Marielle Bricker

Marielle Bricker is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at

First 2020 statewide filing deadline is November 8

The 2020 general election may be more than a year away, but the first deadline for federal candidates to file to run is just around the corner. The following seven states have their filing deadlines before the end of the year:
  • Alabama: November 8
  • Arkansas: November 12
  • Illinois: December 2
  • California: December 6
  • Texas: December 9
  • Ohio: December 18
  • North Carolina: December 20
The remaining 43 states all have their filing deadlines in 2020.
During the last presidential election year, five states—Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Texas, and Ohio—had federal candidate filing deadlines in 2015, the year before the election. California and North Carolina have earlier filing deadlines in 2020 because both are holding federal primaries in March for the first time. In 2016, both states held their primaries in June.
From November 2019 to July 2020, Ballotpedia will cover an average of six statewide filing deadlines each month. November 2019 and July 2020 are tied for the fewest with two each. Sixteen states have statewide filing deadlines in March 2020, making it the busiest month for candidate ballot access deadlines for the 2020 elections.

Coin toss decides tied primary in North Carolina

In North Carolina, a coin toss decided who will appear on the general election ballot in District 3 of the Hickory City Council. Three candidates competed in the nonpartisan primary on October 9. Sixty votes were cast in the race; incumbent Danny Seaver advanced with 28 votes, but challengers Nathan Hefner and Daria Jackson were tied at 16 each.
Under North Carolina law, tied elections that have fewer than 5,000 votes cast are decided by random selection. In this instance, a coin toss was used to decide the second-place winner. Jackson called heads and the coin turned up tails, meaning Hefner advanced to the November 5 general election.
According to the Hickory Daily Record, Hefner stated after the coin toss, “Your voice does count. If you want to see all your dreams and aspirations for Hickory come to life — get out and vote.” Jackson stated, “I’m going to put it in the hands of God and respect his will.”
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 coverage includes North Carolina elections spanning 503 cities, towns, and villages, nine school districts, and 17 special districts.

Two of three Birmingham special city council elections won outright; third race advances to a general runoff

Special elections for Birmingham City Council Districts 1, 6, and 7 were held October 8, 2019. Districts 1 and 6 were vacated after the former officeholders were elected to the Jefferson County Commission in 2018. District 7 was vacant because the former officeholder resigned when he moved outside of the district. There are a total of nine seats on the city council.
In District 1, appointed incumbent Clinton Woods won election outright with 71.3% of the vote. He defeated two challengers. District 6 appointed City Councilmember Crystal Smitherman received 51.5% of the vote. She defeated six challengers to avoid a general runoff election.
Appointed District 7 incumbent Wardine Alexander and challenger Ray Brooks advanced to a general runoff election after none of the three candidates in the general election received over 50% of the vote. Alexander received 42.4% of the vote and Brooks received 30.9%. The general runoff election is scheduled for November 19, 2019.
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama and the 99th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

New Republican state representatives elected in Georgia, South Carolina special elections

Georgia House of Representatives District 71 and South Carolina House of Representatives District 84 were up for special election October 1, 2019. Both races only featured Republican candidates, since neither had Democratic or third party candidates on the ballot. Both seats were previously held by Republican officeholders. The Georgia seat became vacant following David Stover’s resignation in June and the South Carolina seat became vacant following Ronnie Young’s death in May.
The Georgia House race was a general runoff election that featured two Republican candidates, Philip Singleton and Marcy Sakrison. Singleton and Sakrison advanced from the September 3 general election after no candidates received a majority of the vote. The general election featured four candidates–three Republicans and one Democrat. Singleton won the runoff with 2,558 votes (58.9%) to Sakrison’s 1,788 votes (41.1%).
The South Carolina general election featured one Republican candidate on the ballot, Melissa Oremus. No Democratic candidates filed for election, but six Republican candidates competed in a Republican primary on July 30. Oremus defeated Alvin Padgett in a Republican primary runoff in August. Oremus faced write-in opposition in the general election, winning 809 votes (97.4%) to 22 votes (2.6%).
As of October, 77 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 24 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Mississippi Senate district to hold partial special election in November

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) has called a special election for Mississippi State Senate District 50 on November 5, 2019. The election was deemed necessary after a Harrison County Circuit Court judge vacated the August 6 regular primary’s results in five of the district’s 16 precincts and ordered a new election to be held.
Candidates Scott DeLano and Dixie Newman had both competed in the August Republican primary, and certified results showed Newman received 3,184 votes to DeLano’s 3,183 votes. On August 26, DeLano filed a petition with the Republican County Executive Committee of Harrison County contesting the certified primary results. He cited his concern that not all votes cast in the district were counted. The committee ruled that a special election should be held and requested that the judge call a new election.
Voters in five precincts will return to the polls in November, but voters in the other 11 precincts will not re-vote and their original votes from the August 6 primary will be combined with the results of the November re-vote. Since no other candidates filed for the seat, the person who wins the most votes in the combined primaries will be declared the winner.
Excluding the five precincts headed to a re-vote and counting only the results from the 11 precincts where the results are finalized, Newman received 2,287 votes (51.4%) and DeLano received 2,161 votes (48.6%).
Entering the 2019 election, the Mississippi State Senate has 18 Democrats, 31 Republicans, and three vacancies. All 52 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 27 seats. Mississippi has a Republican state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

El Paso officeholder running in special election to replace herself

The city of El Paso is holding a special election for the District 3 city council seat on November 5, 2019. The seat is currently represented by Cassandra Hernandez-Brown. Candidates hoping to appear on the ballot have until September 26 to file.
The special election was called because Texas has a resign-to-run law that requires officeholders to resign from their current office if they announce they are running for a different office. An August 19 post on Hernandez-Brown’s public Facebook page read, “Cassandra Hernandez for mayor of El Paso,” and was later deleted. Hernandez-Brown said one of her volunteers uploaded the phrase and that she did not authorize it. On August 26, the city council came to a 4-3 decision that the Facebook post was a declaration of her candidacy for mayor, triggering a special election. Hernandez-Brown could not vote on the decision.
Hernandez-Brown’s attorney argued that she should not have to resign, stating, “There is nothing wrong with preparing for other options and considering those. It was an inadvertent public notification that went out when they changed the name of that Facebook account.”
Mayor Pro Tempore Claudia Ordaz Perez said that Hernandez-Brown had already effectively resigned and that the city council needed to follow state law. She stated, “One, is this was done on a public platform. Two, any person from the public looking at this public page would assume that this was an announcement for public office.”
Hernandez-Brown said she will remain in the position until the election on November 5, and she has also filed to run in the special election. Although Perez told ABC-7 that Hernandez-Brown would not be permitted to run, the city issued a statement after Hernandez-Brown filed saying she was allowed to do so.
El Paso is the sixth-largest city in Texas and the 20th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles advances to general election with 86.6% of the vote

Charlotte, North Carolina, held partisan primary elections last Tuesday for mayor and city council. Twelve seats are appearing on the general election ballot on November 5, 2019. Democratic primaries were held for mayor and all city council districts except for Districts 6 and 7. City Council District 7 was the only office to hold a Republican primary. District 6 did not hold any primaries.
With all districts reporting, incumbent Mayor Vi Lyles (D) defeated four challengers with 86.6% of the unofficial vote total. No challengers received more than 4.2% of the vote. She faces Republican challenger David Michael Rice in November. Rice was the only Republican candidate to file for the mayoral election and automatically advanced to the general election.
Four at-large city council seats and Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 held Democratic primaries. All four at-large incumbents and the Districts 1 and 5 incumbents filed for re-election and advanced to the general election. Districts 2, 3, and 4 are open seats. City council District 7 incumbent Edmond H. Driggs (R) defeated one challenger in the only Republican primary of the night.
Four districts only have one candidate on the November ballot and were unofficially decided in the primary. Democratic incumbents Larken Egleston (District 1) and Matt Newton (District 5) will be automatically re-elected and District 3 Democratic candidate Victoria Watlington will win her first term without opposition. Republican District 7 incumbent Driggs will also be re-elected unopposed. The remaining city council seats and mayoral election are contested.
Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina and the 17th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Toledo council races draw more candidates than previous three elections

The city of Toledo, Ohio, is holding general elections for six city council seats, two municipal judgeships, and the clerk of the municipal court on November 5, 2019. Primaries for the city council’s districts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are being held September 10, 2019.
The remaining offices, including District 6, had two or fewer candidates file to run. As a result, their primaries were canceled and those candidates advanced automatically to the November general election.
Districts 3 and 5 are the only open seats on the primary and general election ballots. All seven other races feature incumbents; four city council members face competition in their re-election bids while the two municipal judges and one clerk of court are running unopposed. Together, the nine seats drew an average of 2.6 candidates per seat.
The 2019 city council election has the highest average number of candidates per seat over the past three regular election cycles. This year, 20 candidates filed for the six city council seats, an average of 3.3 candidates per seat. The last time the by-district city council seats were up for election was in 2015. Seventeen candidates filed for seven city council seats (one at-large seat was up for special election), for an average of 2.4 candidates per seat. Toledo also held elections for the six at-large city council seats in 2017. That year, 13 candidates filed for six seats—an average of 2.2 candidates per seat.
Toledo is the fourth-largest city in Ohio and the 66th-largest city in the U.S. by population.