarly be in the final year of their respective terms in 2022.

The other four states with some form of a resign-to-run law are Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, and Texas.

Keep reading 



The Daily Brew: Recapping Ballotpedia’s 2021 state legislative competitiveness study

Welcome to the Monday, September 27, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. State legislative elections in 2021 are the most contested since at least 2010
  2. Two state legislators switch political party affiliation
  3. Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria retires

State legislative elections in 2021 are the most contested since at least 2010

There are 220 state legislative seats up for election on Nov. 2, 2021, in three state legislative chambers: the New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly and the Virginia House of Delegates.

According to Ballotpedia’s Annual State Legislative Competitiveness Report, state legislative elections in 2021 are the most competitive since at least 2010.

Ballotpedia’s Competitiveness Index is a standalone figure representing the general level of competition in an election cycle. It is calculated using the percentages of open seats, incumbents in contested primaries, and seats with major party competition. The 2021 state legislative election cycle received a Competitiveness Index of 40.2—the highest on record to date.

Major party competition refers to races where both a Democrat and Republican are contesting a seat in the general election. Of the 220 seats up for election, 205—93%—will see major party competition in November. This surge in competitiveness was largely driven by an increase in major party competition in the Virginia House of Delegates.

The New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly typically have high levels of major party competition every election cycle. In the Virginia House of Delegates, however, there are 93 contested seats in 2021 compared to 41 in 2011—a 78% difference.

At the other end of the spectrum, the percentage of open seats—seats where the incumbent did not file for re-election—was at its lowest since at least 2013. Of the 220 incumbents, 17—7.7%—did not file for re-election: seven Democrats and 10 Republicans.

Overall, 203 incumbents filed for re-election, 80% of whom advanced to the general election without a primary challenge. The remaining 20% represented 40 incumbents: 23 Democrats and 17 Republicans. These contested primaries resulted in the defeats of eight incumbents: five Democrats and three Republicans. Eight defeats is a relatively high number for the three chambers holding elections in 2021. Before 2021, the highest number of incumbents defeated in primaries in a given election cycle was two.

Ahead of the general elections, 2021 is already tied for the second-most incumbents defeated in these chambers since 2011.

Keep reading

Two state legislators switch political party affiliation

Two state legislators switched their political party affiliation the week of Sept. 13. New Hampshire state Rep. William Marsh switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, and Minnesota state Rep. John Thompson became an independent after members of the Minnesota House Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) caucus voted to expel him following allegations of abuse and misconduct.

Marsh is the seventh state legislator in New Hampshire we’ve identified who has switched parties and is the only one to switch to Democrat. Of the other six, four became Libertarians and two became Republicans. Thompson is the third Minnesota state legislator we’ve identified who has switched parties; all three switched to independent.

Ballotpedia has identified 145 state legislators—39 state senators and 106 state representatives—who have switched parties since 1994. 

Eleven state legislators have switched parties so far in 2021. Seven state legislators switched parties in 2020, and 12 switched in 2019. Nationwide, 74 state lawmakers switched from Democrat to Republican, and 20 switched from Republican to Democrat since 1994. The others switched to or from being independent or other parties.

Keep reading 

Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria retires

Paolo DeMaria retired as Ohio’s superintendent of public instruction on Sept. 24. DeMaria was first appointed to the position in May 2016 by the Ohio State Board of Education.

The Board of Education selected Stephanie K. Siddens to serve as the interim superintendent until they choose a permanent replacement. Siddens has worked at the Ohio Department of Education since 2006 in several positions, including the senior executive director of the Center for Student Supports.

The Ohio superintendent of public instruction is an appointed state executive position in the Ohio state government. The superintendent serves as the secretary to the Board of Education and also its executive and administrative officer. The superintendent is responsible for executing the educational policies, orders, and administrative functions of the board as well as directing the work of all employees who work in the department of education.

The position of superintendent exists in all 50 states. It is elected in 12 and appointed in the remaining 38.

Keep reading 



The Daily Brew: The latest on North Carolina’s voter ID law

Welcome to the Friday, September 24, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. North Carolina court strikes down voter ID law as unconstitutional
  2. Your support every month will help voters every day
  3. U.S. Supreme Court releases December argument calendar

North Carolina court strikes down voter ID law as unconstitutional

On Sept. 17, a three-judge panel of the Wake County Superior Court ruled 2-1 that North Carolina’s voter ID law violates the state constitution. As a result, the law remains not in force. In early 2020, the same court ordered an injunction on the law pending its final ruling. Supporters of the law have indicated they will appeal this decision.

This is the latest in a series of legal challenges concerning North Carolina’s voter ID law. Let’s catch up on how we got here.

  • June 29, 2018: The North Carolina State Senate voted 33-12 to place House Bill 1092 (HB 1092) on the November ballot, which, if passed, would amend the state constitution to require voter identification at the polls under rules established by the legislature.
  • Nov. 6, 2018: The voter ID amendment passed with 55.5% in favor and 44.5% opposed.
  • Dec. 6, 2018: To comply with the amendment, the General Assembly of North Carolina voted to approve Senate Bill 824 (SB 824), which established the laws governing the state’s voter ID requirements.
  • Dec. 14, 2018: Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed SB 824.
  • Dec. 19, 2018: The North Carolina House of Representatives overrode Cooper’s veto. The first lawsuits against SB 824 were filled shortly thereafter.
  • July 19, 2019: The Wake County Superior Court declined the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction to halt SB 824. Plaintiffs appealed.
  • Feb. 18, 2020: A three-judge panel on the North Carolina Court of Appeals ordered the Wake County Superior Court to grant the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction, which it did, pending its final decision.
  • Sept. 17, 2021: The Wake County Superior Court ruled SB 824 as unconstitutional.

Under North Carolina’s SB 824, voters would be given a list of specific photo identifications they could present at the polls, including items like a driver’s license, passport, or tribal ID. SB 824 does not provide for a non-photo ID alternative like an affidavit or signature matching. If a voter cannot present one of the required IDs at the polls, he or she would be able to cast a provisional ballot but would have to return to the county board of elections with a proper form of identification before the votes are canvassed.

The Wake County Superior court panel found that “the evidence at trial [is] sufficient to show that the enactment of [SB 824] was motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters.” Judges Michael O’Foghludha (D) and Vince Rozier Jr. (D) formed the majority. Judge Nathaniel Poovey (R) dissented. All three judges were last elected in 2018 after running unopposed in partisan elections to serve eight-year terms.

Sam Hayes, general counsel for House Speaker Tim Moore (R), said Moore would appeal the ruling. If he does, the case would go before a panel of judges from the North Carolina Court of Appeals, on which Republicans currently hold a nine-seat majority. Democrats hold five seats with one judge’s partisan affiliation unknown.

As of September 2021, 35 states require some form of identification when voting. In 20 of those states, photo identification is required with the remaining 15 requiring non-photo identification. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia do not typically require voters to present ID at the polls.

Here are three other recent times courts have ruled on voter ID laws:

  • Texas: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a voter ID law in 2018 which required photo identification under most circumstances. If a voter did not have a proper ID at the polls, he or she could vote provisionally and return later to present the proper ID.
  • Missouri: The Missouri Supreme Court struck down a provision regarding affidavit requirements if a voter did not have a proper ID. As a result, Missouri voters could cast a ballot with either photo or non-photo identification.
  • North Dakota: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld a law that re-established the state’s voter ID requirement. Under the law, voters without an ID at the polls could vote provisionally and then present a valid ID later. Voters could also present supplementary information like utility bills or bank statements if needed.

Keep reading 

Your support every month will help voters every day

Millions of people rely on Ballotpedia to learn about what’s happening in their communities but want to know more.

They want to know who is responsible for the decisions that affect their daily lives from school budgets to policing to mask mandates. They want to know more about the policies and politicians that govern their daily lives and they rely on Ballotpedia to find the answers they need.

Join our monthly donor program, the Ballotpedia Society, today, and help voters stay informed every day!

U.S. Supreme Court releases December argument calendar

On Sept. 20, the U.S. Supreme Court released its December argument calendar for the 2021-2022 term, scheduling nine cases for argument between Nov. 29 and Dec. 8. Justices use these arguments to speak directly to attorneys and ask them questions about their cases.

Here’s a quick look at three of those cases:

  • Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, P.L.L.C. concerns federal disability laws and whether they allow the petitioner to be awarded compensatory damages for emotional distress. The Court will hear arguments on Nov. 30.
  • Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization concerns a direct challenge to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and the constitutionality of a Mississippi state law prohibiting abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy except in cases of medical emergencies or fetal abnormalities. The Court will hear arguments on Dec. 1.
  • Carson v. Makin concerns public education funding, religious education, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (2020). In Carson, the question is whether a Maine state law violates the constitution by prohibiting students participating in a generally available student-aid program from choosing to use their aid to attend schools that provide religious instruction. The Court will hear arguments on Dec. 8.

Keep reading