CategoryNewsletters

$118 million spent collecting signatures for 2022 ballot measures

Welcome to the Thursday, October 19, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. Presenting our annual report on initiative petition signature costs
  2. Johnson, Barnes vie for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin 
  3. Oklahoma voters will elect two U.S. Senators this year

Presenting our annual report on initiative petition signature costs

Ballot initiative campaigns spent $118 million to collect signatures for 29 initiatives this year. This equals $12.70 for every signature required to place an initiative on the ballot, up from $8.09 in 2020, $6.52 in 2018, and $6.93 in 2016.

The newest version of our ballot measure signature cost report includes all of the details.

Before we take a closer look at the numbers, let’s cover why there’s a cost for petition signatures in the first place. In states that allow citizen initiatives, campaigns must collect signatures from a certain number of registered voters to qualify for the ballot. Those requirements vary by state. Campaigns spend money to collect those signatures, including on hiring signature-gathering companies, recruiting and organizing unpaid volunteers, and more.

We use two ways to measure the cost of an initiative or veto referendum petition drive:

  • Total cost: the total cost of gathering the required signatures to put an initiative on the ballot.
  • Cost per required signature (CPRS): the total cost divided by the number of signatures required to qualify the measure for the ballot.

If a campaign spends $1 million on its petition drive and the state requires 100,000 valid signatures, the CPRS is $10.00. In other words, the campaign spent $10.00 per required signature to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

This new analysis examined campaigns for 29 initiatives in 12 states. While campaigns successfully collected signatures for 30 initiatives, signature cost data was unavailable for South Dakota Amendment D and we excluded it from this analysis.

  • The number of citizen initiatives that qualified for the even-numbered year ballot decreased 61% from 2016 to 2022, with 76 initiatives appearing on the ballot in 2016 and 30 initiatives appearing on the ballot this year. Despite fewer initiatives appearing on the ballot each year, the cumulative cost of signature gathering has increased each year.
  • The average total petition drive cost this year was $4.08 million, an increase of 297% compared to 2016, when the average total petition drive cost was $1.03 million. In 2020, the average total petition cost was $2.06 million. In 2018, the average total cost was $1.13 million. 
  • Arkansas had the highest average CPRS at $25.28. That is followed by Missouri ($21.33), Michigan ($20.47), and California ($16.18). One initiative is on the ballot in Arkansas and Missouri, and two initiatives are on the ballot in Michigan. In California, six initiatives are on the ballot.  
  • Massachusetts had the lowest average CPRS at $4.83. That is followed by Oregon ($5.14), North Dakota ($9.61), and Colorado ($9.84). Three initiatives are on the ballot in Massachusetts, two initiatives are on the ballot in Oregon and North Dakota, and six initiatives are on the ballot in Colorado. 
  • ​​Arizona Proposition 209 had the highest CPRS. Arizonans Fed Up with Failing Healthcare, the sponsors of the measure, spent $6,045.788.96 to collect the required 237,645 signatures. This cost $25.44 per signature. 
  • Abortion-related measures had the highest average CPRS (though there was only one in that category), followed by measures related to tobacco, drug crime policy, and healthcare. 

You can learn a lot more information about and analysis of the costs associated with collecting initiative signatures, including the most-used petition companies, in the report at the link below.

Keep reading 

Johnson, Barnes vie for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin 

Today in our previews of 2022 battleground elections: the race for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. 

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R), Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes (D), and write-in candidate Scott Aubart (American Independent Party) are running.

Wisconsin is one of two states holding a U.S. Senate election in 2022 with a Republican incumbent that President Joe Biden (D) carried in the 2020 presidential election. Wisconsin is also one of six states with one Democratic and one Republican U.S. Senator.

Johnson was first elected in 2010, defeating then-incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold (D), 52% to 47%. Johnson won re-election in 2016 in a rematch with Feingold, 50% to 47%. Before his election to the Senate, Johnson was the chief executive officer for a specialty plastics company and an accountant at Jostens. Johnson says his campaign “is focused on growing our economy and creating good jobs and economic opportunity for all.”

Barnes served in the Wisconsin Assembly from 2013 to 2017 and was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2018. Before his time in the Legislature, Barnes worked for the city of Milwaukee and as a community organizer for the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope. Barnes completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. In his survey responses, Barnes listed the following as one of his three key messages: “In the Senate, I will fight to expand opportunities for the middle class. That starts with lowering costs for working families by bringing manufacturing back to Wisconsin to create thousands of good-paying jobs and address our supply chain issues.” You can read the rest of his responses here

The two most recent presidential elections in Wisconsin were both decided by less than one percentage point. In the 2020 election, President Joe Biden (D) won the state over then-incumbent President Donald Trump (R), 49.5% to 48.8%. In the 2016 election, Trump carried Wisconsin with 47.2% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 46.5%. 

Thirty-five of 100 seats are up for election, including one special election. Democrats have an effective majority, with the chamber split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) having the tie-breaking vote. Democrats hold 14 seats and Republicans hold 21 seats up for election in 2022.

Learn more about Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate election at the link below. 

Keep reading 

Oklahoma voters will elect two U.S. Senators this year

Today is the 38th day of our 50 States in 50 Days series, and we’re featuring Oklahoma, the Sooner State.

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, Alabama, Utah
Week Eight: Mississippi, Maryland, Rhode Island 

On the ballot in Oklahoma

Oklahoma voters will elect two U.S. Senators, one in a regularly scheduled election and one in a special election. Voters will also elect five U.S. Representatives. 

At the state executive level, voters will elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, superintendent of public instruction, corporate commissioner, insurance commissioner, and labor commissioner. 

Twenty-four seats in the state Senate and all 101 seats in the state House are up for election.

Additionally, voters will decide elections for two state courts. Four judges on the Oklahoma Supreme Court and five judges on the Oklahoma intermediate appellate court are standing for retention election.

Redistricting highlights

Oklahoma was apportioned five seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, no change from its seats 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 Oklahoma:   

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

Partisan balance

  • Both of Oklahoma’s U.S. Senators—Jim Inhofe and James Lankford—are Republicans.
  • All five of Oklahoma’s U.S. Representatives are Republicans. 
  • Republicans hold a 39-9 majority in the state Senate and an 82-18 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Republican, Oklahoma is one of 23 Republican trifectas. Oklahoma has had a Republican trifecta since 2011.
  • Oklahoma’s attorney general and secretary of state are also Republicans, making the state one of 23 with a Republican triplex.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 89 state legislative seats in Oklahoma, or 71% 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 40% of all state legislative races. Seventy-five state legislative seats (60% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Democratic candidate and are likely to be won by a Republican.

Republicans are running in 89% of all state legislative races. Fourteen seats (11% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Republican candidate and are likely to be won by a Democrat.

Key races

  • U.S. Senate (regular): Incumbent U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R), Madison Horn (D), Kenneth Blevins (L), and Michael Delaney (Independent) are running. Lankford was first elected in 2014. Horn, Blevins, and Delaney completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click here to read those responses. 
  • U.S. Senate (special): U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R), Kendra Horn (D), Robert Murphy (L), and Ray Woods (Independent) are running in the general election to complete Inhofe’s term after he resigns on Jan. 3, 2023. Inhofe was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994. 
  • Governor of Oklahoma: Incumbent Kevin Stitt (R), Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister (D), Natalie Bruno (L), and Ervin Yen (Independent) are running. Stitt was first elected in 2018. Hofmeister, who was previously registered as a Republican before she announced her gubernatorial campaign, was elected superintendent of public instruction in 2014. 

Voting

  • On Election Day, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time.
  • Oklahoma requires voters to present identification while voting. Valid forms of identification include government-issued photo IDs and county election board voter identification cards (which do not include photographs). Voters can present a document issued by the United States government, the State of Oklahoma, or a federally recognized tribal government. The document must include the following information: Name, photograph, and expiration date that is after the date of the election.
  • Early voting in Oklahoma is available to all voters. Early voting begins on Nov. 2 and ends on Nov. 5.
  • The voter registration deadline in Oklahoma is Oct. 14. Registration can be done in person, or by mail. 
  • All voters are eligible to vote absentee in Oklahoma. There are no special eligibility requirements for voting absentee. The deadline for requesting a ballot by mail is Oct. 24. The deadline for returning a voted ballot by mail is Nov. 8. 

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



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #35

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over who should decide which books should be available in schools
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • In your district: reader replies on declining enrollment
  • Upcoming school board general elections
  • 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 who should decide which books should be available in schools

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.

What books students should be able to access in school libraries has long been a topic of debate. One important question in that debate is ”who” should be able to make such decisions.

Hayes Brown says parental campaigns against books and school board decisions to remove material from school libraries are harmful, limiting, and insulting to children and teens. He also says school boards should be more resistant to calls from parents to remove books from school libraries because it is healthy for students to have access to new and challenging ideas.

Suzanne Bates writes that challenges to school library books and course materials have come from parents on the left and the right and are not necessarily bad. Bates says it is the job of parents to make sure schools stay on what she calls the right track and are not teaching concepts or offering students materials that alienate large portions of the population. She says all material in schools is curated, so it is not unreasonable for parents to question the curation and advance accountability.

School board book bans on LGBTQ issues and race are hurting, not helping, students | Hayes Brown, MSNBC

“I understand it must be terrifying for parents to send their children off to school, where they’re outside their control for the majority of the day. That fear is part of why Republicans have been so successful in recent campaigns against “critical race theory” and transgender youth in sports. However, the truth is the books under examination are rarely too difficult for students to handle — it’s their parents who struggle. … What’s often lost in this discussion … is that many of the maligned books are there for high school students to read and digest. These parents’ attempts to block access to these works is as limiting as it is insulting to the teenagers they’re supposedly protecting. And even if younger children have access to these books, I can’t imagine being a parent upset that my child is reading more advanced material. … The most fear is directed at challenging, complicated books that deal with the exact sort of struggles and themes that many parents would prefer their children never face in real life. But the students who most need to read many of these books are the ones who are struggling with these issues in real life.”

Perspective: Parents are right to be concerned about what kids read | Suzanne Bates, Deseret News

“[N]o matter what public perception is, public schools are already places where library books and course materials are curated. This is true whether the curation is because of cultural insensitivity or sexually explicit material, or just plain old personal taste. You cannot fit every book into a school library, or on a high school class book list, so choices are made about what makes it in and what doesn’t. … As parents, it’s our responsibility to keep an eye on what our children are learning, and to ask whether what they are taught helps them become better educated, better prepared for meaningful citizenship and better humans. We will all have different answers on what content accomplishes these goals, but when ‘public’ school materials become so politicized that they are alienating a large swath of the population, chances are we are not on the right track. … [O]ne can celebrate free speech and still believe that not every book belongs in a K-12 public school library. We’ve often differentiated what is appropriate for children versus what is appropriate for adults. When public school librarians celebrate a “banned” book that contains graphic illustrations of sex between a minor and an adult, and parents are labeled “far-right” or “bigots” for objecting, that feels like gaslighting.”

In your district: reader replies on declining enrollment

We recently asked readers the following question about how districts should address declining enrollment:

Recent research suggests public school enrollment has declined since 2020 as parents, concerned about things like pandemic-driven learning loss, have shown an increased willingness to consider alternative educational arrangements. 

What should districts do to address the challenge of declining enrollment?

Thank you to all who responded. Today, we’re sharing a handful of those responses. We’ll return in November with another reader question. If you have ideas for a question you’d like to see us ask, reply to this email to let us know!

A teacher at a high school in California wrote:

“Continue to offer strong academics (in the end, that’s what I think most parents want), but also ongoing (PK-12) pull-out classes/electives in art, music, computer science (or how to use computers for younger students) and great extracurriculars. These are interesting and/or fun classes and activities that draw in a lot of students (and are often hard for a parent to provide without a lot of expense) as well as being community-building for the students. You simply can’t have the experience of Homecoming in an online environment, for instance.”

A school board member in Michigan wrote:

“Keep standards high. Keep students and staff as top priorities. Educate ALL students. Work with local governments and businesses to bring more businesses and high paying jobs to our rural areas.”

A community member from Arizona wrote:

“Be more active and much more visible in the community as a respected community leader.  Educators tend to be somewhat myopic, parochial and insular as a result our schools tend to be ‘that building down the street with a fence around it that kids go to every day’. The community at large hears from schools only when there is a bond issue or budget override that needs to be passed, or a scandal of some sort that makes the paper. Educators including teachers, administrators, school board members and advocates need to be involved in Kiwanis/Rotary/lions and the like, have frequent positive mention in local news media and be far more visible.”

A teacher in Virginia wrote

“This is an incomplete question, as while the power of individual districts varies by state, in most cases it is limited to a significant degree as other entities including local governments, the federal government, and several state level actors (including governors, state legislators, and state department and boards of education) all have power over this situation as well. 

All of these entities first and foremost need to focus on recruiting and retaining the best teachers. We are in a crisis and parents will not want to send their children to schools without enough teachers. To do this, we need funding for pay increases and administrative and support staff need to focus on taking as much as possible off of each teacher’s plate so that we can fully focus on teaching. Solving the burnout crisis would go a long way to getting kids back into public schools. 

Beyond that, public education has become far too politicized. We need to remember that while parents ultimately have authority over what is best for their child, schools and teachers want to work with parents to provide the best possible education for all children. Greater opportunities for career and other programs to prepare children for life after high school would go a long way towards helping public schools to live up to their mission to prepare every child for adulthood.”

A school board member from Washington wrote

“In our district families are leaving because of the state’s agenda they are pushing down students’ throats. What may work in the city does not work in these rural districts, but you have taken most local control away. At this point, until our district can make decisions that are best for the students in our district, the schools’ hands are tied.”

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 districts with elected school boards.

Upcoming school board general elections

We’re covering over 500 school board elections in 23 states on Nov. 8. Between now and Election Day, we’ll bring you quick previews of our school board battlegrounds.   

Today, let’s look at a few elections in Texas. Many districts in Texas held general elections on May 7. We covered those elections in Tarrant County in the May 18 edition of this newsletter.  

Leander Independent School District: Five of seven seats—Places 1,2, 5, 6, and 7—are up for election, and all of them are contested. Incumbents are running for re-election for Places 1, 2, 5, and 7. In 2020, some parents complained about high school reading material, prompting a yearlong literature review that resulted in the District removing 11 elective books from the curriculum. That decision has been a fault line in the elections this year, with some candidates running on removing more material. Leander, located just north of Austin, is on our list of school board elections where one or more candidates has taken a stance on at least one of the following topics: race in education/critical race theory, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, sex and gender in schools.

As of the 2019-2020 school year, Leander Independent School District had approximately 41,381 students, 2,753 teachers, and 47 schools. 

Round Rock Independent School District: Four seats are up for general election and one seat is up for a special election. All five incumbents are running for re-election. The Republican Party of Texas has endorsed John Keagy, Orlando Salinas, Jill Farris, Christie Slape, and Don Zimmerman. The candidates are running as a slate. The 1776 Project PAC, which has endorsed conservative school board candidates all over the country, has endorsed the slate. The Round Rock Democrats Club has endorsed Estevan J. Chuy Zarate, Alicia Markum, and Tiffanie Harrison. You can read candidate statements here. Round Rock is on our list of school board elections where one or more candidates has taken a stance on at least one of the following topics: race in education/critical race theory, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, sex and gender in schools.

As of the 2020-2021 school year, Leander Independent School District had approximately 50,953 students, 3,537 teachers, and 58 schools.

We’ll be back next week to look at battleground school board elections in other states. 

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

Today, we’re highlighting survey responses from the Nov. 8 general election for Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Area 7 in California. Two seats—Districts 6 and 7—are up for election (District 2 was up for election but the general election was canceled after only one candidate filed). 

Raeena Lari and Natalie Prcevski are running in the nonpartisan race. 

Here’s how Lari answered the question “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?


“Preparing each and every student for the future by meeting students where they are: When a student requires individualized attention to catch up or advanced level coursework to stay engaged, our job is to provide them what is necessary for their growth and enrichment. We have to empower children and hold the education system accountable for their well-being. After school care is important to bridge any existing gaps.

Prioritizing mental and physical health and wellness: As a Health Advisory Commissioner, I recognize that children cannot learn and teachers cannot teach if they are not doing well. We need to be in prevention mode for both mental and physical health issues. Early detection is key for prevention. This includes having enough counselors in school with an open door policy. Services readily available in school are used more often.

Advocating for equitable pay for teachers and access to affordable housing in the neighborhoods they work in: Studies have shown that higher teacher pay is linked to better learning outcomes. When educators are less stressed, they can focus on their students.”

Click here to read more of Lari’s responses. 

Here’s how Prcevski answered the question “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“Propelling student achievement for all students and all levels of learners. Let’s teach the real-world skills our students need to be successful in school and in life. They deserve the opportunity to move forward.

Creating safe, healthy environments where students and teachers can thrive. Mental health awareness and support is fore front post pandemic. We need infrastructure in place to be inclusive, fair, present and listening to ALL.

Partnering together with parents and the community to rebuild trust in our public schools. I am a product of public school. My child is in public school. Schools should be centers of our community. Together we lay the foundation for our students to navigate the evolving and complex world before us.”

Click here to read more of Prcevski’s responses.



State legislative competitiveness reaches a decade-high

Welcome to the Wednesday, October 19, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

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

  1. State legislative competitiveness reaches a decade-high
  2. Battleground race will fill Rhode Island’s first open congressional district since 2010

State legislative competitiveness reaches a decade-high

Ballotpedia’s Annual State Legislative Competitiveness Report found a decade-high level of competition in the 6,278 state legislative elections taking place this year.

The 2022 State Legislative Competitiveness Report found that the overall rise in competitiveness is due to incumbents facing more primary challenges and the presence of more open seat contests. At the same time, there was a decline in head-to-head matchups between Republican and Democratic candidates in the general election.

We use three criteria to determine state legislative competitiveness:

  • Open seats, those where no incumbents are running;
  • Incumbents in contested primaries; and,
  • Seats with major party competition, those contested between a Democratic and Republican candidate in the general election.

We average these percentages to produce a State Legislative Competitiveness Index, which can range from zero (least competitive) to 100 (most competitive).

This year, the nationwide State Legislative Competitiveness Index is 36.2, beating out 2018 (36.1) and the 2012 post-redistricting cycle (35.2).

Michigan has the highest Competitiveness Index at 62.5, continuing its streak as the most competitive state in every election cycle since 2012.

Massachusetts has the lowest Competitiveness Index at 16.8, continuing its streak as the least competitive state in every election cycle since 2016.

Use the table below to see your state’s Competitiveness Index this year plus a comparison to where it ranked in 2020.

This year’s competitiveness level was driven by activity before the general election, namely the decade-high levels of open seats and incumbents in contested primaries.

There were 1,493 open seats this year, representing 23.8% of all seats up for election. Open seats tend to draw more candidates. 

This decade-high rate of open seats is similar to the rate in 2012, the last post-redistricting election cycle. Incumbents might not run for re-election after a redistricting cycle if the partisan makeup of their district changes or if the incumbent no longer lives in the same district.

Redistricting can also result in entirely new districts, though this is less common. In 2012, New York added one Senate seat. This year, Wyoming added one Senate seat and two House seats.

Term limits can also create open seats. As in 2012, the last post-redistricting year, the percentage of open seats due to term limits this year was lower than the decade average. In both 2012 and 2022, term limits accounted for 17% of all open seats, while in the intervening years, term limits accounted for closer to one-quarter of all open seats.

Incumbents who do seek re-election may face primary challengers.

This year, 1,301 incumbents—511 Democrats and 790 Republicans—ran in contested primaries, 26.8% of all incumbents who were running at the time of their primaries.

Republican incumbents facing primary challengers drove this year’s decade-high rate of incumbents in contested primaries. 

Republicans hold a majority of state legislative seats, so it is expected that the number of Republican incumbents facing primaries would be greater than Democrats.

But 31% of all Republican incumbents running for re-election faced primaries this year, a decade-high percentage and up from 20% in 2020.

For Democrats, the rate was also higher—20%, up from 19% in 2020—but lower than the decade-high rate of 21% in 2012.

The rate of incumbents facing primaries might be partly attributable to redistricting. Incumbents may run against other incumbents in primaries because of new district boundaries.

  • This year, 100 incumbents—34 Democrats and 66 Republicans—ran in incumbent v. incumbent primaries, accounting for 11% of all incumbents facing contested primaries. 
  • In 2012, 103 incumbents—50 Democrats and 53 Republicans—ran in such primaries, accounting for 9% of all incumbents in contested primaries that year.

While open seats and incumbents in contested primaries powered this year’s rate of competitiveness, don’t expect to see that competitiveness extend into this year’s general elections.

The rate of major party competition is down seven percentage points from 2020, reaching its lowest point since 2016. Both major parties are contesting 58.1% of all seats up for election, meaning the remaining 42.9% have only one of the two major parties on the ballot.

The decrease in major party competition this year came from more Republicans challenging Democrats and fewer Democrats challenging Republicans.

Republicans are contesting 83.3% of seats, a decade-high for the party. Democrats are contesting 74.8% of seats, a decade-low.

Use the link below to read Ballotpedia’s Annual State Legislative Competitiveness Report for 2022.

Keep reading

Battleground race will fill Rhode Island’s first open congressional district since 2010

Today is the 37th day of our 50 States in 50 Days series, and we’re featuring Rhode Island, the Ocean State.

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, Alabama, Utah
Week Eight: Mississippi, Maryland

On the ballot in Rhode Island

Rhode Island voters will elect two U.S. Representatives. This year marks the first time since 2010 voters have had to fill an open district. 2nd District U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (D) is retiring.

The offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer are on the ballot.

All 113 state legislative seats are also up for election: 75 in the state House and 38 in the state Senate.

We are also covering local elections in the state’s capital: Providence.

Redistricting highlights

The number of U.S. House districts in Rhode Island remained the same at two following the 2020 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 compare each district. Here’s an example of what Rhode Island’s congressional map looked like before and after the 2020 census:

You can interact with our congressional and state legislative map comparison tools by visiting our Rhode Island redistricting page here.

Partisan balance

  • Both of Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators—Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse—are Democrats.
  • The state also has two Democratic U.S. Representatives: David Cicilline, who is seeking re-election, and Langevin.
  • Rhode Island has had a Democratic governor since former Gov. Lincoln Chaffee switched his affiliation from independent to Democratic in 2013.
  • Democrats hold a 33-5 majority in the Senate and a 65-10 majority in the House.
  • With a Democratic governor and majorities in both legislative chambers, Rhode Island is one of 14 Democratic trifectas, a status it has held since 2013.
  • In addition to the governor, Rhode Island has a Democratic attorney general and secretary of state, making it one of 18 states with a Democratic triplex.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 47 state legislative districts in Rhode Island, or 42% of all districts holding elections, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either major party runs in a state legislative district, that party is all but guaranteed to win that district.

Democrats are running in 110 of the districts holding elections. Three districts (3%) do not have a Democratic candidate, meaning Republicans will likely win.

Republicans are running in 69 of the districts holding elections, a 64% increase from 2020. Forty-four districts (39%) do not have a Republican candidate, meaning Democrats will likely win.

Key races

  • Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District: Seth Magaziner (D) faces Allan Fung (R) in the state’s first open congressional district since 2010. Two election forecasters have the race as leaning Democratic and one rates it as a toss-up. The last Republican U.S. House member was Ronald Machtley, who left office in 1995.
  • Governor: Gov. Daniel McKee (D) faces Ashley Kalus (R) and three others. This is McKee’s first gubernatorial election. He is seeking a full term in office after assuming the position in 2021 following former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s (D) resignation to become U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Ballot measures

There are three measures on the ballot in Rhode Island this year.

  • Question 1 asks voters to either support or oppose a plan to issue $100 million in bonds to support the University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus’ marine discipline educational and research needs.
  • Question 2 asks voters to either support or oppose a plan to issue $250 million in bonds to construct and renovate public school buildings across the state.
  • Question 3 asks voters to either support or oppose a plan to issue $50 million in bonds for educational or recreational purpose. The largest line item in the proposal is $16 million allocated towards municipal resiliency.

All three measures were introduced as part of HB 7123. The state house approved the bill 69-1 with five not voting and the state senate approved it 33-0 with five not voting.

Rhode Island is one of 34 states that does not have the initiative and referendum process. The Legislature can refer measures to the ballot for voter consideration.

One hundred sixty-three measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2021. One hundred twenty-eight were approved and 35 were defeated.

Voting

  • Polls are open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Rhode Island requires voters to present identification while voting. Learn more here.
  • Early in-person voting begins on Oct. 19 and ends on Nov. 7.
  • Only certain voters are eligible to vote by absentee/mail-in ballot. The deadline to request such a ballot is Oct. 18 and election officials must receive that ballot by Nov. 8. Learn more here.
  • The voter registration deadline was Oct. 9. Voters can check their registration status 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



Economy and Society, October 18, 2022: South Carolina to divest BlackRock funds over ESG

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.

Editorial argues against proposed SEC climate disclosure rule 

On October 15, The Hill carried a guest editorial by Rupert Darwall, a climate author and researcher and senior fellow at the RealClear Foundation. In it, Darwall argues that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed environmental disclosure rule will be bigger, more expensive, and more intrusive than proponents argue:

“Although Democrats hail passage of the Schumer-Manchin Inflation Reduction Act, far more consequential is the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate-risk disclosure rule, currently being finalized. It will operate at the nexus of the administrative state, Wall Street and politically motivated institutional investors. The Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, part of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), has 273 signatories with $61.3 trillion in assets under management.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler tries to downplay the significance of the SEC climate-risk disclosure rule. It is essentially a bit of housekeeping, he would have us believe, that would help corporate issuers more efficiently and effectively disclose their climate-related risks. But if this really were a mere tidying-up exercise, it wouldn’t need more than 500 pages of rule-making. 

In reality, the proposed rule is about climate policy. Its practical effect would be to facilitate the ability of institutional investors and climate activists to impose, monitor and enforce climate targets on publicly traded companies, without obtaining explicit authorization from Congress.

The reason the SEC’s proposed rule is so lengthy is that it incorporates the climate-reporting framework developed by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), established by Michael Bloomberg and former Bank of England governor Mark Carney. In February 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was exploding, Bloomberg posted a video on Facebook. “Climate change. It’s the biggest threat to America and the world. Full stop,” Bloomberg asserted. How do you replace dirty energy, he asked? “Stop rewarding companies from making it.” Welcoming the SEC proposal, Bloomberg said it will “accelerate the transition to clean energy and net-zero emissions.” 

Carney also has been clear about the purpose of disclosure in driving climate action, tweeting in May 2021: “What gets measured gets managed. That’s why reporting climate-related financial info is critical if we are to achieve #netzero.” 

Former SEC chair Mary Schapiro, current head of the Secretariat for the TCFD and vice-chair of GFANZ, explains TCFD’s motivation: “Disclosure is at the heart of reaching net zero, and the TCFD has provided a solid foundation to support the private sector’s net zero commitments through transparency and accountability.” 

Four years ago, Schapiro was appointed vice chair of Bloomberg and a special adviser to its founder and chairman. In its comment letter to the SEC, Boyden Gray & Associates notes that Bloomberg owns the proprietary tools that are the preferred means for the financial sector to obtain data and would be the preferred tool to comply with the SEC’s proposed rule — virtually guaranteeing Bloomberg’s revenues would increase by billions of dollars. 

The SEC climate proposal demonstrates a fundamental truth: ESG is the pursuit of politics by other means. This incurs costs.”

In the States

South Carolina latest state to divest BlackRock funds over ESG

On October 9, South Carolina became the latest in a string of states to confirm that it will be removing its investments from BlackRock Inc.’s asset management because of the firm’s dedication to ESG and what the states calls its sustainability investing. On October 11, The Washington Examiner broke the story:

“South Carolina will be divesting all of its BlackRock holdings by the end of the year, the latest instance of backlash from Republican state officials over the investment firm’s stance on fossil fuels.

State Treasurer Curtis Loftis’s office confirmed the plan to the Washington Examiner on Monday. His office said Loftis has already been removing BlackRock-managed funds over the past five years and is in the process of divesting the final $200 million of BlackRock holdings by year’s end.

“I will not allow our financial partners to undermine my fiduciary responsibility to maximize investment returns while accepting a prudent level of risk for the benefit of our citizens. It is imperative that we stand up to BlackRock and resist the pressure to simply fall into line with their leftist worldview,” Loftis said….

In addition to South Carolina and Louisiana, Utah State Treasurer Marlo Oaks said he has yanked about $100 million in state funds from BlackRock, and Arkansas State Treasurer Dennis Milligan divested some $125 million out of money market accounts managed by the firm, which is the largest money manager in the world.

In total, the actions by the state treasurers will equate to more than $1 billion in divested funds by year’s end….

On Friday, BlackRock launched a webpage committed to “setting the record straight” about how it handles investment decisions and disclosure and its pursuit of ESG. BlackRock claims its views on climate risk aren’t unique, and its new webpage noted that an overwhelming majority of companies in the S&P 500 publish sustainability reports.”

On Wall Street and in the private sector 

UBS downgrades BlackRock over ESG investing risks

Last week, an analyst at UBS downgraded BlackRock Inc. stock, “based on environmental pressure to earnings and risk from the firm’s ESG positioning”:

“BlackRock’s focus on the latest Wall Street craze—environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing—has turned into a risky affair for the world’s largest asset manager, a UBS analyst recently stated.

Brennan Hawken, an analyst at the bank, downgraded the stock of BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK) from Buy to Neutral and slashed the stock price target from $700 to $585 over growing pushback to its ESG efforts.

“We are downgrading BLK to Neutral based on environmental pressure to earnings and risk from the firm’s ESG positioning,” he said in a note, adding that BlackRock could face increased regulatory inspection and the possibility of diminished fund management business.

“BLK’s early and energetic adoption of ESG principles in its fund management and shareholder proxy activities have positioned the firm as an ESG leader in our view. However, as performance deteriorates and political risk from ESG has increased, we believe the potential for lost fund mandates and regulatory scrutiny has recently increased.”…

Despite the pushback from a whole host of Republican-led states, a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers argued that the demand for ESG investments outstrips supply. The study learned that nearly 90 percent of institutional investors think asset managers should be more proactive in manufacturing new ESG products. Additionally, close to 80 percent of American investors plan to bolster their allocations to ESG financial products over the next two years.

BlackRock shares were down about 2.7 percent on Friday to trade below $551. Since the beginning of the year, the firm has lost 40 percent of its market value.”

From the ivory tower

Wharton announces two new ESG/DEI majors

Last week, the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania announced that it has, in response to high demand, decided to offer two new ESG and DEI concentrations/majors to its students:

“Over its nearly 150 years as the global leader in business education, the Wharton School’s continued curricular evolution remains a cornerstone by which the School’s excellence is sustained. This month, as the University of Pennsylvania’s fall semester unfolded, Wharton again applied this philosophy in acknowledgement of the rising relevance of two burgeoning industry priorities.

Wharton’s Curriculum Innovation and Review Committee (CIRC) voted to approve the introduction of two official curricular designations to the School’s existing fold of robust and renowned educational opportunities: 1) Environmental, Social and Governance Factors for Business (ESGB), and 2) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Both ESGB and DEI are available to function as either a concentration at the undergraduate level or a major at the MBA level, and will see its first students graduate in May 2025. This decision came in response to the extensive undergrad and graduate-level interest in coursework devoted to these developing areas in business. As Deputy Dean Nancy Rothbard puts it: “We are proud and delighted that Wharton will be offering these new concentrations and majors, supported by the School’s world-class evidence-based curriculum. We look forward to seeing what our graduates accomplish.””

This announcement was foreshadowed last month by Bloomberg News, which noted that the trend toward stakeholder and ESG studies is on the upswing at American business schools:

“On the role of business in society, the trend lines are clear: Shareholder primacy is out and stakeholder inclusion is in. Chief Executive Officers Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Larry Fink of BlackRock Inc. were among the scores of corporate luminaries who in 2019 publicly made “a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” including the environment, employees, suppliers, and communities, as members of the Business Roundtable. Similar pledges now pop up everywhere, from global gatherings of the business elite to advertisements for the Australian toilet paper company Who Gives a Crap Ltd., which uses recycled materials and spends half its profits on building toilets and improving sanitation in the developing world: “Wipe your bum, change the world.”

Business schools have been slow to reflect this zeitgeist, but they’re rapidly making up for lost time. This month, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School is becoming the first large MBA program to offer a major in environmental, social, and corporate governance, standards used by socially conscious investors to vet companies. Harvard Business School offers courses that ask students to question the very purpose of capitalism. And Columbia Business School has set an ambitious goal to become the nation’s top generator of leadership in the burgeoning field of social entrepreneurship….

Today’s B-school students want a career with meaning, says Witold Henisz, vice dean and faculty director of Wharton’s ESG Initiative. “They want to stand for something,” he says. “They don’t want to be part of the next scandal, whether it’s opioids or teenage depression from social media. They want to feel they’re creating value and doing good.” To serve such students, the school offers more than 30 courses dealing with sustainability, ethics, and stakeholder theory, double the number five years ago.”

In the spotlight

Dimon addresses ESG, argues conventional energy is important

The New York Post recently highlighted JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s comments on ESG and his views about the economy and energy policy in general:

“Jamie Dimon told clients this week that “some investors don’t give a s–t” about “ESG,” the woke investing approach that US companies increasingly have embraced under political pressure, sources told The Post.

The hard-charging JPMorgan CEO emphasized the importance of conventional energy sources as the nation invests in green energy, telling attendees at a company “fireside chat” that “pumping more oil and gas and using energy security” is critical for the US to maintain its financial stability and independence, according to a source briefed on the comments.

Dimon also blasted companies for “ceding governance to do-gooder kids on a committee” whose members are selected for their bona fides in so-called ESG, or environmental, social and governance.”



Wait! The primaries aren’t over yet

Welcome to the Tuesday, October 18, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. America’s final partisan primary
  2. Previewing Minnesota’s gubernatorial election
  3. Maryland one of five states to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana

America’s final partisan primary

And you thought the primaries were all over!

Today, Oct. 18, Democratic voters in Connecticut’s House District 127 are casting their ballots in the country’s final partisan primary of the year.

This is a court-ordered redo election. The initial primary took place on Aug. 9. After two recounts, initial results showed challenger Marcus Brown defeating incumbent John Hennessy by two votes, 573 to 571. The Superior Court of Bridgeport invalidated the original results on Oct. 4 and scheduled a new election.

Following the second recount, Hennessy, first elected in 2004, appealed the results. An evidentiary hearing found that four voters cast absentee ballots they received after submitting ineligible applications. Those four voters said their applications were signed and sent without their knowledge in violation of state law, making their submitted ballots ineligible.

Judge Barry Stevens said he had to infer the final recount included the four ineligible absentee ballots. Since the margin of victory was fewer votes than the number of ineligible ballots, Stevens did not approve the results of the final recount.

Officials must certify the results of the new primary by 5 p.m. on Oct. 19.

The winner of the new primary will face Anthony Puccio (R) on Nov. 8. 

Connecticut is one of eight states that allows fusion voting, in which candidates can receive nominations from more than one party. Regardless of the outcome of the new primary, Hennessy will appear on the general election ballot as a candidate for the Working Families Party.

Keep reading 

Previewing Minnesota’s gubernatorial election

Next, in our previews of battleground elections this year, is Minnesota’s gubernatorial election.

Incumbent Gov. Tim Walz (D), former state Sen. Scott Jensen (R), and four other candidates are running.

Walz was first elected in 2018, defeating Jeff Johnson (R) 54% to 42%. He represented Minnesota’s 1st U.S. House District from 2007 to 2019. Walz said he “balanced every budget while cutting taxes … and making critical investments to expand access to training opportunities and community college programs.”

Jensen, a physician, was a member of the Waconia School Board from 1993 to 2002, and, later, served in the state Senate from 2017 to 2021. Jensen said, “Our great State has suffered under unilateral control, partisan bickering, and political brinksmanship … We need a new vision, a new prescription.”

Minnesota has had a Democratic governor since the 2010 election of Mark Dayton. The last incumbent governor to lose re-election in Minnesota was Rudy Perpich (D), who lost to Al Quie (R) in 1978.

An average of three recent polls found Walz leading Jensen 49% to 40%, though the most recent poll, released on Sept. 18, found Walz at 48% and Jensen at 45%.

Two election forecasters rate the election as Likely Democratic and one rates it as Lean Democratic.

Other candidates on the ballot include Steve Patterson (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis), Hugh McTavish (Independence), James McCaskel (Legal Marijuana Now), and Gabrielle Prosser (Socialist Workers). 

Minor party candidates received 5.5% of the vote in the 2014 gubernatorial contest and 3.7% in 2018.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton (D) beat Donald Trump (R) in Minnesota 46% to 45%. In 2020, Joe Biden (D) defeated Trump 52% to 45%.

This race could affect Minnesota’s trifecta status. Minnesota is one of 13 states with a divided government, with Democrats controlling the governorship and state House and Republicans controlling the state Senate. Since 1992, Minnesota has had a divided government for 28 out of those 30 years.

Keep reading 

Maryland one of five states to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana

Today is the 36th day of our 50 States in 50 Days series, and we’re featuring Maryland, the Old Line State!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, Alabama, Utah
Week Eight: Mississippi

On the ballot in Maryland

At the federal level, Marylanders will elect one U.S. Senator and eight U.S. Representatives. One House district—the 4th—is open.

Four state executive offices are up for election: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller.

All 188 state legislative seats—141 in the House and 47 in the Senate—are up for election. State legislators in Maryland serve four-year terms, meaning the winners of these races will hold office until 2026.

One seat on the state’s supreme court—called the Court of Appeals—and four seats on the intermediate appellate court—the Court of Special Appeals—are on the ballot, with the current officeholders standing for retention.

We are also covering local elections in Baltimore and eight school districts.

Redistricting highlights

The number of U.S. House districts in Maryland remained the same at eight following the 2020 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 compare each district. Here’s an example of what Maryland’s congressional map looked like before and after the 2020 census:

You can interact with our map comparison tools by visiting our Maryland redistricting page here.

Partisan balance

  • Both of Maryland’s U.S. Senators—Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen—are Democrats.
  • Democrats represent seven of the state’s U.S. House districts and Republicans represent one.
  • Maryland has had a Republican governor since Larry Hogan’s election in 2014. Hogan is term-limited this year.
  • Democrats hold a 32-15 majority in the Senate and a 99-42 majority in the House.
  • With a Republican governor and Democratic legislature, Maryland is one of 13 states with a divided government. It has held this status since Hogan’s election.
  • In addition to the governor, Maryland has a Republican secretary of state, while the attorney general is a Democrat, making the state one of nine without a state government triplex.

Seats contested by only one major party

This year, 93 state legislative seats in Maryland, or 49% of those up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either major party runs for a state legislative seat, the seat is all but guaranteed to be won by that party.

Democrats are running for 160 seats (85%). Twenty-eight seats (15%) do not feature a Democratic candidate, meaning Republicans will likely win.

Republicans are running for 123 seats (65%). Sixty-five seats (35%) do not feature a Republican candidate, meaning Democrats will likely win.

Key races

  • Governor: Wes Moore (D), Dan Cox (R), and four others are running. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is term-limited. This is one of six governorships Republicans are defending in a state Biden  won in 2020. Our trifecta vulnerability analysis found Maryland to be one of four states where Democrats have a moderate chance of forming a new trifecta.
  • House of Delegates District 29B: incumbent Brian Crosby (D) faces Deb Rey (R) in a rematch from 2018. That year, Crosby defeated then-incumbent Rey 53% to 47%.

Ballot measures

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

  • Question 4: would amend the state constitution to legalize recreational marijuana for individuals 21 years or older. Maryland is one of five states with a measure related to recreational marijuana on the ballot this year. Lawmakers legalized medicinal marijuana in 2013 and decriminalized possession in 2014.
  • Question 1: would rename the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s court of final resort, to the Supreme Court of Maryland and rename the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to the Appellate Court of Maryland. Maryland is, along with New York, one of two states that do not refer to their court of final resort as a supreme court.

Between 1985 and 2020, 54 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots. Forty-nine were approved and five were defeated.

Voting

  • Polls are open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • In most cases, Maryland does not require voters to present identification while voting. To read about cases where an ID is required, click here.
  • Early voting is available from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3.
  • Today, Oct. 18, is the voter registration deadline. Voters may register online, by mail, or in person. Mailed registrations must be postmarked by Oct. 18. Maryland also allows same-day registration during the early voting period and on Election Day.
  • All voters are eligible to vote absentee. Election officials must receive absentee/mail-in ballot applications by Nov. 1. Completed ballots must be either returned in person by 8 p.m. on Election Day or postmarked on or before Election Day and received within 10 days after the election.

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



Checks and Balances, October 2022: Biden administration codifies DACA

The Checks and Balances Letter delivers news and information from Ballotpedia’s Administrative State Project, including pivotal actions at the federal and state levels related to the separation of powers, due process, and the rule of law.

This edition: 

In this month’s edition of Checks and Balances, we review the United States Supreme Court’s recent activity, including oral argument in a case challenging the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Clean Water Act; a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that responds to the codification of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; a new challenge to the structure and authority of the Federal Trade Commission; and a record number of public comments received in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed Title IX rule. 

At the state level, we take a look at inaction by Utah state lawmakers allowing for an administrative rulemaking to permit the sale of mini-bottles of alcohol in the state; and a preemption conflict between the state of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia mayor regarding firearm restrictions.

We also highlight an examination of potential congressional responses to the major questions doctrine from administrative law scholar Christopher J. Walker. As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 149 proposed rules and 290 final rules added to the Federal Register in September and OIRA’s regulatory review activity.


In Washington

SCOTUS hears oral argument in Clean Water Act challenge, declines to take up bump stock case

What’s the story?

The U.S. Supreme Court on October 3, 2022, kicked off the October 2022-2023 term with oral argument in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a case concerning the scope of the EPA’s authority to determine what wetlands are considered to be “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). While much of the justice’s questioning centered on the agency’s interpretation of the rule’s scope, Justice Brett Kavanaugh “suggested that Congress, rather than the Supreme Court, should determine how to draw the line between what is and is not covered by the CWA,” according to SCOTUSblog’s Amy Howe.

The court without comment on October 3 declined to hear Aposhian v. Garland and Gun Owners of America v. Garland—two cases challenging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) ban on bump stock devices. The agency in 2019 changed its prior interpretation of the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act to find that bump stocks qualify as machine guns and can therefore be prohibited. The court’s decision leaves in place a district court ruling that applied Chevron deference to yield to the agency’s changed interpretation of the law and uphold the bump stock ban.

The court also granted certiorari in the following cases concerning administrative exhaustion requirements and the scope of agency authority:

  • Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools questions the need to satisfy certain administrative exhaustion requirements related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s (IDEA) administrative proceedings. 
  • Santos-Zacaria v. Garland questions whether federal courts can hear a challenge to a determination from the Board of Immigration Appeals before the plaintiff exhausts the board’s administrative proceedings through a motion to reconsider. 
  • The Ohio Adjutant General’s Department v. Federal Labor Relations Authority questions whether the Federal Labor Relations Authority has regulatory authority over state militias.

Want to go deeper?

Federal courts grapple with DACA, separation of powers challenges

What’s the story? 

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on October 5, 2022, upheld a district court decision that found the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows certain individuals brought to the United States without legal permission as minors to continue living and working in the country, to be unlawful. The judges remanded the case to the district court for further review in light of the Biden administration’s recent effort to codify DACA through the rulemaking process.

A coalition of states in 2018 filed suit in Texas v. United States, arguing in part that the Obama administration unlawfully created DACA through a memo, rather than a rule. Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in July 2021 ruled in favor of the states and instituted a pause on new DACA applicants.

Fifth Circuit Judges Priscilla Richman, James C. Ho, and Kurt Engelhardtl upheld the district court ruling but directed the court to reevaluate its holding in light of the Biden administration’s recent effort to codify DACA through the administrative rulemaking process, arguing that the “district court is in the best position to review the administrative record in the rulemaking proceeding.” The final rule, effective October 31, aims to “preserve and fortify” the program, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

In another case to watch, Walmart on August 29, 2022, filed a motion to dismiss a suit brought against the company by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), arguing that the FTC “lacks constitutionally valid authority to initiate litigation seeking monetary or injunctive relief,” according to the filing. Since the FTC is structured as an independent agency headed by a multi-member commission with protections against removal by the president, Walmart contends that the commission lacks the executive authority to sue private parties in federal court.

Want to go deeper?

Title IX proposal garners record number of public comments

What’s the story? 

The comment period for the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) proposed rule seeking to modify Title IX discrimination protections closed on September 12, 2022, after receiving a record number of public comments for the department, according to multiple media reports.

The proposed rule aims to roll back the Trump administration’s Title IX rule, which narrowed the Obama administration’s definition of sexual misconduct at institutions of higher education and sought to support due process for accused individuals by requiring live hearings. The Biden administration’s proposal also broadens the definition of the word sex in the context of discrimination to include not only biological sex but also sexual orientation and gender identity, among other provisions.

Politico reported that the rule had received 146,000 comments as of September 6. That number rose to nearly 350,000 comments by September 7, but the Office of the Federal Register adjusted the total down to roughly 184,000 comments due to what the office described as a clerical error. By the end of the comment period on September 12, the rule had received more than 240,000 public comments.

Nineteen Democratic U.S. senators on September 12 sent a letter to ED Secretary Miguel Cardona in support of the rule, arguing that “the Department’s proposed rule clarifies the scope and application of Title IX’s prohibitions on all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sex, sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, and sexual orientation—explicitly extending these protections to trans students.”

Former ED Secretary Betsy Devos argued on Twitter that the proposed rule constitutes a return to challenges that the Trump-era rule sought to address. She also told Fox News that changing the Title IX definition of sex through the rulemaking process “is a bridge too far.” A coalition of 27 parent-led education groups in April sent a letter to Secretary Cardona arguing in part that the proposal “would discard the concept of male and female enshrined in Title IX itself” and “would rob girls and women of equal athletic opportunities.”

Want to go deeper?

In the states

Utah state agency to allow sale of mini-bottles of alcohol after non-action by state lawmakers

What’s the story? 

After the Utah State Legislature earlier this year declined to weigh in on the sale of mini-bottles of alcohol in the state, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services (DABS) voted on July 26, 2022, to advance a proposed rule allowing for the sale of mini-bottles of alcohol in state-run liquor stores. A public comment period on the proposal runs through October 17, 2022.  

The sale of mini-bottles of alcohol has been prohibited in Utah since the 1980s. The proposed rule would allow for the sale of 50 ml bottles of liquor and 187 ml bottles of wine in state-run liquor stores. DABS Executive Director Tiffany Clason told Fox 13 Salt Lake City that the decision to resume the sale of mini-bottles is aimed at accommodating the growing tourism industry in the state, arguing that DABS “has heard a lot of support from private business owners, also in high tourist areas of visitorship, rural areas of Utah where, when people are visiting, they would prefer to have smaller format sizes.” 

Abuse prevention advocates, including DABS Advisory Board member Robert Timerman, have expressed concern about the proposal. Timmerman argued during the July 26 DABS meeting that mini-bottles could allow for the concealment of alcohol and are “a concern on underage drinking as well.”

The Utah State Legislature passed an omnibus liquor bill in 2022 that did not address the sale of mini-bottles of alcohol. Fox 13 reported that the legislature “signaled it would stay out of the matter and allow the DABS to decide whether or not to allow the sale.” If finalized by DABS, the mini-bottles rule could take effect by the end of the year.

Want to go deeper?

Philadelphia mayor seeks to limit firearms through executive action

What’s the story? 

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order on September 27, 2022, that aims to ban firearms from indoor and outdoor recreation areas in the city. Judge Joshua H. Roberts of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court blocked the executive order on October 3, 2022, arguing that it violates state law.  

Pennsylvania law states that local governments cannot enact firearm regulations that are stricter than the state’s regulations. More than 40 states have similar preemption laws. The Philadelphia City Council has previously attempted to prohibit firearms through legislation, but its efforts have been struck down in court based on the state’s preemption statute. 

Mayor Kenney’s executive order seeks to limit firearms in the city through executive, rather than legislative, action. City officials have argued that the order aims to allow the city to manage its facilities as a property owner and, therefore, should not be barred by the law. Andrew Richman, a city attorney, told The Associated Press, “As the property owner of the city’s recreational centers, we believe that the city has the authority to limit guns on our own property.”

The ​​501(c)(4) advocacy group Gun Owners of America (GOA) on September 27 filed suit to challenge the executive order. Judge Roberts later blocked the order on the grounds that it violated state law. GOA attorney Andrew B. Austin told The Philadelphia Inquirer that “the law is so explicit: The City is not allowed to regulate possession of firearms in any manner.”

City officials were reviewing Judge Roberts’ ruling as of October 13, 2022.

Want to go deeper?

____________________________________________________________________________

How Congress could respond to the major questions doctrine

In a forthcoming essay in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy titled “A Congressional Review Act for the Major Questions Doctrine,” administrative law scholar Christopher J. Walker examines potential congressional responses to the major questions doctrine with an emphasis on its deregulatory implications. Walker proposes a mechanism in the spirit of the Congressional Review Act that would expedite congressional review of agency rules invalidated by federal courts under the major questions doctrine:

“Last Term, the Supreme Court recognized a new major questions doctrine, which requires Congress to provide clear statutory authorization for an agency to regulate a question of great economic, policy, or political significance. This new substantive canon of statutory interpretation will be invoked in court challenges to federal agency actions across the country, and it will no doubt spark considerable scholarly attention. This Essay does not wade into those doctrinal or theoretical debates. Instead, it suggests one way Congress could respond, by enacting a Congressional Review Act for the major questions doctrine. In other words, Congress could enact a fast-track legislative process that bypasses the Senate filibuster and similar slow-down mechanisms whenever a federal court invalidates an agency rule on major questions doctrine grounds. The successful passage of such joint resolution would amend the agency’s governing statute to expressly authorize the regulatory power the agency had claimed in the invalidated rule. In so doing, Congress would more easily have the opportunity to decide the major policy question itself—tempering the new doctrine’s asymmetric deregulatory effect and helping to restore Congress’s primary legislative role in the modern administrative state.”

Want to go deeper

  • Click here to read the full text of “A Congressional Review Act for the Major Questions Doctrine” by Christopher J. Walker. 

____________________________________________________________________________

Regulatory tally

Federal Register

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s September regulatory review activity included the following actions:

  • Review of 45 significant regulatory actions. 
  • Nine rules approved without changes; recommended changes to 32 proposed rules; three rules withdrawn from the review process; one rule subject to a statutory or judicial deadline. 
  • As of October 3, 2022, OIRA’s website listed 119 regulatory actions under review.
  • Want to go deeper? 


Over 50% of Americans won’t have finalized election results until three weeks after the election

Welcome to the Monday, October 17, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. Here’s when your state will finalize its election results
  2. This week’s major voter participation dates and deadlines
  3. Explore Mississippi’s general election ballot

Here’s when your state will finalize its election results

After voters cast their ballots, election officials begin the process of tabulating and eventually finalizing, or certifying, the election results. 

Each state has its own deadline that is generally fixed by state law. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to look far to find out when your state will finalize its results. Here are our findings:

  • Five states have certification deadlines within one week of the election. Delaware’s is the earliest: Nov. 10.
  • In 14 states, the certification deadlines fall between two and three weeks after the election (Nov. 23-29).
  • Looking at just the 50 states, more than 50% of the U.S. population lives in states with certification deadlines more than three weeks after the election.
  • Five states—Hawaii, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee—do not have fixed certification deadlines.

View more state-specific information here.

The two terms you might hear the most during the finalization process are canvassing and certification

  • Canvassing generally refers to how state and local officials confirm the validity of ballots cast in an election.
  • Certification is the process officials use to formalize the election results based on that canvas.

Some states, localities, and commentators might use the two terms interchangeably to describe the general process of counting ballots and formalizing results.

Immediately after the election, you’ll begin to hear commentators discuss unofficial vote totals. These totals remain unofficial until after the results are certified. When an election has a large enough margin of victory, those unofficial totals are often enough to determine who won and lost. But close races might go uncalled until official, certified results are released.

To stay up-to-date with changes to laws affecting election certification, and any other aspect of the electoral process, be sure to visit our election legislation tracker and subscribe to our weekly digest.

Use the link below to learn more about how election results are finalized and see more details on the specific dates by state.

Keep reading 

This week’s major voter participation dates and deadlines

Election Day is 22 days away, but there are plenty of important dates and deadlines coming up between now and Nov. 8. Here’s a look at the major voter participation deadlines taking place between Oct. 17 and 22.

Early voting begins in nine states this week:

Click here to learn more about early voting in your state.

Voter registration deadlines are coming up in 11 states and Washington, D.C.:

Click here to learn more about voter registration deadlines in your state.

Remember: you can check out our 2022 Election Help Desk for answers to the most frequently asked questions about voting, election results reporting, and post-election issues.

Keep reading 

Explore Mississippi’s general election ballot

Today is the 35th day of our 50 States in 50 Days series, and we’re featuring Mississippi, the Magnolia State!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, Alabama, Utah

On the ballot in Mississippi

At the federal level, Mississippians will elect four U.S. Representatives. Three incumbents are on the ballot. U.S. Rep. Steve Palazzo lost to Mike Ezell in a Republican primary runoff earlier this year.

Mississippi is one of four states—along with Louisiana, New Jersey, and Virginia—that hold state-level elections in odd-numbered years, so no state executive or legislative offices are on the ballot this year.

Four intermediate appellate court positions are up for election, one of which is contested. We are also covering school board elections in the DeSoto County School District.

Redistricting highlights

The number of U.S. House districts in Mississippi remained the same at four following the 2020 census.

Congressional elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map tool allows you to compare each district. Here’s an example of what Mississippi’s congressional map looked like before and after the 2020 census:

You can interact with our map comparison tools by visiting our Mississippi redistricting page here.

Partisan balance

  • Both of Mississippi’s U.S. Senators—Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker—are Republicans.
  • Of the state’s four U.S. House districts, Democrats hold one and Republicans hold three.
  • Mississippi has had a Republican governor since 2004.
  • Republicans hold a 36-16 majority in the state Senate and a 76-42-3 majority in the state House.
  • With a Republican governor and majorities in both legislative chambers, Mississippi is one of 23 Republican trifectas, a status it has held since 2012.
  • In addition to the governor, Mississippi has a Republican attorney general and secretary of state, making it one of 23 states with a Republican triplex.

Key races

  • State House District 37: Andy Boyd faces David Chism in a special election to serve the remainder of Rep. Lynn Wright’s (R) unexpired term. Special elections in Mississippi are nonpartisan, meaning candidates will appear on the ballot without party labels. Chism ran for the seat in a 2020 special election, losing to Wright 63% to 37%.
  • DeSoto County Schools: two of the board’s six seats are up for election. This is one of the more than 400 school board races we are tracking this November where candidates or local media have brought up issues relating to race in education, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and/or sex and gender in schools. Learn more about our school board conflicts coverage here.

Ballot measures

There are no statewide ballot measures in Mississippi this year.

In Mississippi, 41 measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Thirty-two were approved, and eight were defeated.

Voting

  • Polls are open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Mississippi requires voters to present identification when voting. For more information, click here.
  • Mississippi does not allow early voting.
  • Absentee/mail-in voting is available to certain voters who cannot vote in person on Election Day for an eligible reason. Click here for a list of those reasons. These ballots must be either returned in person or postmarked by Election Day.
  • The voter registration deadline was Oct. 10.

Keep reading



Election Legislation Weekly Digest: October 14, 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 AB2841: This bill requires the clerk of each superior court to notify the Secretary of State each month of findings made by the court regarding a person’s competency to vote and the number of court proceedings related to the determination of a person’s competency to vote. The Secretary of State must send this information to the appropriate county elections official, who must cancel the person’s registration or notify the person that the person’s right to vote has been restored.

Legislative history: On Aug. 29, the state Senate approved the final version of the bill 29-9. On Aug. 30, the state Assembly approved the bill 59-18. The bill was presented to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Sept. 9. Newsom signed the bill on Sept. 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 October 7, five bills have been acted on in some way. These five bills represent 0.2 percent of the 2,522 bills we are tracking. All five of these bills (100.0%) are from states with divided governments. 

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

  • 2 bills were introduced (or saw pre-committee action).
    • Divided governments: 2.
  • 1 bill advanced from committee (or saw post-committee action).
    • Divided governments: 1.
  • 2 bills passed one chamber (or saw pre-adoption action in the second chamber).
    • Divided governments: 2.

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 2,522 election-related bills. This represents a marginal increase as compared to last week’s total. 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.



What candidates are saying in Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Welcome to the Friday, October 14, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. Hear from California controller and Oklahoma House of Representatives District 79 candidates in their own words
  2. Battleground preview—U.S. Senate election North Carolina 
  3. 45% of all Utah state legislative seats lack a Democratic candidate this year

Hear from California controller and Oklahoma House of Representatives District 79 candidates in their own words

This year, we’ve periodically featured responses to our Candidate Connection survey from races with a 100% completion rate. We created the survey to help solve the ballot information problem because we believe everyone deserves meaningful, reliable, trustworthy information about their candidates. 

Here are a few recent examples of elections where all candidates completed the survey. We’ll be back next week with some details on some of the lighter survey questions (such as favorite song and fictional character—stay tuned!).

California controller election

In yesterday’s edition of the Daily Brew, we looked at elections for state financial officers like treasurers, auditors, and comptrollers. 

One of the state financial officer elections we’re watching is for California controller (most states refer to this position as comptroller). Candidates Malia Cohen (D) and Lanhee Chen (R) both completed the survey. Incumbent Betty Yee (D) is term-limited.

Here’re excerpts from Cohen’s and Chen’s answers to 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?

Cohen:

  • “I want to bring equity and justice to the State Controller’s office to reduce historic inequalities. The Controller has the ability to spotlight issues and can produce data to inform policymakers on important decisions. I have done this throughout my career. While on the Board of Supervisors, I passed legislation requiring the San Francisco Police Department to produce quarterly reports on the use of force. I’ve also worked to make the San Francisco budgeting process more transparent to end political payouts that hinder the process. I am committed to transparency and making decisions that help build a California where everyone thrives.”

Chen:

  • “As Controller, I will hold policy makers accountable for keeping the promises they make. For too long, the one-party monopoly in Sacramento has resulted in politicians protecting one another rather than being accountable to taxpayers. This is particularly important as we consider the challenges that we faced during the recent pandemic. California taxpayers deserve answers to questions like how tens of billions of dollars in federal assistance during the pandemic were spent. And whether school districts are actually using the funding they’ve received to help get our kids back into the classroom safely. These are the sorts of questions that, as Controller, I will answer on behalf of taxpayers.”

In the 2018 election for California controller, Yee defeated Konstantinos Roditis (R) 65.5% to 34.5%.

Democrats hold six of the nine comptroller offices up for election this year, while Republicans hold three. 

Oklahoma House of Representatives District 79

Incumbent Melissa Provenzano (D) and Paul Hassink (R) are running for Oklahoma House of Representatives District 79. Provenzano was first elected in 2018. In 2020, she defeated Margie Alfonso (R) 51.8% to 48.2%. District 79 covers parts of the cities of Tulsa and Broken Arrow. 

Here’s how Provenzano and Hassink answered the following question: What do you perceive to be your state’s greatest challenges over the next decade?

Provenzano

  • “Oklahoma has a supermajority of one party, which has proven to be problematic and prone to extremism and corruption. No one party should have total power, regardless of political persuasion.”

Hassink

  • “Oklahoma has many great resources; the greatest of which is its citizens. With our oil and gas economy under attack by the federal government and inflation climbing rapidly, it is difficult to retain the next generation of Oklahomans as they seek opportunity in other states. If I am elected, I will focus on developing our economy with lower taxes, focusing education on students, and creating well-paid jobs, so that we can retain talent in Oklahoma.”

As of Oct. 13, we’ve posted Candidate Connection survey responses for 143 races nationwide where all candidates running completed our survey — including for six U.S. House and seven state executive elections. Is an election on your ballot one of them?  

Click below to view all races with a 100% survey response rate, and if you’d like to learn more about the candidates on your ballot, ask them to fill out the survey.

Keep reading

Battleground preview—U.S. Senate election North Carolina 

Election Day is 26 days away (!), and we’re bringing you stories from the battleground races we’re following between now and Nov. 8. Today, we’re looking at North Carolina’s U.S. Senate election.

Former state supreme court justice Cheri Beasley (D), U.S. Rep Ted Budd (R), and seven others are running in the general election.

Incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R)—who first took office in 2005—is not seeking re-election. In 2020, incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R) defeated Cal Cunningham (D), 49% to 47%. In 2016, Burr defeated Deborah Ross (D), 51% to 45%.

Beasley served as a North Carolina district court justice from 1999 to 2008 and as a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 2008 to 2012. Gov. Bev Perdue (D) appointed Beasley to the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2012, where she was chief justice from 2019 to 2020. Beasley has also worked as an assistant public defender and a partner at McGuireWoods LLP. Beasley said she was running to “fight to lower costs, create good-paying jobs and expand access to affordable, quality health care in every part of North Carolina.”

Budd was first elected to North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018 and 2020. Before serving in the U.S. House, Budd was an investment analyst and owner of a gun range and store. Budd says he is “gravely concerned about our country’s future, because North Carolina families, our values, and our jobs are under attack every day in Washington.”[5]

The two most recent presidential elections in North Carolina were both decided by less than 4 percentage points. In 2020, incumbent President Donald Trump (R) defeated President Joe Biden (D), 49.9% to 48.6%. In 2016, Trump carried North Carolina with 49.8% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 46.2%.

Election forecasters consider this race to Lean Republican or Tilt Republican

Minor party, independent, and write-in candidates include Matthew Hoh (G), Shannon Bray (L), and independent candidates Hayden Boyette, Michelle Lewis, Kimrey Rhinehardt, Brenda Rodriguez, and Marc White.

Thirty-five of 100 seats are up for election, including one special election. Democrats have an effective majority, with the chamber split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) having the tie-breaking vote. Control of the 50-50 Senate is expected to be decided by one of nine races.

Click below to learn more about this race, including candidate ads, noteworthy endorsements, and polling. 

Keep reading 

45% of all Utah state legislative seats lack a Democratic candidate this year

Today is the 34th day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring Utah, the Beehive State.

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, Alabama

On the ballot in Utah

At the federal level, Utah voters will elect one U.S. Senator and four U.S. Representatives. 

At the state executive level, the treasurer and eight of 15 seats on the state Board of Education are up for election. 

One seat on the Utah Supreme Court is also up for a retention election

Finally, 15 of 29 seats in the state Senate and all 75 seats in the state House are up for election. There are eight open seats in the legislature.  

Redistricting highlights

Utah was apportioned four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, no change from its seats 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 Utah: 

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

Partisan balance

  • Both of Utah’s U.S. Senators—Mike Lee and Mitt Romney—are Republicans.
  • All four of Utah’s U.S. Representatives are Republicans. 
  • Republicans hold a 23-6 majority in the state Senate and a 58-17 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Republican, Utah is one of 23 Republican trifectas. Utah is the only state to have remained a trifecta from 1992 to 2022.
  • Utah’s governor, Spencer Cox, is a Republican. Utah’s last Democratic governor was Scott Matheson, who left office in 1985.
  • Utah’s attorney general is also a Republican, making the state one of 23 with a Republican triplex (Utah is one of three states that does not have a secretary of state).  

Seats contested by only one major party

This year, 44 state legislative seats in Utah, or 48% 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.

Democrats are running in 54% of all state legislative races. Forty-one state legislative seats (45% of all state legislative seats) do not have a Democratic candidate and a Republican is likely to win.

Republicans are running in 97% of all state legislative races. Three seats (3% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Republican candidate and Democrat is likely to win.

Key races

Ballot measures

One statewide ballot measure is certified to appear on the Utah ballot: Utah Constitutional Amendment A, Emergency Session Appropriation Limits Measure.

Among other things, the amendment would increase the limit on appropriations that the legislature can make in an emergency session from 1 percent to 5 percent of the total amount appropriated by the legislature for the immediately preceding completed fiscal year.

Seventy-four ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Fifty-eight ballot measures were approved, and 16 were defeated.

Voting

  • On Election Day, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mountain Time.
  • Utah requires voters to present identification while voting. Identification can include a valid Utah driver’s license, a valid Utah permit to carry a concealed weapon, and other forms of identification. A voter who doesn’t have an approved form of identification can provide two forms of identification that state the voter’s name and address, including a current utility bill or a legible copy dated within the 90 days before the election. Click here for the statute regulating accepted ID to ensure you have the most current information.
  • Early voting in Utah is available to all voters. Early voting begins on Oct. 25 and ends on Nov. 4.
  • The voter registration deadline in Utah is Oct. 28. Registration can be done online, in person, or by mail. In 2018, Utah enacted same-day voter registration. Voters may register by provisional ballot.
  • All voters are eligible to vote absentee in Utah. There are no special eligibility requirements for voting absentee. To vote absentee, an application must be received by county election officials no later than the Thursday before Election Day. A completed absentee ballot must be postmarked by the day before the election.

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



ESG and state executive official elections

Welcome to the Thursday, October 13, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. ESG and state executive official elections
  2. Maine’s gubernatorial election is a contest between an incumbent seeking a second term and a former governor seeking a third
  3. Alabama voters will decide whether to ratify an updated and recompiled state constitution

ESG and state executive official elections

The environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing movement has been an issue in many of this year’s state financial officer elections. ESG refers to the consideration of non-financial factors in the management of public funds. Non-financial investment factors can include company alignment with fund managers’ views of climate change, social justice, and diversity and how such factors could affect company values and risks. 

One set of officials that impact ESG policy are state financial officers. These positions include executive officials such as treasurers, auditors, and comptrollers, who are generally responsible for investing state money and coordinating financial planning. These officials can influence if and how states apply ESG criteria to investments and financial policy.

Of the 50 state financial offices up for election this year, Democrats hold 26, while Republicans hold 24

  • Twenty-six treasurer positions are up for election. 
    • Democrats and Republicans each hold 13 of those offices.
  • Fifteen auditor positions are up for election.
    • Democrats hold seven of those offices, while Republicans hold eight.
  • Nine comptroller positions are up for election.
    • Democrats hold six of those offices, while Republicans hold three.

Here is a snapshot of a few races where the debate over ESG investing is playing out in state financial officer elections this year:

  • Minnesota state auditor: Four candidates are running for Minnesota state auditor—incumbent Julie Blaha (D), Ryan Wilson (R), Will Finn (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party of Minnesota), and Tim Davis (Legal Marijuana Now Party). During a debate, Wilson said, “I will not play politics with our pensions. We must put return on investment first.” Blaha said, “Even if you don’t care about the environment at all, you need to think about climate change in investments. There are significant risks and there are significant opportunities in how climate is changing and how we’re transitioning energy.”
  • Kansas state treasurer: Three candidates are running for the office—incumbent Lynn Rogers (D), state Rep. Steven C. Johnson (R), and Steve Roberts (L). Johnson’s campaign issued a press release that says: “Johnson made eliminating woke ESG investment strategies a centerpiece of his campaign. ESG funds only invest in companies based on their environmental and corporate policies, making returns on investment a secondary concern.”
  • Missouri state auditor: Three candidates are running for the office—Alan Green (D), Scott Fitzpatrick (R), and John Hartwig (L). Fitzpatrick, the state Treasurer, said: “As Treasurer, I’ve fought back against misguided Biden Administration policies like the IRS bank account monitoring scheme, woke environmentalism disguised as ESG initiatives for the investment of public funds, and the John Kerry/Joe Biden pushed boycott of American energy producers by big banks.”

If you’d like to keep up to date on the latest developments in the world of ESG, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter, Economy and Society, which hits inboxes every Tuesday. Here are some recent examples of stories you can expect to see in Economy and Society:

  • On Oct. 5, Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder (R) announced in a letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink that his state would sell all of its BlackRock investments, worth about $794 million, because the investments conflict with state interests. BlackRock’s website states: “Each of our investment teams is responsible for implementing ESG approaches in line with its investment mandate and is required to have a formal ESG integration statement to underpin its respective approach. Along similar lines, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s (R) announced on Aug. 28 that 10 financial institutions, including BlackRock, were ineligible to do business with the state because, in Hegar’s view, their investment strategies weakened the state’s fossil fuel industry.
  • Unlike Louisiana and Texas, some states have made investment policy decisions in line with the ESG movement. In 2021, for example, Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed into law a bill directing the state treasurer to divest state pension funds from all fossil fuel companies by 2026. 

If you’d like to learn about the main types of arguments related to ESG, click here. Or click here to learn about state responses to ESG.

Click the link below to learn more about ESG.

Keep reading

Maine’s gubernatorial election is a contest between an incumbent seeking a second term and a former governor seeking a third

The general election is only weeks away, and we’re bringing you stories from some of the battleground races we are following closely between now and Nov. 8. Today, we’re looking at Maine’s gubernatorial election.

Incumbent Gov. Janet Mills (D), Paul LePage (R), and Sam Hunkler (I) are running in the general election.

Mills was first elected governor in 2018 and is seeking a second term. LePage served as governor from 2011 to 2019 and is seeking a third term. 

Mills served as Maine’s attorney general for eight years during LePage’s administration. Mills also served four terms as the district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties. She was the first woman elected to each of these positions. Mills says she has worked across the aisle to deliver progress as governor and would continue to address the following issues in a second term: expanding health care, fully funding Maine’s public schools, preserving Maine’s lands and waters, and fighting climate change.

LePage was elected governor after serving as the mayor of Waterville, Maine, for seven years. He also served two terms on the Waterville City Council. LePage says his vision for Maine is “to create prosperity through a lower overall tax burden for residents and businesses; a smaller, more efficient state government that we can all afford; protecting our most vulnerable populations (our children, our seniors and persons with disabilities), empowering parents’ rights to decide their children’s future, and managing a welfare system that serves as a safety net for the truly needy – not a free for all.”

Both candidates have responded to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision on abortion. 

  • Mills said: “Maine, our only chance at defending the right to safe and legal abortion will be this November at the ballot box. If given a chance, my opponent will dismantle reproductive rights across Maine. We must vote like our freedom to choose is on the line — because it is.”
  • LePage said: “As the child of a severely dysfunctional family, with domestic abuse that left me homeless, I know my mother faced difficult decisions and I am glad she chose life. The federal government has regularly prohibited taxpayer abortion funding, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger; and I have supported that policy and would continue to do so.”

This is one of 36 gubernatorial elections taking place this year. There are currently 28 Republican governors and 22 Democratic governors. 

Maine has had both a Democratic trifecta and a Democratic triplex since 2019.

Click below to read more about Maine’s gubernatorial election. 

Keep reading 

Alabama voters will decide whether to ratify an updated and recompiled state constitution

Today is the 28th day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring Alabama the Beautiful.

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington

On the ballot in Alabama

One U.S. Senate seat and seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election in Alabama. Six House incumbents are running for re-election. Incumbent Sen. Richard Shelby (R) did not run for re-election, and Rep. Mo Brooks (R) unsuccessfully ran to succeed Shelby.   

Thirteen state executive offices are up for election: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, agriculture commissioner, four seats on the state board of education, and two seats on the public service commission. 

All 35 seats in the Alabama Senate are up for election, as well as all 105 seats in the Alabama House of Representatives. Incumbents did not run for re-election in 26 state legislative districts this year.

Two seats on the Alabama Supreme Court are up for election. 

Redistricting highlights

Alabama did not gain or lose U.S. House districts after the 2020 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 Alabama: 

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Merrill v. Milligan, a case asking whether Alabama’s 2021 congressional redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act, on Oct. 4, 2022.  

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

Partisan balance

  • Both of Alabama’s U.S. senators are Republicans. Six members of the U.S. House from Alabama are Republicans, and one is a Democrat.
  • Republicans have a 27-8 majority in the state Senate and a 73-28 majority in the state House. Alabama has been a Republican trifecta—with a Republican governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature—since 2011. 
  • Alabama is one of 23 Republican triplexes, meaning that the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state all belong to the Republican Party.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 108 state legislative seats in Alabama, or 77% 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.

Democrats are running in 44% of all state legislative races. Seventy-nine state legislative seats (56% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Democratic candidate and a Republican is likely to win.

Republicans are running in 79% of all state legislative races. Twenty-nine seats (21% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Republican candidate and a Democrat is likely to win. 

Key races

Below are a few of the state legislative races identified by Alabama Political Reporter as competitive elections. In 2018, the Alabama House of Representatives had the largest average margin of victory out of every lower chamber that held state legislative elections that year, and the Alabama Senate had the third largest average margin of victory out of every upper chamber that held elections.

  • Senate District 2: Incumbent Tom Butler (R) and Kim Lewis (D) are running. 
  • Senate District 7: Incumbent Sam Givhan (R) and Korey Wilson (D) are running. 
  • Senate District 21: Incumbent Gerald Allen (R) and Lisa Ward (D) are running.
  • Senate District 27: Sherri Reese (D) and Jay Hovey (R) are running. Incumbent Tom Whatley (R) was defeated in the Republican primary. 

Ballot measures

Alabama voters will decide 10 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 8. 

One of those measures, the Alabama Recompiled Constitution Ratification Question, is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would ratify the proposed Alabama Constitution of 2022. Updates include removing a provision allowing slavery as a punishment for crime and removing repealed or nullified provisions of the state’s 1901 constitution, such as a ban on interracial marriage.

According to AL.com, “The goal was to make the massive Alabama Constitution of 1901, which has been amended 977 times, easier to read, use, and understand, as well as eliminating sections intended to preserve racial segregation and white supremacy that predated the civil rights movement.” 

In Alabama, 102 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1987 and 2020. Eighty ballot measures were approved, and 22 ballot measures were defeated.

Voting

  • Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time.
  • Alabama requires voters to present photo identification. For more information on voter ID requirements in Alabama, click here
  • Alabama does not permit early voting.
  • The voter registration deadline is Oct. 24. Registration may be completed online, by mail, or in person at certain locations. Oct. 24 is the receipt deadline, not postmark deadline, for mail-in registration. Same-day voter registration is not allowed. 
  • Certain Alabama voters are eligible to vote absentee. A mailed ballot request must be received by Nov. 1. An absentee ballot may be requested in person through Nov. 3. Absentee ballots returned by mail must be received by noon on Nov. 8. Absentee ballots returned in person must be returned by Nov. 7. 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