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Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #29

Ballotpedia's Hall Pass

Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s more than 13,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues:  The debate over student discipline and restorative justice
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • State boards of education set education content standards in 36 states
  • Maryland high court rules student school board members can vote
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey
  • School board candidates per seat up for election

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over student discipline and restorative justice

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

One topic of debate is how schools should approach student discipline. Proponents of what is called restorative justice say discussions, mediation, and other non-adversarial methods of conflict resolution can address the root of school community problems. They argue traditional methods of punishment such as suspension can make behavioral problems worse and disadvantage minority students. Proponents of traditional discipline methods are necessary to maintain order in schools and that restorative justice practices do not sufficiently restrict bad behavior. 

Joe Herring writes that restorative justice and the movement away from traditional discipline have caused increased violence and criminality in schools. Herring says restorative justice advocates deemphasize and redefine infractions to support the idea that restorative practices lead to better outcomes. He also says restorative justice supporters often encourage school crime victims not to file police reports, creating an environment of unaccountability.

Linda Stamato and Sandy Jaffee write that traditional methods of discipline, like suspensions, are inequitable, fail to address root causes of bad behavior, and can cause problems to escalate. Stamato and Jaffee write that restorative justice practices help students learn negotiation and problem-solving and teach them how to resolve disputes positively and creatively. 

From the penitentiary to the public school: Restorative Justice warps discipline | Joe Herring, The Lion

“Restorative justice programs have been adopted across the country by school systems struggling to maintain order following the expulsion of School Resource Officers (SRO) in the wake of the George Floyd riots and related protests. When students returned to in-person schooling after the COVID lockdowns, many found hallways unmonitored with the SRO gone. The spike in violence and other criminality has been stunning. … Wokeism is indeed evident in many education decisions, specifically regarding the intersections of race, violence, criminality and poor achievement. Circumstances that indicate the failure of restorative justice are glossed over by the redefining of offenses – deemphasizing many of the unlawful behaviors by encouraging victims to refrain from filing police reports, opting instead to engage in restorative practices with their tormentors, facilitated by a restorative coordinator. … Consequences are muted to provide a favorable look, but the underlying behaviors remain unaffected, at the expense of the safety of students and society both.”

Suspending students isn’t the answer. Restorative justice programs in schools are a better solution. | Opinion | Linda Stamato and Sandy Jaffee, NJ.com

“Suspensions raise a number of issues, not least how to deal with disruptive behavior, equitably and effectively, to understand its causes, and to identify and address conditions that may be contributing factors. … There is hope for change on the horizon, though, as more schools experiment with variations on the theme of “restorative justice.” This concept refers to a range of dispute resolution programs that include student-run courts, group sessions, restorative circles (in which all those involved in a dispute participate in discussions about the harm done and devise steps to deter future harm), and, mediation. Restorative justice attempts to reach beyond punitive measures to solve problems before they escalate and threaten the fabric of the school community. … Educational programs that expose students to negotiation and conflict-resolution processes, and teach them problem-solving skills, help to reduce reliance on formal and adversarial processes to deal with disputes and disruptive behavior; they place more emphasis on positive, creative ways to handle conflict.”

School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications

Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on the more than 13,000 school districts with elected school boards.

Election results from the past week

Idaho

We covered school board general elections in Boise on Sept. 6. Five seats were up for election, including special elections for three at-large seats. 

State boards of education set education content standards in 36 states

State content standards are education learning and achievement goals state education officials either require or recommend local schools meet in K-12 instruction. Content standards are not curriculum. Rather, education officials develop content standards in order to facilitate curriculum development. 

Who sets state content standards for K-12 public education?

  • In 36 states, the state board of education sets education content standards. In the majority of states, the governor appoints state board of education members
  • In 10 states, the state department of education sets education content standards. 
  • In Florida, Massachusetts and Minnesota, the education commissioner sets education content standards. 
  • In Montana, the superintendent of public instruction sets education content standards. 

State statutes or regulations may require or recommend the use of K-12 education content standards in public instruction.

  • In 39 states, the entity that develops standards issues requirements
  • In 11 states, the entity setting standards issues recommendations
  • Of the 36 state boards of education that set content standards, nine issue recommendations and 27 issue requirements. 
  • Of the 10 state education departments that set content standards, nine issue requirements and one issues recommendations. 
  • Content standards are issued as requirements in Florida, Massachusetts and Minnesota, where the education commissioner sets the standards. 
  • In Montana, the superintendent of public instruction issues recommendations. 

To read more about who sets state K-12 education content standards in your state, click here

Maryland high court rules student school board members can vote

On Aug. 25, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled a state law allowing the student board member on the Howard County Board of Education to vote does not violate the Maryland Constitution.

The Maryland Court of Appeals is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. One judge on the court was appointed by a Democratic governor and six judges were appointed by a Republican governor.

The 2007 law, Education § 3-701, gives student board members on the Howard County Board the right to vote on some matters. The law says a student member must be a Howard County resident and a junior or senior in a public high school. The law also says that only students in grades six through 11 can vote for a student member candidate. 

In 2020, the Howard County Board of Education held several votes to resume in-person instruction, all of which failed. In each case, the vote was 4-4, with the student member voting against reopening schools. Two parents of students in the district, Traci Spiegel and Kimberly Ford, sued the Board, alleging Maryland Constitution does not permit people under 18 to vote or hold public office. 

Spiegel said, “the student member doesn’t have the ability to vote on budget or personnel, but for some reason had the ability to vote on going back to school virtual or nonvirtual, and I found that disconcerting.”   

The Howard County Circuit Court ruled against the parents in March 2021. The Court of Appeals later granted the parents an appeal. 

In its ruling, the Court of Appeals distinguished between elected offices created by the state Constitution and elected offices created by the General Assembly—offices that include local school boards. 

The Court said: “The General Assembly has broad discretion to control and modify the composition of local boards of education, which includes the creation and selection process of student board members as it sees fit…the General Assembly had they Constitutional authority to create a student member position for the Howard County Board, establish a process for the election of such members by students in the Howard County public school system, and grant such student member voting rights.”

The eight-member Howard County Board of Education is one of eight school boards in the state that allow student members to vote alongside the elected adult members.

According to Education Week’s Stephen Sawchuk, “there is no database detailing how many of the nation’s thousands of districts grant student board members voting rights. But the bits and pieces of available information suggest it’s rare. Most of the time, student board members serve in an advisory-only capacity.” Education Week found in 2019 found that only student board members in California and Maryland had voting rights. 

Extracurricular: education news from around the web

This section contains links to recent education-related articles from around the internet. If you know of a story we should be reading, reply to this email to share it with us! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more. 

In the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates completed the survey. 

If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey.

The survey contains over 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also appear in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.

And if you’re not running for school board, but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!

School board candidates per seat up for election

Since 2018, we’ve tracked the ratio of school board candidates to seats up for election within our coverage scope. Greater awareness of issues or conflicts around school board governance can result in more candidates running for each office. Click here to see historical data on this subject.  

This year, 2.46 candidates are running for each seat in the 1,321 school board races we are covering in districts where the filing deadline has passed. The 2.46 candidates per seat is 24% more than in 2020.



Federal court rules that Arkansas law imposing limits on voter assistance violates Voting Rights Act

Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin, where we track developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local levels. In this month’s issue:

  1. Federal court rules that Arkansas law limiting voter assistance violates Voting Rights Act
  2. California enacts four election administration bills
  3. Legislation update: Legislation activity in August 2022

Have a question/feedback/or just want to say hello? Respond to this email, or drop me a line directly at Jerrick@Ballotpedia.org.


Federal court rules that Arkansas law imposing limits on voter assistance violates Voting Rights Act

On August 19, Judge Timothy Brooks, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, ruled that an Arkansas law imposing a six-person limit on individuals assisting voters violated the federal Voting Rights Act. Brooks barred state and local officials from enforcing the six-person limit. 

The law in question

Arkansas Code § 7-5-310 sets out rules related to privacy and voter assistance at polling places. Section 7-5-310(b)(4)(B) says “no person other than [a poll worker or an election official] shall assist more than six voters in marking and casting a ballot at an election.” Section 7-5-310(b)(5) directs poll workers “to make and maintain a list of the names and addresses of all persons assisting voters.” 

Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act says “any voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter’s choice, other than the voter’s employer or agent of the voter’s union.” 

The parties to the lawsuit and their arguments

The plaintiffs are Arkansas United, a nonprofit whose self-described mission is “to ensure that immigrants in Arkansas have the information and resources they need to become full participants in the state’s economic, political, and social life,” and L. Mireya Reith, the organization’s founder and executive director. The defendants are Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston (R), the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners, and the election officials from Benton, Sebastian, and Washington counties. 

The plaintiffs, who offered voting assistance to limited-English proficient voters in the 2020 election, argued that Arkansas Code § 7-5-310 violated § 208 of the Voting Rights Act and should be struck down as a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

The defendants argued (a) § 208 of the Voting Rights Act does not extend to limited-English proficient voters, and (b), even if it does, the challenged statute does not conflict with § 208 of the Voting Rights Act.

How the court ruled

Brooks ruled:

  • Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act covers limited-English proficient voters. Brooks wrote, “The plain language of [Section 208] compels this interpretation. … The text does not require the voter’s ‘inability to read or write’ be based on a disability rather than lack of education. The plain text encompasses anyone who cannot read or write the language the voting materials are written in. This squarely includes [limited-English proficient] voters, who lack the ability to read their ballot because they cannot read the English language.” 
  • Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act preempts Arkansas’ six-voter limit: Brooks reasoned that Arkansas’ six-voter limit was “more restrictive” than § 208 of the Voting Rights Act, making “compliance with both … impossible.” Brooks concluded that the six-voter limit “impermissibly narrows the right guaranteed by Section 208.”  Brooks also concluded that Arkansas’ six-voter limit “poses an obstacle to Congress’s clear purpose to allow the voter to decide who assists them at the polls.” 
  • Arkansas’ assistor-tracking provision is not preempted by Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act: Brooks said that Arkansas’ assistor-tracking provision was “the type of permissible state legislation contemplated” by Congress when it adopted the Voting Rights Act. Brooks said, “[W]hile the tracking requirement addresses the same topic as § 208, the two statutes can ‘operate harmoniously.'”

Accordingly, Brooks permanently barred state and local officials from enforcing the six-voter limit. However, the state’s assistor-tracking provision remains in effect. 

The defendant’s procedural arguments as to the plaintiffs’ standing and defendants’ sovereign immunity, and the court’s response to those arguments, are omitted from this summary.

Brooks was nominated to the bench by Pres. Barack Obama (D) in 2013 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2014

What comes next

Daniel J. Shults, the director of the State Board of Election Commissioners, said, “The purpose of the law in question is to prevent the systematic abuse of the voting assistance process. Having a uniform limitation on the number of voters a third party may assist prevents a bad actor from having unlimited access to voters in the voting booth while ensuring voter’s privacy is protected.” 

A representative for Thurston told The New York Times “that [Thurston’s office] was also reviewing the decision and having discussions with the state attorney general’s office about possible next steps.” 


California enacts four election administration bills

In August, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed four election-related bills into law.

  • AB2037: This bill repeals an existing law that prohibits “an establishment where the primary purpose is the sale and dispensation of alcoholic beverages” from being used as a polling place.
  • AB2577: This bill requires that the secretary of state establish uniform filing forms for candidates to use when filing their declarations of candidacy and nomination papers.
  • AB2608: This bill makes the following changes to state law:
    • Requires an elections official to provide a second vote-by-mail ballot to a voter’s representative upon receipt of a written request, signed by the voter under penalty of perjury, stating that the voter failed to receive, lost, or destroyed the original ballot.
    • Requires the number of registered voters in the jurisdiction where an election is being held to be determined on the 88th day before the election.
    • Makes administrative changes to the state’s military and overseas voter program..
  • SB103: This bill requires that presidential electors and alternate electors pledge to cast their electoral ballots for the presidential and vice presidential candidates to whom they are pledged or who are the candidates of the political party that nominated them. This bill provides that any elector who violates this requirement would be automatically removed as an elector. This bill also requires the secretary of state to preside over the meeting of electors.

Legislation update: Legislation activity in August 2022

In August, legislatures in three states took action on 20 election bills. 

The chart below identifies the 10 most common policy areas implicated by the bills that state lawmakers acted on in August. 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 total number of bills listed will not equal the total number of enacted bills because some bills deal with multiple subjects.

Democrats sponsored 15 of the 20 bills acted on in August (75%). Republicans sponsored 1 (5%). Bipartisan groups sponsored two (10%). For the remaining two (10%), partisan sponsorship was not specified. 

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 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 88 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.



A sneak preview of upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary

Welcome to the Wednesday, September 7, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

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

  1. A sneak preview of upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary
  2. Ranked-choice voting: How Alaska’s approach compares to the system proposed in Nevada
  3. Georgia voters may determine the partisan balance in the U.S. Senate on Nov. 8

A sneak preview of upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary

There are fewer upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary than at this point last month, according to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts. This month, there are 37 announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships, down from 42 at the beginning of August. There are currently 15 nominees pending for upcoming vacancies.

Twenty-four vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judge has not announced the date he or she will leave the bench.

Article III judgeships refer to federal judges who serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of International Trade, or one of the 13 U.S. courts of appeal or 94 U.S. district courts. The president appoints nominees to these courts, and the U.S. Senate confirms them.

These positions are not yet vacant but will be at some point in the future, with every judge having announced an intention to either leave the bench or assume senior status. In the meantime, these judges will continue to serve in their current positions.

The president and Senate do not need to wait for a position to become vacant before they can start the confirmation process for a successor. For example, Julie Rikelman was nominated to succeed Judge Sandra Lynch on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit after Lynch assumes senior status upon Rikelman’s confirmation. 

The next scheduled vacancy will take place on Sept. 30 when U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Judge Robert Mariani assumes senior status.

In addition to these 37 upcoming vacancies, 80 of the 870 Article III judgeships are vacant. Including non-Article III judges from the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, there are 82 vacancies out of 890 active federal judicial positions.

President Biden has nominated 141 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. Seventy-six of those nominees have been confirmed. Of the 65 nominees going through the confirmation process, 22 are awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate, five are awaiting a committee vote, and 38 are awaiting a committee hearing.

Biden’s 76 confirmed judicial nominees are the most at this point in any president’s first term since Bill Clinton (D), who had 85 confirmed nominees as of this point in 1994. The president during that time with the fewest confirmations at this point in his first term was Barack Obama (D) with 42.

Keep reading

Ranked-choice voting: How Alaska’s approach compares to the system proposed in Nevada

Last week, the results of Alaska’s special election using ranked-choice voting were released. Let’s take a brief tour through how Alaska got RCV and how that compares to what voters in Nevada will see on the ballots this fall. Voters in Alaska approved Measure 2, which implemented a ranked-choice voting system, on Nov. 3, 2020. The measure passed 50.55% to 49.45%. Measure 2 replaced Alaska’s voting system with an open top-four primary and a general election conducted using ranked-choice voting. It also implemented new campaign finance disclosure requirements. 

Alaska’s adoption of Measure 2 made it the first state to adopt the top-four primary.

Before we dive into Nevada, here’s a refresh on how Alaska’s open top-four primary and ranked-choice voting general election system works:

In Alaska’s top-four open primary, the closed primary is replaced with an open primary. In a closed primary, only voters who are registered or affiliated with a particular party can participate in that party’s primary. In an open primary, any voter may participate and vote for any candidate regardless of their partisan affiliation. Candidates can also be unaffiliated with a political party. The voter selects their preferred primary candidate, with the top four vote-getters moving on to the general election. Alaska uses a top-four primary for state executive, state legislative, and congressional office.

In Alaska’s ranked-choice general election, the top four candidates, regardless of party affiliation, are on the ballot. Voters rank the four candidates by their preference. If a candidate is ranked at the top of a simple majority of ballots (50%+1), that candidate is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a simple majority of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. When a candidate is eliminated, a new round of counting begins where ballots cast for the eliminated candidate are counted for the voter’s next choice. The process continues until there are two candidates remaining, and the candidate with the most votes wins. In Alaska, a ranked-choice general election is used for state, congressional, and presidential elections.

Meanwhile, in Nevada, a ballot initiative is proposing a top-five ranked-choice voting system for the state. This system is similar to Alaska’s top-four system, but would allow five candidates to advance from the primary to the general election.

Both Nevada’s top-five primary and ranked-choice voting general would apply to congressional, gubernatorial, state executive official, and state legislative elections, but not presidential elections.

The Nevada Voters First PAC is sponsoring the ballot initiative that would adopt a top-five ranked-choice system in Nevada. The PAC raised $2.43 million, including $1 million from Katherine Gehl, the founder of the nonprofit Institute for Political Innovation. Protect Your Vote Nevada is leading the opposition effort and has raised $1.27 million so far. 

Several Democratic state legislators have spoken out against the initiative, saying it could be “confusing” or “time consuming”. Initiative supporters say it gives voters “more options”, and that it allows nonpartisan or independent voters a chance to vote in the primary.

Alaskans for Better Elections PAC and Yes on 2 for Better Elections PAC sponsored Measure 2, the ranked-choice voting initiative Alaska voters approved in 2020. Other supporters of the measure included Democratic, Republican, and Independent state senators and representatives in Alaska, as well as organizations like the League of Women Voters Alaska and RepresentUs. Measure 2 was opposed by the Defend Alaska Elections and Protect Our Elections campaigns. The Republican Party of Alaska also opposed the measure, as well as Republican state legislators and former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D). The campaigns in support of the measure raised $6.8 million, including $3.4 million from Unite America, a nonprofit based in Denver, Colorado. The campaigns in opposition to the measure raised $579,426, including $100,000 from the State Republican Leadership Committee.

Keep reading 

Georgia voters may determine the partisan balance in the U.S. Senate on Nov. 8

Today is the sixth day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring Georgia, the Peach State.

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota

Week Two: California

On the ballot in Georgia

At the federal level, Georgia voters will elect one senator and 14 representatives. 

At the state level, the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and four seats on the state supreme court are up for election. 

All 56 seats in the state Senate and all 180 seats in the state Assembly are up for election.

Of the 14 U.S. House seats up for election, two are open. Of the 236 state legislative seats up for election, 51 are open. 

Additionally, Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in DeKalb and Fulton counties.

Redistricting highlights

Georgia was apportioned 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it was apportioned after the 2010 census. 

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Georgia:  

To use our tool to view Georgia’s state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle, visit our Georgia redistricting page

Partisan balance

  • Both of Georgia’s U.S. Senators–Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock–are Democrats. 
  • Democrats represent six of the state’s U.S. House districts. Republicans represent eight.
  • Republicans hold a 34-22 majority in the state Senate and a 103-76 majority in the state House. The governor–Brian Kemp–is a Republican, making Georgia one of the nation’s 23 Republican trifectas. Georgia has been a Republican trifecta since 2005. 
  • Georgia’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are all Republicans, making the state one of the nation’s 23 Republican triplexes.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 122 state legislative seats in Georgia, or 52% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either the Democratic or Republican parties runs for a state legislative seat, the seat is all but guaranteed to be won by that party.

Democrats are running in 71% of all state legislative races. Sixty-eight state legislative seats (29% of all state legislative seats) do not have a Democratic candidate and are likely to be won by a Republican.

Republicans are running in 77% of all state legislative races. Fifty-four seats (23% of all state legislative seats) do not have a Republican candidate and are likely to be won by a Democrat.

Key races

  • Georgia gubernatorial election, 2022: Incumbent Brian Kemp (R), Stacey Abrams (D), and three others are running for governor of Georgia. This race is a rematch. In 2018, Kemp defeated Abrams 50% to 49%. To view our coverage of the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, click here.
  • U.S. Senate election in Georgia, 2022: Incumbent Raphael Warnock (D), Herschel Walker (R), and Chase Oliver (L) are running to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate. Warnock won a 2021 special election to replace Johnny Isakson (R), who resigned for health reasons. Analysts have identified this as a key race in determining the partisan balance of the U.S. Senate. 
  • Georgia Secretary of State, 2022: Incumbent Brad Raffensperger (R), Bee Nguyen (D), and two others are running for Georgia Secretary of State. Raffensperger’s dispute with former President Donald Trump (R) over the 2020 presidential election has drawn national attention to this race. 

Ballot measures

Georgia voters will decide four statewide ballot measures on Nov. 8, 2022: 

A total of 132 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Of that number, 105 ballot measures were approved, and 27 were defeated.

Voting

  • On Election Day, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. An individual in line at the time polls close must be allowed to vote. 
  • Georgia requires voters to present photo identification at the polls. For more information about voter ID requirements in Georgia, click here
  • Early voting in Georgia is available to all voters. Early voting starts on Oct. 17 and ends on Nov. 4.
  • The voting registration deadline in Georgia is Oct. 11. Registration can be done online, in person, or by mail. Georgia does not allow same-day voter registration.
  • Any voter registered in Georgia can vote absentee by mail. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 28. Ballots can be returned in person or by mail. Ballots must be received by Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. 
  • To check the status of your ballot, click here.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

Keep reading



Most expensive ballot measures ever headline California’s November 2022 elections

Welcome to the Tuesday, September 6, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

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

  1. Most expensive ballot measures ever headline California’s November 2022 elections
  2. President Joe Biden’s approval rating rises to 42%, highest since May
  3. Jonathan Skrmetti starts term as Tennessee attorney general

Most expensive ballot measures ever headline California’s November 2022 elections

Our 50 states in 50 days continues with a look at elections in California, the Golden State. Long-time Brew readers will remember this from 2018 and 2020. In this series, we will preview what’s on the ballot in each state, which parties control state and congressional offices, and what you should know to cast your ballot. The next 45 Brew issues take us all the way up to the general election. So—buckle up!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota

On the ballot in California

California voters will participate in both a general and special election for the U.S. Senate seat Vice President Kamala Harris (D) previously held. The special election will fill the seat through January 2023, when Harris’ term would have ended. The general election will be for a new term through January 2029. U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D), appointed in January 2021, is running in both elections.

Voters will also elect California’s 52 U.S. House members, the country’s largest state delegation.

Twelve state executive offices are on the ballot this year. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who won a recall election in 2021, is running for re-election. The other offices on the ballot are: lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, controller, superintendent of public instruction, insurance commissioner, and four seats on the state board of equalization.

All 80 seats in the California Assembly and 20 of the 40 seats in the California Senate are up for election. Twenty-seven incumbents (10 in the Senate and 17 in the Assembly) are not running for re-election.

Four of the seven justices on the California Supreme Court must stand for retention this year. Forty-one judges across the state’s six appellate court districts will also stand for retention.

For local offices, 98 school boards, 17 cities, and 11 counties that fall within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope are holding elections this year.

Click here for more information about the races on the ballot this year.

Redistricting highlights

California was apportioned 52 seats in the U.S. House after the 2020 census, one fewer than the 53 it was apportioned after the 2010 census.

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after redistricting in California: 

To use our tool to view California’s state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle, visit our California redistricting page

Partisan balance

  • Both of California’s U.S. Senators—Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla—are Democrats.
  • California’s U.S. House delegation consists of 42 Democrats and 11 Republicans.
  • Democrats hold a 31-9 majority in the state Senate and a 60-19 (with one independent) majority in the state Assembly. Because the governor is a Democrat, California is one of 14 Democratic trifectas. It has held this status since 1995.
  • California has had a Democratic governor since 2011. Its last Republican governor was Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Along with the governor, the secretary of state and attorney general are also Democrats, making the state one of 18 with a Democratic triplex among those offices.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 26 state legislative seats in California, or 26% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either the Democratic or Republican parties runs for a state legislative seat, that party is all but guaranteed to win the seat.

Democrats are running in 94% of all state legislative races. Six state legislative districts do not have a Democratic candidate and are likely to elect a Republican.

Republicans are running in 80% of all state legislative races. Twenty districts do not have a Republican candidate and are likely to elect a Democrat.

Key races

  • Los Angeles Mayor: Karen Bass and Rick Caruso are running in the nonpartisan general election. In the top-two primary, Caruso received 43.1% of the vote and Bass received 36.0%. Caruso is a retail development executive and served on the USC Board of Trustees. Bass represents California’s 37th Congressional District in the U.S. House. Mayor Eric Garcetti is term-limited.
  • U.S. House, California District 13: Adam Gray (D) and John Duarte (R) are running in the general election. In the top-two primary, Duarte received 34.1% of the vote and Gray received 30.7%. Barbara Lee (D) represents the current 13th District, which includes Oakland and Berkeley. The new 13th District covers portions of the state’s Central Valley north and west of Fresno.
  • U.S. House, California District 22: Rep. David Valadao (R) and Rudy Salas (D) are running in the general election. In the top-two primary, Salas received 45.4% of the vote and Valadao received 25.6%. A third candidate, Chris Mathys (R), received 23.1% in the primary. Valadao currently represents the 21st District.
  • U.S. House, California District 27: Rep. Mike Garcia (R) and Christy Smith (D) are running in the general election. In the top-two primary, Garcia received 49.6% of the vote and Smith received 35.4%. Smith lost to Garcia in a 2020 special election by 17,000 votes and lost the 2020 general election by 333 votes.

Ballot measures

There are seven measures on the ballot this year, including:

  • Proposition 1: Would provide a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, including the right to an abortion. The Legislature proposed this amendment in response to the leaked draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
  • Propositions 26 and 27: Both deal with legalizing sports betting. Proposition 26 would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks, while Proposition 27 would legalize mobile sports betting. These measures have already raised the most money in statewide ballot measure history. Campaigns for and against Proposition 27 have raised a combined $214 million so far, while campaigns for and against Proposition 26 have raised a combined $115 million.
  • Proposition 30: Would increase the tax on personal income above $2 million by another 1.75% from the current 13.3% rate and allocate the revenue to the Clean Cars and Clean Air Trust Fund. Proponents include the California Democratic Party, Lyft, and 2020 presidential candidate Tom Steyer (D). Opponents include Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), the Republican Party of California, and the California Teachers Association.

Between 1985 and 2020, California voters decided 395 statewide ballot measures. Voters approved 228 (57.7%) ballot measures and rejected 167 (42.3%). 

Voting

  • Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time.
  • California generally does not require identification to vote. To read about the specific case where voter identification may be required, click here.
  • Early voting sites open on Oct. 10 and close on Nov. 7.
  • The voter registration deadline is Oct. 24. Registration can be completed in person, by mail, or online, with mailed forms received by the deadline.
  • California provides for universal, automatic mail-in voting in all elections. Voters may choose to cast their ballots in person. Mail ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 8. To check the status of your ballot, click here.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool!

Keep reading 

President Joe Biden’s approval rating rises to 42%, highest since May

Polling averages at the end of August showed President Joe Biden (D) at 42% approval, the highest rating he’s received since May. Fifty-four percent of voters disapprove of his performance.

Biden last had a 42% approval rating on May 19, 2022. The lowest approval rating he’s received is 38%, last reached on July 27, 2022. Biden’s highest approval rating was 55% on May 26, 2021.

Congress was at 21% approval and 56% disapproval at the end of August. The highest approval rating Congress has received during President Biden’s term was 36% on July 16, 2021, and its lowest rating was 14% on Jan. 26, 2022.

As of the end of August, 26% of voters said the country was headed in the right direction. The highest proportion of voters who felt this way during Biden’s term was 44% on March 31, 2021, and the lowest was 18% on July 11, 2022.

At the same time in 2018, the same point during his first term, President Donald Trump’s (R) approval was one percentage point higher at 43%, and congressional approval was three points lower at 19%.The percentage of voters who felt the country was headed in the right direction was 11 percentage points higher at 37%.

Ballotpedia’s polling index takes the average of polls conducted over the last 30 days to calculate presidential and congressional approval ratings. We average the results and show all polling results side-by-side because we believe that paints a clearer picture of public opinion than any individual poll can provide. The data is updated daily as new polling results are published.

Keep reading 

Jonathan Skrmetti starts term as Tennessee attorney general

Jonathan Skrmetti’s (R) term as Tennessee attorney general began Sept. 1. The Tennessee Supreme Court appointed Skrmetti to the position on Aug. 10 to replace Herbert H. Slatery (R). Slatery chose not to seek reappointment after his eight-year term expired.

Tennessee is unique in that the state supreme court, rather than the governor, appoints the attorney general. Forty-three states elect the attorney general. In five more, the governor appoints the attorney general. In Maine, the state legislature appoints the attorney general.

Before this appointment, Skrmetti served as Gov. Bill Lee’s (R) chief legal counsel. From 2018 to 2021, he was the chief deputy to the attorney general. Skrmetti graduated from Harvard Law School.  

Tennessee is one of 23 states with a Republican triplex. A state government triplex occurs when the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are all members of the same party.

Keep reading



ICYMI: Top stories of the week

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How close races in 2020 might affect state legislative elections in 2022

To better understand this year’s state legislative elections, we took a look back at 2020. In 2020, the average margin of victory in state legislative elections was 27 percentage points, meaning most winning candidates won by a fairly large margin. 

But for 928 seats, 16% of those up for election, the margins were less than 10 percentage points, making them some of the most competitive of the cycle. Democrats won 444 of those seats and Republicans won 484.

Click below to read more of this analysis.

Read more

131 statewide measures certified for this year’s ballot

As of Aug. 30, 131 statewide measures had been certified for the ballot in 37 states. That’s 29 less than the average number certified at this point in other even-numbered years from 2010 to 2020. 

Five new measures were certified for the ballot last week:

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for six initiatives: 

Read more

Come work with us!

Want to help us solve the ballot information problem? Come work with us! Our work takes place across several departments—editorial, communications, external relations, operations, tech, and more. If our mission to give every citizen the information they need to make informed voting decisions resonates with you, then click the link below to see our current openings. 

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Smart political talk finally has a home—Ballotpedia’s new weekly podcast, “On the Ballot”

Ballotpedia’s new podcast—“On the Ballot”—is now available for you to listen to on Spotify and other major streaming platforms. New episodes are posted every Thursday afternoon. Each week, host Victoria Rose will sit down with Ballotpedia writers and researchers to discuss the latest political news, explore exclusive Ballotpedia research, and much more. 

Listen to our podcast



Election Legislation Weekly Digest: September 2, 2022

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

  • Noteworthy bills: Here, we identify and report on the contents and legislative status of noteworthy bills. 
  • 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? 
    • Subject: What subjects are most commonly addressed in the bills? 

Noteworthy bills

This part of our report highlights recent activity on specific noteworthy bills. A bill is noteworthy if it meets one or more of the following criteria: 

  • It has been enacted into law. 
  • It is poised to be enacted into law. 
  • It is the subject of significant debate in the legislature. 
  • It is the subject of significant commentary by activists, journalists, etc. 

California SB103: This bill requires that presidential electors and alternate electors pledge to cast their electoral ballots for the presidential and vice presidential candidates to whom they are pledged or who are the candidates of the political party that nominated them. This bill provides that any elector who violates this requirement would be automatically removed as an elector. This bill also requires the secretary of state to preside over the meeting of electors. 

Legislative history: On April 26, the state Senate approved SB103 unanimously. On August 11, the state Assembly approved the bill, also unanimously. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB103 into law on August 29. 

Political context: California is a Democratic trifecta, meaning that Democrats control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. 

Recent activity

Since August 26, 7 bills have been acted on in some way (representing a 36.4 percent decrease as compared to last week’s total of 11 bills). These 7 bills represent 0.3 percent of the 2,521 bills we are tracking. Of these 7 bills, all 7 (100 percent) are from states with Democratic trifectas. 

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

  • 6 bills passed both chambers (or were acted upon in some way after passing both chambers). 
    • Democratic trifectas: 6.
      • CA AB1416: Elections: ballot label.
      • CA AB1631: Elections: elections officials.
      • CA AB1848: Redistricting: copies of district maps.
      • CA AB2841: Disqualification from voting: conservatorship.
      • CA AB759: Elections: county officers.
      • CA SB1131: Election workers: confidentiality.
  • 1 bill was enacted. 
    • Democratic trifectas: 1.
      • CA SB103: Uniform Faithful Presidential Electors Act.

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 2,521 election-related bills. This represents a marginal decrease as compared to last week’s total, owing to the removal of three irrelevant bills. 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).

Bills by topic

The chart below presents information on the total number of bills dealing with particular topics. 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 numbers listed here will not, when summed, equal the total number of bills because some bills deal with multiple topics.



The quiet season—four states actively in session

Welcome to the Friday, September 2, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. Legislators are in session in four states
  2. A look at Massachusetts’ Sept. 6 primaries
  3. Explore North Dakota’s general elections

Legislators are in session in four states

Most state legislatures have wrapped up their business for the year, but work goes on for some. Currently, four state legislatures are in regular session: Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. 

Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have full-time legislators, while New Jersey has a hybrid system where legislators spend more than two-thirds of a full-time job fulfilling their duties.

Pennsylvania’s session is scheduled to end Nov. 30 and the remaining four states will remain in session until Dec. 31.

Forty-six states have held legislative sessions this year. Four states—Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas—hold regular sessions in odd-numbered years only.

Among states without full-time or hybrid legislators, California had the longest regularly-scheduled session at 240 days and Wyoming’s was the shortest at 25 days.

Legislatures sometimes convene outside of their regularly-scheduled sessions in what are called special or extraordinary sessions. According to MultiState, 16 states have held special sessions so far this year. Legislators in South Carolina and Missouri are expected to meet in special sessions this month.

Keep reading 

A look at Massachusetts’ Sept. 6 primaries 

We are quickly approaching the end of the primary election calendar. Only three states (and Louisiana) have primaries coming up. Today, we are looking at Massachusetts, with primaries next Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The state’s nine U.S. House districts are up for election with all nine Democratic incumbents on the ballot. None of the incumbents face contested primaries, but there are two contested Republican primaries in the 8th and 9th Districts.

All elected state executive offices are on the ballot. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is not seeking re-election, meaning Democrats—who have held majorities in the state legislature since the 1950s—could create a Democratic trifecta if they win the office.

Democrats last had a trifecta in Massachusetts in 2014, before Baker’s election.

Attorney General Maura Healy (D) is running in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D) was running but unofficially withdrew, meaning her name will remain on the ballot.

Republicans will pick between state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R) and Chris Doughty (R). Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Diehl, who also won the party’s endorsement at the GOP convention earlier this year. Neighboring Gov. Chris Sununu (R-N.H.) endorsed Doughty.

We are also watching the Democratic primary for secretary of the commonwealth. First elected in 1994, incumbent William Galvin (D) is running for re-election to an eighth term and faces Boston NAACP President Tanisha Sullivan (D). The winner of that primary faces Rayla Campbell (R) in November.

Democrats are also deciding primaries for lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor, and two seats on the Governor’s Council.

All 40 Senate and 160 House districts are up for election. There are 44 contested state legislative primaries: 40 for Democrats and four for Republicans. 

Democrats currently hold a 125-27-1 majority in the House with seven vacancies and a 37-3 majority in the Senate.

This represents 11% of all possible primaries, and a 19% increase from 2020, due to an increase in Democratic contests.

Keep reading 

Explore North Dakota’s general elections

We’re wrapping up the first week of our 50 States in 50 Days journey featuring North Dakota, the Peace Garden State!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska

On the ballot in North Dakota

At the congressional level, North Dakota will elect one U.S. Senator and one U.S. Representative.

Six state executive offices are up for election: attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commission, tax commissioner, and two seats on the public service commission.

Thirty-two of the state’s 47 Senate seats and 66 of its 94 House seats are up for election. Across both chambers, 26 seats are open, guaranteeing that newcomers will make up at least 18% of the Legislature next year.

Additionally, one seat on the state supreme court is up for election but the incumbent justice is running unopposed.

Redistricting highlights

North Dakota remains one of six states that elects a single, at-large representative.

State legislative elections will take place under new lines. Our side-by-side map comparison tool shows how redistricting affected those districts. Here are the state Senate maps in effect before and after redistricting:

To interact with this tool and learn more about redistricting in North Dakota, click here.

Partisan balance

  • Both of North Dakota’s U.S. Senators—Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven—are Republicans.
  • North Dakota’s at-large U.S. representative, Kelly Armstrong, is a Republican.
  • Republicans hold a 40-7 majority in the state Senate and a 80-14 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Republican, North Dakota is one of 23 Republican trifectas. It has held this status since 1995.
  • North Dakota has had a Republican governor since 1992.
  • Along with the governor, the secretary of state and attorney general are also Republicans, making the state one of 23 with a Republican triplex among those offices.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 61 state legislative seats, 62% of those up for election, do not have major party competition. When only a Democrat or Republican runs for a state legislative seat, the candidate running is all but assured of being elected.

North Dakota is one of six states where Republicans are guaranteed to win a majority of seats up for election due to a lack of Democratic competition.

Democrats are running for 43% of all seats up for election. Fifty-six seats (57%) do not have a Democratic candidate.

Republicans are running for 95% of the seats up for election. Five seats (5%) do not have a Republican candidate.

Key races

Ballot measures

North Dakota is one of five states holding a vote on marijuana legalization this year.

The North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative would legalize the personal use of marijuana for adults 21 and older and allow individuals to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to three plants.

This is the third time voters have weighed in on marijuana-related ballot measures. In 2016, voters legalized medical marijuana, 64-36%. Voters rejected a recreational usage initiative in 2018, 59-41%. 

In total, 127 ballot measures appeared on North Dakota’s statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Voters approved 59 and rejected 68.

Voting

  • Polling locations cannot open earlier than 7:00 a.m. and must be open by 9:00 a.m. Polling locations must remain open until 7:00 p.m. and close no later than 9:00 p.m.
  • North Dakota requires voters to present identification while voting. For more information about voter ID requirements in North Dakota, click here.
  • Early voting is available to all voters beginning on Sept. 29 and ending on Nov. 7.
  • North Dakota is the only state that does not require voter registration.
  • All voters are eligible to vote absentee in North Dakota. There are no special eligibility requirements for voting absentee. There is no specific deadline for applying for an absentee ballot. The completed ballot must be postmarked at least one day before the election. To check the status of your ballot, click here.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

Keep reading



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 37

September 1, 2022

In this issue: Boston Globe backs Doughty in GOP gubernatorial primary and a look at turnout in Ohio’s split primaries

Globe backs Doughty in Massachusetts gubernatorial primary

The Boston Globe editorial board wrote that “reasonable conservatives need to mobilize for Chris Doughty” in the GOP gubernatorial primary and “reset the Massachusetts state Republican Party by pulling it from the grip of Donald Trump.”

Doughty faces former state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R), who Trump endorsed before Republican Gov. Charlie Baker announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. Trump and Baker have criticized one another. Baker hasn’t endorsed in the primary. 

Before the Globe published its endorsement, Diehl said he refused to meet for an endorsement interview and called the paper’s editorial page “essentially just a bulletin board for left-wing progressive talking points and utopian daydreams.” 

Doughty said at a July debate, “Geoff cannot win running as an Alabama Republican in the state of Massachusetts.” Doughty has emphasized his business background and says he is equipped to address the high cost of living in the state.

Diehl highlighted that he won 71% of the state party convention endorsement vote and criticized Doughty for voting for Hillary Clinton (D) for president in 2016. Diehl says his record includes keeping gas taxes low and has emphasized his opposition to mask mandates.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has campaigned for Doughty, while South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has campaigned for Diehl.

As of 2021, 10% of the state’s registered voters were Republican, compared to 57% unenrolled and 32% Democratic (unenrolled voters can vote in party primaries in Massachusetts). 

The primary is Sept. 6.

Peltola wins special U.S. House election (and other Alaska updates)

On Aug. 16, Alaska held top-four primaries and a special U.S. House election, the latter of which used ranked-choice voting. Certification is expected by tomorrow, and most battleground races have been called.

U.S House special general: Mary Peltola (D) won the election. On the final round of unofficial ranked-choice voting tabulation, Peltola had 51.5% of the vote to Sarah Palin’s (R) 48.5%. This election fills the term ending Jan. 3, 2023.

Before tabulation began, Peltola had 40% of first-choice votes, followed by Palin with 31% and Nick Begich III (R) with 28%. Write-in candidates received a combined 1.6% of the vote. 

Write-in candidates were eliminated first as a batch. Then Begich was eliminated. The votes of those who chose eliminated candidates as first choices were redistributed to the voters’ second-choice candidates if they chose such. Watch a livestream of the tabulation from the Alaska Division of Elections here.

Peltola will be Alaska’s first Democratic U.S. representative since Nick Begich Sr.—Nick Begich III’s grandfather. Begich Sr.’s plane went missing while he was in office in 1972. Don Young (R) won a special election to succeed Begich. Young served until his death in March of this year. 

Peltola, Palin, and Begich will meet again in the regularly scheduled general election for U.S. House in November. General elections for all offices below will be held Nov. 8 and will use ranked-choice voting as well.

U.S. House regular primary: As of Wednesday, The New York Times had called three of the four general election spots for Peltola, Palin, and Begich III. Peltola led with 37% of the vote, followed by Palin with 30%, Begich with 26%, and Tara Sweeney (R) with 4%. 

Sweeney said she’ll withdraw from the race, meaning the fourth spot would go to the fifth-place finisher. As of Wednesday, that was Libertarian Chris Bye, who had 0.6% of the vote. Sept. 2 is the target election certification date, and Sept. 6 is the ballot certification date. 

Alaska governor: Incumbent Mike Dunleavy (R), Bill Walker (Independent), Les Gara (D), and Charlie Pierce (R) advanced to the general election. Dunleavy had 41% of the vote, followed by Walker and Gara with 23% each and Pierce with 7%.

Dunleavy was elected governor in 2018. He succeeded Walker, who initially ran for re-election that year and withdrew weeks ahead of the general election. Gara served in the state House of Representatives from 2003 to 2019. Pierce worked as a manager at ENSTAR Natural Gas Company.

U.S. Senate: Incumbent Lisa Murkowski (R), Kelly Tshibaka (R), Patricia Chesbro (D), and Buzz Kelley (R) advanced to the general election. Murkowski had 45% of the vote, followed by Tshibaka with 39%, Chesbro with 7%, and Kelley with 2%. 

Murkowski first took office in 2002. Tshibaka is a former commissioner at the Alaska Department of Administration. Chesbro is a retired teacher. Kelley is a retired mechanic.

Murkowski is the only Republican senator seeking re-election this year who voted guilty during former President Donald Trump’s 2021 impeachment trial. Murkowski’s endorsers include U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Trump and the Alaska Republican Party endorsed Tshibaka. 

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Nungesser says he’ll run for governor next year

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) said that he plans to run for governor of Louisiana in 2023. The Associated Press also listed U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, state Treasurer John Schroder, and Attorney General Jeff Landry as possible Republican contenders. 

AP wrote, “Louisiana is the rare conservative state to have a Democratic governor. The moderate [Gov. John Bel] Edwards won hard-fought races in 2015 and 2019, but he is unable to seek a third consecutive term due to term limits. That means 2023 is a huge opportunity for Republicans to take control of the state that voted for Donald Trump by wide margins in the past two presidential contests.”

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State office, 40% of registered voters are Democrats, 33% are Republicans, and 27% have a different affiliation. FiveThirtyEight gives the state a partisan lean—a measure of how the state votes compared to the country as a whole—of R+20.5.

Louisiana uses a majority-vote system in which all candidates, regardless of party, run in a preliminary election. If a candidate wins a majority of the vote, they win the election outright. Otherwise, the top two finishers advance to a second election.

Nungesser defeated Willie Jones (D) outright in 2019’s preliminary election for lieutenant governor. 

Edwards and Eddie Rispone (R) advanced from the preliminary gubernatorial election that year with 47% and 27%, respectively. Edwards won the final election 51.3%-48.7%.

Of the 17 states that elect governors and lieutenant governors separately, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Vermont have governors and lieutenant governors of different parties.

Ohio’s state legislative primary voter turnout decreased amid split election

Due to redistricting-related court challenges, Ohio held two primaries this year. The first, its regularly scheduled primary, took place on May 3 for all except state legislative offices. State legislative primaries occurred on Aug. 2. Turnout in the May 2022 primary was comparable to 2018 and 2020 primary turnout, while state legislative primary turnout specifically was lower this year than in 2018 and 2020.

The chart below compares unofficial voter turnout numbers in the Aug. 2 primary with official turnout numbers in the May primary, along with the official turnout numbers in the state’s previous primary elections through 2012.

Ohio’s Aug. 2 primary had the lowest voter turnout in a statewide primary election in at least a decade, with 661,101 votes cast. A look at votes cast in General Assembly elections in previous years shows that fewer people voted in these primaries in 2022. Votes cast in state Senate elections were 38% of the 2020 figure and 46% of the 2018 figure. In state House elections, 2022 primary votes were 41% of the 2020 figure and 45% of the 2018 figure. The chart below shows the total votes cast in state House and state Senate elections in 2022, 2020, and 2018.

Note: Ohio holds elections for all state House districts and half its state Senate districts in even-numbered years.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission’s state legislative maps underwent a lengthy legal challenge process involving several map submissions to the Ohio Supreme Court. A federal court order went into effect on May 28, selecting one of the submitted maps for use in the 2022 elections. The legal challenge to the legislative maps is ongoing before the state supreme court.

Ohio is one of two states that split its primaries this year due to redistricting legal challenges. Statewide turnout data is not yet available in New York, which held primaries on June 28 and Aug. 23.

Competitiveness data: Massachusetts

We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive Massachusetts’ Sept. 6 primaries are compared to recent cycles. 

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 37

September 1, 2022

In this issue: Major endorsement splits in Massachusetts AG primary and a look at turnout in Ohio’s split primaries

Progressive endorsers split, candidate drops out of Massachusetts AG primary

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and Boston’s former Acting Mayor Kim Janey endorsed labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan for Massachusetts attorney general. Politico Massachusetts Playbook‘s Lisa Kashinsky said the endorsements show the primary is “pitting the state’s most prominent progressives against each other.”

Incumbent Attorney General Maura Healey (D), Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) endorsed former Boston City Council member Andrea Campbell.

Campbell, Wu, and Janey served on the city council together and ran in last year’s Boston mayoral primary.

On Tuesday, former state Assistant Attorney General Quentin Palfrey announced his withdrawal from the race and endorsed Campbell. Palfrey won the state Democratic Party’s backing in June.

Kashinsky said Palfey had “been outpaced in fundraising by Campbell and trounced by Liss-Riordan, who’s now poured at least $4.8 million of her own money into her campaign. And he’s trailed in polling while Liss-Riordan is closing the gap with Campbell after blanketing the airwaves since early July.”

Also on Tuesday, The Boston Globe editorial board endorsed Campbell.

During debates, candidates have focused on criticizing each other’s fundraising and super PAC involvement in the race. On policy, Kashinsky wrote that Liss-Riordan is more supportive of rent control and that Campbell has said she wouldn’t interfere with local efforts to implement it. Kashinsky also wrote the candidates had different approaches to combating racism, with Campbell focused on Department of Corrections and prison reforms and Liss-Riordan emphasizing the Attorney General office’s civil rights division.

See Boston.com’s candidate Q&A here for more.

The primary is Sept. 6.

Peltola wins special U.S. House election (and other Alaska updates)

On Aug. 16, Alaska held top-four primaries and a special U.S. House election, the latter of which used ranked-choice voting. Certification is expected by tomorrow, and most battleground races have been called.

U.S House special general: Mary Peltola (D) won the election. On the final round of unofficial ranked-choice voting tabulation, Peltola had 51.5% of the vote to Sarah Palin’s (R) 48.5%. This election fills the term ending Jan. 3, 2023.

Before tabulation began, Peltola had 40% of first-choice votes, followed by Palin with 31% and Nick Begich III (R) with 28%. Write-in candidates received a combined 1.6% of the vote. 

Write-in candidates were eliminated first as a batch. Then Begich was eliminated. The votes of those who chose eliminated candidates as first choices were redistributed to the voters’ second-choice candidates if they chose such. Watch a livestream of the tabulation from the Alaska Division of Elections here.

Peltola will be Alaska’s first Democratic U.S. representative since Nick Begich Sr.—Nick Begich III’s grandfather. Begich Sr.’s plane went missing while he was in office in 1972. Don Young (R) won a special election to succeed Begich. Young served until his death in March of this year. 

Peltola, Palin, and Begich will meet again in the regularly scheduled general election for U.S. House in November. General elections for all offices below will be held Nov. 8 and will use ranked-choice voting as well.

U.S. House regular primary: As of Wednesday, The New York Times had called three of the four general election spots for Peltola, Palin, and Begich III. Peltola led with 37% of the vote, followed by Palin with 30%, Begich with 26%, and Tara Sweeney (R) with 4%. 

Sweeney said she’ll withdraw from the race, meaning the fourth spot would go to the fifth-place finisher. As of Wednesday, that was Libertarian Chris Bye, who had 0.6% of the vote. Sept. 2 is the target election certification date, and Sept. 6 is the ballot certification date. 

Alaska governor: Incumbent Mike Dunleavy (R), Bill Walker (Independent), Les Gara (D), and Charlie Pierce (R) advanced to the general election. Dunleavy had 41% of the vote, followed by Walker and Gara with 23% each and Pierce with 7%.

Dunleavy was elected governor in 2018. He succeeded Walker, who initially ran for re-election that year and withdrew weeks ahead of the general election. Gara served in the state House of Representatives from 2003 to 2019. Pierce worked as a manager at ENSTAR Natural Gas Company.

U.S. Senate: Incumbent Lisa Murkowski (R), Kelly Tshibaka (R), Patricia Chesbro (D), and Buzz Kelley (R) advanced to the general election. Murkowski had 45% of the vote, followed by Tshibaka with 39%, Chesbro with 7%, and Kelley with 2%. 

Murkowski first took office in 2002. Tshibaka is a former commissioner at the Alaska Department of Administration. Chesbro is a retired teacher. Kelley is a retired mechanic.

Murkowski is the only Republican senator seeking re-election this year who voted guilty during former President Donald Trump’s 2021 impeachment trial. Murkowski’s endorsers include U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Trump and the Alaska Republican Party endorsed Tshibaka. 

FL-04 recount shows Holloway still in lead

On Aug. 27, Clay, Duval, and Nassau counties’ canvassing boards conducted a machine recount of Florida’s 4th Congressional District Democratic primary votes. LaShonda Holloway remained in the lead, ending the recount with 207 more votes than Anthony Hill.

According to state law, a recount must be conducted when the margin of victory is less than or equal to 0.5% of the total votes cast. The 201 votes separating the candidates as of last week equaled around 0.34% of the total cast in the primary.

The winner faces Aaron Bean (R) in November. Election forecasters view this as a Safe Republican district.

This was one of several congressional primary recounts that have taken place this year. In addition to high-profile recounts in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate Republican primary and Texas’ 28th District Democratic primary runoff, others included Florida’s 22nd District GOP primary, Texas’ 15th District Democratic primary runoff, Wisconsin’s 2nd District GOP primary, and Georgia’s 10th District Democratic primary.

Ohio’s state legislative primary voter turnout decreased amid split election

Due to redistricting-related court challenges, Ohio held two primaries this year. The first, its regularly scheduled primary, took place on May 3 for all except state legislative offices. State legislative primaries occurred on Aug. 2. Turnout in the May 2022 primary was comparable to 2018 and 2020 primary turnout, while state legislative primary turnout specifically was lower this year than in 2018 and 2020.

The chart below compares unofficial voter turnout numbers in the Aug. 2 primary with official turnout numbers in the May primary, along with the official turnout numbers in the state’s previous primary elections through 2012.

Ohio’s Aug. 2 primary had the lowest voter turnout in a statewide primary election in at least a decade, with 661,101 votes cast. A look at votes cast in General Assembly elections in previous years shows that fewer people voted in these primaries in 2022. Votes cast in state Senate elections were 38% of the 2020 figure and 46% of the 2018 figure. In state House elections, 2022 primary votes were 41% of the 2020 figure and 45% of the 2018 figure. The chart below shows the total votes cast in state House and state Senate elections in 2022, 2020, and 2018.

Note: Ohio holds elections for all state House districts and half its state Senate districts in even-numbered years.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission’s state legislative maps underwent a lengthy legal challenge process involving several map submissions to the Ohio Supreme Court. A federal court order went into effect on May 28, selecting one of the submitted maps for use in the 2022 elections. The legal challenge to the legislative maps is ongoing before the state supreme court.

Ohio is one of two states that split its primaries this year due to redistricting legal challenges. Statewide turnout data is not yet available in New York, which held primaries on June 28 and Aug. 23.

Competitiveness data: Massachusetts

We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive Massachusetts’ Sept. 6 primaries are compared to recent cycles. 

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.


Ballotpedia’s new weekly podcast, “On the Ballot”

Welcome to the Thursday, September 1, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. Smart political talk finally has a home—Ballotpedia’s new weekly podcast, “On the Ballot” 
  2. 131 statewide measures certified for this year’s ballot
  3. On the ballot in Nebraska

Smart political talk finally has a home—Ballotpedia’s new weekly podcast, “On the Ballot” 

Ballotpedia’s new podcast—“On the Ballot”—is now available for you to listen to on Spotify and other major streaming platforms. New episodes are posted every Thursday afternoon.

Each week, host Victoria Rose will sit down with Ballotpedia writers and researchers to discuss the latest political news, explore exclusive Ballotpedia research, and much more. “On the Ballot” is a quick hitting, fact-based show–no spin, and no agenda. 

Among the topics we’ve covered so far:

  • The key issues and marquee races in the August primaries
  • A deep dive on what’s at stake in state legislative and statewide officer elections
  • Abortion on the ballot in several states

And a lot more!

Here’s a listing of the episodes currently available:

Our goal is to provide the context that’s all too often lacking in most political, policy, and legal coverage. “On the Ballot” gives you the relevant facts, the crucial data, and the essential backstory that connects them.

But it’s not all serious talk, all the time. Ballotpedia is always working to take you to places most mass media political coverage ignores. One way the show will do that? Through “Footnote Facts,” a regular feature that will test your knowledge of political trivia and curiosities—the things that make American politics unlike any other.

We hope you’ll tune in, subscribe, and share the show with your friends, family, and colleagues. And let us know how we’re doing, or share ideas for future show segments (and your trivia questions, too!).

Click below to listen to our first episodes. 

Listen to our podcast

131 statewide measures certified for this year’s ballot

As we mentioned above, ballot measures are one of the topics you’ll hear a lot about on our new podcast. Here’s an update on this year’s certified ballot measures. 

As of Aug. 30, 131 statewide measures have been certified for the ballot in 37 states. That’s 29 less than the average number certified at this point in other even-numbered years from 2010 to 2020. 

Five new measures were certified for the ballot last week:

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for six initiatives: 

From 2010 to 2020, there was an average of 164 measures certified for the ballot in even-number years. By this time during even-numbered years from 2010 through 2020, an average of 160 statewide measures had been certified for the ballot. 

Click below to learn more about this year’s statewide ballot measures. 

Keep reading 

Explore Nebraska elections

Let’s continue our journey looking at elections in all 50 states. Today–the Cornhusker State!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota

On the ballot in Nebraska

At the federal level, Nebraska voters will elect three U.S. Representatives. At the state executive level, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, and state auditor offices are up for election this year. Voters will elect four members of the state board of education, two members of the state board of regents, and two members of the state public service commission. Also, four Nebraska Supreme Court justices and four Nebraska Court of Appeals judges face retention elections.

Nebraska is the only state in the U.S. with a unicameral, or single-chamber, state legislature. Twenty-four of the state Senate’s 49 districts are up for election. 

There are 13 open seats in the legislature this year.

Redistricting highlights

  • Nebraska was apportioned three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it was apportioned after the 2010 census. 
  • Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Nebraska:

To use our tool to view Nebraska’s state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle, visit our Nebraska redistricting page

Partisan balance

  • Both of Nebraska’s U.S. Senators—Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse—are Republicans.
  • Republicans represent all three U.S. House districts in the state.
  • There are no formal party alignments or groups within the Nebraska Senate. Senators and candidates are listed on the ballot as nonpartisan, but almost all of the members of the Legislature are affiliated either the Democratic or the Republican Party and both parties explicitly endorse candidates. 
  • Republicans have a 32-17 majority in the state Senate. Because the governor is also Republican, Nebraska is one of 23 states with a Republican trifecta. It has held this status since 1999.
  • Nebraska’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are Republicans. This makes Nebraska one of 22 states with a Republican triplex.

Seats contested by only one major party

Nebraska uses a top-two primary system for state legislative races. In 2022, three of the 24 districts holding legislative elections will have only one candidate on the general election ballot.

A Democratic candidate is on the ballot in half of all state legislative elections. Twelve state legislative elections do not have a Democratic candidate in the general election. A Republican, third-party, or nonpartisan candidate is guaranteed to win one of those elections.

A Republican candidate is on the ballot in all but one state legislative election.

Key races

Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District election, 2022: Incumbent Mike Flood (R) and Patty Pansing Brooks (D) are running. Flood defeated Pansing Brooks, 53% to 47%, in a special election on June 28, 2022, that filled the vacancy left by Jeffrey Fortenberry’s  (R) March resignation of .

Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District election, 2022: Incumbent Don Bacon (R) and Tony Vargas (D) are running. Bacon defeated Kara Eastman (D), 51% to 46%, in the 2020 general election.

Ballot measures

There is one statewide ballot measure in Nebraska in 2022. Voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to authorize any city, county, or other political subdivision that operates an airport to spend revenue on developing commercial air travel at the local airport. 

One hundred three ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Sixty-two ballot measures were approved, and 41 ballot measures were defeated.

Voting

  • On Election Day, polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time. An individual in line at the time polls close must be allowed to vote. 
  • Nebraska does not require identification to vote in most cases, except for some first-time voters. First-time voters who registered by mail and did not provide identification will be asked for an ID on election day. For more information about voter ID requirements in Nebraska, click here
  • Early voting in Nebraska is available to all voters. Early voting begins on Oct. 11 and ends on Nov. 7.
  • The voter registration deadline in Nebraska is Oct. 21. Registration can be done online, in person, or by mail. Nebraska does not allow same-day voter registration.
  • All Nebraska voters are eligible to cast absentee ballots. Voters can return their ballots in person or by mail. In both cases, ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. The deadline to request an absentee or mail-in ballot is Oct. 28. 
  • Absentee ballots in Nebraska include a return envelope that must be signed by the voter for the ballot to be counted.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

Keep reading