CategoryAnalysis

What are the responsibilities of state lieutenant governors?

The office of lieutenant governor is an elected statewide executive office in 43 states. In two other states, Tennessee and West Virginia, the President of the State Senate serves as lieutenant governor. Maine, Arizona, Wyoming, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not have lieutenant governors.
 
Lieutenant governors derive their responsibilities from several sources, including gubernatorial appointments, statutes, and state constitutions.
 
In most states with the position, the duties of the lieutenant governor are similar and involve acting as governor in the governor’s absence. Every lieutenant governor is the first official in the line of succession to the governor’s office.
 
Of America’s 45 lieutenant governors:
• 33 serve as acting governor when the governor is out of the state.
• 27 serve as President of the Senate, while 23 have the power to break roll-call ties.
• 25 can be assigned gubernatorial duties at the governor’s discretion.
• 23 serve as members of the governor’s cabinet or advisory body.
• 11 have the power to appoint legislative committees.
• Eight have the power to assign bills to committees.
 


Ballotpedia releases federal vacancy count for November

In this month’s federal vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from November 5 to December 2, 2019. Ballotpedia publishes the federal vacancy count at the start of each month.
 
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Vacancies: There has been one new judicial vacancy since the October 2019 report. There are 90 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 98 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
  • Nominations: There have been eight new nominations since the October 2019 report.
  • Confirmations: There have been seven new confirmations since the October 2019 report.
 
New vacancies
There were 90 vacancies out of 870 Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 10.3, which is 0.5 percentage points lower than the vacancy percentage in October 2019.
  • The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.
  • One (0.6%) of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions are vacant.
  • 87 (12.8%) of the 677 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.
  • Two (22.2%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions are vacant.
 
A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away. Article III judges, who serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, are appointed for life terms.
 
One judge left active status, creating an Article III life-term judicial vacancy. As an Article III judicial position, this vacancy must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.
  • Judge Daniel Hovland assumed senior status on the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota.
 
U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies
The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) to the date indicated on the chart.
 
 
The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) and as of December 1, 2019.
 
 
 
U.S. District Court vacancies
 
New nominations
President Donald Trump (R) has announced eight new nominations since the October 2019 report:
  • Andrew Brasher, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
  • John Cronan, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Scott Hardy, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
  • John Heil, to the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Eastern and Western Districts of Oklahoma.
  • John Hinderaker, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.
  • Iris Lan, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Matthew Schelp, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
  • David Joseph, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.
 
Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 234 individuals to Article III positions.
 
New confirmations
Since November 5, 2019, the United States Senate confirmed seven of President Trump’s nominees to Article III seats. As of December 2, 2019, the Senate has confirmed 164 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—112 district court judges, 48 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.
 
  • Jennifer Philpott Wilson, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
  • Lee Rudofsky, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
  • William Nardini, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
  • Danielle Hunsaker, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
  • Barbara Lagoa, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
  • Robert J. Luck, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
  • Steven Menashi, confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
 


More Republican House candidates filed for 2020 than Democrats last week for first time this cycle

As of December 2, 2019, 1,869 candidates are filed with the FEC to run for U.S. House in 2020. Of those, 1,752—873 Democrats and 879 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 3,244 candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans.
 
299 candidates are filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to run for U.S. Senate in 2020. Of those, 260—137 Democrats and 123 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 527 candidates filed with the FEC to run for U.S. Senate, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans.
 
In the past week, no members of Congress announced 2020 retirements. To date, four Senators (three Republicans and one Democrat) and 28 Representatives (20 Republicans and eight Democrats) are not running for re-election. In 2018, 55 total members of Congress—18 Democrats and 37 Republicans—did not seek re-election.
 
On November 3, 2020, 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election. Of those Senate seats, 33 are regularly-scheduled elections, while the other two are special elections in Arizona and Georgia. Twelve are Democratic-held seats and 23 are Republican-held seats. In the House, where all the seats are up for election, Democrats currently hold a 233-seat majority.
 
Additional reading:


Trump has appointed fourth-most federal judges through December 1 of a president’s third year

Donald Trump has appointed and the Senate confirmed 164 Article III federal judges through December 1, 2019, his third year in office. This is the fourth-most Article III judicial appointments through this point in a presidency of all presidents dating back to Theodore Roosevelt. Only Jimmy Carter (186), George W. Bush (168), and Bill Clinton (166) had more.
 
The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through December 1 of their third year in office is 95.
 
The median number of Supreme Court justices appointed is two. William Taft’s (R) five appointments were the most among this set. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt (D), Jimmy Carter (D), and George W. Bush (R) did not appoint any justices through December 1 of their third years in office. Trump has appointed 2 justices so far.
 
The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is 19. Trump appointed the most with 48, and President Woodrow Wilson (D) appointed the fewest with five. Trump’s 48 appointments make up 27 percent of the total 179 judgeships across the courts of appeal.
 
The median number of United States District Court appointees is 67. Carter appointed the most with 139, and President Theodore Roosevelt (R) appointed the fewest with 14. Trump has appointed 112 district court judges so far. Those appointments make up 17 percent of the 677 judgeships across the district courts.
 
Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the United States Constitution. Article III judges include judges on the: Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.
 


November 2019 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 52.2% Republicans, 46.8% Democrats

November’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States shows 52.2% of all state legislators are Republicans and 46.8% are Democrats.
 
Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. Republicans hold a majority in 61 chambers, and Democrats hold the majority in 37 chambers. One chamber (Alaska’s state House) has a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.
 
Altogether, there are 1,972 state senator and 5,411 state representative offices. Republicans held 1,081 state senate seats—no change from October—and 2,775 state house seats—up five seats from last month. Democrats held 3,457 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—878 state Senate seats (down one seat) and 2,579 state House seats (down four seats). Independent or third-party legislators held 36 seats. There were 34 vacant seats.
 
At the time of the 2018 elections, 7,280 state legislators were affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. There were 3,257 Democratic state legislators, 4,023 Republican state legislators, 35 independent or third-party state legislators, and 68 vacancies.
 
 


Tom Steyer leads in pageviews for the first time this year

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential campaigns on Ballotpedia. These numbers show which candidates are getting our readers’ attention.
 
Tom Steyer’s campaign page on Ballotpedia received 4,081 views for the week of November 24-30. Steyer’s pageview figure represents 11.8% of the pageviews for the week. Pete Buttigieg had 9.9% of the pageviews for the week, followed by Andrew Yang with 8.6%. The previous week, Buttigieg had the most pageviews, followed by Tulsi Gabbard, then Steyer. This is Tom Steyer’s first week this year leading in pageviews.
 
Every Democratic candidate other than Steyer had fewer pageviews last week than the week before. Steyer’s pageviews increased by 22% while all other Democrats had a decrease between 11% and 37%.
 
Andrew Yang remains the leader in overall pageviews this year with 147,622. He is followed by Pete Buttigieg with 141,510 and Joe Biden with 131,910.
 


Federal Register weekly update; highest weekly final rule total since September

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.
 
During the week of November 25 to November 29, the Federal Register increased by 1,204 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 65,906 pages. The week’s Federal Register featured a total of 510 documents, including 396 notices, three presidential documents, 41 proposed rules, and 70 final rules.
 
One proposed rule and four final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules.
 
During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,908 pages for a year-to-date total of 62,240 pages. As of November 29, the 2019 total led the 2018 total by 3,666 pages.
 
The Trump administration has added an average of 1,373 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of November 29. Over the course of 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. During the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
 
According to government data, the Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
 
Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.
 
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016.
 


Who may return a voter’s mail ballot? A state-by-state summary

Most states have laws permitting someone besides a voter to return the voter’s mail ballot. These laws vary by state.
 
A central argument made by those who support restrictions on who may return a voter’s mail ballot is that elections are more susceptible to fraud without them. One of opponents’ central arguments is that the restrictions may disenfranchise certain groups of voters.
 
Below is an analysis of ballot return laws by state, broken down by types of restrictions states do or do not have.
 
What we found:
 
• 24 states and D.C. permit someone chosen by the voter, in most cases, to return mail ballots on their behalf
• 12 states specify who may return ballots (i.e., household members, caregivers, and/or family members) in most cases
• 1 state explicitly allows only the voter to return their ballot
• 13 states do not specify whether someone may return another’s ballot
 
Some state laws have restrictions in addition to the general categories above:
 
• 11 states specify a maximum number of voters for whom a person can return ballots or a maximum number of ballots they may return
• 9 states that allow someone chosen by the voter to return mail ballots have exceptions specifying who is not permitted to do so
• 7 states and D.C. specify that only voters meeting certain criteria may have their ballots returned by someone else.
 
All states allow absentee balloting by mail to some extent, and three states use primarily vote-by-mail systems.
 
Additional reading:


RNC outraises DNC by more than two-to-one for a sixth consecutive month, Democrats retain House committee fundraising lead

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has outraised its Democratic counterpart by more than two-to-one for a sixth consecutive month, while the Democratic House committee outraised its Republican counterpart, according to November 2019 campaign finance reports filed with the FEC Wednesday.
 
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $6.7 million and spent $4.8 million last month, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $5.4 million and spent $5.6 million. In the 2020 cycle, the NRSC has raised 8.8% more than the DSCC ($54.4 million to $49.8 million). The NRSC’s 8.8% fundraising advantage is up from 7.1% in October but down from 12.3% in September.
 
On the House side, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $12.2 million and spent $4.8 million, while the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $10.0 million and spent $5.6 million. In the 2020 cycle, the DCCC has raised 36.0% more than the NRCC ($101.3 million to $70.4 million). The DCCC’s 36.0% fundraising advantage is down from 38.4% in October and 36.6% in September.
 
At this point in the 2018 campaign cycle, Democrats led in both Senate and House fundraising, although their advantage in the House was smaller than in this cycle. The DSCC had raised 19.7% more than the NRSC ($44.4 million to $36.5 million), while the DCCC had raised 14.3% more than the NRCC ($89.1 million to $77.2 million).
 
Republicans lead in national committee fundraising. The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised $25.3 million and spent $23.1 million while the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $9.0 million and spent $8.9 million. In the 2020 cycle, the RNC has raised 89.1% more than the DNC ($194.0 million to $74.5 million). The RNC’s 89.1% fundraising advantage is up from 88.2% in October and 83.0% in September.
 
At this point in the 2016 campaign cycle (the most recent presidential election cycle) the RNC had a smaller 54.3% fundraising advantage over the DNC ($89.3 million to $51.2 million).
 
So far in the 2020 cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 34.2% more than the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($318.8 million to $225.6 million). The Republican fundraising advantage is up from 32.7% in October and 31.5% in September.
 


Ballotpedia’s review of the top 10 races in 2019

Here’s what happened in the top 10 races we watched in November 2019, including races for state executive and legislative offices, municipal elections, and statewide ballot measures.
 
Governors:
 
  • Kentucky: Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) defeated Gov. Matt Bevin (R) and John Hicks (L) in Kentucky’s gubernatorial election. Beshear’s victory meant that Kentucky transitioned from a Republican state government trifecta to divided government.
  • Louisiana: Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) defeated businessman Eddie Rispone (R) in the general election for governor of Louisiana. Edwards’ win meant the state would remain under divided government. A win from Rispone would have made Louisiana a Republican trifecta.
  • Mississippi: Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) defeated state Attorney General Jim Hood (D), Bob Hickingbottom (Constitution), and David Singletary (I) in the election for governor of Mississippi. Incumbent Phil Bryant (R) was term-limited. Reeves’ win and Republican victories in the state House and Senate preserved the state’s Republican trifecta.
 
State legislatures:
 
  • Virginia House of Delegates: Democrats gained control of the Virginia House of Delegates, winning a 55-45 majority. Heading into the election, Republicans held a 51-49 majority.
  • Virginia State Senate: Democrats gained control of the Virginia State Senate, winning a 21-19 majority. Heading into the election, Republicans held a 20-19 majority with one vacancy in a seat previously held by a Republican. By winning both chambers of the legislature, Democrats gained a state government trifecta.
 
Municipal:
 
  • Mayor of Houston: Incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner and former Texas A&M Board of Regents member Tony Buzbee will participate in a December 14 runoff election for mayor of Houston, Texas after advancing from the general election.
  • Seattle City Council: The city of Seattle, Washington, held nonpartisan general elections for seven city council districts on November 5, 2019. Four races were open, and three incumbents won re-election. The 2019 races saw a record-breaking $4.2 million in satellite spending through November 5.
 
Ballot measures:
 
  • Colorado Proposition CC: Colorado Proposition CC, the Allow State to Retain Revenue for Transportation and Education Measure, was on the ballot in Colorado as a legislatively referred state statute. It was defeated. Colorado Proposition CC would have allowed the state to retain revenue it was, at the time of the election, required to refund under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).
  • Pennsylvania Marsy’s Law Amendment: The Pennsylvania Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment was on the ballot in Pennsylvania as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. This was a measure to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to guarantee victims of crimes 15 specific rights. A majority of electors voted to approve the ballot measure. However, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court enjoined Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar from certifying election results, pending a court ruling on whether the amendment violated the state constitution’s requirement that separate amendments receive separate votes.
  • Texas Proposition 4: Texas Proposition 4, the Prohibit State Income Tax on Individuals Amendment, was on the ballot in Texas as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. The measure was approved. Texas Proposition 4 was a measure to amend the Texas Constitution to prohibit the state from levying an income tax.
 


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