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Election Legislation Weekly Digest: January 20, 2023

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

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

Recent activity

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

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

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

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

The big picture

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

Legislative status 

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

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

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

Concentration of activity

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

Partisan affiliation of sponsor(s)

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

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



Kentucky threatens to divest from 11 banks over ESG policies

Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball (R) on January 2 issued a statement notifying 11 banks that their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) policies amounted to energy boycotts that harmed the state’s economy according to definitions passed into law last spring. The statement says the banks have 90 days to stop what Kentucky argues are energy company boycotts or face divestment from the state. According to Fox Business:

“Kentucky issued an official notice Monday morning listing 11 banks it accused of boycotting energy companies and which would be subject to divestment within months.

“Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball announced that, after a review of their energy and climate policies, the listed banks — which included BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and HSBC among others — were found to be in an active boycott of fossil fuel companies. The Kentucky state government could begin divesting from the firms if they didn’t reverse their boycotts, according to the notice obtained first by FOX Business.

“‘Kentucky is a coal, oil, and gas producing state,’ Ball told FOX Business. ‘Our energy sector helps power America. Kentucky refuses to fund the ideological boycotts of our own fossil fuel industry with the hard-earned taxes and pensions of Kentucky citizens.’

“Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature passed a bill requiring the state government to identify and divest from banks that are determined to be engaging in a boycott of energy and fossil fuel companies. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear signed the bill, which was endorsed by both the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association and Kentucky Coal Association, into law on April 8, 2022.

“The law directs the state treasurer’s office to publish an annual list of financial firms engaged in energy boycotts. State agencies then must notify the office if they own direct or indirect holdings of the listed companies and send a notice to the relevant companies within 30 days. If the companies don’t halt their boycotts within 90 days of receiving such notice, the state government could divest from their holdings.

“When companies boycott fossil fuels, they intentionally choke off the lifeblood of capital to Kentucky’s signature industries,” Ball said in a statement Monday. ‘Traditional energy sources fuel our Kentucky economy, provide much needed jobs, and warm our homes. Kentucky must not allow our signature industries to be irreparably damaged based upon the ideological whims of a select few.’…

“Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia have already announced they will divest hundreds of millions of dollars from banks engaging in energy boycotts. Texas and Oklahoma have taken legislative steps akin to Kentucky’s that will likely soon lead to divestment.”

Click here to subscribe to Ballotpedia’s ESG newsletter to stay up-to-date on the most important developments. Click here to learn more about ESG.



Wisconsin State Legislature sends three ballot questions to the April ballot

Wisconsin voters will be deciding on three ballot questions—two constitutional measures and one advisory question—on April 4. 

The constitutional measures relate to the conditions of release for an accused individual before conviction and cash bail. The two questions were referred to the ballot with the final passage of Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2) on Jan. 19.

In Wisconsin, the state legislature is required to approve an amendment by a majority vote in two successive sessions for the amendment to appear on the ballot.

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

During the 2023-2024 legislative session, the amendment was introduced as SJR 2. It was approved by the state Senate on Jan. 17, 2023, by a vote of 23-9. It was approved by the state Assembly on Jan. 19, 2023, by a vote 74-23. In both chambers, Republicans supported the amendment. In the House, Democrats were divided 12-23. In the Senate, Democrats were divided 2-9.

Questions 1 and 2 both amend Article I, Section 8 of the state constitution. Question 1 would authorize the state legislature to define serious harm in relation to the conditions—designed to protect the community from serious harm—a judge imposes on an accused person released before conviction. Question 2 would authorize judges to consider the following conditions when imposing and setting cash bail:

  • a previous conviction of a violent crime, 
  • the probability the accused will not appear in court,
  • the need to protect the community from serious harm as defined by the state legislature,
  • the need to prevent witness intimidation, and
  • the potential affirmative defenses of the accused.

State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R), one of the sponsors of the amendment, said, “The proposed amendment also broadens the factors that a judge can consider when setting a monetary condition for release, or cash bail for violent crimes. As I said earlier, Wisconsin is the only state that only allows judges to consider a single factor when setting cash bail. Under our proposal, and for violent crimes only, judges will have the flexibility to determine bail based on the totality of circumstances.”

ACLU of Wisconsin opposes the amendment saying it “would undermine the safety and stability of people detained pretrial and their communities, exacerbate inequities in the state’s cash bail system, and raise significant concerns under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and the excessive bail prohibition under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

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

In 2022, Ohio voters approved a similar constitutional amendment that requires courts to consider factors such as public safety, the seriousness of the offense, a person’s criminal record, and a person’s likelihood of returning to court when setting the amount of bail.

The Wisconsin State Legislature also voted to send an advisory question to the April ballot asking voters, “Shall able-bodied, childless adults be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits?” The advisory question would have no binding effect. 

To place an advisory question on the ballot, the state legislature is required to approve it by a simple majority vote in each chamber in one legislative session. The governor’s signature is not required to place it on the ballot.

The advisory question was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 4 (SJR 4). It passed the state Senate on January 17, 2023, by a vote of 22-10. On January 19, the state Assembly passed SJR 4 by a vote of 62-35. Legislative Republicans and one Democrat supported adding the question to the ballot. The remaining Democrats opposed the question.

Between 1985 and 2022, 18 measures appeared on odd-numbered year ballots in Wisconsin. Eleven measures were approved, and seven were defeated. The last spring odd-year election to include a ballot measure in Wisconsin was in 2015. Voters approved the measure, which provided for the election of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice by a majority of the justices serving on the court.

Additional reading:



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

Welcome to the Friday, January 20, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of bills passed in 2022 include:

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

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

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

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

Keep reading 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading 

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

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

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

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


18% of Congressional elections were decided by fewer than 10 points

In the 2022 U.S. Senate and U.S. House elections, the winning candidate’s margin of victory (MOV) was ten percentage points or fewer in 85 races and five percentage points or fewer in 46 races. 

Ten of the races decided by ten percentage points or fewer were for the U.S. Senate, and 75 were for the U.S. House. Six of the races decided by five percentage points or fewer were for the U.S. Senate, while 40 were for the U.S. House. 

Congressional elections decided by ten percentage points or fewer represent approximately 18% of the 470 U.S. Congressional elections in 2022. Congressional elections decided by five percentage points or fewer represent approximately 10%.

The 85 congressional races decided by ten percentage points or fewer in 2022 are four fewer than the 89 races decided by the same margin in 2020. In 2018, 102 were decided by ten percentage points or fewer. In 2016, 42 were, and in 2014, 56 were.  

The Republican candidate won 34 of these elections in 2022, down from 45 in 2020. The Democratic candidate won 51, up from 44 in 2020 and the highest number since 2014. 

The 46 Congressional races decided by less than five percentage points or fewer in 2022 are four more than the 42 races decided by the same margin in 2020. In 2018, 50 were decided by five percentage points or fewer or less. In 2016, 42 were, and in 2014, 56 were. 

The Republican candidate won 20 of those races in 2022, up from 19 in 2020. The Democratic candidate won 26, up from 23 in 2020 and the highest number since 2014.



District court affirms president’s authority to increase federal contractor minimum wage

Judge John J. Tuchi of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on January 6, 2023, rejected a challenge from a coalition of states and held that President Joe Biden (D) did not exceed his authority when he issued an executive order directing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to promulgate regulations increasing in the minimum wage for federal contractors.

President Biden issued Executive Order (EO) 14026 in April 2021 requiring the DOL to issue regulations increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour. Five states (Arizona, Indiana, Idaho, Nebraska, and South Carolina) in February 2022 challenged the executive order in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, arguing in part that the executive order violated the clear notice requirement of the U.S. Constitution’s spending clause because states were not fully aware of the new contracting conditions under the order; that the order exceeded the president’s authority under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (FPASA); and that the FPASA unconstitutionally delegates congressional authority to the president in violation of the nondelegation doctrine.

Judge Tuchi ruled in part that the executive order, in his view, did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s spending clause because the clause is not applicable to federal contracts; that the order did not exceed the president’s statutory authority under the FPASA because the order speaks to the FPASA’s federal contracting goals; and that the FPASA does not violate the nondelegation doctrine because it provides the president with an intelligible principle to guide executive action.

“As this Court and others have recognized, the FPASA’s grant of presidential authority is broad, but it is not unqualified,” Judge Tuchi wrote in the opinion. “The Court finds there is a sufficiently close nexus between EO 14026 and the Final Rule and the FPASA’s goals of economy and efficiency in federal contracting. Here, the president has rationally determined that increasing the minimum wages of contractors’ employees will lead to improvements in their productivity and the quality of their work, and thereby benefit the government’s contracting operation.”

The states can appeal the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but no appeal had been filed as of January 12, 2023.

Additional reading:



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

Photo of the White House in Washington, D.C.

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

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

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

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

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



Results of state executive endorsements in 2022 school board elections

Ballotpedia tracked 106 endorsements of school board candidates by state executive officials and candidates in 2022. Endorsements included official statements, appearances at campaign rallies, and direct participation in campaign ads and materials. The state executives and candidates to make endorsements were:

  • Arizona: Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) and Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Shiry Sapir (R)
  • California: Attorney general candidate Eric Early (R)
  • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist (D), and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez (R)
  • Maryland: Gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox (R)

DeSantis was the only executive whose full slate of candidates won. Across all 106 endorsements, candidates had a 56.6% success rate.



PredictIt markets show Joe Biden and Ron DeSantis at even odds in the 2024 presidential election

Photo of the White House in Washington, D.C.

As of January 17, 2023, PredictIt’s 2024 presidential market shows incumbent Joe Biden (D) tied with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) at $0.31. At this time last week, Biden led DeSantis by $0.03. Former President Donald Trump’s (R) share price has risen over the last week, going from $0.16 to $0.20. No other candidate has more than a $0.10 share price. 

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

The Democratic presidential primary market shows Biden leading at $0.54, down 10 cents from this time last week. Two other candidates have a share price at or above $0.10: California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) is at $0.18, and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) is at $0.10.

DeSantis currently leads in the Republican presidential primary market at $0.39, followed by Trump at $0.34. At this time last week, DeSantis led by $0.44 to Trump’s $0.28. No other candidate has a share price at or above $0.10. 

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



Redistricting litigation updates in five states

Welcome to the Thursday, January 19, Brew. 

By: Juan Garcia de Paredes

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

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

Updates regarding redistricting litigation in five states

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

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

South Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kansas

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

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

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

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

Mississippi

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

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

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

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

North Carolina

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

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

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

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

Texas

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

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

Keep reading 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading 

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

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

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

Episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursdays.

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

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