Author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia and can be reached at dave.beaudoin@ballotpedia.org

Early voting underway in several states ahead of November 5 election

 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Tuesday, October 22, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Early voting underway in several states ahead of November 5 election
  2. Rep. Rooney (R-Fla.) is 24th U.S. House member to announce he’s not seeking re-election in 2020
  3. 72% of Brew readers have served on a jury

Early voting underway in several states ahead of November 5 election

Election Day in all states holding statewide contests this year (except Louisiana) is two weeks away, on November 5. Early voting periods in those states allow voters to cast in-person or absentee ballots without providing an excuse for being unable to vote on Election Day.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia permit no-excuse early voting. Another three states—Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—use all-mail voting systems, meaning ballots are sent to voters through the mail and most are returned by mail.

The following states permit early in-person voting and are holding statewide elections in November 2019.  

  • Kansas: Early voting begins between Oct. 16 and Oct. 29, varying by county. Early voting ends Nov. 4 at 12 p.m.
  • Maine: Voters may vote absentee 30 days before the election at their municipal clerk’s office until Oct. 31.
  • New Jersey: Voters may apply in person for a mail-in ballot at their county clerk’s office—known as in-person absentee voting—and submit the ballot in person. The deadline to apply in person is Nov. 4 at 3 p.m., and the deadline to return the ballot is Nov. 5 at 8 p.m.
  • Texas: Early voting began Oct. 21 and ends Nov. 1.
  • Colorado and Washington use all-mail voting. In both states, voters may drop off completed ballots or vote in person ahead of Election Day. Ballots were mailed out by Oct. 18.
  • Louisiana holds statewide general elections November 16. Early voting for those races begins Nov. 2 and ends Nov. 9. 

Learn more

Rep. Rooney (R-Fla.) is 24th U.S. House member to announce he’s not seeking re-election in 2020 

Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) announced October 19 that he would not seek re-election to the U.S. House in 2020. He was first elected to Congress after winning an open-seat race to replace Rep. Curt Clawson (R) in 2016. Rooney was re-elected in 2018 with 62.3% of the vote. 

In announcing his decision, Rooney said, “I’ve done what I came to do. And I want to be a model for term limits. […] I thought the idea was you came and did your public service and left, you accomplish what you want to accomplish and you left. And that’s what I want to be an example to do. And I’m also really tired of the intense partisanship that seems to stop us from solving the big questions that America needs solved.” 

Twenty-four U.S. House members—18 Republicans and six Democrats—have announced they will not seek re-election in 2020. Six of them—four Republicans and two Democrats—are running for another office.

The chart below shows the number of U.S. House members from each party who did not seek re-election between 2012 and 2018.

Not seeing reelection

Democrats hold a 234-197 majority in the U.S. House with three vacancies and one independent member. In November 2020, all 435 seats will be up for election. 

Learn more→

72% of Brew readers have served on a jury

I’ve really enjoyed the responses to our What’s the Tea? questions over the last few weeks. We’ve been asking Brew readers about their participation in politics and government. In the weeks ahead, we’ll ask whether you’ve ever signed a candidate or initiative petition or attended government meetings at the county, state, or federal level. 

Last week’s question asked whether you have ever served on a jury, and 72% of respondents said they had. It was one of our most-replied to questions since we started this feature, so thanks to everyone for participating! 

 

 



Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) dies

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) died October 17 due to complications from longstanding health challenges, according to a statement from his congressional office. He was first elected to Congress in 1996. Before that, Cummings served 14 terms in the Maryland House of Delegates and was the first African American in Maryland to be named Speaker Pro Tempore. He was the Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
 
Cummings won re-election in 2018 with 76% of the vote. He received 91.5% of the vote in the 2018 Democratic primary for the 7th District in a five-candidate field.
 
Democrats currently hold a 234-197 majority in the House of Representatives, with one independent member and three vacancies. In November 2020, all 435 seats will be up for election.


Beto O’Rourke is second 2020 presidential candidate to complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Monday, October 21, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Beto O’Rourke is second 2020 presidential candidate to complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey
  2. Group files lawsuit to invalidate measure on November 5 ballots in Pennsylvania
  3. Quiz: Where will the next Democratic presidential debate be held?

Beto O’Rourke is second 2020 presidential candidate to complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is the second 2020 presidential candidate to complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, answering questions about his personal beliefs, professional background, and political priorities. On Friday, I shared Marianne Williamson’s survey replies. Today, let’s walk through some of O’Rourke’s answers. 

In his response, O’Rourke lists the first actions he would take in the Oval Office and explains his policy focus on strict gun regulations. He also describes why his family, the community of El Paso, and President Abraham Lincoln are his heroes.

Here are some of O’Rourke’s responses:

What should a 28th Amendment to the Constitution say?

“Beto believes that the 28th Amendment to the Constitution should be the Equal Rights Amendment. He believes the 29th Amendment should overturn Citizens’ United. The 30th Amendment should place term limits on Justices of the Supreme Court.”

What was your very first job? How long did you have it?

“Beto worked in his mother’s furniture store, a small business in El Paso. He would later work in the library during college and at a furniture moving business. Beto later started his own small technology business that brought high-skill, high-wage jobs to El Paso.”

What is the most important policy issue none of your competitors are talking about?

“The Democrat field all recognizes the urgency in enacting comprehensive gun control reform, and Beto appreciates the conversation that all of the candidates are having around this issue. But Beto has proposed going farther than any of the other candidates. Along with his plan to implement universal background checks, close every loophole, pass Extreme Risk Protection Orders, increase trauma support, and keep weapons of war off our streets by not only banning the sale of assault weapons but implementing a mandatory buyback of every single one of them, he has directly called on credit card companies to take steps to help prevent mass shootings. This includes calling on them to refuse to provide their services for the sale of assault weapons; refuse to provide their services for the sale of firearms online or at gun shows, where background checks are not required; and to stop doing business with gun or ammunition manufacturers who produce or sell assault weapons. He is the first, and so far the only candidate to directly call out credit card companies for their role in mass shootings and gun sales.” 

– – –

We will continue to highlight noteworthy responses to the Candidate Connection survey in the Brew. In Friday’s Brew, Marianne Williamson discussed the issue she supports that the majority of her party opposes. Williamson and O’Rourke are the first two noteworthy presidential candidates to complete the Ballotpedia Candidate Survey this cycle.

Our survey looks to find out what motivates candidates on both a political and personal level. It allows a candidate to share more than just stances on issues. It’s designed to elicit responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. With it, we aim to enlighten voters on the candidates’ political philosophy and provide candidates with the chance to show who they really are.

We’re looking forward to hearing from more 2020 presidential candidates. You can encourage them to participate! Send the candidate(s) you want to know more about a link to our Candidate Connection survey today.

Governors are the leaders of their state’s executive branch. Next year, 11 states are holding elections for governor.


Group files lawsuit to invalidate measure on November 5 ballots in Pennsylvania 

Election Day in all states holding statewide contests—except Louisiana—is about two weeks away—on November 5. Early voting began Friday in Washington and jurisdictions nationwide have printed ballots and are preparing to count votes. 

In Pennsylvania, voters will see one state constitutional amendment on their ballots—a set of constitutional protections for crime victims known as Marsy’s Law. Earlier this month—on October 10—a state group filed a lawsuit before the election seeking to invalidate the measure.

The lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania (LWV) and Lorraine Haw argues that the measure violates the separate-vote requirement for constitutional amendments. It argues that because the Pennsylvania Constitution states, “When two or more amendments shall be submitted they shall be voted upon separately,” voters “cannot vote for the parts of the amendment she agrees with without voting for other things she disagrees with.” 

Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar (D)—named as the defendant in the lawsuit—said in her response that, “The Crime Victims’ Rights Amendment pertains to a single subject matter — securing victims’ rights in the criminal case in which they suffered direct harm. Every single subpart of the amendment advances this one goal.” The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has scheduled a hearing on the lawsuit for October 23. 

The Pennsylvania State Legislature placed Marsy’s Law on the ballot after approving the proposal during two consecutive legislation sessions—in 2018 and 2019. The proposal received unanimous support in 2018. In 2019, the proposal received unanimous support in the state Senate, while seven Democrats and one Republican voted against the proposal in the 203-member state House. 

Henry Nicholas, whose sister Marsy was murdered in 1983, successfully advocated for the first Marsy’s Law initiative in California in 2008. These provisions have since been approved by voters in 11 other states, with six of those—Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, and Oklahoma—occurring in 2018. A Marsy’s Law initiative will be decided by Wisconsin voters in 2020.

Courts in two states—Kentucky and Montana—have struck down Marsy’s Law measures that were approved by voters. In Kentucky, the state Supreme Court ruled on June 12 that the ballot language did not provide enough information to communicate the amendment’s substance to voters. In Montana, where voters approved Marsy’s Law in 2016, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Marsy’s Law ballot measure violated the state’s separate-vote requirement.

Marsy's Law

#BallotTrivia

Where will the next Democratic presidential debate be held?

The Democratic Party held its fourth presidential primary debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. ICYMI, here is a link to our coverage of the debate, featuring a link to the video, a link to the transcript, and highlights for each presidential candidate with a focus on policy. 

Also, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced week the schedule of next year’s presidential and vice presidential debates ahead of the general election. Three 2020 presidential debates have been scheduled from Sept. 29 to Oct. 22, and a vice presidential debate is scheduled for October 7, 2020. 

Before we get to the general election, there are still eight more scheduled Democratic Party primary debates. Last week the Democratic National Committee announced the location of the fifth presidential primary debate, to take place November 20. In which state will the next Democratic primary debate be held?:

A.  Florida 
B.  Georgia 
C.  Minnesota 
D.  Missouri


 



Marianne Williamson is first 2020 presidential candidate to respond to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Friday, Oct. 18, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Marianne Williamson is first 2020 presidential candidate to respond to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey
  2. Voters in two states to elect state supreme court justices in November
  3. What’s the Tea?

Marianne Williamson is first 2020 presidential candidate to respond to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Author Marianne Williamson is the first 2020 presidential candidate to complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, answering questions about her personal beliefs, professional background, and political priorities.

Williamson describes the effect that the book, A Course in Miracles, had on her life and why she thinks the United States needs “a season of moral repair.” She also discusses reparations, money in politics, and the quality Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump have in common. 

Here are some of Williamson’s responses:

What legacy would you like to leave?

“A legacy of love that transforms politics and government to benefit We the People.”

What should a 28th Amendment to the Constitution say?

“Overturn Citizens United. Limit money in politics.”

What do you support that the majority of your party opposes?

“I am the first presidential candidate to advocate for reparations, and the only one with a plan for how to do it. 

In many ways, America has continued the process of racial reconciliation begun in the 1960’s. Yet in other ways, we have actually slipped backward. Yes, there are no more colored bathrooms and separate drinking fountains. But we now have mass incarceration; racial disparity in criminal sentencing; lost voting rights; outright voter suppression; and police brutality often focused on black populations.

Tepid solutions are not enough for the times in which we live; we need huge, strategized acts of righteousness, now. Just as Germany has paid $89 Billion in reparations to Jewish organizations since WW2, the United States should pay reparations for slavery. A debt unpaid is still a debt unpaid, even if it’s 150 years later. The legacy of that injustice lives on, with racist policies infused into our systems even to this day. From employment and housing discrimination, to equal access to quality education in underserved communities, to police brutality/prejudice, to lack of fair lending practices, to lack of access to quality healthcare, to insecure voting rights, America has not yet completed the task of healing our racial divide.

For that reason, I propose a $200 billion – $500 billion plan of reparations for slavery, the money to be disbursed over a period of twenty years. An esteemed council of African-American leaders would determine the educational and economic projects to which the money would be given.”

– – –

We will continue to highlight noteworthy responses to the Candidate Connection survey in the Brew. Up next in Monday’s edition, Beto O’Rourke shares his vision for a 28th, 29th, and 30th Amendment. Williamson and O’Rourke are the first two noteworthy presidential candidates to complete the Ballotpedia Candidate Survey this cycle.

Our survey looks to find out what motivates candidates on both a political and personal level. It doesn’t simply contain issue questions. It’s designed to elicit responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. With it, we aim to enlighten voters on the candidates’ political philosophy and provide candidates with the chance to show who they really are.

We’re looking forward to hearing from more 2020 presidential candidates. You can encourage them to participate! Send the candidate(s) you want to know more about a link to our Candidate Connection survey today.

The 5 vulnerable trifectas


Voters in two states to elect state supreme court justices in November 

In November, voters in two states—Kentucky and Louisiana—will fill vacancies on their state supreme courts, choosing new justices in special elections. In a third—Wisconsin—voters elected appeals court justice Brian Hagedorn to a seat on that state’s Supreme Court in April. All told, there are 344 state supreme court justices nationwide. Here’s a quick rundown of the elections in Kentucky and Louisiana.

Kentucky

Voters in Kentucky will select a state supreme court justice Nov. 5 to replace Bill Cunningham, who retired Jan. 31. The winner will serve the remainder of Cunningham’s term, which expires in January 2023. A full term on the court is eight years. 

Under Kentucky law, if there is a midterm vacancy on the state supreme court, the governor appoints a successor from a list of three names provided by the Kentucky Judicial Nominating Commission. The justice Gov. Matt Bevin (R) appointed to the court in March to serve until the election—David Buckingham—is not running for the seat. 

Of the seven current members of the Kentucky Supreme Court, three judges were appointed by a Republican governor, one judge was appointed by a Democratic governor, and three judges were initially selected in nonpartisan elections. 

Louisiana

Voters in Louisiana will select a state supreme court justice to replace Greg Guidry, who was confirmed to a federal judgeship in June. Guidry won a second, 10-year term on the Louisiana court in 2018. The winner of this election will serve the remainder of his term, which expires in 2029.

The Louisiana Supreme Court is made up of seven justices who are elected in partisan elections from seven districts. In the event of a vacancy, the remaining justices appoint a temporary replacement until the special election. The supreme court justices appointed state appeals court judge Susan Chehardy to replace Guidry in July.

Four Republicans ran for this seat in the Oct. 12 primary election. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote, the top two finishers—appeals court judges William Crain and Hans Liljeberg—will meet in the Nov. 16 general election. The Louisiana Supreme Court currently has five Republican and two Democratic judges.

Most states do not hold elections in odd-numbered years. Pennsylvania has judicial elections exclusively in odd-numbered years and Wisconsin elects judges every year. Louisiana and Washington may have judicial elections in both even- and odd-numbered years. None of the state supreme court justices in Pennsylvania or Washington are up for election in 2019.

What's the tea?

We’re continuing to survey Brew readers on whether they’ve ever participated or done certain things related to politics and policy—such as attending or speaking at governmental meetings or signing candidate or initiative petitions. We appreciate all your responses!

I don’t want to forget about the judicial branch, so here’s this week’s question: Have you ever served on a jury? I’ve never been picked for a jury. I was called for jury duty as recently as two months ago, but there weren’t any trials starting that week so I wasn’t chosen.

If you were like me and selected for jury duty, but didn’t actually serve on one, I would consider that a ‘no.’ If you were selected to a jury—even if the case was settled before you were asked to reach a verdict— let’s call that a ‘yes.’

Have you ever served on a jury?


 



Ballotpedia’s 2019 ballot measure readability scores—How easy is it to understand what’s on your ballot?

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Thursday, October 17, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ballotpedia’s 2019 ballot measure readability scores—How easy is it to understand what’s on your ballot?
  2. Local Roundup
  3. Federal district courts block implementation of public charge rule

Ballotpedia’s 2019 ballot measure readability scores—How easy is it to understand what’s on your ballot?

I installed some new software the other day, and for once, I tried to understand the end-user license agreement that I had to approve before it would complete the installation. Some of it made sense, but there were other sections where I was pretty lost. That’s probably the case with any legal document.

I thought that some voters might feel the same way when faced with ballot measures when going to vote. It’s hard to be an informed citizen when you have trouble understanding what you’re reading. I was excited when our Ballot Measures editor told me it was time to publish our readability index.  

For the third year in a row, we’ve taken ballot measure language and run it through industry-standard assessment tools to assign a readability rating. We ran the 2019 ballot titles and summaries for all 36 statewide ballot measures through formulas designed to measure the readability of text. 

Overall, the average estimated number of years of U.S. education required to understand the text of ballot measure titles decreased compared to the last two years. We found that in 2019, 15 years of formal U.S. education is needed to understand ballot measure titles. That number was between 19 and 20 in 2018 and 20 in 2017.

Our ballot measures team used two formulas, the Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), to compute scores for the titles and summaries of ballot measures. The FKGL formula produces a score equivalent to the estimated number of years of U.S. education required to understand a text. The FRE formula produces a score between a negative number and 100, with the highest score (100) representing a 5th-grade equivalent reading level and scores at or below zero representing college graduate-equivalent reading level. Therefore, the higher the score, the easier the text is to read. Measurements used in calculating readability scores include the number of syllables, words, and sentences in a text. Other factors, such as the complexity of an idea in a text, are not reflected in readability scores. 

Here are some highlights from Ballotpedia’s 2019 ballot language readability report: 

  • The average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for the ballot titles of all 2019 ballot measures is 15 years of formal U.S. education. Scores ranged from 6 to 27 years. 

  • The average Flesch Reading Ease score for the 2019 ballot measure titles is 26. The scores ranged from -22 to 69.

  • The average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for the ballot summaries or explanations of all the 2019 statewide ballot measures that were given a summary or explanation is 15 years of formal U.S. education. The average Flesch Reading Ease score for ballot measure summaries is 25.

  • The states with the lowest average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scores for ballot titles or questions are Washington, Pennsylvania, and Maine with 9, 10, and 17, respectively. This means that they require less formal education to understand the meaning of the titles.

  • The states with the highest average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scores for ballot titles or questions are Colorado, Kansas, and Texas with 27, 23, and 20. The titles from these states require greater levels of formal education to understand the meaning of the titles.

  • Average ballot title grades were lowest for language written by the Washington Attorney General (9) and initiative petitioners (10). Average ballot title grades were highest for language written by state legislatures (20).

How does this compare to prior years?

  • In 2017, there were 27 statewide measures in nine states. The average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for ballot measure titles was 20. Scores ranged from seven to 42.

  • In 2018, there were 167 statewide measures in 38 states. The average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for ballot measure titles was between 19 and 20. Scores ranged from eight to 42.

Readability

Ballotpedia also measures the word length of ballot titles across states. The states with the longest ballot titles or questions on average are Kansas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Colorado; all of these except New Jersey did not feature additional ballot summaries or explanations. The states with the shortest ballot titles or questions on average are Texas, Maine, Louisiana, and Washington.


Local Roundup 

At Ballotpedia, we provide election coverage of all officeholders in the nation’s 100 largest cities—including mayors, city council members, and other municipal officers. We also cover every election on the ballot in these cities, such as county officials and local ballot measures.

Here’s our weekly summary of the local news we’re covering. Email me to suggest some interesting local election coverage in your area—I’d love to hear about it!

Atlanta

Aretta Baldon defeated David Huntley—58% to 42%—in a special runoff election October 15 for a seat on the Atlanta Public Schools school board. Baldon and Huntley had advanced as the top two finishers from a nine-candidate field in the general election September 17, with Baldon finishing first with 31% of the vote and Huntley second with 25%.

The seat became vacant after Byron Amos—who had served on the board since 2011—resigned in January 2019 to run for a seat on the Atlanta City Council. With only eight current board members, the school board has had at least one vote—a plan to rate district schools—end up in a 4-4 tie. The winner of the special election will fill Amos’ unexpired term, which ends in 2021. 

Hickory, North Carolina

A spot in the general election for a seat on the Hickory City Council was determined by a coin toss after two candidates received the same number of votes for second place in the nonpartisan primary election October 9. Incumbent Danny Seaver finished first in the primary with 28 votes and Nathan Hefner and Daria Jackson both received 16 votes each. 

Under North Carolina law, tied elections with fewer than 5,000 votes cast are decided by random selection. In this instance, a coin toss was used to decide second place. Jackson called heads and the coin turned up tails, meaning Hefner advanced to the November 5 general election.

During the 2019 election cycle, Ballotpedia is expanding its coverage of North Carolina in order to provide voters with a comprehensive statewide sample ballot. This includes covering elections in the state for 503 cities, towns, and villages, nine school districts, and 17 special districts.


Federal district courts block implementation of public charge rule 

Three federal district court judges in New York, California, and Washington issued temporary injunctions on October 11 blocking a rule announced by the Trump administration that changes how the federal government screens immigrants who might become dependent on government services. A fourth federal judge in Chicago issued a similar injunction on October 14. The rule was set to take effect October 15. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the final version of the rule—known as the public charge rule—on August 12. It would change how the federal government screens immigrants who might become dependent on government services. Agencies may deny immigrants a visa or a green card under the rule if they have used food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies, or other public benefits.

The rule amends a guidance document issued in 1999 that stipulated that only public cash assistance or long-term institutionalization at government expense qualified as evidence that an immigrant was at risk of being a public charge and could be denied legal status. The new rule expands the factors agencies may consider when deciding those cases. 

Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia, New York City, the government of Cook County, Illinois, and immigrant aid organizations formed coalitions that filed four separate lawsuits challenging the implementation of the rule.

The four judges that issued the injunctions ruled that the rule was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, failed to consider potential costs to state and local governments, and constituted an unsupported congressional delegation of authority to DHS, among other claims. All four justices were appointed by Democratic presidents—two by President Bill Clinton and two by President Barack Obama.

The White House and USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli issued separate statements on October 11 expressing disappointment with the decisions. “An objective judiciary will see that this rule lies squarely within long-held existing law,” Cuccinelli stated. 

The Trump administration can appeal the district court rulings to the federal appellate courts. Administration officials had yet to announce an appeal as of October 16.

 



Vaping, ride-share taxes, minimum wage, and housing among 45 local measures on California ballots Nov. 5

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Wednesday, Oct. 16, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Vaping, ride-share taxes, minimum wage, and housing among 45 local measures on California ballots Nov. 5
  2. Efforts to recall Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) fall short of ballot qualification
  3. SCOTUS to hear three cases Wednesday

Want to hear about last night’s debate? Click here to subscribe to our Daily Presidential News Briefing.

Vaping, ride-share taxes, minimum wage, and housing among 45 local measures on California ballots Nov. 5

I always enjoy reading our reports on local ballot measures because they offer insight into how people are engaging with the government closest to home. Today we’re bringing you a summary of the local ballot measures California voters will see this November. 

Voters in 13 California counties will decide on 45 local ballot measures. In the last three odd-numbered election years in the state, an average of 64 local measures appeared on November ballots: 62 in 2017, 60 in 2015, and 70 in 2013.

Local measuresHere’s a breakdown of the various topics on local ballots:

  • 14 parcel (real estate) tax measures

  • nine sales tax measures

  • four local hotel tax measures

  • four measures that would make city clerks, city treasurers, or both, appointed instead of elected

  • two marijuana tax measures

  • two local spending limit increases

  • two measures concerning development and land use

  • two local business taxes, including a tax on ride-share companies in San Francisco

  • two measures in San Francisco concerning housing costs (bonds and zoning/development regulations)

  • one campaign finance limits and disclosure requirements measure in San Francisco

  • one vaping authorization and regulation measure in San Francisco

  • one charter amendment in San Francisco concerning the city’s disability and aging services commission

  • one measure to increase the minimum wage for hospitality workers in Rancho Palos Verdes

See something we missed? If you know of a local measure on the Nov. 5 ballot in California not included in the above list, please email us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Learn more blank    blankblank   



Efforts to recall Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) fall short of ballot qualification

Two recall campaigns did not collect enough signatures to trigger a recall election that, if successful, would have removed Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) from office. Supporters of each recall effort had until Oct. 14 to turn in 280,050 signatures.

  • The first recall petition, which was supported by the Oregon Republican Party, criticized Brown because she supported legislation during the 2019 legislative session related to a cap-and-trade program and a bill that grants driver’s licenses to immigrants residing in the country without legal permission.

  • The second recall petition, which was headed by Oregon First! PAC and the Flush Down Kate Brown group, criticized Brown over raising taxes, the state’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) program, Oregon’s sanctuary state status, and for the same driver’s license bill as the other recall petition.

These recall efforts were two of the six gubernatorial recalls Ballotpedia has tracked in 2019. Four others are currently underway in Alaska, California, Colorado, and New Jersey. From 2003 to 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 17 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two made the ballot and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003; Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) won the election to replace him. In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) was the only other governor removed from office through a recall election. That happened in 1921.

Oregon became a Democratic trifecta in 2013. Democrats control the state House 38-22 and the state Senate 18-12. Brown was appointed governor in 2015, and she won a special election in 2016 with 50.7% of the vote. Brown was re-elected in 2018 with 50.1% of the vote. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

SCOTUS to hear three cases Wednesday

As we’ve mentioned in previous editions, the Supreme Court is back in session and in its second week of hearing oral arguments. Today, Oct. 16, the court will hear arguments in three cases:

Need to stay on top of the whirlwind world of the federal judiciary of the United States? You can read about this term’s cases and more by subscribing to our monthly newsletter, Bold Justice. 

And in case you’re wondering: Why Bold JusticeThe story behind the name is a fun, quick read.

 



Twelve Democratic presidential candidates to debate in Ohio

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Tuesday, October 15, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Twelve Democratic presidential candidates to debate in Ohio
  2. Louisiana Republicans maintain state legislative control after Saturday’s primary
  3. 62% of Brew readers have attended a borough, town, or city council meeting

Twelve Democratic presidential candidates to debate in Ohio

The fourth Democratic presidential debate takes place tonight at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, which is primarily located in Franklin County. Ohio has nine Pivot Counties, which are counties that voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016 after voting for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012. Franklin County is one of eight counties that voted for the Democratic nominee in each of the last three presidential elections. Sixty-five counties in Ohio voted for the Republican nominee in the last three presidential races.  

The following 12 candidates will participate: 

    •    Joe Biden
    •    Cory Booker
    •    Pete Buttigieg
    •    Julián Castro
    •    Tulsi Gabbard
    •    Kamala Harris
    •    Amy Klobuchar
    •    Beto O’Rourke
    •    Bernie Sanders
    •    Tom Steyer
    •    Elizabeth Warren
    •    Andrew Yang

Here are five facts about tonight’s debate: 

  • Gabbard and Steyer are the only candidates who did not also participate in the third Democratic debate in Houston on Sept. 12.

  • This debate will feature the most candidates on stage of any single presidential primary debate. The Republican Party held the previous record when 11 candidates debated at one time on September 16, 2015.

  • CNN and The New York Times are hosting the event. Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, and Marc Lacey are the moderators.

  • Candidates who did not qualify for this debate can still qualify for the next one, which has different polling and fundraising criteria. The Democratic National Committee announced this week that the fifth primary debate will take place in Georgia on November 20.

  • The previous Democratic debate was held on September 12 in Houston and featured 10 candidates. Since then, one Democratic candidate—Bill de Blasio—has withdrawn from the race.

In other presidential debate news, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced last week the schedule of next year’s presidential and vice presidential debates ahead of the general election. 

Three 2020 presidential debates have been scheduled: 

  • Sept. 29 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, 

  • Oct. 15 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and 

  • Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. 

A vice presidential debate is scheduled for October 7, 2020, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. 

The CPD also said in a press release that it will invite candidates to participate in these debates who meet three eligibility requirements. They must (1) be constitutionally eligible to run for president, (2) provide evidence of ballot access in enough states to win an Electoral College majority, and (3) demonstrate 15 percent support in national polling.


Louisiana Republicans maintain state legislative control after Saturday’s primary 

Our Brew story Monday covered the outcome of Saturday’s gubernatorial primary in Louisiana. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and businessman Eddie Rispone (R) advanced to the November 16 general election as the top two finishers out of six candidates. 

One other statewide executive office will be decided in the general election as none of the four candidates received a majority of the vote. Incumbent Kyle Ardoin (R) finished first in the secretary of state primary with 41% and will face Gwen Collins-Greenup (D), who finished second with 34%. Ardoin and two other Republicans received a combined 66% of the vote; Collins-Greenup was the only Democrat in the race. Ardoin defeated Collins-Greenup in a 2018 special election—59% to 41%—after Ardoin assumed office in May 2018 following the resignation of Tom Schedler (R). Ardoin is one of 25 Republican secretaries of state nationwide.

All 39 Louisiana’s state Senate seats were up for election. Although four seats advanced to a general election, partisan control of each is already determined in those districts—three had a pair of Republicans advance while the fourth had a pair of Democrats. Republicans will have a 27-12 majority—a net gain of two seats—which gives them one seat more than the 26-seat threshold required to override gubernatorial vetoes.

Here are Saturday’s other key results:

  • Six statewide executive offices, including the lieutenant governorship and attorney general’s office, were won outright by Republican incumbents.  

  • Voters decided all eight seats on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education—currently under a 6-2 Republican majority. Seven races were decided with none resulting in a change in party control. The results of the District 6 seat—an open seat previously held by Kathy Edmonston (R)—is considered too close to call. 

  • In Louisiana’s state House elections, Republicans are assured of winning at least 63 seats, Democrats 33 seats, and one was won by an independent. This includes races that were decided in the primary as well as those where both of the top two finishers are from the same party. Control of eight seats will be determined in the November 16 general election. A veto-proof majority in the state House requires 70 seats. In Louisiana, congressional and state legislative districts are drawn by the state legislature during redistricting.

  • Since Republicans have maintained control of both houses of the state legislature, trifecta control of state government will be at stake in the gubernatorial election. The state will maintain divided government if Edwards wins re-election. If Rispone wins, Louisiana will become a Republican trifecta.

  • Louisiana voters approved two constitutional amendments and rejected two, according to unofficial election night results. 

62% of Brew readers have attended a borough, town, or city council meeting

Over the last few weeks, our What’s the Tea? questions have been part of a series asking Brew readers whether they’ve ever participated or done certain things related to politics and policy, such as attending or speaking at governmental meetings or signing candidate or initiative petitions. 

Remember that our weekly survey question appears in the Brew every Friday, and we don’t tabulate responses until Monday afternoon. So if you don’t get a chance to answer the survey until the weekend, go ahead and respond then – it’s not too late to hear from you! 

Survey results

 

 



Gov. Edwards (D), Rispone (R) advance to general election in Louisiana

The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Monday, October 14, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Gov. Edwards (D), Rispone (R) advance to general election in Louisiana
  2. California governor vetoes pay-per-signature ban 
  3. Washington State Supreme Court chief justice announces retirement

Gov. Edwards (D), Rispone (R) advance to general election in Louisiana

Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and businessman Eddie Rispone (R) advanced from Louisiana’s primary election Saturday as the top two finishers out of six candidates. Edwards received 46% of the vote and Rispone received 27%. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R) was third with 24% of the vote. The general election will be held November 16. 

Louisiana uses what’s known as a blanket primary, where all candidates in any race appear on the ballot—regardless of party. A candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the primary vote. Otherwise, the top two finishers advance to a general election.

Edwards campaigned on what he considers the accomplishments of his administration. Rispone emphasized his background as a businessman, referring to himself as a conservative outsider and job creator.  

President Donald Trump (R) and the Louisiana Republican Party endorsed both Rispone and Abraham. Trump held a campaign rally with both candidates in the state Friday. Several polls leading up to the primary showed either Rispone and Abraham tied within the margin of error for second place or Rispone with a small advantage.

Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and the only Democrat holding statewide office in Louisiana. He defeated U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R) in the general election in 2015 with 56% of the vote. Trump won the state—58% to 38%—in 2016. Louisiana’s previous governor—Bobby Jindal (R)—received 65.8% of the vote in the primary to win re-election in 2011.

According to unofficial vote totals, 1,343,478 total votes were cast in Saturday’s primary. This was  230,002 more than the 1,113,476 votes cast in the 2015 primary. The distribution of 2019 primary votes by party—based on unofficial vote totals—was 51.8% for the three Republican candidates, 47.4% for the two Democrats, and 0.8% for one independent candidate.

Of the five gubernatorial elections in Louisiana between 1999 and 2015, three were won outright in the primary and two—in 2003 and 2015—proceeded to general elections. 

Learn more blank    blankblank   



California governor vetoes pay-per-signature ban 

Twenty-six states allow citizen-initiated ballot measures, and supporters must gather a specific number of signatures to get a measure on the ballot. In California, for example, initiative supporters will need to collect 623,212 signatures—or 5% of the votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election—to place an initiated state statute or veto referendum on the ballot in 2020 and 2022.  

Nineteen of the 26 states with statewide initiatives or referendums allow ballot measure campaigns to pay signature gatherers based on the number of signatures collected, a practice known as pay-per-signature. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vetoed a bill October 7 that would have banned pay-per-signature for citizen initiatives in the state. Newsom’s two immediate predecessors—Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Jerry Brown (D)—vetoed similar bills after the state legislature passed laws prohibiting pay-per-signature in 2011 and 2018. California is one of 14 Democratic trifectas, with Democrats controlling the legislature and the governor’s office. 

The 2019 bill—Assembly Bill 1451—would have:

  • required at least 10 percent of the required signatures for an initiative or referendum petition to be collected by volunteer (unpaid) circulators; 

  • changed the timeline for local elections officials to verify signatures for initiative and referendum petitions; 

  • required petitions to include information about whether the circulator is paid or volunteer; and 

  • made other changes regarding signature verification, circulators, and petition rules. 

Supporters of pay-per-signature say it is a cost-effective method for collecting signatures, making the process more accessible to efforts without significant funding. Opponents of pay-per-signature say the process encourages signature gatherers to forge signatures or illegally misinform voters.  

Pay-per-signature bans exist in seven states. The most recent states to ban paying circulators on a per-signature basis were Florida in 2019 and Arizona in 2017. The map below shows the current status of pay-per-signature nationwide:  

Status of pay per signature

Washington State Supreme Court chief justice announces retirement

There have been 19 supreme court vacancies in 2019 where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Earlier this month, we learned of the first such vacancy which will occur in 2020. 

Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst announced on October 3 that she would retire for health reasons on January 5, 2020. Fairhurst was first elected to the Washington Supreme Court in 2002 and re-elected in 2008 and 2014. She became the chief justice in 2016. 

Vacancies on the Washington State Supreme Court are filled by gubernatorial appointment. Whomever Gov. Jay Inslee (D) appoints will serve until Fairhurst’s term was due to expire—in January 2021. This will be Inslee’s second nominee to the nine-member court. 

Washington Supreme Court justices are regularly determined by nonpartisan elections and serve six-year terms. Currently, six judges on the court were elected and three were appointed by Democratic governors. 

Each state has its own supreme court, which serves as the court of last resort. Two states—Oklahoma and Texas—actually have two different state supreme courts, one for civil appeals and one for criminal appeals. Like the U.S. Supreme Court, these courts hear and decide appeals of lower trial and appellate courts in cases at the state level. The number of justices on each court varies between five and nine in each state. There are 344 state Supreme Court justices nationwide.  

Of the 19 state supreme court vacancies that have occurred this year in states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected, 12 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Six vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor fills vacancies. One vacancy occurred in a state—Virginia—where the legislature appoints replacements.

 



McAleenan leaving as Homeland Security secretary

On October 11, President Donald Trump announced that Kevin McAleenan was leaving as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). McAleenan is the seventh person to serve as DHS secretary.
 
Trump tweeted, “Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down. Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector……..Congratulations Kevin, on a job well done! I will be announcing the new Acting Secretary next week. Many wonderful candidates!”
 
The Department of Homeland Security was formed in 2002 “to secure the nation from the many threats we face,” according to the department’s official website. It oversees the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Secret Service, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).


Louisiana voters to decide trifecta status

Divided government at stake in Louisiana’s primary elections

Louisiana voters will decide statewide primary elections Saturday which include nine state executive offices—including the governor’s race—all seats in the state legislature, and four ballot measures. 

The state is currently one of 14 divided governments. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is running for re-election while Republicans control both the state House and Senate. 

Louisiana uses what is known as a blanket primary, where all candidates in any race appear on the ballot Oct. 12—regardless of party. A candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50 percent of the primary vote. If not, then a general election for the top two finishers will be held Nov. 16.

Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and the only Democrat holding statewide office in Louisiana. President Trump endorsed two Republicans—U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone—earlier this month and is scheduled to campaign for both today. Five recent polls showed Edwards with between 45% and 47% support. Three of five recent polls showed Abraham and Rispone in a virtual tie for second place.

Besides governor, the offices of lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, insurance commissioner, agriculture and forestry commissioner, and eight seats on the state board of elementary and secondary education will also be on the ballot. The six statewide offices other than governor are all currently held by Republicans and all six are running for re-election. The state board of education presently consists of six Republican and two Democratic members.  Five incumbents on that board—four Republicans and one Democrat—are running for another term.

All 39 seats in the state Senate and 105 seats in the state House are up for election in 2019. Republicans hold a 25-14 majority in the Senate and a 60-39 majority in the House, with five independents and one vacancyThere are 94 contested elections this year—more than there were in either the 2011 or 2015 election cycles. These are the first state legislative elections since 2015. 

In order for either party to form a trifecta (control of the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature), Democrats would need to retain the gubernatorial seat and win majorities in both chambers of the state legislature while Republicans would need to maintain their legislative majorities and pick up the governor’s mansion.

Four statewide constitutional amendments will appear on the ballot. Voters approved all six constitutional amendments in Louisiana in 2018. From 1995 through 2018, an average of five measures per year went before voters in odd-numbered years. During this period, voters approved 75% of the 185 amendments that appeared on the ballot.

Learn more

Rep. Lowey (N.Y.) becomes sixth Democratic U.S. House member to announce 2020 retirement

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) announced yesterday that she would not run for re-election in 2020. She was first elected to Congress in 1988 and represents New York’s 17th District. 

Lowey received 88% of the vote over a Reform Party candidate in winning re-election in 2018. She ran unopposed in both the Democratic primary and general election in 2016. That year, Hillary Clinton (D) won the district with 58.6% of the vote. The 2017 Cook Partisan Voter Index for the district was D+7, meaning that in the previous two presidential elections, this district’s results were 7 percentage points more Democratic than the national average.
Lowey becomes the 23rd House memberand sixth Democratto announce they would not run for re-election in 2020. Four U.S. Senators—three Republicans and one Democrat—have also announced they would not seek re-election. Fifty-five members of Congress did not run for re-election in 2018. The current partisan composition of the House is 235 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one independent, and two vacancies.

Members of Congress who did not seek re-election

Learn more→

What’s the tea?

We’re continuing with our What’s the Tea? questions asking Brew readers whether they’ve ever participated or done certain things related to politics and policy—such as attending or speaking at governmental meetings or signing candidate or initiative petitions. 

Continuing with our look at local government: Have you ever attended a meeting of your borough, town, or city council? This could be a city council meeting, a committee meeting, a board of zoning meeting, etc. 

  1. Yes
  2. No


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