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In 2018, 143 third party candidates received more votes than the margin deciding the election

While third party and independent candidates win fewer elections than members of the two major parties, they can often affect an election, especially if their supporters would have voted for a different candidate had they not been in the race.
 
In 2018, 143 third party or independent candidates received more votes than the margin between the top two major-party candidates. We’ll refer to them as noteworthy third-party candidates.
 
This figure includes five candidates for U.S. Congress, 16 candidates for statewide office, 115 candidates for state offices elected by districts (such as the state legislature), and seven candidates in local elections within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope.
 
These 143 candidates included 54 Libertarians, 41 independent or unaffiliated candidates, and 19 members of the Green Party. Republicans won 27 of the 51 races with at least one noteworthy Libertarian candidate while Democrats won the remaining 24. Of the 15 races with a noteworthy Green Party candidate, Democrats won 11 while Republicans won four.
 
There were two noteworthy third-party U.S. Senate candidates, both in races Democrats won. In Arizona’s open-seat race, Angela Green (G) received more votes than the margin between Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSally (R). In West Virginia, Rusty Hollen (L) exceeded the margin between incumbent Joe Manchin (D) and challenger Patrick Morrisey (R). The three noteworthy House candidates, including two Libertarians and one member of the Reform Party, all ran in seats Republicans won.
 
Three 2018 gubernatorial contests, all for open seats, involved noteworthy third-party candidates. Independent candidates Oz Griebel (Conn.) and Greg Orman (Kan.) contested races Democrats won, while the Republican candidate won the Florida gubernatorial election with noteworthy Reform Party candidate Darcy Richardson.
 
Five states with 10 or more noteworthy third-party candidates accounted for more than half (83) of all such candidates in 2018. These states were:
  • Vermont: 32 noteworthy candidates including 17 independents, eight members of the Vermont Progressive Party, and four Libertarians
  • New Hampshire: 17 noteworthy candidates including 15 Libertarians and two independents
  • Maryland: 13 noteworthy candidates including 10 Green Party members, two Libertarians, and one independent
  • West Virginia: 11 noteworthy candidates including six independents, four Libertarians, and one member of the state Green Party affiliate
  • Michigan: 10 noteworthy candidates including six Libertarians, two members of the Working Class Party, and two members of the state Constitution Party affiliate
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SCOTUS weighs the expertise of agencies and courts during oral argument for Kisor v. Wilkie

During oral argument on March 27, 2019, for Kisor v. Wilkie, Justice Stephen Breyer said overturning Auer deference “sounds like the greatest judicial power grab since Marbury v. Madison.” He argued that, without Auer, judges could make decisions best left to experts in executive agencies. Justice Neil Gorsuch held a different view, arguing that federal law requires independent judges to decide all questions of law. Gorsuch said the promise of independent judges seemed to him “a significant promise, especially to the least and most vulnerable among us, like the immigrant, like the veteran” facing an agency in court.
 
The case involves a dispute between James Kisor, a marine veteran, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over whether he should receive retroactive disability benefits for PTSD he developed during the Vietnam War. The VA denied Kisor’s initial disability claim in 1983 and granted him benefits in 2006. At issue is the VA’s interpretation of whether certain records were relevant to its decision to grant Kisor benefits with an effective date in 2006 instead of 1983. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to defer to the expertise of the VA or to apply their own view of what the VA regulation means.
 


U.S. Virgin Islands Legislative Apportionment Initiative fails due to low turnout

A ballot initiative in the U.S. Virgin Islands failed despite winning 75 percent of the vote because turnout did not reach the required 50 percent threshold. The initiative was proposed by St. Croix Government Retirees, Inc., and would have changed the territory’s system of legislative apportionment. The measure would have replaced the territory’s two seven-member legislative districts and one at-large member with four two-member districts, one single-member district, and six at-large members.
 
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, a majority of registered voters must turn out for a ballot initiative to be approved, and a majority of voters who turn out need to cast their votes in support of the initiative. As of March 1, 2019, there were 51,741 registered voters in the U.S. Virgin Islands, meaning at least 25,872 people needed to vote in the election. With 86 percent of precincts reporting, voter turnout was at 9 percent (4,651 votes), meaning that the measure failed.


Citizen initiative process restrictions advanced in Idaho and signed into law in Utah

On Friday, the Idaho House of Representatives approved two bills changing the state’s initiative process. On Monday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) signed five bills into law making significant changes to the state’s initiative process.
 
Here’s what each piece of legislation would do:
 
Idaho
 
Senate Bill 1159 would make the following changes to Idaho’s initiative process:
  • increase the signature requirement for initiatives and veto referendums from 6 percent to 10 percent of votes cast at the last general election;
  • increase the state’s distribution requirement to require initiative and referendum petitioners to meet the 10 percent requirement in 32 legislative districts;
  • going into 2019 the requirement was to meet the 6 percent signature requirement in 18 legislative districts;
  • reduce the amount of time allowed for signature gathering from 18 months to 180 days (about six months);
  • enact a single-subject rule for initiatives;
  • require a fiscal impact statement for each initiative certified for the ballot.
House Bill 296 would make the distribution requirement apply in two-thirds (24) of legislative districts instead of 32 of them and would allow nine months for signature gathering instead of 180 days.
 
The state House approved SB 1159 along party lines in a vote of 40 to 30, with all 14 Democrats voting against it and Republicans split 40 to 16. House Bill 296 was also opposed by all voting Democrats (one was absent). It was approved 47 to 22. Both bills now go to the state Senate. The Senate previously approved SB 1159 on March 22 by a vote of 18 to 17, with all seven Democrats opposed and Republicans split 18 to 10.
 
Utah
 
In Utah, Gov. Herbert signed five bills into law on Monday: House Bill 195, Senate Bill 151, House Bill 145, House Bill 133, and House Bill 119. The most significant changes made by the bills are below:
  • change the signature requirement for initiatives and referendums from 10 percent (5 percent for indirect initiatives) of votes cast at the last presidential election to 8 percent (4 percent for indirect initiatives) of active voters in the state as of January 1 of even-numbered years;
  • change the signature submission deadline and the deadline for signature removal requests to February 15 before the election;
  • require initiative petitions to contain a summary of all funding sources (with percentages) for the costs associated with the proposed law and to include this information in the fiscal impact statement;
  • require the fiscal impact statement for an initiative to be prepared by the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst instead of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget;
  • require county clerks to post the names of registered voters who sign initiative and referendum petitions on the county website;
  • require signatures to be submitted and verified on a rolling basis as they are collected instead of all at once before the deadline; and
  • delay the effective date for approved citizen initiatives, allowing the legislature to consider them prior to enactment.
 
In 2018, voters in both states approved citizen initiatives to expand Medicaid coverage according to the Affordable Care Act. Utah voters also approved medical marijuana and redistricting commission initiatives. Idaho and Utah are Republican state government trifectas.
 
Ballotpedia is tracking nearly 150 changes to laws governing ballot measures and recall in 31 states proposed in 2019, including changes to distribution requirements, signature requirements, subject restrictions, ballot language rules, supermajority requirements, and bills proposing to establish initiative or referendum processes in states without them. So far, significant changes have been approved in Arkansas and Utah.
 
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Incumbents seek re-election in 75% of Oregon school board races

School board candidates in Oregon had to file by March 21 to appear on the 2019 ballot. Ballotpedia is covering elections in eight Oregon school districts in 2019. A total of 28 seats will be up for election in these eight districts. This represents just over half of the 54 total school board seats in these districts.
 
General elections will take place on May 21. Incumbents are seeking re-election in 21 of the 28 seats (75%) up for election. School board members in Oregon serve four-year terms, and each school board can have a total of five or seven members. If the school district has a resident population of more than 300,000, the school board must have seven members.
 
Ballotpedia covers the 200 largest school districts in the nation in addition to any districts overlapping with the 100 largest cities by population in the United States. Oregon is one of 23 states within this scope that are holding school board elections in 2019. Ballotpedia is covering 515 school board seat elections across 181 school districts this year.
 


Voters in New Orleans reject property tax initiative to fund senior citizen services on Saturday

Voters in Orleans Parish, Louisiana, voted on Proposition 1 on March 30, 2019, rejecting it 71 percent to 29 percent.
 
The initiative would have authorized the city to levy an annual property tax for five years at the rate of $2 per $1,000 in assessed property value (2 mills), with funds dedicated to services and programs for senior citizens.
 
The senior services tax measure was backed by the New Orleans Council on Aging. City council members Jason Williams and Jared Brossett co-sponsored the proposal. Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the Action New Orleans PAC opposed the measure.


Ballotpedia covering local elections across seven states on Tuesday

Ballotpedia is covering local elections on April 2, 2019, across seven states—Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.
 
*The city of Anchorage, Alaska, is holding nonpartisan general elections for five of 11 seats on the Anchorage Assembly. The filing deadline for this election was February 1. The contested races for District 2 Seat A, District 3 Seat D, and District 4 Seat F all feature newcomers. The remaining races for District 5 Seat H and District 6 Seat J feature unopposed incumbents. Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska and the 62nd-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 
Two of seven seats on the Anchorage School District school board in Alaska are also up for nonpartisan general election on Tuesday. The filing deadline for this election was February 1. Two newcomers are facing off in the race for Seat A, and incumbent Starr Marsett faces challengers David Nees and Ronald Stafford in the race for Seat B. The Anchorage School District served 48,238 students during the 2016-2017 school year.
 
*In Colorado, the city of Colorado Springs is holding nonpartisan general elections for mayor and three of nine seats on the city council. If no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote in the general election, a runoff election is scheduled for May 21. The filing deadline for this election passed on January 22.
 
In the race for mayor, incumbent John Suthers is seeking a second term in office and faces three challengers: Lawrence Martinez, Juliette Parker, and John Pitchford.
 
The contested at-large race for three Colorado Springs City Council seats features two incumbents and nine challengers. In 2017, six seats were up for election resulting in the re-election of three incumbents and the addition of three newcomers to the city council.
 
Colorado Springs is the second-largest city in Colorado and the 40th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 
*Chicago will hold its runoff election for mayor, treasurer, and 15 aldermen seats. Ballotpedia is also covering nonpartisan school board elections for Illinois School District U-46 on Tuesday. Four of the district’s seven board seats are up for general election. The filing deadline for this election was December 20, 2018. Three incumbents and eight candidates are running in the at-large race. This is the only elected Illinois school district covered by Ballotpedia in 2019. The district served 39,665 students during the 2016-2017 school year.
 
*The city of St. Louis, Missouri, is holding partisan general elections for Metro Council President and 15 metro council seats on April 2. A primary was held on March 5 to narrow the field of candidates. The regular filing deadline for this election was January 4, and the independent candidate filing deadline was February 11.
 
In the race for council president, Democrat Jeffrey Reed faces Green Party member Jerome Bauer, after both advanced from the primary. No Republican candidate filed in the election.
 
St. Louis is the second-largest city in Missouri and the 57th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 
*Missouri is also holding nonpartisan general school board elections on Tuesday. Ballotpedia is covering elections for 29 seats across 11 school districts. Collectively, these districts served 126,611 students during the 2016-2017 school year. The largest of these districts is  St. Louis Public Schools, which served 28,270 students during the 2016-2017 school year. Missouri holds school board elections annually.
 
*In Henderson, Nevada, nonpartisan primaries are being held for the Ward I, II, and IV seats on the city council and for one municipal court judge. The general election is on June 11, and the filing deadline for this election was January 31.
Each primary race is contested. The Ward II and IV incumbents each face a challenger in their bids for re-election, and five newcomers are running in Ward 1.
 
In the race for Henderson Municipal Court Judge Department 1, incumbent Mark Stevens faces challenger Regina McConnell.
Henderson is the second-largest city in Nevada and the 70th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 
*In Las Vegas, Nevada, nonpartisan primaries for mayor and the Wards 1, 3, and 5 seats on the city council will be held. The general election is on June 11, and the candidate filing deadline was February 8.
 
Mayor Carolyn Goodman faces six challengers in her bid for a third term. Goodman was first elected in 2011, succeeding her husband, Oscar B. Goodman, who had served the maximum of three terms in office.
 
Each city council race is contested with 10 newcomers running in Ward 1, seven newcomers running in Ward 3, and incumbent Cedric Crear facing two challengers in Ward 5.
 
The city will also hold a special election for the Ward 2 seat on the city council on June 11, 2019. The filing deadline for this election was March 28, 2019. The special election became necessary after former Ward 2 representative Steve Seroka resigned on March 4, 2019. Prior to his resignation, Seroka was subject to a recall attempt.
 
Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and the 29th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 
*The city of North Las Vegas, Nevada, is holding nonpartisan general elections for the Wards 2 and 4 seats on Tuesday. The candidate filing deadline was on February 8. Incumbent Pamela Goynes-Brown faces challenger Christopher Burns in Ward 2, and incumbent Richard Cherchio faces five challengers in Ward 4.
 
North Las Vegas is the fourth-largest city in Nevada and the 95th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 
*Oklahoma will hold its nonpartisan general school board elections on Tuesday. Ballotpedia is covering the election of 30 school board seats across 26 Oklahoma school districts in 2019. Collectively, these districts served 261,543 students during the 2016-2017 school year. The largest of these districts is Oklahoma City Public Schools, which served 39,806 students during the 2016-2017 school year. Oklahoma holds its school board elections annually.
 
*In Dane County, Wisconsin, nonpartisan general elections for circuit court judge and two county supervisor seats are being held. If more than two candidates had filed to run per seat, a primary would have been held on February 19, but each of the races is unopposed. The filing deadline for this election was January 2.
 
*The city of Madison, Wisconsin, is holding a nonpartisan general election for mayor. A primary was held on February 19 to narrow the field of candidates. The filing deadline for this election was January 2.
 
Incumbent Paul Soglin faces challenger Satya Rhodes-Conway after they defeated three candidates in the primary. Soglin has served in the position since 2011, and previously held the office of Mayor in Madison from 1973 to 1979 and 1989 to 1997. He lost an election bid in March 2003.
 
Madison is also holding nonpartisan general elections for all 20 seats on the common council on Tuesday. As in the mayoral election, the candidate filing deadline was January 2. Primaries were only held on February 19 in districts where three or more candidates filed to run. These were Districts 3, 12, 13, and 15. The top two vote recipients in each race advanced to the general. In total, 11 incumbents are running for re-election to the council, with 10 of these incumbents running unopposed.
 
Madison is the second-largest city in Wisconsin and the 82nd-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 
*Nonpartisan general elections are also being held for Wisconsin school boards. Ballotpedia is covering races for 21 seats across seven school districts in 2019. Collectively, these districts served 123,027 students during the 2016-2017 school year. The largest of these districts is Milwaukee Public Schools, which served 76,206 students during the same time period.
 
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42% of Texas school board elections uncontested in May

In 2019, Ballotpedia will cover regularly scheduled elections across 63 Texas school districts. Of these, 56 districts will hold their elections on May 4. The 56 districts have a combined 161 board seats up for election, and the remaining seven school districts are holding their elections on November 5.
 
Of the 161 seats up for election in May, 67 (or 42 percent) are uncontested. Thirty-nine districts have at least one unopposed candidate, and 13 of them have no contested seats on the ballot and may cancel their election entirely. The remaining 17 districts have contested seats across the board.
 
A total of 316 candidates filed for election, which is approximately 1.96 candidates per seat. This figure is higher than the 2016 Texas average of 1.79 candidates per seat and the 2016 national average of 1.90 candidates per seat. In all, 114 incumbents are seeking re-election, which means 47 races are open-seat contests.
 
These 56 school districts served a combined total of 1,817,124 students during the 2016-2017 school year.
 


Update on the Alaska House power-sharing arrangement

Members of the Alaska House ended a month-long leadership deadlock by electing Rep. Bryce Edgmon as speaker on February 14, 2019. Edgmon was elected by a bipartisan coalition under the condition that he establish a power-sharing arrangement where both Democrats and Republicans held positions of power.
 
The coalition that elected Edgmon speaker included all 15 House Democrats, four Republicans, and independent Daniel Ortiz. Eighteen Republicans voted against him. Edgmon, who previously served as House speaker from 2017 to 2018, was a Democrat until February 11, when he changed his party affiliation to unenrolled.
 
Under the power-sharing arrangement, there is a 25-member bipartisan majority coalition led by Edgmon (15 Democrats, eight Republicans, and two independents) and a 15-member minority led by Lance Pruitt (all Republicans). Here are the details:
  • Although Edgmon is speaker, Republicans Steve Thompson and Louise Stutes serve as majority leader and majority whip, respectively.
  • The Rules Committee, which controls the flow of legislation to the floor, is chaired by Republican Charles Kopp.
  • Of the nine standing committees, three have Democratic and Republican co-chairs (including the powerful Finance Committee) and six are Democratic-led. Of the four special committees, two are Democratic-led and two are Republican-led.
  • Of the eight Republicans serving in the majority, four voted for Edgmon, three voted against Edgmon, and one—Gary Knopp—did not participate.
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Federal Register weekly update; fewest final rules added since end of January

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.
 
During the week of March 25 to March 29, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,076 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 12,046 pages. This week’s Federal Register featured a total of 566 documents, including 474 notices, four presidential documents, 40 proposed rules, and 48 final rules.
 
Three proposed rules and two final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they may have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules.
 
During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 776 pages. As of March 29, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 1,578 pages.
 
The Trump administration has added an average of 927 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of March 29. In 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. Over the course of the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
 
According to government data, the Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
 
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2016