Robe & Gavel: SCOTUS Closes March 2023 Sitting

Welcome to the March 27th edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

Where has the time gone, dear reader? We’re already nearing the end of our March sitting. As always, there’s a lot to catch up on, so let’s gavel on in. 

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SCOTUS has not accepted any new cases to its merits docket since our March 20 edition.


The Supreme Court will hear arguments in six cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.

Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

March 27, 2023

  • Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi concerns enablement under the The Patent Act.
    • The questions presented: “Whether enablement is governed by the statutory requirement that the specification teach those skilled in the art to ‘make and use’ the claimed invention, 35 U.S.C. § 112, or whether it must instead enable those skilled in the art ‘to reach the full scope’ of claimed embodiments’ without undue experimentation-i.e., to cumulatively identify and make all or nearly all embodiments of the invention without substantial ‘time and effort,’ Pet.App. 14a (emphasis added).”
  • United States v. Hansen concerns a First Amendment challenge to U.S. immigration law outlawing the inducement of illegal immigration for personal financial gain, and the court’s ruling in United States v. Sineneng-Smith (2019).
    • The questions presented: “Whether the federal criminal prohibition against encouraging or inducing unlawful immigration for commercial advantage or private financial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (B)(i), is facially unconstitutional on First Amendment overbreadth grounds.”

March 28, 2023

  • Smith v. The United States concerns the proper remedy for when an accused offender has been tried in the wrong court.
    • The questions presented: “Whether the proper remedy for the government’s failure to prove venue is an acquittal barring re-prosecution of the offense, as the Fifth and Eighth Circuits have held, or whether instead the government may re-try the defendant for the same offense in a different venue, as the Sixth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits have held.”
  • Lora v. United States concerns declarations against interest and penalties for crimes committed under 18 U.S.C. § 924(j).
    • The questions presented: “Whether 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(D)(ii), which provides that ‘no term of imprisonment imposed … under this subsection shall run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment,’ is triggered when a defendant is convicted and sentenced under 18 U.S.C. § 924(j).”

March 29, 2023

  • Samia v. United States concerns the right of a defendant to confront the witnesses against them, known as the Confrontation Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment.
    • The questions presented: “Whether admitting a codefendant’s redacted out-of-court confession that immediately inculpates a defendant based on the surrounding context violates the defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment.”
  • Polselli v. Internal Revenue Service concerns the scope of § 7609(c)(2)(D)(i) and the relationship that summonsed records have with delinquent taxpayers.
    • The questions presented: “…whether the § 7609(c)(2)(D)(i) exception applies only when the delinquent taxpayer owns or has a legal interest in the summonsed records (as the Ninth Circuit holds), or whether the exception applies to a summons for anyone’s records whenever the IRS thinks that person’s records might somehow help it collect a delinquent taxpayer’s liability (as the Sixth Circuit, joining the Seventh Circuit, held below).”


SCOTUS has ruled on one case since our March 20 edition. The court has issued rulings in eight cases so far this term. Fifty-two cases are still under deliberation.

Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS ruled on since March 20:

March 21, 2023

Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools was argued before the court on Jan. 18, 2023.

The case: The case concerns whether a student with special needs must first exhaust the administrative adjudication procedures required by IDEA before bringing an educational complaint in federal court under another statute, such as the ADA, when IDEA does not provide the relief they seek.

The outcome: The Supreme Court reversed the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Supreme Court unanimously held that IDEA’s administrative requirements did not prevent Perez from moving forward with his ADA complaint because IDEA does not address the type of compensatory relief sought by Perez. The opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • March 27, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • March 28, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • March 29, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • March 31, 2023: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.


President Joe Biden (D) has announced four new Article III nominees since our March 20 edition. The president has announced 158 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

Committee action

The Senate Judiciary Committee has reported no new nominees out of committee since our March 20 edition.


The Senate has confirmed one nominee since our March 20 issue.


The federal judiciary currently has 75 vacancies, 73 of which are for lifetime Article III judgeships. As of publication, there were 35 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, there are 35 upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary, where judges have announced their intention to leave active judicial status.

For more information on judicial vacancies during President Biden’s term, click here.

Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, keep an eye on our list for updates on federal judicial nominations.

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on April 10 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out! 


Myj Saintyl compiled and edited this newsletter, with contributions from Sam Post.

New Jersey’s statewide filing deadline is today

Welcome to the Monday, March 27, Brew. 

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

  1. New Jersey’s statewide filing deadline is today
  2. Our Election Administration Legislation Tracker helps you stay informed about your state’s election-related bills 
  3. Both Denver City Council District 5 candidates have completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

New Jersey’s statewide filing deadline is today

New Jeresy is one of a handful of states holding statewide elections this year. The primaries are June 6 and general elections are on Nov. 7. The filing deadline for the primary elections is March 27—today! 

All districts in both chambers of the state legislature are on the ballot. Ballotpedia is also covering elections for county positions in Essex and Hudson counties, as well as school board elections Jersey City and Newark. 

Let’s dive in and explore New Jersey’s 2023 elections.

State legislature

New Jersey is one of four states—along with Mississippi, Virginia, and Louisiana—holding legislative elections in 2023. All 120 districts are up for election—40 in the Senate and 80 in the General Assembly.

New Jersey has a Democratic trifecta—Democrats control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office. Democrats hold a 25-15 Senate majority and 46-34 majority in the General Assembly. New Jersey has had a Democratic trifecta since Gov. Phil Murphy (D) took office in 2018. New Jersey had a divided government between 2010 and 2018 because Chris Christie, a Republican, was governor. In 2019 and 2021, Republicans picked up two and six seats in the General Assembly, respectively. In 2021, Republicans picked up one seat in the Senate. 

New Jersey is one of 40 states without primary election runoffs, meaning that a candidate can advance to the general election with a plurality of the vote. The state does not cancel uncontested primaries, and write-in candidates do not have to file (if they win a primary, however, they must file paperwork accepting the nomination). 

Once the filing deadline has passed, we’ll bring you a full analysis of New Jersey’s legislative primary competitiveness. That’ll include a look at how many incumbents are running for re-election and how many incumbents have contested primaries. So, look forward to that! 

In the meantime, you can see our full competitiveness report on state legislative elections in 2021, including New Jersey’s, here. The chart below shows New Jersey’s primary election competitiveness numbers between 2013 and 2021. 

County and school board elections

Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections this year in Essex and Hudson counties, as well as school board elections in Newark and Jersey City. The March 27 filing deadline only applies to the county elections. 

In Essex, voters will elect county commissioners and a county surrogate. In Hudson, voters will elect a county executive and nine county commissioners. As with state-level elections, the primaries for those races is June 6. 

We’re covering school board elections in Jersey City and Newark, though those run on a different schedule. Newark’s general election for three seats is on April 25, while Jersey City’s general election for three seats is on Nov. 7. You can keep up to date on all our school board coverage by subscribing to Hall Pass, our weekly newsletter on school board politics and education policy. 

Click below to learn more about New Jersey’s 2023 elections. 

Keep reading

Three things you may not know about election administration 

Election administration can be a complex topic, and it’s not easy to keep up with all the related legislation in your state—let alone all the others. Our weekly newsletter, The Ballot Bulletin, provides a regular, big-picture update on proposed changes to state election policies. Our interactive Election Administration Legislation Tracker allows you to find and read election-related bills in your state—and provides summaries of those bills in clear, accessible language. 

Let’s take a look at a few bills that became law last week as an example of the legislation summaries and context we provide. 

North Dakota

Gov. Doug Burgum (R) signed bipartisan-sponsored SB2163 into law on March 22. Current law allows the secretary of state and attorney general, in consultation, to summarize constitutional amendments and ballot measures that the secretary of state deems too long to print on the ballot in full. This bill requires the secretary of state to use “plain, clear, understandable language using words with common, everyday meaning” in those summaries. The bill also requires the secretary of state to use clear language in writing fiscal impact statements. 

The Senate voted to approve SB2163 27-20. Twenty-five Republicans and 2 Democrats voted to approve the bill. The House voted 84-9 (with one representative not voting). Seventy-three Republicans and 11 Democrats supported the bill. 

We are currently tracking 94 bills relating to ballot measures and other forms of referendums. Utah enacted one bill in this category, HB0068, establishing criteria for signature verification and processes for removing signatures from a ballot measure or nominating petition. In 2022, state legislators considered 115 bills on this topic, eight of which were enacted. 

South Dakota

Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed Republican-sponsored SB 55 on March 21. The bill prohibits the use of ranked-choice voting and any other method of voting that involves multiple rounds of tabulation or candidate ranking. The bill is one of several similar bills under consideration around the country, all sponsored by Republican legislators. Lawmakers in Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, and Texas are all considering similar measures that would preemptively prohibit the use of ranked-choice or other similar multi-round voting methods in their states. Florida and Tennessee passed similar prohibitions in 2022. Lawmakers in Alaska and Maine are considering legislation that would repeal their state’s current use of ranked voting. 

So far in 2023, we’ve tracked 63 bills related to ranked-choice voting, compared to 66 in 2022. Of the 63 bills introduced in 2023, 12 are some form of prohibition or repeal of ranked or multi-round voting methods, and five of these have passed at least one chamber of the legislature. 


Gov. Brad Little (R) signed H0124 into law on March 15. The bill, which was introduced by the House State Affairs Committee, removes student IDs from the state’s list of acceptable forms of voter identification. Idaho is one of 25 states that require photo identification in order to vote. In Idaho, voters must present either a driver’s license or photo ID card, a U.S. passport or passport card, a tribal photo ID, or a concealed weapons permit issued by an Idaho county sheriff in order to vote. If voters aren’t able to do so, they can sign an affidavit swearing to their identity and still vote by regular ballot. 

We are currently tracking 97 bills relating to voter identification. 

Overall, 2,005 election-related bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year. 

Click below to use our tracker to see what changes legislators are proposing to election administration laws in your state. 

Keep reading 

Both Denver City Council District 5 candidates have completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, then you know about our Candidate Connection survey. The survey allows voters to hear directly from candidates about what motivates them and what their priorities are. In races where all candidates completed the survey, voters get a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the candidates’ backgrounds, objectives, and experiences. 

That’s the case in the race for the District 5 seat on the Denver City Council. Incumbent Amanda Sawyer and challenger Michael Hughes both completed the survey. Sawyer is a licensed attorney with experience in marketing and business. She was first elected to the city council in 2019. Hughes has worked as a mediator and city planner. 

Denver’s city council has 13 members. Eleven are elected to represent specific districts, while two are elected at-large. The general election is on April 4.

Here’s how Sawyer and Hughes answered the following question: “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?


  • “Solutions for a Safer City: As a parent, I understand the challenges that have led many Denver families to move to the suburbs, like our crime rates and traffic concerns. Over my first term, I have worked hard to implement solutions to these challenges, and I’m proudly endorsed by the Denver Police and Denver Firefighters. In my next term, I will continue to address neighborhood and transportation safety issues in District 5.
  • Thoughtful About Development: Denver is going to continue to grow, but we need to be thoughtful about our City planning and the consequences those decisions have on our neighborhoods. I’ll continue to vote only for smart housing solutions that fit Denver’s needs, and continue to use tools like legislative rezonings to ensure thoughtful growth in District 5 with an eye to maintaining the unique character of our neighborhoods.
  • Representing Your Voice: I have earned a reputation as a fair and collaborative Councilmember who is willing to listen to all sides. I have consistently represented your voice through my votes, been responsive to your outreach, and explained the reasons for my decisions. We may not always agree, but you will always know where I stand and why. I’ll continue to find solutions to Denver’s challenges in the next four years.”


  • “To have a representative who will engage everyone in the community respectfully to work together, solve problems and move Denver forward
  • Denver needs housing that current and future residents can afford – in places where we have the infrastructure to build without increased congestion
  • Civility, inclusion, representation, and true engagement are the skills of my profession; it’s time to bring these to the work that lies ahead for the mayor and council”

Click here to learn more about the Denver city council elections. Keep reading

The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration, March 24, 2023

Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration. Every Friday, we deliver the latest updates on election policy around the country, including legislative activity, nationwide trends, and recent news.

In today’s issue, you’ll find: 

  • Legislative activity: About the bills acted on this week and a big-picture look at all the bills we have tracked this year.
  • Recent news: Noteworthy developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local levels, including litigation and ballot measures. 

Legislative activity

State legislatures acted on 351 election-related bills from March 16 to March 23, down from 379 bills the previous week. 


  • These 351 bills are 17.5% of the 2,005 election-related bills introduced in 2023. At this point in 2022, we were tracking 2,343 election-related bills in state legislatures, 16.9% more than this year.
  • The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were ballot access (52), audits and oversight (44), counting and certification (44), contest-specific procedures (41), and voter registration and list maintenance (38).
  • Eighty-six (24.5%) of the bills with activity this week are in Democratic trifecta states, 222 (63.2%) are in Republican trifecta states, and 43 (12.3%) are in states with divided governments. 

Notable developments

  • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed HB0124 on March 16. The bill removes student IDs as acceptable proof of identity for voting purposes at polling places. So far this year, state legislators have introduced 99 voter ID bills, and two other states have enacted voter ID bills. Utah HB0448 requires a state or federally-issued photo ID to vote. Wyoming HB0079 makes concealed carry permits a valid form of voter identification. Democrats sponsored 16 of the 99 bills, while Republicans sponsored 75. State legislators introduced 144 voter ID bills in 2022, 12 of which were enacted. Democrats sponsored 14 of these bills, while Republicans sponsored 117. Thirty-seven states currently require some form of identification to vote. According to the Campus Vote Project, 12 states do not allow the use of a student ID as identification for voting. 
  • The North Dakota Legislature passed SB2292 on March 20. The bill, sponsored by Republican legislators, allows anyone except a candidate to serve as an election observer if the individual informs the election inspector of their intent. So far this year, legislators have introduced 25 other bills concerning poll observers, with Democrats sponsoring eight of these bills and Republicans sponsoring 14. In 2022, state legislators considered 50 bills on this topic, five of which were enacted. Democrats sponsored 14 of these bills, while Republicans sponsored 34.

Recent activity and status changes

Of all election-related bills in state legislatures in 2023:

  • 20 have been enacted (+7 from last week)
  • 46 passed both chambers (+8)
  • 125 passed one chamber (+14)
  • 67 advanced from committee (+5)
  • 1,721 have been introduced (+81)
  • 26 are dead (+1)

Enacted bills

States have enacted 20 election-related bills in 2023, 18.2% of the 110 bills states had enacted at this point in 2022. To see all bills enacted this year, click here

Bills enacted since March 16, with their official titles, are below.

Idaho (Republican trifecta)

  • ID H0124: Amends existing law to revise provisions regarding accepted voter identification at the polls.

North Carolina (Divided government)

  • NC H88: Omnibus Local Elections

Bills that passed both chambers

Forty-six bills have passed both chambers in 2023, 90.2% of the 51 bills that had passed both chambers at this point in 2022. To see all bills that have currently passed both chambers, click here.

Active bills that passed both chambers since March. 16, with their official titles, are below.

Arkansas (Republican trifecta)

  • AR HB1487: To Create The Ballot Security Act Of 2023; And To Amend Election Law Concerning The Handling Of Election Ballots.

Georgia (Republican trifecta)

  • GA SB277: Screven County; board of elections and registration; create
  • GA HB587: Rabun County; Board of Education; change description of districts

Hawaii (Democratic trifecta)

  • HI HB130: Relating To Validation Of Ballots.

Indiana (Republican trifecta)

  • IN SB0106: Local powers concerning elections.

Kentucky (Divided government)

  • KY HB302: AN ACT relating to elections and declaring an emergency.

North Dakota (Republican trifecta)

  • ND HB1192: Relating to electronic voting systems, electronic voting devices, absentee voting, and canvassing boards.
  • ND SB2050: A political subdivision’s ability to establish a library without an election and local maintenance efforts of public libraries; and to provide an effective date.
  • ND HB1293: Relating to election of city commissioners, city council members, and park district commissioners.
  • ND SB2163: Relating to language on voting ballots.
  • ND SB2292: Relating to election offenses and election observers; and to provide a penalty.

South Carolina (Republican trifecta)

Tennessee (Republican trifecta)

  • TN SB1541: AN ACT to amend Chapter 563 of the Acts of 1903; as amended by Chapter 64 of the Acts of 1907; Chapter 647 of the Private Acts of 1911; Chapter 158 of the Private Acts of 1915; Chapter 170 of the Private Acts of 1915; Chapter 3 of the Private Acts of 1917; Chapter 397 of the Private Acts of 1919; Chapter 23 of the Private Acts of 1919; Chapter 231 of the Private Acts of 1919; Chapter 764 of the Private Acts of 1927; Chapter 232 of the Private Acts of 1941; Chapter 669 of the Private Acts of 1947

Utah (Republican trifecta)

West Virginia (Republican trifecta)

  • WV SB522: Allocating percentage of county excise taxes for funding improvements to election administration

Defeated bills

Twenty-six bills have been defeated in 2023, 14.9% of the 175 bills that were defeated at this point in 2022. To see all bills that have been defeated in 2023, click here.

Bills that were defeated in committee or by a floor vote since March 16, with their official titles, are below.

Tennessee (Republican trifecta)

  • TN HB1045: AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 2, relative to political party registration.

Recent activity by topic and sponsorship

The chart below shows the topics of the bills state legislatures acted on since March 16. Click here to see a full list of bill categories and their definitions.

* Note: Contest-specific procedures refers to primary systems, municipal election procedures, recall elections, special election procedures, and other systems unique to a particular election type. 

All 2023 bills by topic and sponsorship

The chart below shows the topics of a sample of the 2,005 bills we have tracked this year. Note that the sums of the numbers listed do not equal the total number of bills because some bills deal with multiple topics.  

Recent activity by state and trifecta status

Of the 351 bills state legislators acted on this week:

  • 86 are in Democratic trifectas
  • 222 in Republican trifectas
  • 43 are in divided governments. 

The map below shows election-related bills acted on in the past week by state trifecta status.

All 2023 bills by state and trifecta status

The map below shows the number of election-related bills introduced by state in 2023 by state trifecta status.

Recent news

Pennsylvania court dismisses mail-in ballot lawsuit

On March 23, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania dismissed a challenge to county election boards’ authority to correct mail-in ballots. Plaintiffs included the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. The defendants were acting Secretary of State Al Schmidt (R), Bureau of Election Services and Notaries Director Jessica Mathis, and the boards of elections in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. The plaintiffs argued that county election boards lack the authority to correct mail-in ballots, because “[t]he Election Code tightly constrains what Boards may do with absentee and mail-in ballots once they receive them.” In yesterday’s court order, Judge Ellen Ceisler said “although the subject matter of this litigation implicates elections, both local and statewide, which are governed by the Election Code, all signs point to the County Boards falling under the designation of ‘political subdivision,’ suits against which are excluded from this Court’s original jurisdiction under Section 761(a)(1) of the Judicial Code.” The defendents have not indicated whether they plan to appeal the court’s decision. 

Kansas appeals court reinstates election lawsuit

On March 17, the Kansas Court of Appeals reinstated a 2021 lawsuit challenging an election-related bill enacted in the state that year. Plaintiffs, including Loud Light, the League of Women Voters of Kansas, the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center, and the Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, alleged HB2183‘s signature matching requirements and ballot collection restrictions were unconstitutional. The Shawnee County District Court dismissed the lawsuit in April 2022. In the appeals court opinion, Judge Stephen Hill said the state must “show that the statute can overcome strict scrutiny.” He said, “Because the right to vote is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Kansas Constitution, an act that infringes on that right must be strictly scrutinized to determine if it is enforceable.” Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach (R), a defendant in the lawsuit, said he would appeal the ruling, adding, “It is clearly wrong. The decision is directly contrary to what the U.S. Supreme Court has said, as well as what every state supreme court has said on the matter.” 

South Carolina legislature considers amendment to appoint rather than elect state comptroller

Welcome to the Friday, March 24, Brew. 

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

  1. South Carolina legislature considers amendment to appoint rather than elect state comptroller
  2. Recall effort against New Orleans mayor fails to qualify for the ballot
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many vetoes has Congress overridden in U.S. history?

South Carolina legislature considers amendment to appoint rather than elect state comptroller

South Carolina legislators are considering a constitutional amendment to make the state’s comptroller general appointed by the governor rather than elected. 

If passed with a two-thirds majority in both chambers, the amendment would appear on the 2024 ballot for voter approval, where it would require a simple majority to become law.

South Carolina is one of 19 states with a comptroller, also known as a controller, a state-level financial officer, and one of nine states that elect its comptroller directly. Most comptrollers share duties similar to state treasurers, exercising powers related to budgetary and management matters.

South Carolina’s current comptroller, Richard Eckstrom (R), was first elected in 2002 and has been re-elected five times. Eckstrom ran unopposed in 2018 and 2022, and last faced a contested Republican primary in 2010.

South Carolina’s government is one of 22 with a Republican trifecta. The party currently controls the governorship and holds a 30-15-1 majority in the Senate and an 88-36 majority in the House.

South Carolina voters rejected an amendment to make the state superintendent an appointed, rather than elected, position in 2018, with 60% opposed.

In 2012, 56% of voters approved an amendment allowing gubernatorial candidates to select their lieutenant gubernatorial running mates. Previously, voters had elected both offices separately.

If the comptroller amendment makes it onto the 2024 ballot and is approved, the position would become appointed after the current comptroller’s term expires. Eckstrom’s term will expire in 2027.

In general, state financial officers—including treasurers, auditors, and comptrollers—are responsible for auditing other government offices, managing payroll, and overseeing pensions. In some states, these officers also invest state retirement and trust funds.

State financial officers are part of the debate over environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), an approach to investing and corporate decision-making. If you’d like to learn more about the political and economic debates around ESG, subscribe to Economy and Society, our weekly newsletter that delivers information on the growing intersection of business and politics.

Keep reading 

Recall effort against New Orleans mayor fails to qualify for the ballot

Last week, we brought you an update from New Orleans regarding the effort to recall Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D).

On March 21, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced the effort failed, saying recall supporters had submitted 27,219 valid signatures, around 18,000 fewer than the 44,976 needed.

That signature threshold—44,976—was subject to debate throughout the process. Heading into 2023, the signature requirement was 49,975. 

But on March 1, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) and recall supporters announced a consent judgment, revising the number of registered voters in Orleans Parish from 249,876 to 224,876, lowering the signature requirement to its 44,976 level.

Following Bel Edward’s announcement, Cantrell said, “[W]ith the divisiveness of the failed recall campaign officially behind us, we must heal and recommit ourselves to working collaboratively to continue the progress we’ve made.”

Recall supporters said, “The efforts of the recall have only just begun … We are exploring all legal options at this time … We will continue to demand accountability from our elected officials.”

It is uncommon for recall efforts against mayors in the country’s 100 most populous cities to make it onto the ballot.

Since 2010, Ballotpedia has tracked 44 such recall efforts, including Cantrell’s. Forty-two efforts failed to make the ballot.

Of that list, only one, in Omaha, went to a vote in 2011, where Mayor Jim Suttle retained his position with 51% of the vote. The other, in 2013, ended because San Diego Mayor Bob Filner resigned.

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: How many vetoes has Congress overridden in U.S. history?

In the Wednesday Brew, we told you about President Joe Biden’s (D) veto on March 20, the first veto of his presidency. When the president vetoes a bill, Congress can override it and enact the law with a two-thirds vote in both chambers. While this week’s veto was Biden’s first, presidents have issued 2,585 vetoes in total.

How many vetoes has Congress overridden in U.S. history?

  1. 487 (19%)
  2. 298 (12%)
  3. 49 (2%)
  4. 112 (4%)

Biden issues first veto of his presidency

Welcome to the Wednesday, March 22, Brew. 

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

  1. Biden issues first veto of his presidency
  2. Voters in El Paso, Texas, to decide on a charter amendment to require the city to consider climate change 
  3. Robe & Gavel—your one-stop shop for SCOTUS and other judicial news  

Biden issues first veto of his presidency

On March 20, President Joe Biden (D) vetoed the first legislation of his presidency, sending a measure back to Congress that would have prohibited retirement account managers from using certain environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors to inform investment decisions. 

ESG refers to an approach to investing and corporate decision-making. Organizations and investors apply ESG analysis in different ways, including basing investments on a company’s values and looking at the broader social and economic effects from investment and divestment. 

If you’d like to learn more about the political and economic debates around ESG, subscribe to Economy and Society, our weekly newsletter that delivers news and information on the growing intersection of business and politics. In the March 21 edition, we explore the various responses to Biden’s veto from across the political spectrum.  

The House of Representatives approved the resolution 216-204 on Feb. 28, 2023, with 215 Republicans and one Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), voting yes. The Senate approved it 50-46 on March 1, with 48 Republicans and two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), voting yes. 

Congress can override a presidential veto with a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers. 

Presidents have issued 2,585 vetoes in American history, and Congress has overridden 112. President Franklin D. Roosevelt vetoed 635 bills, the most of any president. Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Q. Adams, William H. Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, and James A. Garfield did not issue any vetoes.

Dating back to 1981, President Ronald Reagan (R) issued the most vetoes with 87. Biden has issued the fewest, followed by President Donald Trump (R) with nine.

Click below to learn more about Biden’s presidential vetoes. 

Keep reading

Voters in El Paso, Texas, to decide on a charter amendment to require the city to consider climate change 

On May 6, El Paso voters will vote on Proposition K, a charter amendment that would declare the following goals for the city: “first, to reduce the City’s contribution to climate change; second, to invest in an environmentally sustainable future; and third, to advance the cause of climate justice.”

Among other things, the charter amendment would also:

  • Require El Paso to use energy generated by renewable sources (defined as “energy generated without burning carbon or releasing greenhouse gasses”), with a goal of 100% by 2045;
  • Prohibit fees and fines “that limit the purchase, use, or generation of renewable energy;”
  • Create the appointed position of Climate Director, who would be charged with fulfilling the amendment’s goals, creating an annual Solar Power Generation Plan, producing a climate impact statement for proposals before the El Paso City Council, and leading a new Climate Department;
  • Direct the City Manager and Climate Director to collaborate on creating climate jobs, defined as jobs that help meet the amendment’s goals, and creating a Climate Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness Plan

In July 2022, organizers for Sunrise El Paso and Ground Game Texas submitted 36,360 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. El Paso city officials verified that more than 20,000 valid signatures were submitted on Nov. 11, 2022, and qualified the initiative for the ballot.

Sunrise El Paso said in a statement, “We are working to bring green jobs to El Paso, build solar power, conserve water and protect its quality, address pollution head-on in our communities, fight against environmental racism and inequity, encourage a municipalized electric utility, and so much more through this people-led initiative.”

Opponents to the amendment include the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, El Paso Electric, and Borderplex Alliance.

El Paso Electric said, “While we share the same goals of an environmentally sustainable future for our region, we are embedding and evaluating all possible technology and generation to achieve these goals. We believe the (climate charter) proposition is too limited and does not include the wide array of customer solutions and technology to affordably achieve the agreed upon goals.”

El Paso is the country’s 22nd-largest city by population. Voters will also decide on 10 other charter amendments on May 6. Read more about Proposition K at the link below.
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Robe & Gavel—your one-stop shop for SCOTUS and other judicial news  

The federal judiciary includes nearly 1,770 judgeships authorized across 209 courts

Robe & Gavel, our newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S, just dropped with its most recent issue yesterday. In each edition, we bring you informed analysis about the cases SCOTUS has agreed to hear and the opinions it has issued, as well as news about retirements, nominations, and important rulings coming out of other federal courts. 

Here’s some of what we’re covering:

Click the link below to subscribe and stay up to date on important federal judicial news. As we like to say, we #SCOTUS and you can, too

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Biden vetoes Congressional Review Act resolution that aimed to block ESG retirement plan rule

Economy and Society is Ballotpedia’s weekly review of the developments in corporate activism; corporate political engagement; and the Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) trends and events that characterize the growing intersection between business and politics.

ESG Developments This Week

In Washington, D.C.

Biden vetoes Congressional Review Act resolution that aimed to block ESG retirement plan rule

President Joe Biden (D) issued the first veto of his presidency on March 20, blocking Congress’s attempt to rescind the Labor Department’s rule allowing for ESG investing by managers of ERISA-governed retirement plans:

President Joe Biden issued the first veto of his presidency Monday in an early sign of shifting White House relations with the new Congress since Republicans took control in January. He’s seeking to kill a Republican measure that bans the government from considering environmental impacts or potential lawsuits when making investment decisions for Americans’ retirement plans.

It’s just the latest manifestation of the new relationship, and Biden is gearing up for even bigger fights with Republicans on government spending and raising the nation’s debt limit in the next few months.

The measure vetoed by Biden ended a Trump-era ban on federal managers of retirement plans considering factors such as climate change, social impacts or pending lawsuits when making investment choices. Because suits and climate change have financial repercussions, administration officials argue that the investment limits are courting possible disaster.

Critics say environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments allocate money based on political agendas, such as a drive against climate change, rather than on earning the best returns for savers. Republicans in Congress who pushed the measure to overturn the Labor Department’s action argue ESG is just the latest example of the world trying to get “woke.”

Biden, in a video released by the White House, said he vetoed the measure because it “put at risk the retirement savings of individuals across the country.”

Manchin pushes back against Biden’s veto

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of the two Senate Democrats to vote for the bill blocking the ESG rule, argued that the Biden administration “continues to prioritize their radical policy agenda over the economic, energy and national security needs of our country, and it is absolutely infuriating”:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) teed off on President Biden’s decision earlier on Monday to veto a bill that would have nixed a Labor Department rule on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing.

Manchin, who was one of two Senate Democrats to vote with Republicans to overturn the rule on March 1, called Biden’s decision “absolutely infuriating” in a statement and panned the administration for putting its “radical” and “progressive agenda” ahead of the country’s needs. 

“This Administration continues to prioritize their radical policy agenda over the economic, energy and national security needs of our country, and it is absolutely infuriating,” said Manchin, who is up for reelection next year. “West Virginians are under increasing stress as we continue to recover from a once in a generation pandemic, pay the bills amid record inflation, and face the largest land war in Europe since World War II.”

“The Administration’s unrelenting campaign to advance a radical social and environmental agenda is only exacerbating these challenges. This ESG rule will weaken our energy, national and economic security while jeopardizing the hard-earned retirement savings of 150 million West Virginians and Americans,” Manchin continued. “Despite a clear and bipartisan rejection of the rule from Congress, President Biden is choosing to put his Administration’s progressive agenda above the well-being of the American people.”

Opposition group campaigns against veto

Consumers’ Research, an advocacy group that opposes ESG investing, ran a mobile billboard campaign ahead of Biden’s expected veto criticizing ESG and the Biden administration’s approach to ESG policy:

An advocacy group that opposes environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing on Tuesday launched a mobile billboard campaign around Washington, D.C., ahead of President Biden’s expected veto of legislation targeting the investment practice.

Consumers’ Research, a leading anti-ESG group, is funding mobile billboards and a targeted digital ad campaign criticizing the use of the principles among major money managers such as BlackRock. The mobile billboards will circulate around Capitol Hill and downtown D.C.

The mobile billboards will feature images that say “What does ESG really stand for?” with acronyms like “Erasing Savings Growth” and “Elitists Socialists Grifters,” according to images first shared with The Hill.

“I applaud House leadership and the bipartisan efforts in the Senate that pushed this legislation to the finish line,” Will Hild, director of Consumers’ Research, said in a statement to The Hill. “Unfortunately, President Biden is going to use his first veto to further the progressive agenda instead of putting the interest of the American people first.”

In the states

DeSantis leads 19 states in ESG pushback

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced on March 16 that he and the governors of 18 other states had agreed to join forces to push back against ESG investing and what they view as pro-ESG federal policies:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Thursday announced an alliance with 18 other states to push back against President Biden’s support for environmental, social and corporate governance investing, known as ESG.

The states argue that Biden’s backing for socially-conscious ESG investing, under which investors weigh sustainability and ethical considerations, is a threat to the U.S. economy.

DeSantis joins with the governors of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming in what his office called “an alliance to push back” against Biden’s ESG “agenda.”

“The proliferation of ESG throughout America is a direct threat to the American economy, individual economic freedom, and our way of life, putting investment decisions in the hands of the woke mob to bypass the ballot box and inject political ideology into investment decisions, corporate governance, and the everyday economy,” the states wrote in a joint statement.

The 19 states in their joint statement said they plan to lead state-level initiatives “to protect individuals from the ESG movement,” including potentially blocking ESG at the state and local levels and withholding state pension funds and state-controlled investments from firms that use ESG.

“We as freedom loving states can work together and leverage our state pension funds to force change in how major asset managers invest the money of hardworking Americans, ensuring corporations are focused on maximizing shareholder value, rather than the proliferation of woke ideology,” the states wrote.

Kansas legislature considers proposals to restrict ESG considerations in public pensions

Kansas state lawmakers have been trying to develop a bill restricting ESG considerations in public pensions. In an effort to slow or amend such legislation, some businesses and others cited a report suggesting that banning ESG could hurt Kansas public pensioners:

Conservative Republicans who want to thwart socially and environmentally conscious investing are now being pushed to water down their proposals after backlash from powerful business groups and fears that state pension systems could see huge losses.

In both Kansas and Indiana, where the GOP has legislative supermajorities, bankers associations and state chambers of commerce criticized the strongest versions of anti-ESG legislation currently under consideration as anti-free market.

In Kansas, their opposition prompted a Senate committee’s chair to drop the toughest version of its bill — applying anti-ESG rules to firms handling private investments — before hearings began this week. He also canceled a Thursday discussion of a milder version of an anti-ESG bill after the head of the state pension system for teachers and government workers warned that it could see $3.6 billion in losses over 10 years if the bill were passed….

“This is the underlying political nature of this,” said Bryan McGannon, acting CEO and managing director for US SIF: The Forum for Responsible and Sustainable Investment. “They really aren’t thinking about the consequences of the kind of the real world impacts of what this means in the financial system.”

About one-eighth of U.S. assets being professionally managed, or $8.4 trillion, are being managed in line with ESG principles, according a report in December from US SIF, which promotes sustainable investing.

At least seven states, including Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia, have enacted anti-ESG laws in the past two years. GOP Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Gianforte of Montana also have moved to ensure their states’ funds aren’t invested using ESG principles.

Discussions about the responsibilities of managers handling private investments are also slowing ESG opposition efforts in Kansas:

Republican lawmakers pushing to prevent Kansas from investing its funds using socially and environmentally conscious principles disagree about also imposing rules for investment managers handling private funds, complicating their efforts to thwart what they see as “woke” investing.

Committees in the Kansas House and Senate this week approved competing versions of anti-ESG legislation, and the two chambers could debate them as early as next week. ESG stands for environmental, social and governance and those considerations have become more prominent in investing in recent years, sparking a nationwide backlash from conservative Republicans.

The Kansas Senate’s version of the anti-ESG measure would require private money managers to get their clients’ written consent before investing their funds along ESG principles. The House bill contains no such provision.

The issue of requiring managers of private funds to disclose their ESG activities to clients or to get clients’ verbal or written consent to use them appears to be the last major sticking point among Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature. They’ve already backed off the toughest version of the anti-ESG legislation because of opposition from powerful business groups, and have rewritten both bills to prevent projected investment losses of $3.6 billion over 10 years for the pension fund for Kansas teachers and government workers.

In the spotlight

BlackRock CEO writes open letter to investors

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is known for his annual open letters to the CEOs of corporations and for his letters to investors. This year, Fink sent only one letter— to investors. Among other things, Fink highlighted efforts at BlackRock that he says will make it easier for investors to vote their stock shares:

In recent years, I have written two letters each year – one on behalf of our clients to CEOs and the other to BlackRock shareholders. In November, on the anniversary of BlackRock introducing Voting Choice, I wrote to both CEOs and our clients to share my views on the transformative power of choice in proxy voting.

As we start 2023, it is clear to me that all of our stakeholders – BlackRock shareholders, clients, employees, partners, the communities where we operate, and the companies in which our clients are invested – are facing so many of the same issues. For that reason, this year, I am writing a single letter to investors….

We continue to innovate in a variety of areas to expand the choices we offer clients. Some of our clients have expressed interest in a more direct role in the stewardship of their capital, and we have sought to deliver solutions that enable them to vote their shares. As I wrote last year to clients and corporate CEOs, I believe that, if widely adopted, voting choice can enhance corporate governance by bringing new voices into shareholder democracy.

BlackRock has been at the forefront of this innovation for years, and we have seen other asset managers follow our lead and adopt similar efforts. Nearly half of our index equity assets under management are now eligible for Voting Choice. This includes all the public and private pension plan assets we manage in the U.S., as well as retirement plans serving more than 60 million people around the world. Clients representing over $500 billion in AUM have chosen to participate in Voting Choice to express their preferences.

When I first started writing letters to the CEOs of the companies in which our clients are invested, my entire focus was on stewardship and ensuring engagement that centers on creating long-term value for our clients. We set out to build the best global stewardship team in the industry – to engage with companies on corporate governance not just during proxy season, but year-round because we didn’t think that the industry’s reliance on just a few proxy advisors was appropriate. We believed that our clients expected us to make independent and well-informed decisions about what was in their best financial interest. And we still do.

Making these decisions requires understanding how companies are responding to evolving risks and opportunities. Changes in globalization, supply chains, geopolitics, inflation, monetary and fiscal policy, and climate all can impact a company’s ability to deliver durable value. Our stewardship team works to promote better investment performance for our clients, the asset owners. The team does that by understanding how a company is responding to these factors where financially material to the company’s business, and by advocating for sound governance and business practices. For many of our clients who have entrusted us with this important responsibility, BlackRock’s stewardship efforts are core to what they are seeking from us.

At the same time, we believe that adding more voices to corporate governance can further strengthen shareholder democracy.

Two weeks until Chicago mayoral, Wisconsin Supreme Court elections

Welcome to the Tuesday, March 21, Brew. 

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

  1. Two weeks until Chicago mayoral, Wisconsin Supreme Court elections
  2. All three candidates in Mississippi House District 111 Republican primary submit Candidate Connection Surveys
  3. Republicans control 55% of all state legislative seats, Democrats with 45%

Two weeks until Chicago mayoral, Wisconsin Supreme Court elections

Two weeks from today, on April 4, voters will decide two of this year’s most-watched elections: Chicago’s mayoral runoff and Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court general election.

Here’s a quick look at where things stand in both of these contests.

Chicago mayoral

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D) and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas (D) advanced to the April 4 runoff as the top two vote-getters in the Feb. 28 general election.

Johnson and Vallas received the most votes out of the nine-candidate field, with 21.6% and 32.9%, respectively. 

Incumbent Lori Lightfoot (D) placed third, becoming the first incumbent mayor to lose re-election in Chicago in 34 years.

This means, on Feb. 28, 45.5% of voters cast their ballots for a candidate no longer on the ballot.

Since then, five of those seven candidates have endorsed either Johnson or Vallas.

  • U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D) and state Rep. Kambium Buckner (D) endorsed Johnson.
  • Willie Wilson (I), Ja’Mal Green (D), and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (D) endorsed Vallas. 
  • Collectively, Johnson’s endorsers got 15.7% of the vote on Feb. 28, and Vallas’ endorsers received 11.7%.
  • Two candidates—Lightfoot, who had 16.8% of the vote, and Ald. Sophia King, who received 1.3%—have not yet made an endorsement.

Wisconsin Supreme Court

In Wisconsin, voters will decide the ideological balance of their state supreme court, choosing between Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz and former Justice Daniel Kelly.

While Wisconsin’s supreme court elections are officially nonpartisan, PBS Wisconsin’s Zac Schultz wrote, “Protasiewicz and Kelly are heavily aligned with the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.”

The winner will succeed retiring Justice Patience Roggensack, a member of the court’s current 4-3 conservative majority. If Protasiewicz wins, the court will switch to a 4-3 liberal majority. If Kelly wins, the conservative majority will remain.

According to, this race has had more than $27 million in spending, making it the most expensive judicial election in U.S. history, breaking a $15 million record set in a 2004 Illinois Supreme Court election.

That $27 million figure includes candidate spending, but most of it—$18 million according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign—has come from satellite groups.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest spenders on both sides:

A Better Wisconsin Together—a committee whose largest donors are labor unions and Democratic ideological groups—has spent more than $5 million supporting Protasiewicz and opposing Kelly.

On Feb. 23, the group released an ad saying Kelly “repeatedly attacked abortion rights and groups fighting to protect them” and  “is endorsed by groups who’d ban abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest.”

Fair Courts America—a committee funded primarily by Richard Uihlein, owner of a shipping and packaging supply company—has spent more than $4.6 million supporting Kelly and opposing Protasiewicz.

In early March, the group published a website supporting Kelly and opposing Protasiewicz, describing her as “Dan Kelly’s dangerous opponent … Her record = putting criminals back on the street as soon as possible!”

Additionally, today, March 21, the State Bar of Wisconsin, WISC-TV, and will host the only debate between the two candidates ahead of the April 4 election.

Barring any vacancies in the interim, the next supreme court election in Wisconsin will be in 2025, when Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s term expires. Walsh is a member of the court’s current liberal majority.

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All three candidates in Mississippi House District 111 Republican primary submit Candidate Connection Surveys

All three candidates running in the Aug. 8 Republican primary for Mississippi’s House District 111 have submitted Candidate Connection Surveys.

This is the district’s first contested Republican primary in more than a decade. Because no Democrats are running, the winner will become the district’s next representative. The three candidates are:

Incumbent Rep. Charles Busby (R), first elected in 2011, is running for the state’s Transportation Commission this year, leaving the district open.

In the survey, we ask each candidate to tell us what they think is their state’s greatest challenge over the next decade.

Here’s what the District 111 candidates said. Click on their names to view their full survey responses:

  • Camp: “Infrastructure and Education.”
  • Fondren: “As a younger candidate … [w]e must figure out ways to not only keep our younger generation in Mississippi, but also ways to recruit new residents into the state.”

Mississippi is one of four states that hold state legislative elections in odd-numbered years. Winners in both chambers serve four-year terms.

All 174 state legislative districts—122 in the House and 52 in the Senate—are up for election. Republicans currently hold a 77-42-3 majority in the House and a 36-15-1 majority in the Senate.

When an election reaches 100% survey completion, we make sure to let others know. In 2022, 320 races met this threshold, which you can see here.

We invite every candidate running in an election we cover to complete our Candidate Connection Survey and share what motivates them on political and personal levels. Our survey helps voters better understand how candidates think about the world and how they intend to govern.

If you are running for office, please consider submitting a survey here. You can also share the link with any candidates you want to hear from directly.

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Republicans control 55% of all state legislative seats, Democrats with 45%

Ballotpedia’s March count of the nation’s 7,386 state legislators found that 55% are Republicans and 45% are Democrats.

Republicans control 56 of the country’s 99 legislative chambers, while Democrats control 41. The Alaska House and Senate both have multipartisan, power-sharing coalitions.

Since last month, Democrats have gained four seats, and Republicans gained six.

Compared to March last year, Democrats’ share of state legislative seats is up 0.1 percentage points (44.4% to 44.5%). Republicans’ share is up 0.6 percentage points (54.3% to 54.9%).

Republicans have controlled a majority of state legislative seats since 2011, making this the party’s longest period of majority control at that level of government in more than 100 years. Democrats’ longest period of majority control lasted 48 years, from 1955 to 2003.

From 1923 to 2023, Democrats controlled a majority of seats for 73 years, and Republicans held the majority for 26.

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The most-populous city with a Republican mayor goes to the polls tomorrow

Welcome to the Monday, March 20, Brew. 

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

  1. A preview of Jacksonville’s March 21 mayoral election
  2. Arkansas increases the signature distribution requirement for citizen initiatives  
  3. There have been eight state supreme court vacancy announcements since the beginning of the year

A preview of Jacksonville’s March 21 mayoral election

Tomorrow, voters in Jacksonville, Fla., will go to the polls to select a new mayor. Jacksonville is the most populous American city with a Republican mayor. Incumbent Mayor Lenny Curry (R) is term-limited.

Eight candidates are running. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will occur on May 16. 

All candidates run in the general election regardless of party affiliation. Donna Deegan (D), Audrey Gibson (D), LeAnna Cumber (R), Daniel Davis (R), and Al Ferraro (R) have led the field in media coverage and fundraising. 

The Florida Times-Union’s Nate Monroe wrote that Jacksonville’s mayoral election system is “a recipe that complicates conventional electoral math and can lead to surprises, and it makes larger fields with multiple viable candidates, as this year appears to feature, difficult to handicap.”

Deegan and Gibson are the only two Democrats running. Deegan is a philanthropist, author, and local television news anchor. Click here to read Deegan’s responses to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Gibson represented Jacksonville in the Florida Senate from 2016 to 2022, after serving in the Florida House of Representatives from 2002 to 2010. 

Cumber, Davis, and Ferarro represent three of the four Republicans running. Cumber is a business owner and member of the Jacksonville City Council, representing District 5. Davis is the chief executive officer of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and a former member of the Florida House of Representatives. Ferraro is a business owner and member of the Jacksonville City Council, representing District 2.

Frank Keasler (R), Omega Allen (I), and write-in candidate Brian Griffin (I) are also running. Keasler and Griffin completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. 

Jacksonville has had a Republican mayor since Curry was first elected in 2015. That year, Curry defeated then-incumbent Alvin Brown (D) 51% to 49% in the runoff election. The 2019 mayoral election was decided in the March general election, with Curry receiving 58% of the vote over Anna Lopez Brosche’s (R) 24%, Omega Allen’s (I) 11%, and Jimmy Hill’s (R) 8%.

The current partisan breakdown of the mayors of the 100 largest U.S. cities is 62 Democrats, 26 Republicans, three independents, and seven nonpartisans. Two mayors’ partisan affiliations are unknown. Based on 2020 population estimates of the top 100 cities, 76.1% live under Democratic mayors, and 16.2% live under Republican mayors.

We’re covering 40 mayoral elections in the country’s top 100 largest cities this year, with at least one being held every month except for January and July.

Click below to read more about Jacksonville’s mayoral election. 

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Arkansas increases the signature distribution requirement for citizen initiatives 

On March 7, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) signed House Bill 1419 (HB 1419), which increases the signature distribution requirement for citizen initiatives. 

Under HB 1419, campaigns will be required to collect signatures from 50 of 75 (67%) counties. Previously, the requirement was 15 of 75 (20%) counties. For citizen-initiated state statutes, the signature requirement is equal to 4% of the votes cast for governor in each of at least 50 of 75 counties. For citizen-initiated constitutional amendments, the requirement is equal to 5% of the votes cast for governor in these counties.

The House approved the bill 79-19 and the Senate approved it 21-8. Republicans hold a 82-18 majority in the House and a 29-6 majority in the Senate.

State Sen. Jim Dotson (R-34), a co-sponsor of the bill, said,  “The purpose of this would be to ensure that we’re getting representation from all across the state, not just large urban areas but rural counties as well, and having a lot of input into the process.” State Sen. Greg Leding (D-30), an opponent, said, “The voters have made it absolutely clear that they do not want the Legislature making it harder for them to get things on the ballot, and I think we should listen to them.”

State Sen. Bryan King (D-28) and the League of Women Voters of Arkansas sued Secretary of State John Thurston (R), asking the 6th Judicial Circuit Court to rule HB 1419 unconstitutional. Plaintiffs noted that Article V of the Arkansas Constitution establishes the 15-of-75 counties requirement, while HB 1419 is a statute. According to the plaintiffs, this means that HB 1419 is effectively modifying the state constitution, which a bill cannot do. Amending the constitution would require voter approval.

Of the 26 states that have initiatives or referenda, Arkansas is one of 16 with a signature distribution requirement. The other 10 states do not have distribution requirements. Arkansas’ new requirement that signatures come from 67% of counties means it is tied with Wyoming as the state with the sixth largest distribution requirement for initiated statutes and 7th for initiated constitutional amendments. Previously, Arkansas’ 20% requirement was the second smallest, just behind Maryland (8% of counties).  

Keep reading 

There have been eight state supreme court vacancy announcements since the beginning of 2023

We’ve written a lot about state supreme courts over the last few months, with much of our coverage focused on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court election—the most expensive judicial election in U.S. history. That election—one of our top 15 political stories to watch this year—will be decided on April 4.

States have different methods for choosing their supreme court justices. Wisconsin, for example, is one of 13 states that use nonpartisan elections. States also have separate processes for filling vacancies that occur when a justice resigns early, reaches mandatory retirement age, dies, or moves to a new court. 

As of March 14, there have been eight such vacancies or vacancy announcements since the beginning of the year for judges whose replacements are chosen via appointment instead of election. In all eight cases, the governor will appoint the replacement. 

  • Alaska, California, North Dakota, and Tennessee each have one state supreme court vacancy. Alaska, North Dakota, and Tennessee have Republican governors, while California has a Democratic governor. 
  • Delaware and Missouri each have two state supreme court vacancies. Delaware has a Democratic governor, while Missouri has a Republican governor. 

Two judges stepped down after being appointed to different offices. The remaining six judges retired or plan to retire in 2023. Two vacancies have been filled, and two appointments have been made but the replacement judges have not yet taken office. The remaining four vacancies have not yet been filled.

From 2019 to 2022, there were 89 state supreme vacancies for judges whose replacements are chosen via appointment instead of election. The vacancies were created when five judges were appointed to different offices, 79 judges retired, four judges died, and one judge lost a retention election. During those years, 37 vacancies were filled by a Democratic governor, 48 vacancies were filled by a Republican governor or Republican-controlled state legislature, and four vacancies were filled by a nonpartisan state supreme court.

States use different methods for filing state supreme court vacancies: 

  • 18 states fill vacancies on the state supreme court through direct gubernatorial appointment.
  • 28 states fill vacancies through a gubernatorial appointment with assistance from a nominating commission.
  • Two states (South Carolina and Virginia) fill vacancies through legislative appointments.
  • In Illinois, the state supreme court nominates a replacement justice.
  • In Louisiana, voters elect a replacement in a special election.

In 2020, we released Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship, a study to discern the partisan balance on each of the country’s 52 courts of last resort. Of the 341 justices we studied, 52.5% recorded Republican Confidence Scores, 33.1% recorded Democratic Confidence Scores, and 14.4% recorded Indeterminate Confidence Scores. Click here to read that study.

Click below to read more about state supreme court vacancies in 2023. 

Keep reading 

The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration, March 17, 2023

Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration. Every Friday, we deliver the latest updates on election policy around the country, including legislative activity, big-picture trends, and recent news.

In today’s issue, you’ll find: 

  • Legislative activity: About the bills acted on this week. 
  • The big picture
    • Legislative status: The number of bills introduced, voted on, or enacted into law.
    • Concentration of activity: The states that have had the most legislative activity.
    • Partisan affiliation of sponsorship: The number of bills that Democrats and Republicans have sponsored. 
  • Recent news: Noteworthy developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local levels, including litigation and ballot measures. 

Legislative activity

Since March 10, state legislatures have acted on 379 bills, a 35.6% increase from last week’s 280 bills. Of these, 147 are from states with Democratic trifectas, 208 are from states with Republican trifectas, and 24 are from states with divided governments. These 379 bills represent 20.1% of the 1,889 pieces of legislation we are currently tracking. At this point in 2022, we were tracking 2,288 pieces of legislation. 

The topics with the most activity this week were:

  • Ballot access: 50
  • Voter registration and list maintenance: 46
  • Audits and oversight: 42
  • Ballot counting and certification: 41
  • Contest-specific procedures (Primary systems, municipal election procedures, recall elections, special election procedures, and other systems unique to a particular election type): 41

300 bills were introduced (or had pre-committee action).

  • Democratic trifectas: 128
  • Republican trifectas: 160
  • Divided governments: 12

16 bills advanced from committee. 

  • Democratic trifectas: 7
  • Republican trifectas: 8
  • Divided governments: 1

45 bills passed one chamber (or had pre-adoption action in the second chamber). 

  • Democratic trifectas: 8
  • Republican trifectas: 27
  • Divided governments: 10

18 bills passed both chambers. Those bills, with their official bill titles, are:

  • Democratic trifectas: 4
  • Republican trifectas: 13
    • AR HB1461: To Require Legislative Review Of New Federal Election Guidance; And To Amend The Duties Of The Secretary Of State.
    • GA HB532: Pike County; Magistrate Court; chief judge; provide nonpartisan elections
    • ID H0124: Amends existing law to revise provisions regarding accepted voter identification at the polls.
    • IN SB0106: Local powers concerning elections.
    • ND SB2292: Relating to election offenses and election observers; and to provide a penalty.
    • SC H3961: Dorchester School District 2
    • UT SB0043: Public Notice Requirements
    • UT SB0063: Election Candidate Replacement Amendments
    • UT HB0162: Voter Accessibility Amendments
    • UT SB0017: Voting and Voter Residency Amendments
    • UT HB0303: Elections Record Amendments
    • UT HB0037: Voter Signature Verification Amendments
    • UT HB0365: Voter Affiliation Amendments
  • Divided governments: 1
    • VA HB2161: Local government; standardization of public notice requirements for certain intended actions.

The big picture

To date, we have tracked 1,889 election-related bills. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. 

Legislative status 

The pie charts below show 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 on.
  • 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: One chamber has approved the bill.
  • Conference committee: Chambers have passed differing versions of the bill, 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 on the floor. 

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

Concentration of activity

The map below shows the concentration of legislative activity across the nation.

Partisan affiliation of sponsor(s)

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

Bills by topic

The chart below shows the topics of a sample of the 1,889 bills we have tracked this year. The number listed on the blue portion of each bar indicates the number of Democratic-sponsored bills dealing with the subject in question. The number listed on the red portion of the bar indicates the number of Republican-sponsored bills. The purple and gray portions of the bar indicate the number of bipartisan-sponsored bills and bills with unspecified sponsorship, respectively. Note that the sums of the numbers listed do not equal the total number of bills because some bills deal with multiple topics. Click here to see a full list of subject categories. 

Recent news

Minnesota enacts bill on felon voting rights

On March 3, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed HF28, a bill allowing convicted felons who have completed their sentences to vote. Walz said, “Minnesotans who have completed time for their offenses and are living, working, and raising families in their communities deserve the right to vote.” State Sen. Warren Limmer (R), who opposed the bill, said, “There are some offenders that have committed heinous crimes against innocent citizens. I don’t think the Senate understands that. Because this bill treats it as a one-size-fits all — all criminals get the same treatment.” Minnesota, which has a Democratic trifecta, joins 21 other states in granting voting rights to individuals convicted of a felony after completion of their sentences. The New Mexico State Legislature passed a similar bill, HF4, on March 13, submitting it to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D). New Mexico also has a Democratic trifecta. 

North Carolina Supreme Court reconsiders voter ID requirements

On March 15, the North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments in a case concerning a 2018 law requiring a photo ID to vote. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed the lawsuit on behalf of six state residents against the North Carolina Board of Elections, Speaker of the House Timothy K. Moore (R), Senate President Phil Berger (R), state Sen. Ralph Hise (R), and former state Rep. David Lewis, Sr. (R). In December 2022, the court, which had a 4-3 Democratic majority, upheld a lower court’s determination that the law was unconstitutional. After Republicans won both of the state’s supreme court seats up for election in the 2022, gaining a 5-2 majority the court, the justices agreed to re-hear the case. In the most recent hearing, Attorney Paul Brachman, said, “This law does bear more heavily on African American voters because they’re more likely to lack a qualifying ID, more likely to face difficulties acquiring an ID.” The defendants’ attorney Pete Patterson said, “The law does not bespeak discriminatory intent, racially discriminatory intent, to enact a voter ID law that allows everyone to vote.” 

ICYMI: Top stories of the week

Each week, we bring you a collection of the most viewed stories from The Daily Brew, condensed. Here are the top stories from the week of March 13-March 17.

More than 24,000 school board seats up for election in 2023

Nine-thousand school districts across 35 states (69% of the nation’s 13,500 public school districts, governed by 83,000 school board members) are holding regular school board elections in 2023.

Approximately 24,100 school board seats are up for regular election in 2023 in these districts, representing 36% of the 66,831 total school board seats in those 35 states.

Ballotpedia’s school board coverage in 2023 will expand to cover 8,750 school board seats in 3,211 school districts across 28 states. This includes comprehensive coverage in these 10 states: Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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A look at this year’s early voting periods

Eight states—Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington—are holding statewide elections this year.

Nationwide, 46 states permit some form of no-excuse early voting. Of the eight states holding statewide elections this year, all but Mississippi allow no-excuse early voting in some form. (Mississippi does allow voters to cast absentee/mail-in ballots early, but only under certain circumstances.)

Virginia has the longest statutory early voting period this year at 44 days. But some voters in Pennsylvania might have a similar or longer early voting period. 

Pennsylvania doesn’t have a statewide, statutory early voting period. Instead, each county sets its own rules, and voters should check their county’s website for specifics. But early voting is usually available for four to six weeks, typically starting once ballots are finalized and available.

Kentucky’s early voting period lasts three days for its primary and general elections. New Jersey also has a three-day window, but for the primary only. Voters there have nine days of early voting before the general election.

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Special general election for Wisconsin state Senate District 8 will determine if Republicans regain supermajority

Jodi Habush Sinykin (D) and Daniel Knodl (R) are running in a special election for Wisconsin State Senate District 8 on April 4. The results will determine if Republicans regain the supermajority in the chamber they acquired following the Nov. 8, 2022, elections. 

Alberta Darling (R) represented the district since she was elected in 1992. Her Dec. 1, 2022, retirement  reduced Senate Republicans’ 22-member supermajority to a 21-member majority. 

A party with a supermajority would have the votes necessary to suspend Senate rules, which would speed up the legislative process, and hold impeachment trials of state officials. 

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