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Election Legislation Weekly Digest: January 27, 2023

Here is our weekly round-up on election-related legislation. In it, you’ll find the following information: 

  • Recent activity: Here, we report on the number of bills acted on within the past week. 
  • The big picture: Here, we look at the bills in the aggregate. 
    • Legislative status: How many bills have been introduced, voted upon, or enacted into law?
    • Concentration of activity: What states have seen the highest concentration of legislative activity?
    • Partisan affiliation of sponsorship: How many bills have been sponsored by Democrats vs. Republicans? 

Recent activity

Since January 20, 275 bills have been acted on in some way (representing a 16.9 percent increase as compared to last week’s total of 236 bills). These 275 bills represent 27.2 percent of the 1,013 bills we are currently tracking in 2023. Seventy of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, 135 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 70 are from states with a divided government.

The bar chart below compares recent activity on a week-to-week basis over the last eight weeks. 

  • Two-hundred and fifty-seven bills were introduced (or saw pre-committee action).
    • Democratic trifectas: 68
    • Republican trifectas: 123
    • Divided governments: 66
  • Six bills advanced from committee. 
    • Democratic trifectas:1
      • WA SB5082: Encouraging electoral participation and making ballots more meaningful by abolishing advisory votes.
    • Republican trifectas: 3
      • UT SB0063: Election Candidate Replacement Amendments
      • UT HB0205: Primary Election Amendments
      • WY HB0079: Voter I.D.-concealed carry permit.
    • Divided governments: 2
  • Twelve bills passed one chamber (or saw pre-adoption action in the second chamber).
    • Democratic trifectas: 1
    • Republican trifectas: 9
      • AR HB1025: To Amend The Law Concerning Circulation Of Petitions; And To Limit Petition Circulation At Polling Places.
      • ID H0001: Amends existing law to provide requirements for post-election audits ordered by the Secretary of State.
      • IN HB1035: Township assessors.
      • IN HB1040: Requirements for elected officials.
      • MT SB143: Allow for a referendum to terminate citizen-initiated zoning district
      • MT HB172: Revise laws related to post-election audits
      • UT SB0017: Voting and Voter Residency Amendments
      • UT SB0043: Public Notice Requirements
      • WY SF0086: Voter identification-concealed carry permit.
    • Divided governments: 2
      • VA SB1150: 2011 district descriptions; legal boundaries.
      • VA SB1151: Local government; standardization of public notice requirements for certain intended actions.

The map below visualizes the concentration of this recent activity across the nation. A darker shade of yellow indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been acted upon in the last week. A lighter shade of yellow indicates a lower number of bills that have been acted upon in the last week. 

The big picture

To date, we have tracked 1,013 election-related bills in 2023. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. 

Legislative status 

The pie charts below visualize the legislative status of the bills we are tracking. The following status indicators are used: 

  • Introduced: The bill has been pre-filed, introduced, or referred to committee but has not otherwise been acted upon.
  • Advanced from committee: The bill has received a favorable vote in committee. It has either advanced to another committee or to the floor for a vote. 
  • Passed one chamber: The bill has been approved by one legislative chamber.
  • Conference committee: Differing versions of the bill have been approved by their respective chambers and a conference committee has been appointed to reconcile the differences. 
  • Passed both chambers: The bill has cleared both chambers of the legislature. 
  • Enacted: The bill has been enacted into law, by gubernatorial action or inaction or veto override. 
  • Vetoed: The bill has been vetoed. 
  • Dead: The bill has been defeated in committee or by floor vote. 

The pie charts below visualize the legislative status of bills in Democratic and Republican trifectas, respectively.

 

Concentration of activity

The map below visualizes the concentration of legislative activity across the nation. A darker shade of yellow indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been introduced. A lighter shade of yellow indicates a lower number of relevant bills. 

Partisan affiliation of sponsor(s)

The pie chart below visualizes the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors.

The bar chart below visualizes the correlation between the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors and trifecta status (e.g., how many Democratic-sponsored bills were introduced in Democratic trifectas vs. Republican trifectas).



The Ballot Bulletin: Ohio governor signs bill amending election laws

Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin, where we track developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local levels. 

This is the final monthly edition of The Ballot Bulletin. Starting February 3, this newsletter will be sent weekly on Fridays, featuring several new charts and visuals of the latest bills and legislative activity from Ballotpedia’s Election Administration Legislation Tracker. Each week, we’ll give you the latest on noteworthy election-related bills in state legislatures, recent bill activity, and a look at the big picture—how many bills have been signed into law? By members of which political party? And more.

But, in today’s issue:

  1. Ohio governor signs bill amending election laws
  2. Thirteen election bills advance in state legislatures
  3. Legislation update: Activity in January 2023

Have a question/feedback/or just want to say hello? Respond to this email!

Ohio governor signs bill amending election laws

On Jan. 6, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed HB458, a bill requiring voters to show an unexpired photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The bill also eliminates August special elections, prohibits curbside voting, and limits ballot drop boxes to one per county.

Ohio State Rep. Thomas Hall (R) introduced HB458 on Oct. 19, 2021. The House passed the bill 67-22 on Dec. 9. In the Senate, the bill was referred to the Local Government and Elections Committee, where State Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R) proposed an amendment adding voter identification requirements to the bill. The committee reported the bill favorably on Dec. 13, 2022, and the full Senate passed the amended bill 24-7 on the same day.

“Elections integrity is a significant concern to Americans on both sides of the aisle across the country, DeWine said. “At the same time, I have long believed that Ohio does a good job of administering elections, as we have provided ample opportunities to cast votes while avoiding the problems we have seen in recent federal elections in other states,” DeWine said.  Gavarone, who proposed the voter identification amendment, said, “You need a photo ID to do an awful lot of different things: to get a job, to rent an apartment. We want to encourage people to vote, but on top of that, we want to give people that extra layer of confidence that we’re doing things right here in Ohio.”

Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters said, “Ohio Republicans know that their out-of-touch agenda and anti-worker policies are betraying Ohio voters, and they don’t want to be held accountable. So they’re further rigging the rules in their favor and pushing one of the worst anti-voter bills in the entire country all so that they can keep lining the pockets of their corporate donors and leave working families in Ohio out to dry.” All Voting is Local Ohio State Director Kayla Griffin said, “We will witness – and many of us will experience –  extreme barriers to the ballot and disenfranchisement. It is going to take an all hands on deck approach to help voters understand what is happening.” The organization, which says it “exists to expose and dismantle threats to voter freedom,” said the bill was “undemocratic and erects extreme barriers to the ballot.”

Ohio law previously permitted non-photo identification as proof of identity when voting. Non-photo IDs including utility bills, bank statements, or government checks were allowed, but voters must now present an Ohio driver’s license, state identification card, passport, military ID, or state-issued interim identification form.

Ohio has had a Republican trifecta since 2011, meaning the Republican Party holds the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. After the 2022 election, Republicans have a 26-7 majority in the Ohio Senate and a 67-32 majority in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Thirteen election bills advance in state legislatures

Of the election-related bills active in 2023, 13 bills in eight states have passed one chamber of their respective state legislatures. 

Three bill are in states with Democratic trifectas:

  • NJ S856: Allows county boards of elections to begin canvassing early votes cast during the early voting period.
  • NJ A3915: Requires the state to pay for a new election if the state made errors during the initial election.
  • NJ S1436: Prohibits electioneering from taking place within 25 feet of anyone waiting in line either at a polling location or ballot drop box. 

Seven bills are in states with Republican trifectas:

  • AR HB1105: Allows use of funds appropriated for election expenses to cover the expenses of the State Board of Election Commissioners and any county board of election commissioners to conduct certain elections. 
  • MT SB10: Provides that school district trustees must submit finance propositions to voters. 
  • ND HB1038: Requires voter approval for increases in city mill levies. 
  • ND SB2050: Allows political subdivisions to establish a library without an election.
  • WY HB0047: Requires a vendor to apply with the secretary of state for certification of an electronic voting system.
  • WY SF0086: Would make a valid concealed firearm permit an acceptable form of voting identification.
  • UT SB0043: Modifies public notice requirements for elections and election-related events.

Three bills are in states with divided governments:

  • PA SB1: Modifies voter identification requirements.
  • VA SB391: Allows local governments to petition the circuit court for a referendum on the question of whether marijuana establishments should be prohibited.
  • VA SB495: Allows recall referendums to be used to remove certain  elected and appointed officials.

Legislation update: Legislation activity in January 2023

During January 2023, legislatures in 38 states took action on 696 election bills.

Democrats sponsored 277 of the 696 bills addressed in January (39.8%). Republicans sponsored 318 (45.7%). Bipartisan groups sponsored 31 (4.5%). Partisan sponsorship information was unavailable for the remainder of the bills. 

This information comes from Ballotpedia’s Election Administration Legislation Tracker, which went live on June 29. This free and accessible online resource allows you to find easy-to-digest bill tags and summaries—written and curated by our election administration experts! We update our database and bill-tracking daily. Using our powerful interactive search function, you can zero in on more than 2,500 bills (and counting) covering these topics:

  • Absentee/mail-in voting and early voting policies
  • Ballot access requirements for candidates, parties, and ballot initiatives
  • Election dates and deadlines
  • Election oversight protocols
  • In-person voting procedures
  • Post-election procedures (including counting, canvassing, and auditing policies)
  • Voter ID
  • Voter registration and eligibility

To make your search results more precise, we first place bills into one of 22 parent categories. We then apply to each bill one or more of the 90 tags we’ve developed. 

If you don’t want to immerse yourself in the world of election legislation quite that often, we have a free, weekly digest that goes straight to your inbox and keeps you caught up on the week’s developments.



One week until Mississippi’s statewide filing deadline

Welcome to the Wednesday, Jan. 25 Brew. 

By: Juan Garcia de Paredes

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Filing deadline update in Mississippi
  2. Seattle to decide on Social Housing Developer initiative
  3. DeSantis currently leads PredictIt’s 2024 presidential general election market

One week until Mississippi’s statewide filing deadline

Yes, you read that right. As hard as it is to believe, the 2023 election season is already upon us! In Mississippi, the filing deadline to appear on the ballot in the Aug. 8 statewide primaries is Feb.1.one week from now.

The Magnolia State is one of four states—along with Louisiana, New Jersey, and Virginia—holding regularly-scheduled state legislative elections this year. It is also one of three states—along with Kentucky and Louisiana—holding statewide elections for executive positions this year.

All 52 seats in the Mississippi State Senate and all 122 seats in the Mississippi State House are up for election this year. Republicans currently have a 36-16 majority in the state senate and a 76-42 majority in the state house, with three independent members and one vacancy. The party also holds the governorship, meaning Mississippi has a Republican trifecta. 

Besides seats in the state legislature, voters in Mississippi will vote for 14 state executive positions in November. Republicans hold 12 of these positions, and Democrats hold two. As of Jan. 13, ten Republican incumbents and one Democratic one have filed to run for re-election.  

Below is a list of the state executive positions up for election in Mississippi this year: 

  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Attorney General
  • Secretary of State
  • Treasurer
  • Auditor
  • Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce
  • Commissioner of Insurance
  • Mississippi Public Services Commission (3 seats)
  • Mississippi Transportation Commission (3 seats)

The general election is on Nov. 7.

Keep reading

Seattle to decide on Social Housing Developer initiative on Feb. 14

On Feb. 14, Seattle voters will decide on Initiative 135, an initiative to create the Seattle Social Housing Developer, a public development authority to own, develop, and maintain what the initiative describes as social housing. According to Initiative 135, this housing would provide publicly financed apartments that are “removed from market forces and speculation and built with the express aim of housing people equitably and affordably.”

Under Initiative 135, the public developer’s housing units would be available to those with a mix of income ranges from 0% to 120% of the area median income (which was $120,907 as of 2022). Rent prices would be limited to 30% of household income. Applications would not include prior rental references, co-signers, background checks, or application fees. Tenants would be selected using a lottery-based system.

As a public corporation, the Seattle Social Housing Developer would be allowed to issue bonds, receive federal funds and grants, receive private funds, and collect revenue for services.

House Our Neighbors! (HON), also known as Yes on I-135, is sponsoring the initiative. House our Neighbors! needed to submit 26,520 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The group submitted 27,220 valid signatures. 

HON stated, “Social Housing is publicly owned forever, permanently affordable, and creates cross-class communities and resident leadership. … By creating a community-controlled Social Housing Developer to buy and build housing that will be available to those across the income spectrum, Seattle will have another critical tool to address the suffering, displacement, and inequity that defines our housing landscape.” 

The measure has received endorsements from State Sens. Joe Nguyen (D) and Rebecca Saldana (D), and State Reps. Frank Chopp (D) and Nicole Macri (D). It was also endorsed by the Green Party of Seattle and the Working Families Party of Washington.

The Housing Development Consortium, a non-profit organization based in Seattle that describes its mission as building “a diverse network committed to producing, preserving, and increasing equitable access to affordable homes,” released a statement on Initiative 135, writing, “… We are concerned [the initiative] distracts funds and energy away from what our community should be focusing on – scaling up affordable housing for low-income people. We do not need another government entity to build housing when there are already insufficient resources to fund existing entities. … “

“The proposed new public development authority (PDA) would not have the authority to impose taxes on its own, so the funds necessary to set up the additional citywide PDA would likely draw from existing affordable housing funding that could otherwise be dedicated to creating homes for our lowest-income neighbors,” the group added.

Currently, the Seattle Housing Authority, an independent public corporation, provides low-income housing and rental assistance to 17,945 households. The SHA owns and operates 8,530 apartments and single-family homes in Seattle. Eighty-five percent of SHA housing serves households with incomes at or below 30% of the area median income (about $36,270). Funding for the Seattle Housing Authority comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), rent revenue, and public and private grants. The Social Housing Developer would not replace the Seattle Housing Authority.

Mail ballots must be postmarked no later than Feb. 14 or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. on Feb. 14. In Washington, individuals who prefer to vote in person rather than by mail may do so at voting centers, which are open during business hours for 18 days prior to the election. Washington allows for same-day voter registration.

Since 2017, four local measures have reached the ballot in the City of Seattle. All four were approved. 

Keep reading 

DeSantis currently leads PredictIt’s 2024 presidential general election market

Now, let’s take a look at the 2024 presidential election. 

As of January 23, 2023, PredictIt’s 2024 presidential market shows Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) leading at $0.31, followed by President Joe Biden (D) at $0.29, former President Donald Trump (R) at $0.21, and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) at $0.12. No other candidate has more than a $0.10 share price. The share price, which rises and falls based on market demand, roughly corresponds to the market’s estimate of the probability of an event taking place.

Trump is the only candidate of this group to have officially announced his presidential campaign.

The Democratic presidential primary market shows Biden leading the pack at $0.52. Two other candidates have a share price at or above $0.10: California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) is at $0.20, and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) is at $0.11.

DeSantis currently leads in the Republican presidential primary market at $0.38, followed by Trump at $0.32. No other candidate has a share price at or above $0.10. 

PredictIt is an online political futures market in which users purchase shares relating to the outcome of political events using real money. Each event, such as an election, has a number of contracts associated with it, each correlating to a different outcome. Services such as PredictIt can be used to gain insight into the outcome of elections. Due to action from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, PredictIt may halt trading on February 15, 2023.

Keep reading



Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year

Welcome to the Tuesday, January 24, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year
  2. Signatures submitted for Right to Repair initiative in Maine
  3. Florida creates new appellate court district

Republican U.S. House candidates outperformed 2020’s presidential results in 327 districts last year

Republicans in 327 congressional districts outperformed former President Donald Trump’s (R) 2020 vote totals in those same districts, meaning, compared to Trump, Republican House candidates either won by larger margins or lost by smaller margins last year.

Democratic House candidates outperformed Biden in 68 districts (16%).

In Texas’ 9th and 35th Districts, the 2022 House and 2020 presidential margins were identical.

Thirty-eight districts (9%) were excluded from this analysis because they were either uncontested or did not feature both major parties in 2022.

To calculate these results, we first found the margins of victory from all 397 U.S. House races with candidates from both major parties.

Next, since district lines have changed since 2020, we used data from Daily Kos to determine how many votes Joe Biden (D) and Trump would have received  if the 2020 election had been held with the new district boundaries in place.

We then compared the two margins of victory, checking to see whether the 2022 House margins were more Democratic or more Republican than the presidential margins in 2020. 

Republicans’ largest improvement was in Florida’s 26th District, where the House margin was 23.5 percentage points more Republican than the 2020 presidential margin. In both elections, voters supported the Republican candidate, but more so in 2022.

  • In 2020, Trump received more votes than Biden, 58.9 to 40.6% (R+18.3). 
  • In 2022, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) defeated Christine Olivo (D) 70.9 to 29.1% (R+41.8)

Democrats’ largest improvement was in Alaska’s At-Large District, where the House margin was 20.1 percentage points more Democratic than the 2020 presidential margin. Since Alaska uses ranked-choice voting for the U.S. House, the 2022 margin is based on the results of the final tabulation.

  • In 2020, Trump received more votes than Biden, 53.1 to 43.0% (R+10.1).
  • In 2022, Rep. Mary Peltola (D) defeated Sarah Palin (R) 55.0 to 45.0% (D+10.0).

Nationwide, looking at all 397 districts included in this analysis, the average margin of victory in 2020 was D+5.7 in Biden’s favor. The average House margin was D+0.8, meaning margins became 4.9 percentage points more Republican in 2022.

In four of the five districts with the largest Republican improvements, Trump won in 2020, but Republican House candidates won by more in 2022. Rep. Mike Garcia (R) won California’s 27th District, which previously voted for Biden.

In three of the five districts with the largest Democratic improvements, Democratic House candidates won in districts that previously voted for Trump. In Hawaii’s 1st and Pennsylvania’s 2nd Districts, Democratic House candidates expanded on Biden’s margins.

Keep reading

Signatures submitted for Right to Repair initiative in Maine

On Jan. 19, the Maine Right to Repair Coalition submitted more than 70,000 signatures for a ballot initiative to give car owners and independent repair facilities access to vehicle on-board diagnostic systems.

The initiative addresses diagnostic data transmitted wirelessly to vehicle manufacturers. According to the coalition, more than 90% of new cars can transmit real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly, but in a manner only available to vehicle manufacturers.

Tim Winkeler, CEO of VIP Tire Service and coalition member, said without the initiative, “these vehicles are gonna have to go back to the dealerships and independent repair shops won’t be able to work on cars. Consumers are at risk of being forced to take their car back to only the dealerships, and not have freedom of choice.”

The Maine initiative is similar to one decided in Massachusetts in 2020. Voters approved Question 1, which similarly requires that vehicle owners and repair facilities have access to wireless diagnostic data.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a group representing automakers, filed a lawsuit against Question 1, saying it “makes personal driving data available to third parties with no safeguards to protect core vehicle functions and consumers’ private information or physical safety.” The lawsuit is ongoing.

According to the Repair Association, an advocacy group in favor of right-to-repair policies, two states, Colorado and New York, have passed right-to-repair bills, while 10 states, not including Maine, have active legislation under consideration this year.

Initiatives in Maine require 67,682 valid signatures to appear before the Legislature. If lawmakers approve the initiative, it becomes law. If not, it will appear on the November 2023 ballot.

As of Jan. 23, five measures have been certified for the ballot in three states. That’s down from 10 certified this time in 2021 but up from the one in 2019.

Keep reading

Florida creates new appellate court district

A new year brings many new things, and for some in Florida, that includes a new appellate court district. On Jan. 1, a law establishing the state’s Sixth District Court of Appeal located east of Tampa in Lakeland took effect. The Sixth District has jurisdiction over the Ninth, Tenth, and Twentieth Circuit Courts.

Appellate courts serve as an intermediate step between trial courts (where a case originates) and the state supreme court. After a trial court renders a decision, plaintiffs or defendants can file an appeal, which typically moves it to an appellate court for further review.

This is the first time Florida has added a new appellate court district since 1979.

The Florida Supreme Court requested the new appellate court in 2021, recommending that legislators redraw the state’s district court boundaries. A committee working on that recommendation said a new district would “provide adequate access to oral arguments and proceedings, foster public trust and confidence based on geography and demographic composition, and help attract a diverse group of well-qualified applicants for judicial vacancies.”

Legislators and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) enacted redrawn lines—which included the new Sixth District—in June of last year.

DeSantis appointed judges to fill each of the new court’s nine seats before its formation. Six of those judges were reassigned from other appellate districts. Three previously sat on circuit courts. 

Judge Meredith Sasso, previously of the Fifth District Court of Appeal, will serve as the new district’s chief judge. Former Gov. Rick Scott (R) first appointed Sasso to a judgeship in 2019.

Keep reading



Wisconsin voters to decide three ballot measure questions on April 4

Welcome to the Monday, January 23, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Wisconsin Legislature puts three ballot questions on the April ballot
  2. Over the last week, 236 election-related bills were introduced in state legislatures  
  3. An update on last week’s additions to the Federal Register

Wisconsin Legislature puts three ballot questions on the April ballot

On April 4, Wisconsin voters will decide a closely watched state supreme court election and three ballot measures. The measures include two constitutional amendments and one advisory question. The supreme court election will determine ideological control of the court, which is currently considered to have a 4-3 conservative majority.

The constitutional amendments relate to the conditions of release for an accused individual before conviction and cash bail. The two questions were referred to the ballot with the final passage of Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2) on Jan. 19. The legislature also voted to place an advisory question on the April ballot. It asks: “Shall able-bodied, childless adults be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits?” 

Wisconsin has a divided government. Republicans control the state House and Senate, while a Democrat serves as governor.  

According to Wisconsin Public Radio’s Shawn Johnson, “The potential political benefit for Republicans is that the referendum questions they’ve chosen could appeal to voters who may otherwise be unlikely to cast ballots for the officially nonpartisan, sometimes low-key office of supreme court justice.”

In Wisconsin, a majority vote in two successive legislative sessions is required to approve an amendment for the amendment to appear on the ballot. Wisconsin is one of 13 states with a two-session requirement for legislatively referred constitutional amendments (in four of those states, an amendment that receives a supermajority in the first round can bypass the second).  

During the 2021-2022 legislative session, the amendments were introduced as Assembly Joint Resolution 107 (AJR 107). The state Assembly approved AJR 107 by a vote of 70-21 on Feb. 15, 2022. The state Senate approved the joint resolution 23-10 on Feb. 22. 

During the 2023-2024 legislative session, the amendments were introduced as SJR 2. The Senate approved it 23-9 on Jan. 17. The Assembly approved it 74-23 on Jan. 23. In both chambers, Republicans supported the SJR 2. In the House, Democrats voted 12-23. In the Senate, Democrats voted 2-9.

Wisconsin voters last amended this section of the state constitution in April 1981 with the passage of Question 3. The amendment permitted the legislature to allow courts to deny, revoke, or set terms of bail. It was approved by a vote of 73.15% to 26.85%. 

Between 1985 and 2022, 18 measures appeared on odd-numbered year ballots in Wisconsin. Eleven measures were approved and seven were defeated. The last spring odd-year election to include a ballot measure in Wisconsin was in 2015. Voters approved a measure allowing majority of supreme court justices to elect a chief justice..

Click to read more about Wisconsin’s 2023 ballot measures.

Keep reading

236 election-related bills introduced in state legislatures  

Since Jan. 13, 236 election-related bills have been introduced (or saw pre-committee action). That represents a 7.4 percent decrease from last week’s total of 256 bills. 

These 236 bills represent 29 percent of the 808 bills we are currently tracking in 2023. Seventy-three of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, 123 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 40 are from states with a divided government.

The bar chart below compares recent activity on a week-to-week basis over the last eight weeks.

To date, we have tracked 808 election-related bills in 2023. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. 

If you want to learn more about election-related legislation, click the link below and subscribe to our weekly election legislation tracking digest. You’ll receive weekly updates on election-related activity across the states, including information about noteworthy bills, the number of bills acted on within a given week, and which states have seen the highest concentration of legislative activity. You can also use our interactive Election Administration Legislation Tracker to find and read election-related bills in your state. 

Keep reading 

An update on last week’s additions to the Federal Register

Now that we’ve talked about state legislatures, let’s take a look at what’s happening in D.C.

Between Jan. 16-20, the Federal Register added 1,410 pages for a year-to-date total of 3,910 pages. 

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal activity. The 1935 Federal Register Act created the journal to centralize and standardize the public release of federal government information. The journal includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices, and is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

This week’s update features 468 documents, including 372 notices, four presidential documents, 31 proposed rules and 61 final rules.

Ten rules—three proposed and seven final—were deemed significant under E.O. 12866. A rule is defined as significant if it has the potential to have large effects on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. One of the significant proposals concerns revisions to regulations under the Black Lung Benefits Act regarding authorization of self-insurers from the Workers’ Compensation Programs Office. One of significant final rules concerns amendments to medical regulations regarding emergent suicide care from the Veterans Affairs Department. 

Significant actions may conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Biden administration has issued 21 significant proposed rules, 13 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of Jan. 20.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

We maintain page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of our 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 below to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017.

Keep reading



Election Legislation Weekly Digest: January 20, 2023

Here is our weekly round-up on election-related legislation. In it, you’ll find the following information: 

  • Recent activity: Here, we report on the number of bills acted on within the past week. 
  • The big picture: Here, we look at the bills in the aggregate. 
    • Legislative status: How many bills have been introduced, voted upon, or enacted into law?
    • Concentration of activity: What states have seen the highest concentration of legislative activity?
    • Partisan affiliation of sponsorship: How many bills have been sponsored by Democrats vs. Republicans? 

Recent activity

Since January 13, 236 bills have been acted on in some way (representing a 7.4 percent decrease as compared to last week’s total of 256 bills). These 236 bills represent 29 percent of the 808 bills we are currently tracking in 2023. Seventy-three of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, 123 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 40 are from states with a divided government.

The bar chart below compares recent activity on a week-to-week basis over the last eight weeks. 

  • Two-hundred and thirty-three bills were introduced (or saw pre-committee action).
    • Democratic trifectas: 73
    • Republican trifectas: 120
    • Divided governments: 40
  • Three bills passed one chamber.
    • Republican trifectas: 3

The map below visualizes the concentration of this recent activity across the nation. A darker shade of yellow indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been acted upon in the last week. A lighter shade of yellow indicates a lower number of bills that have been acted upon in the last week. 

The big picture

To date, we have tracked 808 election-related bills in 2023. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. 

Legislative status 

The pie charts below visualize the legislative status of the bills we are tracking. The following status indicators are used: 

  • Introduced: The bill has been pre-filed, introduced, or referred to committee but has not otherwise been acted upon.
  • Advanced from committee: The bill has received a favorable vote in committee. It has either advanced to another committee or to the floor for a vote. 
  • Passed one chamber: The bill has been approved by one legislative chamber.
  • Conference committee: Differing versions of the bill have been approved by their respective chambers and a conference committee has been appointed to reconcile the differences. 
  • Passed both chambers: The bill has cleared both chambers of the legislature. 
  • Enacted: The bill has been enacted into law, by gubernatorial action or inaction or veto override. 
  • Vetoed: The bill has been vetoed. 
  • Dead: The bill has been defeated in committee or by floor vote. 

The pie charts below visualize the legislative status of bills in Democratic and Republican trifectas, respectively. 

Concentration of activity

The map below visualizes the concentration of legislative activity across the nation. A darker shade of yellow indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been introduced. A lighter shade of yellow indicates a lower number of relevant bills. 

Partisan affiliation of sponsor(s)

The pie chart below visualizes the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors.

The bar chart below visualizes the correlation between the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors and trifecta status (e.g., how many Democratic-sponsored bills were introduced in Democratic trifectas vs. Republican trifectas).



Less than 10% of all bills introduced to change ballot initiative processes passed in 2022

Welcome to the Friday, January 20, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Less than 10% of all bills introduced to change ballot initiative processes passed in 2022
  2. 18% of last year’s congressional elections were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many people have filed with the FEC to run for president in 2024?

Less than 10% of all bills introduced to change ballot initiative processes passed in 2022

In 2022, Ballotpedia tracked 232 bills that would change the citizen-initiated ballot measure processes, the most since 2014.

Twenty-three proposals were enacted into law, representing 9.9% of those 232 bills, the lowest percentage over that timespan.

Since 2014, lawmakers have introduced an average of 189 bills affecting ballot measure processes. Twenty-seven tend to pass, with an average passage rate of 14.2%.

Examples of bills passed in 2022 include:

  • Florida House Bill 921 would have prohibited out-of-state donors from giving more than $3,000 to support or oppose an initiative during the signature-gathering phase. A U.S. district court declared the law unconstitutional last June.
  • Washington House Bill 1876 requires ballot language to include a statement describing how an initiative might affect state revenue.

In addition to these bills, voters also decided an increased number of legislatively referred ballot measures on the initiative process in 2022. 

There were six such measures on the ballot in four states: five constitutional amendments and one referred statute. This is up from two in 2018 and four in 2020. Voters approved two and rejected three:

  • Arkansas Issue 2 would have required a 60% vote to approve future ballot measures instead of a simple majority. Voters rejected this measure with 59% of the vote.
  • Arizona Proposition 128 would have allowed the Legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot measures containing provisions the Arizona or U.S. Supreme Courts rule unconstitutional. Voters rejected this measure with 64% of the vote.
  • Arizona Proposition 129 requires citizen-initiated ballot measures to cover a single subject. Voters approved this measure with 55% of the vote.
  • Arizona Proposition 132 requires a 60% vote to pass ballot measures affecting taxes. Voters approved this measure with 51% of the vote.
  • Colorado Proposition GG adds a table to ballot titles for initiatives showing changes in income tax owed for average taxpayers in certain brackets. Voters approved this measure with 72% of the vote.
  • South Dakota Amendment C would have required a 60% vote to approve future ballot measures that increase taxes or fees or increase appropriations by $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years. Voters rejected this measure with 67% of the vote.

Keep reading 

18% of last year’s congressional elections were decided by fewer than 10 percentage points

Of the 470 congressional elections held in 2022, 18.1% (85) were decided by 10 percentage points or fewer. 

Ten of those races were for the U.S. Senate, where 35 seats were up for election. Seventy-five were in the House, where all 435 districts were on the ballot.

The percentage of races decided by fewer than 10 percentage points decreased in 2022 compared to 2018 and 2020 but was higher than in 2014 and 2016.

But when looking at races decided by five percentage points or fewer, the figure in 2022 is actually the second-highest since 2014 at 9.8% (46), behind only 2018 with 10.6% (50).

The closest Senate race in 2022 was in Nevada, where incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) defeated Adam Laxalt (R) by a margin of 0.50 percentage points (48.70% to 48.20%).

The closest House race was in Colorado’s 3rd District, where incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) defeated Adam Frisch (D) by a margin of 0.17 percentage points (50.06% to 49.89%).

The list below shows the five offices with the narrowest margins of victory in 2022, along with the winning candidate and margin of victory. Of these five races, incumbents won re-election in two, one incumbent—Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.)—lost, and the two races in California and Michigan were for open seats.

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#FridayTrivia: How many people have filed with the FEC to run for president in 2024?

In Thursday’s Brew, we looked at the most recent presidential candidate filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). As of Jan. 17, the number of people who have filed to run is already at its third-highest level in 40 years. To run for president, you must be a natural-born citizen of the U.S., at least 35 years old, and a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years.

As of Jan. 17, how many people have filed with the FEC to run for president in 2024?

  1. 1,212
  2. 314
  3. 859
  4. 531


Redistricting litigation updates in five states

Welcome to the Thursday, January 19, Brew. 

By: Juan Garcia de Paredes

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Updates regarding redistricting litigation in five states
  2. 2024 presidential candidate filings currently at the third-highest level in forty years
  3. Listen to our interview with pollster and political analyst Scott Rasmussen for On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

Updates regarding redistricting litigation in five states

In the aftermath of the 2022 redistricting cycle, at least 82 lawsuits challenging congressional and state legislative maps across the country have been filed. According to the American Redistricting Project, 22 states have ongoing litigation regarding either their congressional or legislative redistricting (or both). 

Here are some updates regarding redistricting litigation in South Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas.

South Carolina

On Jan. 6, a federal three-judge panel ruled that South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District was unconstitutional and enjoined the state from conducting future elections in the district until the court approved new boundaries. The ruling ordered the General Assembly to submit a remedial map for its review by Mar. 31. 

South Carolina enacted new congressional district maps on Jan. 26, 2022, when Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed a proposal approved by the South Carolina House and Senate into law. Both state legislative chambers approved the congressional map along party lines, with Republicans supporting the proposal and Democrats opposing it.

On Feb. 10, 2022, the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and a South Carolina voter filed an amended complaint against State Senate President Thomas Alexander (R), four other state legislators, and the members of the South Carolina State Election Commission challenging the constitutionality of the state’s congressional district boundaries. The complaint argued that South Carolina’s enacted congressional map “discriminates on the basis of race by appearing to preserve the ability of Black voters to elect in Congressional District 6 (“CD”) while working adeptly to deny the ability of Black voters to elect or even influence elections in any of the other six congressional districts.”

The complaint challenged the constitutionality of the state’s 1st, 2nd, and 5th congressional district boundaries. The three-judge panel ruled the boundaries of the 2nd and 5th district were constitutional, while the boundaries of the 1st district were not. 

Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit appointed the three judges on the panel. Two of the judges – Judge Mary Geiger Lewis and Judge Richard Gergel from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina – were nominated to their current court by President Barack Obama (D), while the third one — Judge Toby Heytens from the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit — was nominated by President Joe Biden (D). 

As of January 18, 2023, it was unclear whether the state would appeal the ruling. 

Kansas

On Nov. 23, the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state’s congressional district boundaries filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). The petition—which asks SCOTUS to hear the case—challenges the Kansas Supreme Court’s May 2022 decision upholding that state’s congressional redistricting plan. As of January 18, SCOTUS had not announced whether it would review the case. 

Kansas enacted congressional district boundaries on February 9, 2022, when both the state Senate and House overrode Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of a redistricting plan that the legislature passed. The House of Representatives overrode Kelly’s veto 85-37 on February 9, 2022, with all votes in favor by Republicans, and 36 Democrats and one Republican voting to sustain the veto. The Senate overrode Kelly’s veto 27-11 along party lines on February 8, 2022. The state Senate originally approved the congressional district map proposal on January 21, 2022, and the state House of Representatives approved it on January 26, 2022. Kelly had vetoed the congressional map on February 3, 2022.

On Apr. 25, 2022, Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper struck down Kansas’ enacted congressional map. Klapper ruled on a case that resulted from the consolidation of three lawsuits challenging congressional district boundaries on the grounds that they violated the state constitution due to political and racial gerrymandering.

On Jun. 21, 2022, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the district’s court’s decision that had found that the state’s congressional district boundaries were unconstitutional. The state supreme court’s order said, “The record below demonstrates that plaintiffs did not ask the district court to apply the correct applicable legal tests to their race-based claims. The district court, in turn, did not apply these legal tests to plaintiffs’ race-based claims…Therefore, on the record before us, plaintiffs have failed to satisfy their burden to meet the legal elements required for a showing of unlawful racial gerrymandering or unlawful race-based vote dilution.”

Mississippi

On Dec. 20, the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP and five Mississippi voters filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the state’s legislative district map. The suit alleges that the boundaries the legislature enacted in March 2022 violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act and “illegally dilute the voting strength of Black Mississippians and improperly use voters’ race to achieve partisan goals and protect incumbent politicians.”

On Dec. 20, Judge Priscilla Richman, the Chief Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, appointed a three-judge panel to hear the case. The judges on the panel — Circuit Judge Leslie Southwick, District Judge Daniel Jordan, and District Judge Sul Ozerden — were nominated to their current court by President George W. Bush (R). 

Mississippi enacted new state legislative district boundaries on Mar. 31, 2022, when both legislative chambers approved district maps for the other chamber. Legislative redistricting in Mississippi is done via a joint resolution and did not require Gov. Tate Reeves’ (R) approval.

Mississippi voters will decide elections for all 52 state Senate seats and all 122 state House of Representatives seats in 2023. The qualifying period for prospective state legislative candidates began on Jan. 3 and ends on Feb. 1.

North Carolina

On Dec. 16, the North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the February 2022 decision of the Wake County Superior Court that rejected the remedial congressional redistricting plan that the General Assembly adopted (RCP) and adopted the Modified remedial congressional redistricting plan (Modified RCP) that the court-appointed special masters developed. The special masters were three former judges: former Superior Court Judge Tom Ross, a Democrat, former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, an independent, and former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds, a Republican. The Modified RCP was used for North Carolina’s 2022 congressional elections. 

Two of the justices who voted to affirm the Wake County Superior Court’s decision — Justice Robin Hudson (D) and Justice Sam Ervin IV (D) — left the court on January 1, 2023, 16 days after the ruling took place. Hudson did not run for re-election in 2022, and Ervin lost re-election on November 8. 

The North Carolina General Assembly originally enacted new congressional district boundaries on Nov. 4, 2021. On Feb. 4, 2022, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the enacted congressional map violated the state constitution and directed the General Assembly to develop new maps.

Republican state legislators filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 25, 2022, asking to halt the state court’s order until SCOTUS could review the case. The United States Supreme Court declined on Mar. 7, 2022, to block the enacted congressional map. The Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives—Timothy K. Moore (R)—appealed this case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case on Jun. 30, 2022. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case on Dec. 7, 2022.

Texas

On Dec. 6, a federal district court dismissed the League of United Latin American Citizens’ claims that the state’s adopted congressional district boundaries do not enable Hispanics to “have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice” in Texas’ 15th Congressional District. This is one of seven ongoing cases challenging the congressional map Texas adopted after the 2020 census.

From September 2021 to May 2022, 44 states enacted revised congressional district boundaries after the 2020 census, and six states were apportioned one U.S. House district, so no congressional redistricting was required.

Keep reading 

2024 presidential candidate filings currently at the third-highest level in 40 years 

Five hundred and thirty-one people have filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for president in 2024 as of Jan. 17. The list includes 77 Democratic candidates (14.5%), 145 Republican candidates (27.3%), and 309 nonpartisan or minor party candidates (58.2%). This figure excludes candidates whose filings have expired or who we identified as fake candidates.

Any person running for president that raises or spends more than $5,000 for a campaign must file a Statement of Candidacy with the FEC within 15 days. To do so, that person must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old, and a resident of the United States for at least 14 years. A Statement of Candidacy includes basic information like the candidate’s name and address and any campaign committees working for them.

The number of filings in the 2024 election is the third most in 40 years. In 2016, 1,762 candidates filed with the FEC to run for president. In 2020, 1,212 candidates filed. 

Of the 11 presidential elections that took place from 1980 to 2020, the 1984 election had the highest proportion of Democratic candidates at 40.1%. The major party candidates running that year were incumbent Ronald Reagan (R) and Walter Mondale (D). The 2012 election had the highest proportion of Republican candidates in that period at 29.0%. The major party candidates that year were incumbent Barack Obama (D) and Mitt Romney (R). The highest proportion of nonpartisan or minor party candidates filed in 2016 (70.4%), which featured Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R).

The current proportion of 2024 candidates—14.5% Democratic, 27.3% Republican, and 58.2% nonpartisan or minor party candidates—most closely resembles the averages seen in presidential elections with a Democratic incumbent. President Joe Biden (D) has not announced a re-election campaign, but he is eligible to run for a second term in 2024.

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Interview with pollster Scott Rasmussen for On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, takes a closer look at the week’s top political stories.

In this week’s episode, Ballotpedia’s Editor-in-Chief Geoff Pallay steps in for host Victoria Rose to interview pollster Scott Rasmussen, the president of RMG Research and the author of the Number of the Day column for Ballotpedia. In their conversation, Geoff and Rasmussen cover various topics, from the 2022 U.S. House results and the difficulty of polling today to political polarization in America and even the origins of sliced bread!

Episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursdays.

Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to subscribe.

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Recapping 2022’s state legislative special sessions

Welcome to the Wednesday, January 18, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. A look back at 2022 state legislative special sessions
  2. Two veto referendum campaigns and California executive departments disagree on when referendums suspend fast food workers and oil and gas laws
  3. Subscribe to Hall Pass to stay up to date on school board politics and education policy  

A look back at 2022 state legislative special sessions

State legislative sessions are underway this year. Legislatures hold both regular sessions and, from time to time, special sessions. Governors or legislators call special sessions, usually to deliberate on a specific topic. Although all 50 states will hold regularly scheduled legislative sessions in 2023, it’s impossible to predict how many will call special sessions. 

Eighteen states held special sessions in 2022

  • Eight states—Florida, Louisiana, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin—held more than one special session in 2022. Florida and West Virginia held the most special sessions with three each. Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia are Republican trifectas, meaning Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office. Louisiana, Virginia, and Wisconsin have divided governments. Louisiana and Wisconsin have Democratic governors, while Virginia’s governor is a Republican. New York has a Democratic trifecta
  • Across all 18 states, each special session lasted an average of six days. Including multiple sessions, each state spent an average of nine days in a special session. 
  • South Carolina had the longest special session of the year between Aug. 30 and Nov. 9—72 days. In five states, special sessions lasted only one day.

Here’s the list of states and session dates we tracked last year:

  • Arkansas: Aug. 9-11
  • California: Dec. 5
  • Connecticut: Dec. 28-29
  • Florida: April 19-22, May 23, and Dec. 12-14
  • Idaho: Sept. 1
  • Indiana: July 25-Aug. 5
  • Kentucky: Aug. 24-26
  • Louisiana: Feb. 1-18 and June 15-18
  • Mississippi: Nov. 2
  • Missouri: Sept. 14-Oct. 4 (veto and special session)
  • New Mexico: April 5
  • New York: June 30 and Dec. 22
  • Oklahoma: May 18 and June 13-15
  • South Carolina: Aug. 30-Nov. 9 and Sept. 6-8 (special senate session)
  • Utah: March 25
  • Virginia: April 4 and Sept. 7
  • West Virginia: April 24-26 (special veto session), July 25-29, and Sept. 12
  • Wisconsin: June 22 and Oct. 4

Thus far in 2023, one state—Illinois—held a special session from Jan. 4 to Jan. 10. We’ll keep you updated as states call special sessions throughout the year. 

Keep reading 

Two veto referendum campaigns and California executive departments disagree on when referendums suspend fast food workers and oil and gas laws 

Let’s turn now to look at a potential 2024 ballot measures in California.  

On Dec. 5, 2022, the Save Local Restaurants campaign filed one million signatures for a veto referendum to overturn California Assembly Bill 257 (AB 257), also known as the FAST Act. At least 623,212 signatures must be valid. Counties have until Jan. 25 to check a random sample of signatures. In California, a veto referendum is a type of citizen-initiated ballot measure that asks voters whether to uphold or repeal a law. There are 23 states with a process for veto referendums.

The FAST Act was designed to establish a fast food council that could raise the minimum wage of fast-food workers to $22 per hour and establish working hours and conditions. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the legislation on Sept. 5, 2022.

The FAST Act was set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. 

However, the Save Local Restaurants PAC and California Industrial Relations Department disagree on whether the Fast ACT was suspended when the campaign filed signatures on Dec. 5. While both the campaign and state agree the bill would be suspended ahead of the election on Nov. 5, 2024, the campaign says the bill was suspended once it submitted signatures for verification. The state says the bill wouldn’t be suspended until and unless enough signatures are verified.

The Save Local Restaurants PAC filed a lawsuit on Dec. 29, 2022, to prevent the FAST Act’s implementation. On Jan. 13, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne W. L. Chang granted a preliminary injunction keeping the bill from taking effect until the petition is verified by the state. Judge Change wrote, “The harm to the California citizens and electors … is great given the Court’s duty to ‘jealously guard’ the people’s right to referendum and the confusion that would occur if AB257 were temporarily implemented while signatures were verified.”

Besides the veto referendum on the FAST Act, signatures are also being verified for a veto referendum on Senate Bill 1137 (SB 1137). The bill would prohibit new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals and require companies to monitor leaks and emissions and install alarms. Like the FAST Act, SB 1137 was set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. The California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) is leading the campaign, Stop the Energy Shutdown, for the veto referendum. Rock Zierman, the CEO of CIPA, said the law should be suspended pending signature verification, but that CIPA decided not to sue as the group expects the law to be suspended when signatures are verified on or before Feb. 7.

California voters have decided 50 veto referendums, upholding laws 21 times (42%) and repealing laws 29 times (58%). The most recent veto referendum was on the ballot in Nov. 2022, when voters upheld a bill to ban flavored tobacco products.

Click below to read more!

Keep reading 

Subscribe to Hall Pass to stay up to date on school board politics and education policy 

Hall Pass is a weekly newsletter that keeps you informed about the conversations driving school board politics and education policy. New editions reach your inbox Wednesday afternoons. 

Here’s a look at some of the stories we’ve featured in the first few weeks of 2023: 

  • On Jan. 4, we looked at the debate over allowing students to retake tests and shared what our 2022 Recall Analysis had to say about school board recall efforts (114 school board members faced recall campaigns!). 
  • On Jan. 11 we looked at arguments for and against the four-day school week and plunged into Peltier v. Charter Day School, Inc., a potential U.S. Supreme Court case with significant implications for charter schools across the country.  

Each edition also features survey responses from school board candidates, a look at upcoming school board elections, and a trove of links to the latest research and news in the world of education. 

The next edition of Hall Pass comes out this afternoon (Jan. 18). Click the link below to subscribe!

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Changes in initiative signature requirements following 2022 election

Welcome to the Tuesday, January 17, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Signatures required for ballot initiatives decreased by 7.34% on average following the 2022 election
  2. The average margin of victory was higher in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House than in 2020 
  3. Over the last week, 253 election-related bills were introduced in state legislatures 

Signatures required for ballot initiatives decreased by 7.34% on average following the 2022 election

Welcome back! Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we hope you enjoyed the long weekend. For our first story this week, we looked back at signature requirements for ballot initiatives in 2022.  

This year, signature requirements for citizen-initiated measures changed in 20 states. There are 26 states that allow for initiatives or referendums, and in each of these states, the number of signatures required is tied to another number. The most common type of requirement is based on the number of votes in a specific election, such as the gubernatorial election.

Turnout on Nov. 8, 2022, caused signature requirements for citizen-initiated ballot measures to change in 17 states. An additional three states will change their requirements based on the number of registered voters. The average state signature requirement change was a -7.34% decrease. Changes ranged from a -28.84% decrease in Wyoming to a +7.70% increase in Arizona. 

Overall, signature requirements increased in Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, South Dakota, and Arkansas. They decreased in Colorado, Oklahoma, Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Alaska, and Wyoming.

Arizona had the largest percent increase (+7.70%) in the number of signatures required, while Wyoming had the largest percent decrease (-28.84%)

  • In Arizona, the signature requirement is based on votes cast in the 2022 gubernatorial election. Including Arizona, 13 states base their signature requirements on the number of votes cast in midterm gubernatorial elections or another state executive election. The average change in these states was -1.72%, with a range of -12.99% in Maryland to +7.70% in Arizona.
  • In Wyoming, the signature requirement is based on turnout at the preceding general election, both presidential and midterm elections. Including Wyoming, four states base their signature requirements on turnout at the preceding general election. As turnout was lower in 2022, a midterm election, compared to 2020, a presidential election, the signature requirement decreased in each of these four states, from −28.84% in Wyoming to -23.00% in New Mexico.

The number of signatures required also decreased by -7.04% in Idaho, where the signature requirement is based on the number of registered voters at the time of the election. In Utah, the signature requirement changed on Jan. 1, 2023, based on the number of active voters. In Nebraska, the signature requirement is based on the number of registered voters at the signature deadline. 

Signature requirements did not change in six states – Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and Washington. In North Dakota, the requirement changes once per decade with the decennial census population count. In Florida, the requirement is based on the number of votes cast for president. The other states base their requirements on votes cast in gubernatorial elections that did not occur in 2022.

Keep reading 

The average margin of victory was higher in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House than in 2020 

Over the last few months, we’ve been hard at work bringing you unique analyses of the Nov. 8, 2022, general elections. Today, let’s look at our most recent analysis article—the margin of victory (MOV) in U.S. House and U.S. Senate elections. 

An electoral MOV is the difference between the share of votes cast for the winning candidate and the runner-up. Margins of victory can be used to measure electoral competitiveness, political party or candidate strength, and, indirectly, the popularity of a particular policy or set of policies.

Here’s a summary of what we found:

  • The average MOV across 35 U.S. Senate elections was 19%, larger than the 18.1% average in 2020 Senate elections.
  • The average MOV across 435 U.S. House elections was 28.9%, up slightly from 28.8% in 2020 and the second smallest MOV since 2012.
  • Republicans had a larger average MOV than Democrats in Senate races (21.3% versus 16%) and House races (30.2% to 27.7%).

U.S. Senate

The average margin of victory in the U.S. Senate was 19%, larger than the 18.1% average margin in 2020. The average MOV was 21.3 percentage points for Republicans and 16 percentage points for Democrats.

The narrowest margin in any U.S. Senate election in 2022 was 0.50 percentage points in the U.S. Senate election in Nevada between Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and Adam Laxalt (R). The largest MOV was in Hawaii, where Brian Schatz (D) defeated Bob McDermott (R) by a margin of 52.17 percentage points.

U.S. House

The average MOV in the U.S. House was 28.9 percentage points, the second smallest margin since 2012. The average MOV was 28.8 percentage points in 2020.

Broken down by the winner’s party, the average MOV was 27.7 percentage points for Democrats and 30.2 percentage points for Republicans.

The closest U.S. House race in 2022 was in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, where Lauren Boebert (R) defeated Adam Frisch (D) by a margin of 0.17%, or 546 votes out of more than 300,000 cast. This was 540 votes more than the closest House race in 2020. In that race, Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) defeated Rita Hart (D) by a margin of 6 votes out of nearly 400,000 cast, the narrowest margin of victory in any U.S. House election since 1984.

Click the link below to learn more about our analysis of Congressional races in 2022, including data on all 35 U.S. Senate elections and all 435 U.S. House elections. 

Keep reading 

Over the last week, 253 election-related bills were introduced in state legislatures 

With legislatures convening for their 2023 sessions, officeholders are busy introducing a flurry of bills. One category of bills we closely follow are those related to elections and election administration. Here’s an update on the election-related bills we tracked over the previous week. 

Since Jan. 6, 253 election-related bills were introduced (or saw pre-committee action). One-hundred and thirty-eight bills were introduced in states with Democratic trifectas, while 83 were introduced in states with Republican trifectas. In states with divided governments, legislators introduced five bills. 

Three bills passed one chamber—two in states with Democratic trifectas and one in a state with a divided government.

Overall since Jan. 6, 256 bills have been acted on in some way (representing a 365 percent increase as compared to last week’s total of 55 bills). These 256 bills represent 41 percent of the 632 bills we are tracking in 2023. One-hundred and forty of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, 83 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 33 are from states with a divided government.

The bar chart below compares recent activity on a week-to-week basis over the last eight weeks. 

The map below visualizes the concentration of this recent activity across the nation. A darker shade of yellow indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been acted upon in the last week. A lighter shade of yellow indicates a lower number of bills that have been acted upon in the last week. 

To date, we’ve tracked 632 election-related bills in 2023. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. If you want to learn more about election-related legislation, click the link below and subscribe to our weekly election legislation tracking digest. You’ll receive weekly updates on election-related activity across the states, including information about noteworthy bills, the number of bills acted on within a given week, and which states have seen the highest concentration of legislative activity.

You can also listen to the most recent episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, where we take a closer look at the week’s top political stories. In this week’s episode, Staff Writer Ethan Rice gives host Victoria Rose a roundup of where some election-related legislation stands in the first few weeks of the new year. 

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