CategoryLocal

Ohio village council recall election to be held Feb. 23

A special recall election seeking to remove four Woodmere Village Council members from their seats is scheduled for February 23, 2021. Woodmere is a town in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, with a population of 884 people as of the 2010 census. The board members subject to recall are board president Jennifer Mitchell Earley and members Glenda Todd Miller, Lisa Brockwell, and Craig Wade.

The recall election ballot asks one question for each of the four members: “Shall [council member’s name] be allowed to continue as Member of Council?” If a majority of the votes are in the affirmative, the member will remain in office; if a majority of the votes are in the negative, the member will be recalled. The question of replacement for any recalled member is not on the ballot and will be addressed after the recall election, if necessary.

The recall effort began in October 2020. Recall petitioners, known collectively as the Woodmere Project, cited the council’s failure to install a sidewalk along the village’s main road and its inability to keep the village’s website up-to-date as grounds for the recall. Petitioners also accused the four council members of pitting residents against each other.

The recall opponents alleged that a lack of transparency about the contents of the recall petition misled the residents who signed it. Petitioners were required to obtain 45 signatures to get the recall on the ballot.

The recall election was originally scheduled for January 19, 2021, but was canceled after the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections determined petitioners did not submit the required number of signatures. The effort was initially certified as having enough signatures due to confusion over whether petitioners were submitting initial or supplemental signatures. Petitioners then re-submitted signatures sufficient to get the recall on the ballot on February 23.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Special election approaches Feb. 23 in New York City Council District 31

The special general election for New York City Council District 31 is on February 23, 2021. Nine candidates are competing in the special election. The filing deadline to run passed on December 16, 2020. 

The special election was called when Donovan Richards left office after he was elected Queens Borough President in November. Richards served on the city council from 2013 to 2020.

The February 23 election will be the second election in New York City to use a ranked-choice voting system. In 2019, New Yorkers passed a ballot measure that instituted ranked-choice voting in special elections to local offices.

In ranked-choice voting, 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 second-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. 

Ranked-choice voting in New York City is the subject of an ongoing court challenge. On December 16, 2020, a state trial court declined to block the implementation of ranked-choice voting, but the decision is being appealed.  

The New York City Council consists of 51 members. New York is the largest city by population in the U.S.

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Oklahoma voters decide school board primary elections

Primaries for school board elections were held in Oklahoma on February 9. Ballotpedia is covering elections for 35 seats across 27 Oklahoma school boards in 2021. These 27 school districts served a combined total of 261,543 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Seventeen seats were won outright by unopposed candidates. There were 13 seats where two candidates automatically advanced from the primary to the general election on April 6. The remaining five seats held primaries between three or more candidates. Elections can be won outright in the primary if a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.

  • In the Edmond Public School District, Margaret Best and incumbent Lee Ann Kuhlman advanced to the general election for the District 1 seat. Best and Kuhlman earned 34% and 27% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Oklahoma City Public School District, Charles Henry and incumbent Paula Lewis advanced to the general election for the chairperson seat. Henry and Lewis earned 48% and 44% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Owasso Public School District, Stephanie Ruttman and Rick Lang advanced to the general election for the Ward 1 seat. Ruttman and Lang earned 31% and 24% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Putnam City Public School District, Judy Mullen Hopper won outright in the primary for Seat 3. Hopper earned 66% of the vote against two other candidates including incumbent Sky Collins.
  • In the Tulsa Public School District, Judith Barba won outright in the primary for Seat 2. Barba earned 53% of the vote against two other candidates.

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Colorado school board recall election to be held Feb. 16

A recall election seeking to remove Lance McDaniel from his position as the District A representative on the Montezuma-Cortez School District Board of Education in Colorado is being held on February 16, 2021. 

The recall election ballot has two questions. One asks if voters are in favor of recalling McDaniel with the option to vote yes or no. The other question lists the successor candidates. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling McDaniel, the successor candidate who receives the most votes will replace him on the board. If a majority of voters cast ballots against recalling McDaniel, he will retain his position on the board.

The filing deadline for successor candidates was January 8. Cody Wells was the only candidate to file.

The recall effort started in July 2020. Recall supporters said McDaniel had shown a “lack of leadership and has proven to be a poor role model for our children,” regarding several of his social media posts. The petition stated, “We need school board members that understand leadership and the power of mentoring, and know not to voice their personal, political, or social opinions that could influence children.”

McDaniel said he was not concerned about the recall effort. “When it gets down to it, I’m a loudmouth liberal, and they don’t like that,” he said. McDaniel said he stood by his social media posts. “The conservatives don’t like the fact that there are some more progressive people in the town,” he said.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters of the effort had to submit 1,126 signatures in 60 days. The number of signatures was equal to 40% of the citizens in the school district who voted in the last school board election. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell determined enough signatures were valid. Before a recall election could be scheduled, four challenges were submitted against the petition, saying the petition was “baseless, frivolous and infringes on Mr. McDaniel’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.” A hearing on the challenges was held on November 19, and the challenges were denied on November 23. Hearing Officer Mike Green said that the recall petition met the statutory requirements.

McDaniel is one of seven members on the board of education. He was appointed to his position in 2018.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Burlington, Vermont voters will decide on March 2 whether to adopt ranked-choice voting for city council elections

On March 2, Burlington, Vermont voters will decide Question 4, a measure to implement ranked-choice voting for city council elections beginning in March 2022.

The Burlington City Council attempted to place a ranked-choice voting measure on the November 2020 ballot, but it was vetoed by Mayor Miro Weinberger (D) after receiving a 6-5 vote from the city council. It would have implemented RCV for city council, mayoral, and school commissioner elections. The council amended the measure to only include city council elections and reconsidered it for the March 2021 ballot. It was approved on September 22, 2020. Mayor Weinberger signed the measure on October 3, 2020. 

The vote will be the first time the city voters decide on RCV after repealing it in 2010. In 2005, Burlington voters amended the city’s charter to implement RCV—referred to as instant runoff—for mayoral elections. The 2005 measure was approved by 64% to 36%. It was used in the 2006 and 2009 mayoral elections.

On March 2, 2010, voters repealed ranked-choice by a vote of 52% to 48%. The measure to repeal ranked-choice voting was placed on the ballot through a ballot initiative petition drive after the 2009 mayoral election.

The Yes on 4: Better Ballot Burlington campaign is co-chaired by Former Governor Howard Dean (D) and City Councilmember Zoraya Hightower (Vermont Progressive Party). Hightower said, “I believe [RCV] helps elect leaders that are more representative of our city and cities across the country.” Mayor Weinberger opposes the amended measure saying, “[Prior use of ranked-choice voting] led to campaigns being very hesitant to define differences and distinctions between themselves on substance because of concerns of alienating second and third votes from other candidates. I was a campaign chair of a mayoral election during that period. I just don’t think it worked well.”

A ranked-choice voting system (RCV) 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 second-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.

As of 2021, one state (Maine) had implemented RCV at the state level, one state (Alaska) had adopted but not implemented RCV, eight states contained jurisdictions that had implemented RCV at some level, and another five states contained jurisdictions—including New York City—that had adopted but not yet implemented RCV in local elections.

All active registered Burlington voters will be receiving an absentee ballot the week of February 8. Voters may return their absentee ballot by mail, drop box, or at an election polling place on March 2. Polling places will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on election day. Voters may register to vote in-person on election day.

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Oklahoma school districts to hold primary elections on Feb. 9

The nonpartisan primary election for school board seats in Oklahoma is on February 9, 2021. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for April 6, 2021. The filing deadline passed on December 9, 2020.

Five school districts within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope are holding primary elections for five seats. In Oklahoma, school districts cancel primary elections if fewer than three candidates file to run for each seat up for election, and the candidates automatically advance to the general election. Both the primary and general elections are canceled if only one candidate files for a seat up for election, and the unopposed candidate is automatically elected. The following school districts are holding primary elections:

• Edmond Public Schools

• Owasso Public Schools

• Putnam City Schools

• Tulsa Public schools

• Oklahoma City Public Schools

In all, a total of 33 school board seats across 26 Oklahoma school districts covered by Ballotpedia are up for election in 2021.

The largest school district covered by Ballotpedia and holding elections in Oklahoma in 2021 is Oklahoma City Public Schools. The district served 39,806 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

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Filing deadline approaches for Texas school board elections

The filing deadline to run for school board in 57 Texas districts is on February 12, 2021. The general election is scheduled for May 1, 2021. 

If no candidate wins the majority of the vote in the general election, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff election. The date of the runoff election varies by school district.

Some school boards in Texas hold elections in November. Six school districts covered by Ballotpedia will have general elections on November 2, 2021.

During the 2016-2017 school year, 1,955,339 students were enrolled in the 57 districts holding elections in May.

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Five candidates file to run in Mar. 9 special election for Orange County Board of Supervisors

On January 25, the filing deadline passed to run for one of the five seats on the Orange County Board of Supervisors in California. The special election to fill the vacant District 2 seat is scheduled for March 9. Five candidates filed to run in the special election: Katrina Foley, John M. W. Moorlach, Kevin Muldoon, Janet Rappaport, and Michael Vo.

The special election was scheduled to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Michelle Steel, who was elected to represent California’s 48th Congressional District on November 3, 2020. Steel served on the board from 2015 to 2021.

Orange County, California, had a population of 3,114,000 in 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau. 

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14 candidates file to run for mayor of Anchorage

The city of Anchorage, Alaska, will hold a nonpartisan general election for mayor on April 6, 2021. The filing deadline for this election was January 29. If no candidate receives at least 45% of the vote in the general election, a runoff election will be held on May 11 between the top two candidates.

Fourteen candidates filed to run for the open seat: Anna Anthony, David Bronson, Jeffrey T. Brown, Darin Colbry, Forrest Dunbar, Bill Evans, Bill Falsey, Heather Herndon, Jacob Kern, George Martinez, Reza Momin, Mike Robbins, Albert Swank Jr., and Joe Westfall.

Austin Quinn-Davidson became the acting mayor of Anchorage on October 23, 2020, following the resignation of Ethan Berkowitz. In the statement announcing his resignation, Berkowitz said, “My resignation results from unacceptable personal conduct that has compromised my ability to perform my duties with the focus and trust that is required.”

As of February 2021, the partisan breakdown of the mayors of the 100 largest U.S. cities was 64 Democrats, 25 Republicans, four independents, and seven nonpartisans.

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Voters approved changes to campaign finance, election dates, election systems, redistricting, suffrage, and term limits in 2020

In 2020, 12 states approved 13 ballot measures related to election policy including changes to campaign finance, election dates, election systems, redistricting, suffrage, and term limits. The measures are listed below according to topic.

Campaign finance:

  • Oregon Measure 107: Measure 107 authorizes the state legislature and local governments to (1) enact laws or ordinances limiting campaign contributions and expenditures; (2) require disclosure of contributions and expenditures; and (3) require that political advertisements identify the people or entities that paid for them. Going into the election, Oregon was one of five states with no limits on campaign contributions.

Election dates:

  • New Mexico Constitutional Amendment 2: The amendment allows the state legislature to pass laws changing election dates of state or county officeholders and altering office terms according to those date changes. Under the measure, laws proposing changes to election dates of non-statewide officeholders must be supported by a legislative finding that such a change would promote consistency or that it would evenly distribute the number of offices appearing on the ballot. In 2019, the New Mexico State Legislature passed House Bill 407, which divided state, county, and judicial elections between presidential and gubernatorial election ballots. These provisions of HB 407 were ruled unconstitutional by the New Mexico Supreme Court in 2019. With the passage of the Amendment, these provisions of HB 407 are now enforceable. HB 407 extended the terms of district attorneys, county offices, and judicial offices.

Election systems:

  • Alaska Ballot Measure 2: Ballot Measure 2 replaced the state’s partisan primaries with open top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices and established ranked-choice voting for general elections, including the presidential election, in which voters would rank the candidates. Ballot Measure 2 also required persons and entities that contribute more than $2,000 that were themselves derived from donations, contributions, dues, or gifts to disclose the true sources, as defined in the law, of the political contributions.
  • Colorado Proposition 113: In 2019, the Colorado State Legislature passed a bill to add Colorado to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). The NPVIC was designed to go into effect if states representing at least 270 electoral votes join the NPVIC. Proposition 113 was a referendum on the 2019 law. On November 3, voters upheld the law and voted in favor of adding Colorado to the NPVIC. As of January 2021, the 15 states and DC had joined representing 196 votes.
  • Mississippi Ballot Measure 2: As of 2020, Mississippi required that a candidate for governor or elected state office receive the most votes in a majority of the state’s 122 state House of Representatives districts (known as the electoral vote requirement). Ballot Measure 2 repealed this requirement. Instead, Ballot Measure 2 provided that a candidate for governor or state office must receive a majority vote to win and that a runoff election would be held between the two highest vote-getters in the event that no candidate received a majority vote.

Redistricting:

  • Missouri Amendment 3: Amendment 3 repealed the non-partisan state demographer and returned the state to the use of bipartisan redistricting commissions, with changes to the number and selection of commissioners. The 2020 amendment also maintained the criteria of competitiveness and partisan fairness that was enacted in 2018, but it loosened the partisan fairness requirement and required that population, voter rights abridgment, contiguous districts, simple shapes, and the rules for counties be considered with a higher priority.
  • New Jersey Public Question 3: Question 3 postponed state legislative redistricting until after the election on November 2, 2021, should the state receive federal census data after February 15, 2021. 
  • Virginia Question 1: Question 1 transferred the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to a redistricting commission composed of state legislators and citizens.

Suffrage:

  • Alabama Amendment 1: Amendment 1 amended the Alabama Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Alabama.
  • California Proposition 17: Proposition 17 amended the state constitution to allow people with felonies who are on parole to vote; therefore, the ballot measure kept imprisonment as a disqualification for voting but removed parole status. 
  • Colorado Amendment 76: Amendment 76 amended the Colorado Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years of age or older can vote in Colorado. The Colorado Legislative Council wrote in the 2020 Blue Book that “under Amendment 76, 17-year-olds who are currently able to vote in primary elections will no longer be eligible to do so.”
  • Florida Amendment 1: Amendment 1 amended the Florida Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida instead of saying that “every citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida.

Term limits:

  • Arkansas Issue 2: Issue 2 imposed term limits of 12 consecutive years for state legislators with the opportunity to return after a four-year break. State legislators elected in November 2020 or currently serving would be allowed to serve the former term limit of 16 years.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered local measures that appeared on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and a selection of notable election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. Eleven local jurisdictions affecting voters in the top 100 largest cities approved 17 local ballot measures related to election policy. The approved measures in the top 100 largest cities are listed alphabetically by jurisdiction.

Local election policy ballot measures in the top 100 cities:

  • Anchorage, Alaska, Proposition 12: Proposition 12 increased the Anchorage Assembly from 11 to 12 members. The change will take effect the adoption of a final state redistricting plan by the Redistricting Board of the State of Alaska following the official reporting of the 2020 census.
  • Chandler, Arizona, Proposition 426: Proposition 426 amended the city’s charter to say that primary, regular, and special elections may be held on election dates authorized by state law. State law requires primary elections to be held on the 1st Tuesday of August before the general election. Before the election, the Chandler City Charter said that the city’s municipal primary election shall be held on the 10th Tuesday before the general election.
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida, Referendum 2: Referendum 2 amended the county charter to establish that if a mayor or county commission member resigns to run for another office the vacancy must be filled during the next primary and general election rather than through appointment or a special election.
  • Baltimore, Maryland, Question I: Question I allows the city council to remove council members, the council president, the mayor, or the comptroller by a three-fourths vote of council members upon charges brought by the mayor, the city council committee on legislative investigations, the inspector general, or a petition signed by 20% of qualified voters in the city.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, Question 2: Question 2 amended the city charter to state that special municipal elections to fill vacancies must be held on one of the state-set uniform election dates that is at least 90 days after the vacancy occurs.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, Question 1: Question 1 amended the city charter to establish city council elections in 2021 and 2023 for two-year terms instead of four-year terms with four-year term elections restarting in 2025 and to use this method whenever regular city council elections do not fall in a year ending in a 3 so as to comply with a state law designed to require city council elections in years ending in 2 or 3 after a census.
  • St. Louis, Missouri, Proposition D: Proposition D made elections open and non-partisan for the offices of mayor, comptroller, president of the Board of Aldermen, and the Board of Aldermen; changed from a plurality voting system to an approval voting system, whereby voters may vote for any number of candidates they prefer; and required a runoff general election for the top two candidates.
  • Oakland, California, Measure QQ: Measure QQ allowed the city council to pass an ordinance to allow 16-year-olds to vote for the office of the school board director.
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Proposition 1: Proposition 1 made the following changes:
    • changed the names of “primary” and “general” elections to “general” and “runoff” elections throughout; 
    • set the regular general election date for mayoral elections to be the second the Tuesday in February in 2022 and every four years going forward instead of the existing primary mayoral election date set as the second Tuesday in March; 
    • set the regular general election date for city council elections to be the second Tuesday in odd-numbered years instead of the existing primary city council election date set as the first Tuesday in March; 
    • set the regular runoff election date for both mayoral and city council elections as the first Tuesday in April immediately following the general election if required; 
    • added specific processes for if the city council creates more than eight city wards; and 
    • established that elected officers take office four weeks after the runoff election rather than one week.
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Proposition 2: Proposition 2 required that a candidate be a resident of the city for one year before filing for candidacy instead of three years before the election date; required that a candidate be a registered voter in the city (for mayor) or the relevant ward (for city council) for one year before filing for candidacy, while existing provisions require residency in the relevant ward for six months; and explicitly stated that qualification requirements, including citizenship and age requirements, apply at the time of filing a declaration of candidacy.
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Proposition 3: Proposition amended the city charter to change the deadline to fill the vice mayor position through a majority vote of the city council from 15 days to 30 days.
  • Riverside, California Measure Q: Measure Q made the following changes:
    • required the city council to make an appointment to fill a vacancy for an elected office with up to one year left in the term;
    • required a special election to fill a vacancy for an elected office with more than one year left in the term;
    • established a process for a runoff election if no candidate receives a majority of votes in the special election to fill a vacancy; and
    • prohibited appointed officials from making references indicating they are incumbents for future elections to the same seat.
  • Riverside, California, Measure R: Measure R consolidated city council and mayor elections with state primary and general elections and allowed for temporary adjustments to term lengths and election dates to carry out the consolidation.
  • Riverside, California, Measure S: Measure S required the city council to submit any charter amendments they propose—not those initiated through a signature petition—to the charter review commission in order to receive a recommendation before the city council refers them to voters.
  • Sacramento, California, Measure B: Measure B created a one-time exception for the redistricting deadline after the 2020 census to account for COVID-19 census delays by allowing the city’s redistricting commission until 130 days before the 2022 primary election to complete redistricting and create a map to be used at the 2022 primary election.
  • San Diego Unified School District, California, Measure C: Measure C established that school district board members are elected by sub-district in both primary and general elections rather than running by sub-district in primaries but being elected by the entire district in the general election.
  • San Diego Unified School District, California, Measure D: Measure D added San Diego Unified School District board members under the city’s rules for removing elected officials for cause and filling the vacancies.

Five local jurisdictions outside of the top 100 largest cities approved ranked-choice voting measures in 2020.

Ranked-choice voting measures outside of top 100 cities:

  • Albany, California, Measure BB: Measure BB authorized the use of ranked-choice voting for city elections for members of the city council and the board of education.
  • Bloomington, Minnesota, Question 3: Question 3 amended the city charter to elect the mayor and city council members through ranked-choice voting.
  • Boulder, Colorado, Measure 2E: Measure 2E amended the city charter to elect the mayor through ranked-choice voting.
  • Eureka, California, Measure C: Measure C amended the city charter to require ranked-choice voting for electing the mayor and councilmembers.
  • Minnetonka, Minnesota, Question 1: Question 1 amended the city charter to elect the mayor and city council members through ranked-choice voting.

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