TagDaily Brew

A redistricting update from New York and Ohio

Welcome to the Wednesday, February 2 , Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. Redistricting roundup—New York and Ohio
  2. Ohio Secretary of State certifies marijuana legalization initiative to the state legislature 
  3. Texas primary election spotlight

Redistricting roundup—New York and Ohio

We’re back with the latest news out of New York and Ohio on congressional and state legislative redistricting efforts. Let’s dive right in!

New York

On Jan. 30, the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment—which Democrats control—released proposed congressional and legislative redistricting plans. According to Marina Villeneuve of NBC 4 New York, the maps would give the [Democratic] party “an advantage in 22 of the state’s 26 congressional districts and mean re-election trouble for several Republican members of the U.S. House.” The Legislature could vote on the maps as early as this week. 

Voters in New York approved a state constitutional amendment—Proposal 1—in 2014, creating a redistricting commission for drawing legislative and congressional districts. On Jan. 3, 2022, the New York Independent Redistricting Commission voted 5-5 on two congressional redistricting proposals—one proposed by Democrats on the commission and the other proposed by the commission’s Republicans. The Legislature rejected both maps on Jan. 10. Although the commission had 15 days from that point to go back to the drawing board and produce new maps, it announced on Jan. 24 that it would not submit any new proposals. Since the commission failed to submit a revised map by Jan. 25, the Legislature is allowed to amend or create new redistricting proposals.

After the 2020 census, New York was apportioned 26 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a loss of one seat as compared to apportionment after the 2010 census.

Ohio

The Ohio Supreme Court is expected to rule this week on whether to accept the Ohio Redistricting Commission’s revised legislative maps. The commission approved the maps on Jan. 22, but several plaintiffs—including the League of Women Voters and an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee—filed legal objections in court. According to Andrew J. Tobias at Cleveland.com, “the groups said Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission failed to get closer to the 54% number representing the GOP’s share of the recent statewide vote.” 

If the court approves the maps, they will take effect for the state’s 2022 legislative elections and last for four years, rather than 10, since the commission’s approval vote was along party lines.

The Ohio legislature approved a bill on Jan. 27 intended to give Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) the authority to make administrative changes to candidate filing procedures such as permitting applicants to change dates or district numbers and give candidates time to comply with residency requirements that result from redistricting. The filing deadline for legislative candidates in Ohio is today.

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Ohio Secretary of State certifies marijuana legalization initiative to the state legislature 

Speaking of Ohio…

On Jan. 28, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced a marijuana legalization initiative had submitted enough valid signatures to be presented to the state legislature. 

The initiative would enact a state law to legalize the cultivation, processing, sale, purchase, possession, home growth, and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older. Adults would be authorized to possess up to two and a half ounces of cannabis and up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. Individuals would also be able to grow six marijuana plants at home or up to 12 plants per household. Additionally, the initiative would enact a 10% cannabis tax rate on adult-use sales and dedicate revenue to fund a cannabis social equity and jobs program.

In Ohio, initiated state statutes are indirect, meaning they must be considered by the state legislature. The legislature has four months to adopt, reject, or take no action on the measure. If no action is taken, sponsors have 90 days following the legislature’s four-month deadline to address the measure to collect 132,887 additional signatures.

Here’s a brief timeline of the initiative’s road to the legislature:

  • December 20, 2021: The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the campaign behind the initiative, submits an initial round of 206,943 signatures.
  • January 3, 2022: Secretary of State Frank LaRose announces that 119,825 signatures were valid–13,062 less than the number required.
  • January 13, 2022: The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, taking advantage of Ohio’s one-week cure period to collect additional signatures, presents an additional 29,918 signatures.

Tom Haren, a spokesman for the campaign, said, “We are ready and eager to work with Ohio legislators over the next four months to legalize the adult use of marijuana in Ohio.”

Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and had previously rejected recreational marijuana in 2015 by a margin of 63.65% to 36.35%.

Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.

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Race spotlight: Texas’ 28th Congressional District Democratic primary election

On March 1, Texas will kick off the 2022 primary season. For those keeping track at home, that’s in one month. Over the course of this year, we’ll bring you a look at some of our Republican and Democratic battleground primaries. 

The first on the agenda is the Democratic primary for Texas’ 28th Congressional District. 

What can you tell me about the district? Texas’ 28th Congressional District is represented by Henry Cuellar (D). Cueller was first elected in 2005. The District includes the southern outskirts of San Antonio and stretches down to the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the 2020 census, the District’s population is 781,276 

What’s the story? Three candidates are running in the primary—incumbent Henry Cuellar, Tannya Benavides, and Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar and Cisneros squared off in the 2020 primary. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D), along with other members of the U.S. House leadership, backed Cuellar that year, while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D) endorsed Cisneros. Cuellar defeated Cisneros 51.8% to 48.2%. 

As of January 2022, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus endorsed Cuellar. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley, and Justice Democrats endorsed Cisneros. The San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board, which endorsed Cuellar in the 2020 primary, endorsed Cisneros in the 2022 primary.

Cuellar’s campaign has highlighted his membership on the House Appropriations Committee and said that he has used that position to bring funding to the district for public education, healthcare services, small businesses, veteran’s programs, and immigration services.

Cisneros is an immigration attorney. Cisneros supports Medicare For All, access to reproductive planning and contraception, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, and the For The People Act as key policy goals.

Benavides is a former educator and community organizer. Benavides’ campaign has focused on an increased minimum wage, accessible healthcare, educational equity, and passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act).

As of January 2022, the three race rating outletsCook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections—considered the general election as Solid or Likely Democratic. 

Keep reading



Ballot measure updates in Florida and Massachusetts

Welcome to the Tuesday, February 1, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. Ballot measure updates in Florida and Massachusetts
  2. Republicans outraise Democrats by 44% in Florida state legislative races
  3. Last week had the highest weekly document total added to the Federal Register so far this year

Ballot measure updates in Florida and Massachusetts

Organizers of a sports betting initiative announced it would not qualify for the Florida ballot last week. Meanwhile, we have campaign finance totals and a lawsuit over an income tax amendment in Massachusetts. Here’s a closer look at last week’s ballot measure developments:

In Florida, Florida Education Champions, the sponsors of an initiated constitutional amendment that would authorize sports betting in the state, announced on Jan. 28  it would not have enough signatures to appear on the 2022 ballot.

The amendment would have permitted Native American tribes and entities that have existed for at least one year and conducted sports betting in at least 10 other states to operate online sports betting with additional opportunities presented to other entities in the future. The Educational Enhancement Trust Fund in the state’s Department of Education would have received all online sports betting tax revenue.

Florida Education Champions reported $37.2 million in contributions with the largest donations coming from existing sports betting platforms DraftKings ($22.7 million) and FanDuel ($14.5 million). The group reported $36.0 million in expenditures, including $23.8 million paid to Advanced Micro Targeting for petition gathering services.

Sponsors needed 891,589 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. As of Jan. 30, the Florida Division of Elections showed that elections officials had validated 495,537 signatures. 

In Massachusetts, campaigns for and against an additional income tax amendment reported a combined $1.6 million in contributions. 

The amendment would create an additional income tax of 4% for income over $1 million—in addition to the existing 5% flat-rate income tax—and dedicate revenue to education and transportation. Massachusetts voters will decide on the amendment in November.

Raise Up Massachusetts, the campaign backing the amendment, reported $1.2 million in total contributions in 2021. The top donors included the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the state AFL-CIO, and 1199 SEIU MA PAC.

Coalition for a Strong Massachusetts Economy, which opposes the amendment, raised $437,486. The top donors included three individuals: Robert Reynolds, Nino Micozzi, and Jeffrey Markley. 

The state legislature referred the amendment to the November ballot after approving it by a 147-48 vote in 2019 and a 159-41 vote in 2021. Both votes were primarily along party lines with Democrats in the majority and Republicans in the minority.

As of Jan. 30, 64 statewide ballot measures have been certified in 30 states for the 2022 ballot. This is the largest number of certified ballot measures we have tracked through the fourth week of January since at least 2012. The next closest year, 2014, had 62 certified measures at this point.

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Republicans outraise Democrats by 44% in Florida state legislative races

Since the 2020 campaign cycle, Ballotpedia has partnered with Transparency USA to provide campaign finance information for state-level elections in 10 states, including Florida.

New campaign finance filings for Florida’s state legislative races show that between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, Republican candidates outraised Democratic candidates by 44 percent.

Ahead of the primaries this summer, 27 Republican candidates have raised $1.8 million compared to the $1.2 million 33 Democratic candidates have raised.

These figures are driven primarily by the largest five fundraisers in each party. For Democrats, the top five fundraisers accounted for 75% of the party’s total. For Republicans, the top five made up 67%.

Overall, the three candidates who raised the most money were Blaise Ingoglia (R) in Senate District 10 ($459,648), Ed Hooper (R) in Senate District 16 ($458,995), and Reggie Gaffney (D) in Senate District 6 ($447,959).

Ingoglia and Hooper are incumbent legislators, with Ingoglia seeking to move from the House to the Senate, and Hooper running for re-election in his current district. Gaffney is a member of the Jacksonville City Council.

Republicans currently hold a 24-15 majority in the state Senate and a 78-40 majority in the House. All 160 seats are up for election in November.

Florida’s state legislative primary elections are scheduled for Aug. 23. In some cases, party nominees may be chosen earlier.

We’ll provide updates throughout the year on state campaign finance reports through our partnership with Transparency USA.

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Last week had the highest weekly document total added to the Federal Register so far this year

From Jan. 24 through Jan. 28, the Federal Register added 614 documents, the most so far this year and the sixth-highest weekly total during President Joe Biden’s (D) administration. 

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 accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.

The 614 documents in last week’s Federal Register included:

  • 509 notices
  • 40 proposed rules
  • 65 final rules

These 614 documents accounted for 1,342 pages setting the register’s year-to-date page total at 4,762. 

Of these documents, five proposed rules and seven final rules were deemed significant under Executive Order 12866, meaning they have the potential to have large effects on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. This includes a final rule withdrawing an emergency temporary standard that mandated employers of more than 100 employees to require COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Biden administration has issued 16 significant proposed rules and 24 significant final rules as of Jan. 28.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. Use the link below to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register since 2017.

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Three San Francisco school board members face recall elections on Feb. 15

Welcome to the Friday, January 28, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. Previewing the Feb. 15 recall election of three San Francisco, Calif., school board members
  2. Michigan Supreme Court overturns distribution and circulation registration requirements for initiative petition drives
  3. More on the process to fill a Supreme Court vacancy

Previewing the Feb. 15 recall election of three San Francisco, Calif., school board members

Recall elections against Alison Collins, Gabriela López, and Faauuga Moliga—three of the seven members of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education in California—are on the ballot on Feb. 15. 

Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Siva Raj, a parent who filed the notices of intent to recall along with Autumn Looijen, said, “We are parents, not politicians, and intend to stay that way. We are determined to ensure San Francisco’s public schools provide a quality education for every kid in the city.” Supporters also said they were upset that the board had spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district amid the pandemic. 

Collins, López, and Moliga were first elected to the board on Nov. 6, 2018. They received the most votes in an at-large election, defeating 16 other candidates

In response to the effort, Collins said, “We can’t let people scare us. When I see certain people getting upset, I know I’m doing the right thing. If it’s people that have power and don’t want to share it, there’s people who want to make decisions without being inclusive, of course they are going to get upset.”

López said, “The people who are behind this don’t know us, they don’t know our work, they don’t know what we’ve been doing, they don’t know what we are dedicated to. They hear what’s out there and they recognize this is an opportunity to bring down someone who is me.”

Moliga said, “The recall effort shows there is a group of parents that are frustrated with the school board. I am the first Pacific Islander ever elected in office in San Francisco, giving my marginalized community a voice in local government for the first time.” 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, endorsed the recall on Nov. 9, 2021. 

We’ve tracked 23 school board recall efforts so far in 2022, more than the year-end totals for five of the past 13 years. Last year, we tracked a decade-high 92 efforts against 237 board members, 0.4% of whom were removed from office.

While some states require recall supporters to have a specific reason for the recall, others, including California, do not. Ballotpedia researches the reasons for recalls in both scenarios. The recall effort in San Francisco is one of nine across the U.S. in 2022 where recall supporters cited district policies regarding the coronavirus pandemic as a reason for the recall. This matches the number of COVID-related recalls as 2020. There were 54 such recalls in 2021.

In related school board news, we are preparing to launch Ballotpedia’s Hall Pass in the coming weeks, a free weekly newsletter designed to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and education policy. Subscribe today to receive our very first edition!

Keep reading 

Michigan Supreme Court overturns distribution and circulator registration requirements for initiative petition drives

On Jan. 24, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned two provisions of a 2018 law that changed aspects of the state’s initiative process. The provisions of House Bill 6595 (HB 6595) the court said were unconstitutional were:

The supreme court upheld a provision of HB6595 requiring paid circulators to identify on petition forms that they are paid.

The Michigan State Legislature passed and former Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed HB 6595 in December 2018. A month earlier, in the 2018 general election, Michigan voters approved three initiatives to:

  • Legalize marijuana;
  • Create an independent redistricting commission; and,
  • Add voting policies, including straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, and no-excuse absentee voting, as constitutional rights.

Ballotpedia recently published an analysis comparing the difficulty of different states’ signature distribution requirements. The analysis was based on two factors in particular:

  • The percentage of jurisdictions from which signatures must be collected; and,
  • The size of the requirement in each required jurisdiction.

Before it was overturned, Michigan’s distribution requirement was near the middle of the pack when compared to the other 16 states with distribution requirements for initiatives and veto referendums. Seven states had easier requirements and nine states plus D.C. had roughly equal or harder requirements. Mississippi’s requirement, as interpreted by the state supreme court in 2021, is mathematically impossible to meet with the state’s current four congressional districts.

Keep reading 

More on the process to fill a Supreme Court vacancy

On Jan. 27, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer formally announced his plan to retire at the end of the court’s 2021-2022 term. Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution says the President of the United States “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint…judges of the supreme Court.” Here are three more important things to know about the process to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court:

  1. The most public part of this process is when the nominee testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee and takes questions. The hearing, which is kept open at the chairperson’s discretion, is where you will see senators asking the nominee questions directly. This appearance became a standard part of the process with the nomination of John M. Harlan in 1955. The first televised nomination hearing was in 1981 for Sandra Day O’Connor.
  1. One major recent change to the process of confirming a Supreme Court justice came on April 6, 2017, during Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation process. The U.S. Senate lowered the threshold to close debate on Supreme Court nominations to a simple majority from 60 votes. Before that change, any senator from the minority party could filibuster, or block, a nominee if there were an insufficient number of votes to end the debate.
  1. A president may also choose to make a recess appointment by appointing a new justice while the Senate is not in session. Under this method, the nominee would not need Senate confirmation. But the justice’s term would end with the end of the next session of Congress, rather than the lifetime appointments we see with Senate confirmation. 

Presidents have made 12 recess appointments to the Supreme Court, most in the 19th century. The most recent was President Dwight Eisenhower’s (R) appointment of Potter Stewart in 1958. Following the expiration of his term, Eisenhower appointed Potter again, this time with a Senate confirmation.

Keep reading



Breyer to retire: A look at the latest vacancy to open on the U.S. Supreme Court

Welcome to the Thursday, January 27, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

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

  1. Report: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire; Court accepts three cases for argument
  2. Texas’ U.S. House races to have the fewest candidates per seat this year since at least 2018
  3. Primary season is here! Keep up with the latest developments in Ballotpedia’s Heart of the Primaries

An update based on the report that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retirement; Court accepts three cases for argument

Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Justice Stephen Breyer will retire at the end of the 2022 term this October, according to media reports Wednesday.

Breyer, a Bill Clinton (D) appointee, has served on the court since 1994. He is one of three justices on the nine-member court to be appointed by a Democratic president.

Breyer’s retirement will be President Joe Biden’s (D) first opportunity to nominate a member to the court; both Donald Trump (R) and Barack Obama (D) nominated three SCOTUS justices while in office. Biden’s nominee will need to receive approval from both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full U.S. Senate before taking office. 

Democrats currently hold a 50-50 majority in the full Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris (D) casting the tie-breaking vote. Control of the committee is split 11-11. Under the organizing resolution the U.S. Senate adopted at the beginning of the current Congress, a tied vote in committee will not prevent a nomination from advancing to the full Senate.

President Biden will not need to wait for Justice Breyer’s retirement to take effect before selecting a nominee, giving Democrats time to confirm a successor ahead of the November elections. In the 15 Supreme Court vacancies that have opened since 1975, an average 76 days elapsed between the outgoing justice leaving office and a successor taking their place.

In other SCOTUS-related news, the court accepted three cases for argument during its October 2022-2023 term on Jan. 24. These are the first cases SCOTUS has granted for its next term scheduled to begin Oct. 3, 2022.

  1. Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard (Consolidated with Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina)
  2. Axon Enterprise, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission
  3. Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency

Last week, SCOTUS accepted one additional case for its current term. The court granted Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta on Jan. 21. The case concerns state authority in Indian country and the scope of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the case McGirt v. Oklahoma (2020).

To date, the court has accepted three cases for its 2022-2023 term. The court has agreed to hear 65 cases during its current 2021-2022 term and so far has issued decisions in eight of those cases.

Keep reading 

Texas’ U.S. House races to have the fewest candidates per seat this year since at least 2018

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Texas was December 13, 2021. Our team has been crunching the numbers on the filings and sent along a report. This year, 223 candidates are running for Texas’ 38 U.S. House seats, including 143 Republicans, 79 Democrats, and one independent candidate. That’s 5.87 candidates per seat, less than the 6.53 candidates per seat in 2020 and 5.92 in 2018.

This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census, which resulted in Texas gaining two U.S. House seats. Two members of the U.S. House are running for re-election in a different district than the one they currently represent: Lloyd Doggett (D) is running for re-election in the new 37th District, while Vicente Gonzalez (D) is running in the 34th District seat held by retiring Rep. Filemon Vela (D).

Six seats are open, meaning no incumbent is running. In addition to Gonzalez’s and Doggett’s current districts, they are the newly-created 38th District and the 1st, 8th, and 30th districts. 1st District incumbent Louie Gohmert (R) is running for state attorney general, while incumbents Randy Weber (R) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) are retiring from the House.

This is the same number as 2012 (the last elections after redistricting) and 2020. There were seven open seats in 2018.

There are 13 districts where incumbents do not face primary challenges.

Three seats are guaranteed to Republican candidates because they face no opposition. Three more seats are likely to be won by Republicans because no Democrats filed. There are no districts where the same is true of Democratic candidates.

Fifteen candidates each are running in the 15th and 30th districts, more than any other. Six Democrats and nine Republicans are running in the 15th. Nine Democrats and six Republicans filed in the 30th. Both districts are open seats.

Texas’ U.S. House primaries are the first in the country, on March 1, 2022. Candidates need at least 50% of the vote to win in the primary; in the event no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a May 24 runoff.

Keep reading



Federal court blocks Alabama’s congressional redistricting plan, delays filing deadline

Welcome to the Wednesday, January 26, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. Federal court blocks Alabama’s congressional redistricting plan; Mississippi enacts new congressional map
  2. Up next in filing deadlines: Alabama, West Virginia, and New Mexico
  3. #WednesdayTrivia

Federal court blocks Alabama’s congressional redistricting plan; Mississippi enacts new congressional map

Here’s the latest redistricting news. 

Alabama

On Jan. 24, a unanimous three-judge federal court panel blocked Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) from holding the state’s 2022 congressional elections using the redistricting plan the state adopted on Nov. 4, 2021. The panel delayed the filing deadline for U.S. House candidates, moving the date from Jan. 28 to Feb. 11 to give the Legislature time to redraw the map.

A spokesperson for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) said, “The Attorney General’s Office strongly disagrees with the court’s decision and will be appealing in the coming days.”

Four sets of plaintiffs challenged Alabama’s new congressional districts for violating Section Two of the Voting Rights Act. Ruling on one of those lawsuits, Milligan v. Merrill, the unanimous panel said the plaintiffs are “substantially likely to establish that the Plan violates Section Two of the Voting Rights Act.” The panel also said plaintiffs could likely show that “Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress.” 

The judges directed the Legislature to devise a congressional redistricting plan “that includes either an additional majority-Black congressional district, or an additional district in which Black voters otherwise have an opportunity to elect a representative of their choice.”

The panel’s three members are Senior Judge Stanley Marcus of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and District Court Judges Anna Manasco and Terry Moorer. Marcus was first appointed to a U.S. district court judgeship by President Ronald Reagan (R) in 1985 and to the 11th Circuit by President Bill Clinton (D) in 1997. Manasco and Moorer were appointed as federal judges by President Donald Trump (R) in 2020 and 2018, respectively.

In the 2022 election cycle, three states have rescheduled their original candidate filing deadline—Alabama, Kentucky, and North Carolina. 

Mississippi

On Jan. 24, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed the state’s congressional redistricting plan. Mississippi was apportioned four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it received after the 2010 census.

After the state Senate approved the plan, Lee Sanderlin wrote in the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, “The bill preserves the current balance of congressional power in Mississippi, keeping three seats for Republicans and one for lone Democrat Bennie Thompson, D-Bolton.”

Currently, 26 states have adopted congressional district maps, one state has approved congressional district boundaries that have not yet taken effect. State or federal courts have blocked maps in two states. Six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 15 states have not yet adopted congressional redistricting plans. As of Jan. 25, 2012, 32 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

Congressional redistricting has been completed for 271 of the 435 seats (62.3%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Keep reading

Up next in filing deadlines: Alabama, West Virginia, and New Mexico

The 2022 primary season is off and running! Kentucky’s statewide filing deadline—the second of the 2022 primary season—was Jan. 25 (Texas’ deadline was Dec. 13, 2021). Looking ahead, the number of filing deadlines will increase each month through March, and then start to decline as states begin holding primary elections. 

Here’s what’s next for filing deadlines:

Alabama: Alabama’s statewide filing deadline was originally scheduled for Jan. 28. However, as we mentioned in the story above, a federal court recently moved the filing deadline for U.S. House candidates from Jan. 28 to Feb. 11 to give the Legislature more time to redraw its congressional district map. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) said he would appeal the decision. Currently, the filing deadline for state executive and state legislative candidates is still set for Jan. 28, but Marshall has not said whether he intends to keep the deadline. 

West Virginia: West Virginia’s statewide filing deadline is scheduled for Jan. 29. The deadline applies to U.S. House candidates and state legislative candidates. The state does not have any U.S. Senate or state executive offices up for election this year. 

New Mexico: New Mexico’s statewide filing deadline is scheduled for Feb. 1. The deadline applies to U.S. House candidates, as well as candidates running in state House races. The deadline also applies to candidates running for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and several other state executive offices. New Mexico is not holding regularly scheduled U.S. Senate or state Senate elections.

Ohio: Ohio’s statewide filing deadline is Feb. 2 for U.S. Senate, state legislative and state executive candidates, and March 4 for U.S. House candidates. Ohio is holding elections for several state executive offices, including governor, lieutenant governor, and secretary of state. 

Following Ohio, the statewide filing deadline for candidates Indiana, Nebraska, and Maryland will pass on Feb. 4, Feb. 15, and Feb. 22, respectively. 

Keep reading 

#WednesdayTrivia: How many states require a simple majority to override gubernatorial vetoes?

In the Tuesday Brew, we looked at how the Kentucky General Assembly recently voted to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of the state’s state legislative and congressional maps. In Kentucky, a simple majority vote from both chambers is all that is required to override a gubernatorial veto. 

How many states require a simple majority to override gubernatorial vetoes? Select an answer below to see how you did!

  1. 10
  2. 15
  3. 6
  4. 36


Veto override used to enact maps in Kentucky

Welcome to the Tuesday, January 25, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. Kentucky General Assembly enacts new district maps after overriding Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes
  2. Committee supporting app-based driver initiative in Massachusetts reports over $17.8 million in contributions
  3. Four special elections taking place tonight

Kentucky General Assembly enacts news district maps after overriding Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes

On Jan. 20, the Republican-controlled Kentucky General Assembly overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes of congressional and state House district maps, putting the new lines into effect. Beshear vetoed the two maps on Jan. 19. He did not veto the state Senate map, allowing it to take effect on Jan. 21 without his signature. 

Kentucky is one of six states that requires a simple majority to override a gubernatorial veto: at least 20 votes in the Senate and 51 in the House.

Beshear said he vetoed the congressional map “because it was drafted without public input and reflects unconstitutional political gerrymandering.” House Speaker David Osborne (R) said, “[Beshear] is wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and he knows it. This proposal meets all legal considerations.” Bloomberg Government’s Greg Giroux wrote that congressional maps will likely preserve the existing 5-1 Republican advantage in the state’s U.S. House delegation.

In his veto message regarding the state House map, Beshear said he felt it split multiple counties for partisan reasons. Beshear also said, “[T]his plan appears to dilute the voices of certain minority communities.” State Rep. Jerry Miller (R) said, “This is constitutional, it fully meets the voting [rights act]. And I think [Beshear] was foolish to veto it.”

After the General Assembly overrode Beshear’s vetoes, a group of voters and the Kentucky Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in the Franklin County Circuit Court challenging the congressional and House maps as partisan gerrymanders. Plaintiffs asked the court to order the legislature to create new maps.

Including Kentucky, two other states—Maryland and Wisconsin—have had redistricting maps vetoed by their governors. Like Kentucky,  both states have divided governments, meaning no single party controls the governorship and legislature. In Maryland, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a congressional map plan on Dec. 9, 2021. The Democratic-controlled General Assembly overrode that veto the same day. In Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed congressional and legislative maps on Nov. 18, sending the process to the state supreme court.

Five other states with divided governments where governors may veto redistricting plans have not yet finished drawing new lines: Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Vermont, and Pennsylvania.

Keep reading 

Committee supporting app-based driver initiative in Massachusetts reports more than $17.8 million in contributions

Flexibility and Benefits for Massachusetts Drivers, the ballot measure committee supporting an initiative relating to the employment status of app-based drivers reported $17.8 million in donations through Dec. 31, 2021. The committee’s largest donor was the drive-sharing company Lyft, which contributed $14.4 million. Other top contributors include Instacart ($1.2 million), DoorDash ($1.2 million), and Uber ($1.0 million).

The initiative, submitted late last year, would classify app-based drivers as independent contractors and enact several labor and wage policies. Sponsors submitted two versions of the initiative. Both are identical except one would require paid occupational safety training for contractors before accessing a company’s platform or mobile application.

There is one ballot measure committee, Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights, registered in opposition to the initiative. It reported $1.0 million in contributions. Top donors include the Omidyar Network, Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Local 103 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Open Society.

On Jan. 18, 2021, the initiative’s opponents filed a lawsuit with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court alleging it violates the state’s constitutional requirement that initiative subjects be mutually dependent. As relief, plaintiffs requested that the court bar the initiative from the 2022 ballot.

Massachusetts uses indirect initiatives, meaning the state legislature must consider the proposal before it appears before the voters. If the legislature does not adopt the proposals by May 4 supporters will have until July 6 to submit an additional round of 13,374 signatures to qualify for a place on the 2022 ballot.

The initiative is modeled after California’s Proposition 22, which was approved with 59% of the vote in 2020. Proposition 22 was the most expensive ballot measure campaign in California’s history, according to available records. Supporters reported $202.9 million in contributions with app-based driving companies as top donors. Opponents reported $19.7 million, with unions as the top donors.

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Four special elections taking place tonight

Ballotpedia is covering four special elections across three states tonight as candidates compete to fill vacancies in state legislatures and city councils. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Connecticut House of Representatives District 144: Hubert Delany (D) and Danny Melchionne (R) are running to represent the district. The previous incumbent, Caroline Simmons (D), resigned to assume office as mayor of Stamford, Conn. Simmons was first elected to the district in 2014 after defeating incumbent Michael Molgano (R).
  • South Carolina State Senate District 31: Jay Jordan and Mike Reichenbach are running in a Republican primary with the winner facing Suzanne La Rochelle (D) on March 29. The former incumbent, Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R), died on Nov. 12, 2021.
  • Austin City Council District 4: Seven candidates are running in the nonpartisan general election to replace outgoing City Councilman Greg Casar (D). Casar announced his resignation to run for the U.S. House in the state’s newly-created District 35. Casar will hold office until his successor is elected.
  • Houston City Council District G: Five candidates are running in the nonpartisan general election to replace former City Councilman Greg Travis (R). Travis left office on Oct. 27, 2021, after announcing his intent to run for state House in District 133.

Ballotpedia has tracked state legislative special elections, specifically, since 2011. During that time, there has been an average of 74 special state legislative elections each year. As of Jan. 25, there have been 31 state legislative special elections scheduled in 15 states.

Check out our elections calendar to see other races coming up. Ballotpedia will be covering at least one election every Tuesday between today and June 28, 2022.

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Election rematches

Welcome to the Monday, January 24, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. Rematches in the 2021 general elections
  2. Kentucky statewide filing deadline is Jan. 25
  3. President Biden nominates eight to Article III courts

Rematches in the 2021 general elections

When the same candidates run against each other in consecutive election cycles, we call that an election rematch. In the 2021 general elections, we covered 10 rematches—five state legislative races and five local races. The 10 rematches represented about 1.2% of all 830 general election races in Ballotpedia’s 2021 coverage scope.

Overall, Republicans won one of those races, while Democrats won four. At the local level, all races were nonpartisan. In all but one of those 10 elections, the candidate who won in 2019 also won in 2021.

All five state legislative rematch elections happened in Virginia, which held regularly scheduled elections in the Virginia House of Delegates. In all five races, the incumbent won re-election. Democrats won four of those races, while a Republican won one. 

Five local races in Ballotpedia’s coverage scope were rematches in the 2021 general election. In both 2019 and 2021, all winning candidates were nonpartisan. One race was decided by less than 10 percentage points in 2019, and two races were decided by less than 10 percentage points in 2021. In one case, the candidate who won in 2019 was defeated in 2021. In 2019, Kathleen Kelley Arnold defeated Sean Parr in the general election for Manchester Board of School Committee Ward 2, in New Hampshire. Arnold won 54.9% of the vote to Parr’s 44.7%. However, in 2021, Parr defeated Arnold, winning 50.7% to Arnold’s 49.3%. 

In 2020, 402 elections in Ballotpedia’s coverage scope were rematches between the same candidates who ran for office in 2018. In 92% of those rematches, the candidate who won in 2018 also won in 2020.  

Here’s a breakdown of those 402 rematches:

  • 56 races for the U.S. House.
  • One state executive race.
  • 342 state legislative races.
  • Three local races in our coverage scope.

What will 2022 look like? Here’s an early example of a 2022 rematch. In 2020, Jerry Bollig, a member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors in Wisconsin, defeated challenger Todd Kluever in the District 31 general election. In 2022, Kluever is once again challenging Bollig for the seat. The election is scheduled for April 5.

Find out more about election rematches at the link below!

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Kentucky statewide filing deadline is Jan. 25

Kentucky’s statewide filing deadline for primary candidates is tomorrow, Jan. 25! The deadline applies to candidates running in U.S. Senate and House races, as well as state Senate and state House races. Primaries are scheduled for May 17.

Kentucky’s deadline was originally scheduled for Jan. 7, but Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and the Kentucky General Assembly pushed back the date to give themselves more time to enact new state legislative and congressional maps

The only state whose filing deadline has passed is Texas, where candidates had until Dec. 13 to file. Texas will be holding the earliest primaries of the 2022 election season, scheduled for March 1. Kentucky, Alabama, and West Virginia are among the 12 states holding primaries in May.

After Kentucky, the next deadline for candidates running in state and federal offices will be in Alabama, on Jan. 28, followed by Jan. 29 for candidates in West Virginia. 

The next five filing deadlines for statewide and federal office will be:

  • February 1 (New Mexico)
  • February 2 (Ohio, state-level candidates only)
  • February 4 (Indiana)
  • February 15 (Nebraska)
  • February 22 (Maryland)

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President Biden nominates eight to Article III courts

On Jan. 19, President Joe Biden (D) nominated eight individuals to Article III judgeships with lifetime terms:

  1. Arianna Freeman, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  2. Tiffany Cartwright, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
  3. Ana de Alba, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  4. Nusrat Choudhury, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  5. Robert Huie, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
  6. Natasha Merle, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  7. Jennifer Rearden, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  8. Nina Y. Wang, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

There are 77 current Article III vacancies in the federal judiciary of 870 total Article III judgeships. Article III judges serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, which created and enumerated the powers of the judiciary. They are appointed for life terms. A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away. In the event of a scheduled upcoming vacancy, the president may submit a nomination to the U.S. Senate prior to the vacancy taking effect.

To date, Biden has nominated 81 individuals to federal judgeships. Forty-one of the nominees have been confirmed.
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U.S. Supreme Court wraps up its January sitting

Welcome to the Friday, January 21, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. U.S. Supreme Court accepts five more cases for its 2021-2022 term before concluding its January sitting
  2. Democratic U.S. Reps. Langevin and McNerney announce retirements
  3. Signatures submitted for Alaska initiative to formally recognize Alaska Native Tribes

U.S. Supreme Court accepts five more cases for its 2021-2022 term before concluding its January sitting

The week of Jan. 18 was the second and final week of the U.S. Supreme Court’s January argument sitting for its 2021-2022 term. During that time, the court heard oral arguments in four cases.

To date, the court has heard arguments in 36 of the 64 cases it accepted during its current term. 

Here’s a breakdown of those four most recent cases and look at what’s next for the court this year.

Jan. 18:

Jan. 19:

The court heard these arguments in person, though the building remains closed to the public in accordance with its policies related to the coronavirus pandemic. The next round of oral arguments will take place during the February sitting, which is scheduled to begin on Feb. 22.

Looking ahead, on Jan. 14 the court accepted five more cases for argument during this 2021-2022 term. These cases have not yet been scheduled for argument. Here’s a closer look:

  • George v. McDonough: concerning whether a veteran has the right to appeal after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs denies a disability benefits claim.
  •  Kennedy v. Bremerton School District: concerning religious expression and government speech at a public school as well as the Constitution’s establishment clause.
  • Vega v. Tekoh: concerning Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination, specifically related to the court’s previous ruling in Miranda v. Arizona (1966).
  • Nance v. Ward: concerning the federal legal procedure for a convicted inmate to challenge a state’s method of execution.
  • Shoop v. Twyford: concerning a U.S. district court’s authority to order the transport of a state prisoner involved in a federal habeas corpus proceeding.

Of the 64 cases the court has agreed to hear during its current term, four were dismissed and one was removed from the argument calendar. Sixteen cases have not yet been scheduled for argument. The court has issued decisions in six cases. Between 2007 and 2020, the court released opinions in 1,054 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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Democratic U.S. Reps. Langevin and McNerney announce retirements

On Jan. 18, two Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives announced they would not seek re-election: U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.). 

McNerney was first elected to the House in 2006. Langevin was first elected in 2000. During our current cycle, retiring Democratic incumbents have been in the House for an average of 13 years compared to an average of 11 years for retiring Republicans.

This announcement brings the total number of U.S. House incumbents foregoing re-election to 41—28 Democrats and 13 Republicans—a higher number than the 36 retirements during the 2020 election cycle, but lower than the 52 ahead of elections in 2018.

This is the first election cycle since 2012 where the number of outgoing Democratic incumbents in the House was greater than that of outgoing Republicans. Similar to 2012, this election cycle is the first following redistricting, the process whereby most states redraw congressional district lines.

California enacted its new congressional map at the end of last year. Under the new lines, McNerney’s 9th District was redrawn to include the home of Rep. Josh Harder (D), who currently represents the neighboring 10th District. After McNerney announced his retirement, Harder announced that he would seek re-election in the 9th District.

Rhode Island has not yet finished redrawing its two congressional districts though a recent proposal approved by the Special Commission on Reapportionment would essentially keep the district lines identical to their current shapes.

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Signatures submitted for Alaska initiative to formally recognize Alaska Native Tribes

On Jan. 13, Alaskans for Better Government submitted about 56,200 signatures for a ballot initiative that would provide for formal state recognition of federally-recognized Alaska Native Tribes.

To qualify for the ballot, 36,140 of the submitted signatures must be valid. If the lieutenant government certifies enough valid signatures, the legislature can approve the initiative or equivalent legislation, in which case the measure would not go to a public vote. If the legislature does not enact the initiative, it appears on the November ballot.

Alaskans for Better Government, the group supporting the initiative, said, “This would create a long overdue permanent government-to-government relationship between the State and our Alaska Native Tribes.”

Attorney General Treg Taylor (R) provided a review of the initiative, saying that “[i]t is not clear whether state recognition … would have any legal effect on the relationship between tribes and the State.” Taylor also said the U.S. and state supreme court have already ruled that federally-recognized tribes are sovereign.

Richard Peterson, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, said, “[I]t’s about relationships. And so the fact that the state of Alaska doesn’t recognize us currently is kind of a barrier in the building blocks.”

According to campaign finance reports covering information through Jan. 7, 2022, Alaska for Better Government had raised $622,092 and has spent $485,759. The group’s top donors were the Sixteen Thirty Fund ($500,000) and Tides Advocacy ($100,000).

From 2000 to 2020, 45 statewide measures have been on the ballot in Alaska. Of those 45 measures, voters approved 22 and defeated 23.

Nationwide, 64 ballot measures have been certified to appear on the ballots in 30 states as of Jan. 19. Most of these measures—47—are constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the legislature. In most states, the deadlines to submit signatures to qualify a measure for the ballot have not yet passed.

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Looking back at year one of the Biden Administration

Welcome to the Thursday, January 20, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

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

  1. Looking back at one year of the Biden Administration
  2. Twenty-eight U.S. Senators running for re-election, six retiring
  3. School board members retained, state legislator elected Tuesday

Looking back at one year of the Biden Administration

One year ago today, Joe Biden (D) assumed office as the 46th president of the United States. We assume every political newsletter in your inbox this morning will have something for you on this point. So, here are five numbers you might not see elsewhere. 

  • 77: Number of executive orders issued
    During the first year of his presidency, Biden issued 77 executive orders, 47 presidential memoranda, 195 proclamations, and 26 notices. Biden’s 77 executive orders in his first year is higher than the average number of executive orders issued each year by other recent presidents. Donald Trump (R) issued 55 on average each year, Barack Obama (D) issued 35, and George W. Bush (R) issued 36.
    Click here for more on President Biden’s executive orders and actions
  • 15: Number of tie-breaking votes in the Senate
    Under Article I, Section 3, Clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution, the vice president of the United States also serves as the president of the Senate. In this capacity, he or she may cast the deciding vote when there is a tie in the Senate. In the first year of the Biden Administration, Vice President Kamala Harris (D) cast 15 tie-breaking votes in the Senate. Twelve of those votes were related to nominations and confirmations, and three were related to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. In her first year, Harris surpassed the total number of tie-breaking votes Mike Pence (R) cast (13) during his vice presidency.
    Click here for more on tie-breaking votes cast by vice presidents
  • 40: Number of federal judges confirmed
    Since taking office, President Joe Biden (D) has nominated 73 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. As of January 1, 2022, 40 of the nominees have been confirmed. The monthly federal vacancy count report from January 1 said 11 of Biden’s confirmed judges were for the U.S. Court of Appeals, while 29 were for the U.S. District Courts. At the same point during previous presidential administrations, Trump had appointed 19 federal judges, Obama had appointed 13, and W. Bush had appointed 28.
    Click here for more on President Biden’s federal judicial nominations
  • 1: Number of Cabinet-rank nominees not yet confirmed
    During the first year of his presidency, 22 of Biden’s Cabinet-rank nominees were confirmed. The only nomination left outstanding was for the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Biden initially nominated Neera Tanden to the position, but she withdrew her nomination on March 2, 2021. Biden nominated Shalanda Young on November 24, 2021. For the 15 main Cabinet secretary positions, six of Biden’s nominees were confirmed within the first month of his presidency, and the other nine were confirmed by the end of the second month. Compared to Trump, the Biden Administration completed six main Cabinet secretary nominations sooner during the first year of the presidency.
    Click here for more on President Biden’s Cabinet
  • 0: Number of presidential pardons issued
    Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The President … shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” It describes the presidency’s powers of executive clemency, which give the president the authority to pardon individuals convicted of having committed a federal crime. During Biden’s first year, he issued no presidential pardons or commutations. During fiscal year 2017, Trump issued one pardon and no commutations. Obama and W. Bush issued no pardons or commutations during the first fiscal year of their presidencies.
    Click here for more details on executive clemency and presidential pardons

Twenty-eight U.S. Senators running for re-election, six retiring

With Sens. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) and John Thune’s (R-S.D.) recent announcements that they will seek re-election, all incumbent senators up for re-election in 2022 have made their decisions. Twenty-eight senators are seeking re-election—15 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Six senators are retiring—five Republicans and one Democrat. This is the highest number of Republicans not seeking re-election since at least 2012. 

In every election cycle within that time through 2020, either two or three Republican senators did not seek re-election. The number of retiring Democrats has ranged from zero to six. Between 2018 and 2022, two Democratic senators and 11 Republicans decided to not run for re-election. The six open seats in 2022 are in Alabama, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Republicans hold the Senate seat in each except Vermont. Three of the open Senate races—in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio—have at least one competitive rating (Toss-up, Tilt Republican, or Lean Republican) from three election forecasters.

Our battleground Senate races list currently consists of eight states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Democrats and Republicans each hold four of the battleground seats going into the elections.

Democrats have an effective majority in the Senate, with each party holding 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) serving as the tie-breaking vote.

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Looking back on Tuesday’s elections

Three elections took place within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope Tuesday. Voters in Manhattan elected Eddie Gibbs (D) to the state Assembly. Meanwhile, voters in Newberg, Oregon, appeared to reject recalls of two school board members.

The special election in New York was called after Robert Rodriguez (D) resigned his seat representing District 68 in the state Assembly to serve as secretary of state. Eddie Gibbs (D) defeated Daby Carreras (R) 80% to 10% to win election to the seat. For comparison, Rodriguez’s narrowest margin was his 89% to 8% defeat of John Ruiz (WFP) to win election in 2010. District 68, representing East Harlem, is one of Manhattan’s 11 state assembly districts.

As of Jan. 19, the recalls of Newberg, Ore., school board members Dave Brown and Brian Shannon appeared headed to defeat, with “no” leading on both recalls 52% to 48% out of 14,000 votes cast. Oregon law allows for mail-in ballots to be counted as long as they are postmarked on election day and for voters to contest signature issues for 21 days after the election. Because of this, final results will not be available until Feb. 9.

The recall effort against Shannon started after the board voted in August 2021 to ban Black Lives Matter and LGBT pride flags from the district. This policy was replaced the following month with a ban on all political symbols and images. The recall effort against Brown started after the board voted in favor of a motion he submitted to fire the district superintendent without cause.

Ballotpedia tracked 91 school board recall efforts against 235 board members in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 346 recall efforts against 535 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

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Redistricting news from Arkansas and Ohio

Welcome to the Wednesday, January 19, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. Redistricting update: Arkansas and Ohio 
  2. Marijuana policy could be on numerous statewide ballots this year
  3. Kentucky statewide filing deadline is Jan. 25

Redistricting update: Arkansas and Ohio 

Redistricting continues apace across the country. As of Jan. 18, 24 states have adopted congressional district maps and 27 states have adopted legislative district maps. 

Today, we’re looking at some recent updates in two states—Arkansas and Ohio. 

Arkansas 

Arkansas’ new congressional map went into effect on Jan. 14, 90 days after the state legislature approved revised district boundaries. Although the legislature sent the map to Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) for approval, Hutchinson announced on Oct. 13 he would allow the map to take effect without his signature. 

Under the proposed maps, two of the state’s counties would be split between multiple congressional districts: Sebastian County, which is split between two, and Pulaski County—the state’s most populous county—split between three districts. Opponents of the new boundaries said the division of Pulaski County, where more than 50% of the population identify as other than solely white, was conducted along partisan and racial lines. Supporters said the county’s size and location in the center of the state required the split to reduce the total number of counties being split elsewhere.

Arkansas is the 24th state to enact a new congressional map, which takes effect for the 2022 congressional elections. The statewide filing deadline is March 1.

Ohio

The Ohio Supreme Court struck down the state’s enacted congressional map in a 4-3 decision on Jan. 14 and ordered the legislature to draw and approve a new map. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed legislation enacting the new boundaries on Nov. 20. However, because the map did not meet the required threshold of bipartisan support in the legislature, it was set to last for four years instead of until after the 2030 census.

A group of Ohio residents and organizations filed lawsuits challenging the congressional map on Nov. 22 and Nov. 30. The suits alleged the maps violated the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and that the plan “unduly favors the Republican Party and its incumbents, while disfavoring the Democratic Party and its incumbents.”

In the majority opinion, Justice Michael P. Donnelly wrote: “When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins. That perhaps explains how a party that generally musters no more than 55 percent of the statewide popular vote is positioned to reliably win anywhere from 75 percent to 80 percent of the seats in the Ohio congressional delegation. By any rational measure, that skewed result just does not add up.” 

In their dissenting opinion, Justices Sharon L. Kennedy, Pat Fischer, and Pat DeWine wrote: “The majority today declares the congressional-district plan enacted by the legislature to be unconstitutional on the basis that it ‘unduly’ favors a political party and ‘unduly’ splits governmental units. It does so without presenting any workable standard about what it means to unduly favor a political party or divide a county.”

Ohio Supreme Court judges are elected in nonpartisan general elections. Four current justices were elected after advancing from Republican primaries and three won election after advancing from Democratic primaries. In 2020, we published Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship, a study examining the partisan affiliation of all state supreme court justices in the country as of June 15, 2020. We gave Ohio a Court Balance Score of 7.14, indicating Republican control of the court. Since that date, Democratic-affiliated Justice Jennifer L. Brunner replaced Republican-affiliated Justice Judith French on the Ohio Supreme Court. Although elections for the Ohio Supreme Court are officially nonpartisan, they are preceded by a partisan primary.

You can read our study here, or click below to read more about redistricting in Arkansas, Ohio, and other states.

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Marijuana policy could be on numerous statewide ballots this year

We’re tracking 20 citizen-initiated measures in nine states related to marijuana that could appear before voters in 2022. Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in 36 states and D.C.

Here’s a summary of a few of the states where voters could see marijuana on the ballot this year:

  • Arkansas: Voters could decide two marijuana initiatives. One would decriminalize marijuana, give limited immunity to cannabis businesses, and create regulations for the cannabis industry. The other would legalize marijuana use for individuals 21 and older regardless of residency. Both campaigns have until July 8 to collect 89,151 valid signatures.
  • Idaho: Kind Idaho filed an initiative to establish a state medical marijuana program. Sponsors attempted to qualify an identical initiative for the 2020 Idaho ballot but suspended their signature-gathering campaign in April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Voters could also decide on an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. The Idaho Way sponsored the initiative. The campaigns need to submit 64,945 valid signatures by May 1.
  • Ohio: Sponsors of an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana submitted an additional 29,918 signatures on Jan. 13, after the secretary of state verified their initial petition contained 119,825 valid signatures–13,062 less than required. If enough of the additional signatures are valid, the initiative will go before the state legislature. If the state legislature does not enact it outright, sponsors will have to collect a second round of 132,887 signatures to place it on the November ballot. In 2015, Ohio voters defeated Issue 3 63.65% to 36.35%.
  • South Dakota: an initiative to legalize marijuana was cleared for signature gathering. In 2020, 54.18% of voters approved Amendment A, which would have legalized marijuana. The state supreme court later ruled the measure violated the state’s single-subject rule and constituted a revision of the constitution rather than an amendment. New Approach South Dakota, which also sponsored the 2020 amendment, filed the current initiative.

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Kentucky statewide filing deadline is Jan. 25

We’re less than one week from the next candidate filing deadline. Kentucky’s filing deadline for candidates seeking to run for office this year is Jan. 25. The deadline was originally Jan. 7, but Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and the Kentucky General Assembly pushed back the date to give themselves more time to enact new state legislative and congressional maps

The deadline applies to candidates running in U.S. Senate and House races, as well as state Senate and state House races. 

The only state whose filing deadline has passed is Texas, where candidates had until Dec. 13 to file. Texas will be holding the earliest primaries of the 2022 election season, scheduled for March 1. Kentucky, Alabama, and West Virginia are among the 12 states holding primaries in May.

After Kentucky, the next deadline for candidates running in state and federal offices will be in Alabama, on Jan. 28, followed by Jan. 29 for candidates in West Virginia. 

The next five filing deadlines for statewide and federal office will be:

  • February 1 (New Mexico)
  • February 2 (Ohio, state-level candidates only)
  • February 4 (Indiana)
  • February 15 (Nebraska)
  • February 22 (Maryland)

Click to read more about Kentucky’s 2022 elections. 

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