As of June 8, 2023, former President Donald Trump (R) leads in both RealClearPolitics’ (RCP) Republican presidential primary polling average and PredictIt’s Republican presidential primary market.
Trump’s polling average currently stands at 53 percent, followed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) at 22 percent. No other candidate has more than a 10 percent polling average. In PredictIt’s Republican primary market, Trump’s share price is $0.54, and DeSantis’ share price is $0.31. Both candidates share price has come down slightly from last week. No other candidate has a share price at or above $0.10.
A candidate’s polling average reflects an estimate of the vote share a candidate would receive if the election took place today, while a PredictIt share price roughly corresponds to the market’s estimate of the probability of a candidate winning the election.
President Joe Biden (D) leads both RCP’s Democratic primary polling average and PredictIt’s Democratic primary market. Biden has a 59 percent polling average, with no other candidates polling at or above 10 percent, and a $0.75 PredictIt share price. One other candidate, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), has a share price at or above $0.10. Newsom stands at $0.15.
Biden, DeSantis, and Trump are the only candidates of this group to have officially announced their presidential campaigns.
Texas lawmakers sent SB1070 to Gov. Greg Abbot (R) on May 29, 2023, positioning the state to become the eighth to withdraw from ERIC this year, and the ninth overall. Elsewhere, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) vetoed SB1135 on May 26, a bill including provisions that would have effectively withdrawn Arizona from ERIC.
ERIC is a multi-state voter list maintenance organization, initially established in 2012 by a group of chief election officials from seven states. At its height, 33 states were participating members in ERIC.
ERIC says that its mission is “to assist states in improving the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increasing access to voter registration for all eligible citizens.” States that join ERIC agree to share their voter registration and licensing and identification data from motor vehicle departments every 60 days. ERIC then compiles this data and subsequently releases a series of voter list maintenance reports.
Beginning in 2022, election officials in several states resigned their states’ membership in the organization. Officials in these states said concerns about protecting personal data, partisanship, and strategic disagreements contributed to their resignations.
The efforts in Arizona and Texas to withdraw those states from participation in ERIC are unique because they were the first possible withdrawals driven by state legislation. Decisions in the eight other states that withdrew from ERIC were made by a state’s chief election official independent of legislatures.
The Texas State Senate approved SB1070 by a vote of 26-4 on April 12, and the Texas House of Representatives passed the bill 85-61 on May 23. The bill was sent to Gov. Greg Abbot (R) for signature on May 29.
The Texas Republican Party, which supported the state’s withdrawal from ERIC, said of SB1070 that “The ERIC membership agreement collects an extensive amount of personally identifiable information and data related to elections going far beyond the requirements of our Interstate Crosscheck Program.” Sen. Bryan Hughes (R) said “We wouldn’t want to give folks the impression that we’re making some radical change in the law. We’re restoring the law to where it was two years ago.” Rep. Chris Turner (D) said that the effort to resign from ERIC was based on a conspiracy theory and, “That’s why I don’t understand why we have this bill before us, particularly when we know the data shows that ERIC has helped Texas identify duplicate registrations, and that’s exactly what we should be trying to do.”
The Arizona State Senate approved SB1135 by a vote of 16-13 on March 21, and the Arizona House of Representatives passed the bill 31-27 on May 15. Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) vetoed the bill on May 26.
Advocates for SB1135 said the bill would not require Arizona to withdraw from ERIC, only to stop participating in certain activities required of ERIC members. Sen. John Kavanagh (R), who introduced the bill, said of Arizona’s continued participation if SB1135 were enacted that, “It would be up to ERIC.” Sen. Priya Sundareshan (D) said of the effort, “It’s a little baffling that we now seek to remove access to that tool which is helpful in maintaining current and up-to-date voter rolls.”
The percentage of all enacted election-related bills dealing with single or multiple topics has stayed consistent from 2022 to 2023. As of May 2023, 53.5% of enacted bills address a single topic (61 of 114 bills), compared to 55.6% (158 of 284) of bills enacted by the end of 2022. Enactment of omnibus-style election bills, which we define here as bills addressing five or more topics, is similar to last year. Omnibus bills comprise 7% of bills enacted this year (eight of 114) compared to 9.2% (26 of 284) at the end of 2022, and 8% (nine of 113) of enacted bills as of the same date last year.
So far in 2023, 64.8% of all election-related bills address a single topic, 3.8% are omnibus bills, and 0.78% (19 bills) contain provisions related to 10 or more categories. Last year, 61.7% of all election-related legislation were single-topic bills, 4.8% were omnibus bills, and just 19 bills (0.73%) addressed 10 or more topics.
In 2022 and 2023, Republican-trifecta states have enacted more omnibus election bills than states with divided governments or Democratic trifectas, and Republican lawmakers have sponsored more enacted election omnibus bills across all states. Republican trifecta states have enacted six of this year’s eight enacted omnibus election bills, while at the same point in 2022, Republican trifecta states had enacted seven of nine omnibus bills nationwide. At the end of 2022 legislative sessions, Republicans had sponsored 14 of the 26 enacted bills that address five or more topics, while Democrats sponsored five, four were introduced by a committee of the legislature, and three had bipartisan sponsorship.
New Mexico’s HB4 and Utah’s HB0448, both enacted earlier this year, provide examples of omnibus election legislation.
New Mexico’s HB4, among other changes, expands the roster of state agencies that provide automatic voter registration services, restores voting rights to people convicted of a felony who have completed any required prison time, and defines who may return another voter’s absentee ballot.
Utah’s HB0448, among other changes, authorizes the lieutenant governor to establish audit requirements and procedures, provides new guidelines and time frames for voter list maintenance, and mandates training for election employees and volunteers.
Seventy-three bills addressing five or more topics are still under consideration, while 1,266 single-topic bills and 543 bills that address two-to-four topics remain active in 2023 regular legislative sessions.
Ballotpedia’s comprehensive Election Administration Legislation Tracker is the basis for the data and analysis in this report. This user-friendly tracker covers thousands of election-related bills in state legislatures and organizes them by topic with neutral, expert analysis from Ballotpedia’s election administration researchers. We assessed whether each bill addresses a single or multiple topics by tagging them with one of 92 tags, organized into 23 broader subject areas. For more information on these subject category tags, click here.
Ten states are considering legislation related to ballot collection, or ballot harvesting, while three states have enacted legislation on the topic so far in 2023. In 2022, seven states enacted bills while 15 others considered legislation. The number of bills and states considering ballot collection measures is smaller in 2023 than last year.
Most legislation introduced this year makes small changes to existing laws, although several states are considering more substantial changes. Active, bipartisan-sponsored bills in Rhode Island and Wyoming, two states that do not currently specify whether someone may return ballots on behalf of another voter, would add restrictions to ballot collection. Elsewhere, Republican-sponsored bills in three states currently allowing voters to choose someone to return their ballot (Nebraska, Oregon, and Virginia) would narrow or limit the authorized individuals who may return another voter’s ballot.
Eight of the 12 bills in 2023 legislative sessions were sponsored by Republican legislators, two were sponsored by Democrats, and two had bipartisan sponsorship.
Mississippi, New Mexico and South Dakota have enacted legislation related to ballot collection.
In Mississippi, Republican-sponsored SB2358 creates new penalties for an existing ban on third-party ballot collection.
In New Mexico, Democratic-sponsored SB180 expands the list of persons authorized to return another voter’s absentee/mail-in ballot as part of a larger package of election modifications. Existing law prohibits anyone not an immediate family member from collecting and delivering a ballot. The bill adds domestic partners, grandchildren, grandparents, or persons “with whom the voter has a continuing personal relationship” to the definition of “immediate family.”
In South Dakota, Republican-sponsored HB165 requires election officials to “keep a record of the authorized messenger requesting an absentee ballot to be delivered to another voter.” In South Dakota, an authorized messenger may return another voter’s absentee ballot.
Iowa and South Carolina were the only states to make significant changes to their ballot collection laws in 2022 legislative sessions.
In Iowa, both SF413 and SF568 restricted ballot collection to “an individual who lives in the same household as the registered voter, the registered voter’s immediate family member,” or an individual serving as a caretaker or registered delivery agent for a blind or otherwise disabled voter.
In South Carolina, S0108 instituted a photo-ID requirement for an individual authorized to return another voters’ ballot and limited the number and prohibited anyone from returning more than five ballots in addition to their own.
Also last year, Florida increased penalties for illegal ballot possession from a misdemeanor to a felony. Oklahoma added a prohibition on [d]istributing an absentee ballot application or request to a voter using the official letterhead of a candidate or elected official” to an existing ballot harvesting ban.
Of the 22 states that currently have a Republican trifecta, 11 states specify or otherwise limit who may return another voter’s absentee ballot, while four others do not have any law related to ballot collection. Of the 17 Democratic trifecta states, three specify or otherwise limit who may collect and return absentee ballots, while five states’ statutes do not reference ballot collection.
Utah is among the top three states enacting the highest percentage of their introduced election-related legislation for the second year in a row. It is the only state among the top three in 2022 and 2023. Utah lawmakers enacted 12 of the 29 election-related bills (41.4%) introduced in 2023 and nine of 18 in 2022 (50%). Republicans were the sole sponsors of all but two of these bills. Utah is a Republican trifecta.
Joining Utah in the top three states in terms of bill enactment so far this year are Arkansas (45% of introduced election bills enacted) and South Dakota (42.1%), both of which are also Republican trifecta states. The most common topic of enacted bills in these states is counting and canvassing procedures (6 bills), followed by audits (5 bills). In 2022, Colorado (50%) and Connecticut (50%), both Democratic trifectas, rounded out the top three.
The most common topics of enacted legislation in Utah from both years were:
Ballot access for candidates (5 bills).
Counting and canvassing procedures (4 bills).
Audits, ballot measures (initiative and referendum), voter ID for absentee/mail-in ballots, signature matching, vacancy procedures, enforcement against non-officials, absentee/mail-in voter assistance, cybersecurity, and physical security (3 bills each).
In Utah’s 2023 legislative session, whose regular session ended on March 3, the most commonly enacted bill topics were signature matching, and absentee/mail-in voter assistance (3 bills each). In 2022 it was ballot access for candidates (4 bills).
An example of a bill about ballot access for candidates is 2022’s SB0170 which, among other provisions, established a new filing period for candidates of a qualified political party to be elected at the next general election.
An example of a signature matching bill is 2023’s HB0037. This bill established a new signature matching requirement for absentee ballots. The change requires poll workers to verify that a signature is “reasonably consistent with the individual’s signature in the voter registration records” or verifiable by other means before determining that a mailed ballot shall be canvassed. This bill also requires election officers to establish a method of accessible voting to a voter with a disability who cannot vote by mail, providing an example of legislation addressing absentee/mail-in voter assistance.
An example of counting and canvassing procedures is 2022’s HB0264 which describes the voting process and determining winners in an alternate voting methods race depending on the voting method selected by a municipality participating in the state’s Municipal Alternate Voting Methods Pilot Project. The Municipal Alternate Voting Methods Pilot Project is a program established by the Utah legislature through HB35 in 2018 that allows municipalities to adopt ranked-choice voting for local elections.
The North Dakota State Senate voted to sustain Gov. Doug Burgum’s (R) veto of HB1273 on April 19, 2023. The bill would have prohibited the use of approval or ranked-choice voting methods in the state. Twenty-eight Senators voted to override the veto while 19 voted to sustain. In the North Dakota Senate, a two-thirds majority of the 47 member chamber is required to override a veto. The North Dakota House of Representatives previously voted 71 to 17 to override the veto on April 10, 2023.
The bill banning approval or ranked-choice voting originally advanced out of the North Dakota Legislature on March 30, 2023, after a 30 to 13 vote for passage in the state Senate. Gov. Burgum then vetoed the bill on April 6, calling the bill an example of state overreach and saying it “blatantly infringes on local control.” North Dakota House Majority Leader Mike Lefor (R) said of the effort to override Gov. Burgum’s veto: “The legislature properly exercised its authority to regulate the way elections are conducted… It’s a matter of statewide concern.”
North Dakota would have become the fifth state to enact bans on ranked-choice voting methods had the veto override been successful. Both Idaho and South Dakota enacted prohibitions this year, joining Florida and Tennessee who did so in 2022. Several other states are considering similar legislation in 2023 legislative sessions.
The North Dakota House of Representatives voted on April 10, 2023, to override Gov. Doug Burgum’s (R) veto of HB1273. The bill would ban the use of ranked-choice and approval voting methods in the state. Ranked-choice voting is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. Approval voting allows voters to vote for all the candidates the voter approves of, and the candidates receiving the most votes are elected until all necessary seats are filled in the race.
Gov. Burgum vetoed the legislation on April 6, 2023, calling the bill an example of state overreach and saying it “blatantly infringes on local control.” Currently, one municipality in the state, Fargo, utilizes a voting method that the bill would prohibit. North Dakota House Majority Leader Mike Lefor (R) said of the effort to override Gov. Burgum’s veto: “The legislature properly exercised its authority to regulate the way elections are conducted… It’s a matter of statewide concern.”
The state House voted 71-17 to override Burgum’s veto. A two-thirds majority in the state Senate is required to override the veto and enact the legislation. North Dakota is a Republican trifecta, meaning that Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governorship. In the state House, Republicans hold 82 of 94 seats, while in the Senate they hold 43 of 47 seats.
North Dakota is one of several states considering prohibitions on using ranked-choice and other similar multiple-round or tabulated voting methods. Florida and Tennessee became the first states in the country to enact such bans in 2022, followed by South Dakota and Idaho, who have done so in 2023 legislative sessions. Similar bills in three other states have passed at least one chamber of their state’s legislature this year, Arizona’s HB2552, Montana’s HB598, and Texas’ SB92.
State legislatures are considering a similar number of bills related to ranked-choice voting in 2023 sessions as they did last year, but the number of measures prohibiting or banning RCV has nearly doubled.
So far this year, South Dakota and Idaho have enacted such prohibitions, joining Florida and Tennessee who became the first states to do so last year. All four states had Republican trifectas when these laws were adopted. Similar Republican-sponsored bills have passed at least one chamber of the legislature in their state so far in 2023: Arizona’s HB2552, Montana’s HB598, North Dakota’s HB1273, and Texas’ SB921. On April 6, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) vetoed that state’s prospective ban. Elsewhere this year, Republican lawmakers in both Alaska and Maine, where ranked-choice voting has been implemented for some federal and state-level elections through statewide ballot measures, have introduced legislation that would repeal their state’s current use of the voting system.
Ranked-choice voting is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the next-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.
Municipalities in Florida and Tennessee had authorized, but not used, ranked-choice voting when those states banned the system. Idaho and South Dakota, on the other hand, were two of 33 states where ranked-choice voting was not authorized or used in any form (excluding presidential primaries).
Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed H0179 into law on March 24, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed SB55 on March 27. Idaho’s ranked-choice voting ban received one Democratic vote in the state House. South Dakota’s received two, also in the state House.