TagDaily Brew

Election day is here! Here’s what we’re watching tonight

Welcome to the Tuesday, November 2, Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizland David Luchs

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

  1. Happy election day! 
  2. ICYMI: Previewing Ballotpedia’s battleground elections
  3. Announcing our newest Learning Journey on the Administrative Procedure Act

Happy Election Day!

Election Day 2021 is here! If you haven’t already voted, check out our resources on how to vote and poll closing times. You can also view a sample ballot for your address here listing any races within our coverage scope.

We’ll be back tomorrow morning with election results and analysis. Until then, here are some links to other resources we’ve put together to help track the 2021 elections.

  • Our comprehensive election results overview page will be updated throughout election night as races are called and post-election trifecta control of New Jersey and Virginia state government becomes callable. We’ll also be highlighting interesting election results from battlegrounds at all levels of the ballot.
  • Check out our election analysis hub to find all of our 2021 election analyses in one convenient location. We’ll be adding new post-election analysis articles to the hub throughout the coming week.
  • Our article on conflicts in school board elections has a list of 107 school districts where we’ve found race in education, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, or sex and gender in schools have been brought up as campaign issues. We found 88 districts holding elections today, but we’ll add more districts to the list as we find them.
  • Click here for more on recount laws and requirements.
  • For more in-depth analysis, be sure to register for our Nov. 10 election results webinar. Ballotpedia staff analysts Dave Beaudoin and David Luchs will take you through the most significant election results at the state and local levels and set the stage for the start of the 2022 election season.
  • And of course, we’re keeping an eye on the other big story in politics this week—redistricting! We’ll be continuing our coverage of newly-adopted maps, changes to the membership of redistricting committees, and more throughout the week. If you haven’t already, check out our ongoing coverage for the latest in your state.

ICYMI: Previewing Ballotpedia’s battleground elections

Last week, we used the Brew to bring you previews of battleground races at all levels of government happening today. In case you missed it, take a look at our coverage and use the links to view the full stories.

Monday: Federal elections

Since this is an odd-year election, there is not much electoral activity at the federal level, but Ballotpedia will still be covering a handful of special congressional elections. Florida’s 20th Congressional District will hold special primary elections on Nov. 2 and Ohio’s 11th and 15th Districts will be holding general elections.

Tuesday: State-level elections

Three states are holding general elections for statewide offices on Nov. 2: New Jersey (Gov.), Pennsylvania (Supreme Court), and Virginia (Gov., Lt. Gov., Atty. Gen.). Additionally, New Jersey and Virginia will be holding state legislative elections.

Wednesday: School board elections

School board elections have become a major focal point in 2021, driven by everything from the coronavirus pandemic to debates over school curriculum and policies. This year, we are covering 503 school board races in 180 districts across 24 states. Sixty of those seats are up for election on Nov. 2. We’re also keeping an eye on school board recalls. So far this year, we have tracked 84 recall efforts targeting school board officials, including two on today’s ballot.

Thursday: Municipal elections

Ballotpedia covers municipal elections in the 100 largest cities in the U.S. by population and in all 50 state capitals regardless of population. Our coverage of municipal elections this year includes 40 mayoral elections, 27 of which are taking place Nov. 2.

Friday: Ballot measures

Thirty-nine statewide ballot measures were certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states, 24 of which are up for a vote today. Additionally, Ballotpedia is covering over 150 local ballot measures across 18 states. Click here for our top 15 races to watch.

Announcing our newest Learning Journey on the Administrative Procedure Act

Have you ever wondered how federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture are run? Take our Learning Journey on the Administrative Procedure Act to find out! The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) is a federal law passed in 1946 that established uniform rulemaking and adjudication procedures for federal agencies. The APA also addresses procedures for policy statements and licenses issued by agencies and provides for judicial review of agency adjudications and other final decisions. This Learning Journey guides you through the history of the APA, its processes, and related debates.

Sign up here!



Welcome to November – election day is tomorrow!

Welcome to the Monday, November 1, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. An overview of the races we’ll be covering on Election Day
  2. A look at 2021 election administration-related ballot measures
  3. Certified California recall results

Election Day preview

Nov. 2 is Election Day. While 2021 is an odd-numbered election year, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of races to watch—races at the federal, state, and local levels. Let’s walk through the elections we’ll be covering tomorrow. 

Federal offices

We’re covering four special congressional elections:

Statewide offices

Statewide offices up for election on Nov. 2 include gubernatorial seats, lieutenant gubernatorial seats, an attorney general seat, and a state supreme court seat.

State legislative offices

Three of the country’s 99 state legislative chambers are holding regularly-scheduled elections on Nov. 2. Elections in those three chambers represent 220 of the country’s 7,383 state legislative seats (2.9%).

Local offices

We’re covering elections in 43 cities and county elections in 13 counties. Seventeen of those cities are holding general elections for mayor on Nov. 2. 

Here are the city battleground elections we’ll be following tomorrow:

Click here to see a list of all municipal elections we’re covering Nov. 2.

Additionally, we’re covering elections for 202 school board seats in 60 school districts. 

Here are the school board battleground elections we’ll be following tomorrow:

Click here to see a list of all school board elections we’re covering Nov. 2. 

Ballot measures

There are 24 statewide ballot measures up for a vote on Nov. 2. Additionally, we are covering over 150 local ballot measures across 18 states. 

Here’s a handful of our top 15 ballot statewide and local measures to watch tomorrow:

Keep reading

Election and voting policy ballot measures 

As mentioned above, we’re covering 24 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 2, along with local ballot measures in 18 states. Those measures touch on topics as wide-ranging as sports betting, redistricting, and drug policy. Here, we want to highlight several measures related to election and voting policy. 

The 2020 election cycle was highlighted by a variety of election and voting policy changes. Those issues will go before voters in a variety of ways tomorrow.  Here are two statewide measures and three local measures on Nov. 2 that affect election or voting policy. 

Keep reading 

Results of Newsom recall certified

Earlier this year, California held a recall where voters decided not to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). On Oct. 22, 2021, California certified the results of the Sept. 14 recall election targeting Newsom. Of the 12.8 million voters who participated in the election, 61.9% voted to retain Newsom, and 38.1% voted to recall. 

In 2021, 51.9% of eligible voters cast a vote in the recall election. In 2018, when Newsom was first elected, turnout for the gubernatorial election was 49.5%. In the 2003 recall election against Gov. Gray Davis (D), 42.12% of those eligible voted. Turnout was 34.83% in the 2002 gubernatorial general election, when Davis was elected. 

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, ran in the 2021 recall election. 

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was elected as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.6% of the vote. 

Keep reading



Battleground preview week day #5: Ballot measures

Welcome to the Friday, October 29, Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

We are wrapping up the final full week ahead of the Nov. 2 general elections. Each day this week, we have brought you previews of battleground races at all levels of government. Here’s the schedule:

Today we are diving into our coverage of state and local ballot measures. There have been 39 statewide ballot measures certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states, 24 of which are up for a vote on Nov. 2. Additionally, we are covering over 150 local ballot measures across 18 states. Click here for our top 15 to watch. We will take a look at some of the most interesting below. 

Colorado Proposition 119

Colorado’s Proposition 119 is a citizen-initiated measure that would create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program, also known as the LEAP Program, and would increase the marijuana retail sales tax incrementally from 15% to 20% to partially fund the program.

The LEAP Program would provide out-of-school services that would consist of, but not be limited to, the following:

  • tutoring in core subject areas,
  • instruction in English and foreign languages,
  • career and technical training,
  • emotional and physical therapy,
  • mental health services,
  • special support for students with special needs, and
  • mentoring.

Colorado limits the types of measures that can appear on the ballot during odd years to topics concerning taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. TABOR requires voter approval for all new taxes and associated changes. It also limits the amount of money the state can spend, with the excess being refunded to taxpayers unless voters allow the state to spend it. If Proposition 119 is approved, any revenue gathered from the increased marijuana sales tax would be considered voter-approved and exempted from TABOR provisions.

Keep reading 

Maine Question 1

Maine’s Question 1 is a citizen-initiated measure that would prohibit the construction of certain electrical transmission lines in the state’s Upper Kennebec Region unless approved by two-thirds of the members of both chambers of the legislature. Question 1 was designed to stop the construction of Segment 1 of the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), a 145-mile long, high-voltage transmission line project in the region.

According to campaign finance reports covering through Oct. 19, Question 1 had seen $94.0 million raised between supporters and opponents. Question 1 could also see the highest cost-per-vote ratio for a ballot measure ever recorded by Ballotpedia. If turnout this November is similar to turnout in recent election cycles (between 17% and 34% from 2015-2019), between 203,000 and 380,000 voters may cast ballots. That would result in a cost-per-vote ratio of anywhere between $247 and $463.

Of the five highest cost-per-vote ratios since 2017, three addressed policies related to energy. Voters rejected all five. Here’s a closer look at those five highest cost-per-vote ratios with Maine’s estimates for comparison:

According to the Bangor Daily News, Question 1 is the most expensive ballot measure in Maine history, and the second most expensive political election in the state after the $200-million U.S. Senate race in 2020.

Keep reading 

New Jersey Public Question 1

New Jersey’s Public Question 1 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would allow wagering on college sports competitions. Currently, the state constitution permits sports betting except on games held in New Jersey and on games featuring New Jersey-based college teams. Public Question 1 would expand sports betting to include all college sports competitions.

New Jersey legalized sports betting in 2011, but, due to federal laws, this was not implemented until after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Murphy v. NCAA.

As of July 2021, sports betting was legal, or laws to legalize the practice had been approved, in 30 states. Of those 30 states, 17 allowed betting on in-state college sports. In the Mid-Atlantic, Maryland and Pennsylvania permit betting on in-state college sports, while the practice is banned in Delaware and New York.

Keep reading 

Texas Proposition 6

Texas’ Proposition 6 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would allow residents of nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or state-supported living centers to designate an essential caregiver who may not be prohibited from visiting the resident. It would also authorize the Texas State Legislature to pass guidelines for facilities to establish visitation policies and procedures for essential caregivers.

This amendment was introduced following responses to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. On March 15, 2020, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission ordered nursing facilities to prohibit non-essential visitors from accessing facilities. At that time, the order applied to 1,222 licensed and regulated nursing facilities serving around 90,000 residents.

Proposition 6 is one of eight constitutional amendments on the Texas ballot this November. Since 2011, the state legislature has placed an average of nine measures on each odd-year general election ballot.  Most recently, in November 2019, voters approved nine out of the 10 amendments on the ballot. In total, since 1876, when the current state constitution was adopted, it has been amended 507 times.

Keep reading 

Notable local police-related ballot measures

In addition to our regular local coverage, Ballotpedia has also been covering a selection of notable police-related ballot measures from both inside and outside of our coverage scope. Our criteria for inclusion include the following prompts:

  • Is the measure being proposed in response to events involving the use of force by police or related protests?
  • Are references to the use of force by police, related protests, or proposed reductions in law enforcement funding central to the messaging of campaigns supporting or opposing the measure?
  • Does the topic of the measure related to any of a list of issues including police oversight, law enforcement budgets, and body and dashboard camera footage?

Ballotpedia is covering six notable local police-related ballot measures on Nov. 2. Here’s a list with a quick breakdown of what they would do if passed:

Albany, N.Y., Proposal 7: Increases the authority of the Community Police Review Board over investigations and oversight of complaints against police.

Austin, Texas, Proposition A: Requires a minimum number of police officers and certain police training and sets demographically representative hiring practice guidelines.

Bellingham, Wash., Initiative 2: Prohibits facial recognition and predictive policing technology.

Denver, Colo., Referred Question 2G: Transfers the power to appoint the Independent Monitor to the Office of the Independent Monitor from the mayor to the Citizen Oversight Board. The office is responsible for disciplinary investigations concerning the Denver police and sheriff’s departments.

Minneapolis, Minn., Question 2: Replaces the police department with a department of public safety in the city charter.

Cleveland, Ohio, Issue 24: Changes the oversight structure of the Cleveland Police Department.

These six measures join the six Ballotpedia has already covered, three of which have passed and three of which were defeated.

Keep reading 

A look ahead to 2022

As of Oct. 28, 2021, 61 statewide ballot measures have been certified in 29 states for the 2022 ballot. 

The total number of statewide ballot measures decreased by 45% over the past two decades from 235 in 2000 to 129 in 2020. In the current cycle, 55 measures were referred to the ballot or placed for a vote automatically and six measures that were placed on the ballot by citizens.

Numbers for 2022 will likely increase as a result of upcoming legislative sessions and signature-filing deadlines.

Keep reading



Daily Brew: October 28, 2021 – Battleground preview week day #4: Cities

Welcome to the Thursday, October 28, Brew. 

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

This is the final full week ahead of the Nov. 2 general elections. Each day this week, we will be bringing you previews of battleground races at all levels of government. Here’s our schedule for the week:

  • Monday: Federal
  • Tuesday: State
  • Wednesday: School boards
  • Thursday: Cities
  • Friday: Ballot measures

Ballotpedia covers municipal elections in the 100 largest cities in the U.S. by population and in all 50 state capitals regardless of population. Our coverage of municipal elections this year includes 40 mayoral elections, 27 of which are taking place Nov. 2.

In this edition of the Brew, we take a step back to look at the partisan affiliation of the mayors of the 100 largest cities and preview five battleground municipal elections. 

Rounding out today’s edition is a look at recent redistricting developments in Arkansas and Texas.

A look at mayoral partisanship ahead of the Nov. 2 elections

Seventeen of the 100 largest U.S. cities by population and 10 state capitals outside of the 100 largest cities are holding general elections for mayor Nov. 2.

In these 27 cities, 26 incumbent mayors are Democrats and one is a Republican. Fourteen of the incumbents are not on the general election ballot, including 10 who did not file for re-election and four who were eliminated in primaries. Between 2014 and 2020, 18% of incumbent mayors running for re-election in the 100 largest cities were defeated.

So far in 2021, partisan control of two mayoral offices has changed. In April, North Las Vegas Mayor John J. Lee switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party. In May, David Bronson (R) was elected mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, succeeding nonpartisan acting mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson. Quinn-Davidson took office following Ethan Berkowitz’s (D) resignation in October 2020.

Sixty-three mayors of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. are Democrats, 26 are Republicans, six identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, four are independents, and one has not responded to inquiries about his partisan affiliation.

Thirty-nine mayors of state capitals are Democrats, three are Republicans, two are nonpartisan, and one is an independent. Five more have not responded to inquiries about their partisan affiliation.

Keep reading

Atlanta, Georgia (mayoral)

Sixteen candidates are running in a nonpartisan election for mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. Incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms, first elected in 2017, did not file for re-election. Bottoms is Atlanta’s first mayor since World War II to not seek a second term.


Unless one candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a Nov. 30 runoff.

Local political commentary has focused on two candidates—City Council President Felicia Moore and former Mayor Kasim Reed.

Moore was first elected to the city council in 1997 and was elected council president in 2017. Reed served as mayor between 2010 and 2018 and in the state legislature from 1999 to 2009.

The winner will serve a four-year term. Atlanta has a strong mayor and city council system, where the city council serves as the city’s legislative body and the mayor as the chief executive.

Keep reading

Buffalo, New York (mayoral)

India Walton (D) will be the only candidate whose name will officially appear on the ballot in Buffalo’s mayoral election. She and five write-in candidates, including incumbent Byron Brown (D), are in the running for a four-year term.

Brown was elected as a Democrat in 2005 and won re-election in 2009, 2013, and 2017. Brown lost the Democratic primary to Walton 51% to 46%. He had won his previous four primaries by an average margin of 26.5 percentage points.

Political commentators have connected the race to the broader political trends within the Democratic Party.

In the general election, Walton has endorsements from U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D), the local and national branches of the Democratic Socialists of America, and the Working Families Party. The Erie County Democratic Party, which backed Brown in the primary, is supporting Walton in the general.

Brown’s endorsers include U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D), three members of the common council, former Mayor Anthony Masiello (D), and The Buffalo News.

Keep reading 

Minneapolis, Minnesota (mayoral)

Incumbent Jacob Frey (D), AJ Awed (D), Katherine Knuth (D), Sheila Nezhad (D), and 13 other candidates are running in a ranked-choice election for mayor of Minneapolis.

Frey was elected in 2017, defeating Raymond Dehn 57% to 43% on the fifth round of ranked-choice balloting.

The major policy divisions among the candidates include the city’s criminal justice policies and approach to policing in the wake of the death of George Floyd, as well as a set of three charter amendments also on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The proposed amendments to the charter, if approved, would: 

  • Switch Minneapolis from a weak mayor-council system where the mayor shares executive power with the city council to a strong mayor-council system, 
  • Replace the city’s police department with a department of public health
  • Authorize the city government to enact rent control.

Frey and Awed have stated their opposition to the amendment replacing the police department with a department of public health, while Knuth and Nezhad have said they support it.

Keep reading 

Seattle, Washington (mayoral)

Lorena González and Bruce Harrell are running in a nonpartisan election for a four-year term as mayor of Seattle. Incumbent Jenny Durkan, first elected in 2017, did not file for another term.

González is the current city council president, while Harrell served as council president from 2016 to 2017 and again from 2018 to 2019.

The candidates differ on their approach to housing policy and Seattle’s homeless population. González said she supported changing zoning rules to eliminate single-family residential zones and opposed the forced removal of homeless individuals from public areas. Harrell said he supported maintaining single-family zoning and enforcing consequences for homeless individuals who remain in public places after being offered shelter.

González’s endorsers include four of the nine members of the city council and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), while Harrell’s include two members of the city council and former Mayor Charley Royer.

Keep reading 

Seattle, Washington (city attorney)

Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy are running in a nonpartisan election for Seattle city attorney, the position responsible for managing the city’s Law Department. Incumbent Pete Holmes was eliminated in the primary with 31% of the vote to Thomas-Kennedy’s 36% and Davison’s 33%.

Davison is an attorney and arbitrator who said she wanted to focus on a proactive approach to crime and address what she described as the under-prosecution of misdemeanors. She was a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2020 election. 

Thomas-Kennedy is an eviction attorney and former public defender who said she wanted to focus on decriminalizing misdemeanors she described as connected to poverty, addiction, and disability, and on ending homeless sweeps.

Davison’s endorsers include the Seattle Times and former Govs. Dan Evans (R), Christine Gregoire (D), and Gary Locke (D), while Thomas-Kennedy’s include The Stranger, former Mayor Mike McGinn (D), and the King County Democrats.

Keep reading 

Redistricting roundup: The latest from Arkansas, Colorado, and Connecticut

As of Oct. 27, 2021, six states have adopted new congressional district maps following the 2020 census and eight have adopted new state legislative district maps. As of Oct. 27, 2011, 25 states had adopted new congressional district maps and 27 had adopted new state legislative district maps. Here’s the latest on redistricting news out of Arkansas and Texas.

Arkansas

On Oct. 14, the secretary of state’s office approved veto referendums brought by Arkansans for a Unified Natural State against the state’s new congressional maps, clearing the way for the group to gather signatures to put the measure on next year’s November ballot. Supporters would need to gather 53,491 signatures opposed to both the House and Senate versions of the bill from registered voters in at least 15 different counties by Jan. 6, 2022.

Keep reading

Texas

On Oct. 25, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed Texas’ new congressional and state legislative district maps into law. The state Senate approved the new congressional map 18-13, the new state Senate map 20-11, and the new state House map 18-13. The state House approved the new congressional map 84-59, the new state Senate map 81-60, and the new state House map 83-66. Republicans hold an 18-13 majority in the Senate and an 83-66 majority in the House. Both maps will take effect for the 2022 elections. 

Keep reading



Daily Brew: October 27, 2021

This is the final full week ahead of the Nov. 2 general elections. Each day this week, we will be bringing you previews of battleground races at all levels of government. Here’s our schedule for the week:

  • Monday: Federal
  • Tuesday: State
  • Wednesday: School boards
  • Thursday: Cities
  • Friday: Ballot measures

School board elections have become a major focal point in the 2021 elections, driven by everything from the coronavirus pandemic to debates over school curriculum and policies. This year, we are covering 503 school board races in 180 districts across 24 states. Sixty of those seats are up for election on Nov. 2. 

We have also tracked 82 recall efforts against school board officials this year—the highest since we began tracking such recall campaigns in 2010, when there were 38. 

Read on for a look at school board races in which all candidates completed our Candidate Connection survey. Then, we’ll look at our work tracking school board recall efforts, and give you summaries of four school board battleground elections in Colorado, New Jersey, and Georgia.

Candidate Connection survey responses

We believe in providing a space for candidates to share their messages directly with voters. Any candidate for public office can complete our Candidate Connection survey and share what motivates them on political and personal levels. Our survey allows voters to feel confident they’re picking the best candidate for the role that matches their values. In 2020, 4,745 candidates running for offices at all levels of government completed the survey.

We’re highlighting Academy School District 20 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where three at-large seats are up for election on Nov. 2. All 10 candidates completed the Candidate Connection survey. What follows are their responses when asked about the main points they want voters to know about their campaigns:

  • Tiana Clark: “ALL students deserve to thrive which includes a variety of academic opportunities and adequate mental health support”
  • Nicole Konz: “High Expectations & Standards of Academic Excellence”
  • Thomas LaValley: “I want continued academic excellence in Academy District 20.”
  • Brian Coram: “As a board member, I’ll leverage my extensive counseling experience and insight to support the emotional, psychological and mental health of D20 kids.”
  • Nathan Johnson: “I feel that some specific ‘controversial’ curriculum and topics are not appropriate for the mental health and positive overall development of student”
  • Jackie Lesh: “Teacher & Staff Support: As a teacher, I understand the importance of faculty recruitment and retention, by providing competitive compensation, comprehensive benefits, and a supportive work environment for our teachers and staff. I am committed to preserving and improving our ranking as a high-achieving school district.”
  • Lindsay Moore: “Preserving Parental Rights- Parents should have full authority over all decisions made for your children.”
  • Michael Riffle: “Education not politics”
  • Aaron Salt: “Parent’s rights”
  • Jason Silva: “I stand against Critical Race Theory, Critical Theory and any world view that seeks to undermine our God given rights as a free people.”

To see all candidate survey responses, click here

 Other school board races where all candidates have completed the survey are:

School board recall efforts

We have tracked 82 school board recall efforts against 212 board members in 2021. In the first half of the year, 48% of all officials who faced recall campaigns were school board members. This was more than any other type of officeholder, and the first time school board members faced the most recall efforts since 2015.

City council members—the officials who drew the most efforts from 2016 to 2020—accounted for 25% of recall efforts. Between June 2016 and June 2020, school board members accounted for 15% to 27% of officials named in recall efforts.

Keep reading

Battleground races

Atlanta Public Schools

Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools school board in Georgia—three at-large and six district seats—are up for election. Twenty-two candidates, including six incumbents, are on the general election ballot.

Standards for renewing and expanding charter schools have been a major issue in these races. In 2018, the board voted 5-4 to allow KIPP Metro Atlanta, a network of charter schools, to continue to operate until 2023, when the charter must be renewed or terminated. Incumbents Jason Esteves and Eshé Collins supported the KIPP charter, while Cynthia Briscoe Brown, Erika Yvette Mitchell, and Michelle Olympiadis opposed it.

COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, are also an issue. In addition to implementing a school-wide mask policy and mandatory twice-weekly testing requirement for staff for the 2021-2022 school year, Atlanta Public Schools released a statement on Oct. 7, saying the school district would “continue to study the feasibility and need for a vaccine mandate in our district.”

Keep reading 

Denver Public Schools

Thirteen candidates are running for four seats on the Denver Public Schools school board in Colorado. According to Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering education, “Though a majority of the seven board seats are up for grabs, the election is unlikely to shift the balance of power away from members backed by the teachers union.” 

Union-backed candidates held a 5-2 majority on the board heading into the election.

Key issues for the school district include school consolidation and closures for low-enrollment schools, education outcomes for Black students, school safety, coronavirus relief money, and reviews of autonomous charter and innovation schools.

Keep reading

Jeffco Public Schools

Three seats on the Jeffco Public Schools school board in Colorado are up for election on Nov. 2. The three seats up for election are Districts 1, 2, and 5. 

Three candidates—Danielle Varda (District 1), Paula Reed (District 2), and Mary Parker (District 5)—are running together as the Jeffco Kids Slate. The Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), the local teachers’ union, endorsed the slate. According to Chalkbeat, the slate is prioritizing staff hiring, teacher retention, and neighborhood schools, while their opponents—Jeffrey Wilhite (District 1), David Johnson (District 2), and Kathy Miks (District 5)—are running on fiscal management and expanding school choice.

Keep reading

Jersey City Public Schools

Three seats on the Jersey City Public Schools school board in New Jersey are up for election on Nov. 2. Nine candidates are running for the three seats, which are open as all three incumbents chose not to seek re-election.

Paula Jones, Younass Mohamed Barkouch, and Natalia Ioffe are running on the Education Matters slate with an endorsement from the New Jersey Education Association. Erika Baez, Doris Ervin, and Thyson Halley are running on the Change for Children slate. In previous elections, Change for Children slates were backed by the LeFrak Organization, a developer, and were critical of deficits and tax increases.

In 2020, the Education Matters slate won all three seats up for election. In 2019, the Education Matters slate won three seats and two members of the Change for Children slate won the other two up for election.

Keep reading



Welcome to Ballotpedia’s week of November election previews

Welcome to the Monday, October 25, Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

We are entering the final stretch of the 2021 election cycle. This is the final full week ahead of the Nov. 2 general elections so we will be using the Brew to bring you previews of battleground races at all levels of government. Here’s your schedule for the week:

  • Monday: Federal
  • Tuesday: State
  • Wednesday: School boards
  • Thursday: Cities
  • Friday: Ballot measures

Today we are diving into our federal battleground races for Congress. Since this is an odd-year election, there isn’t much electoral activity at this level, but we have covered a handful of special congressional elections. Read on for a look at those races as well as what’s in store for 2022.

Florida’s 20th Congressional District, Democratic primary

Eleven candidates are running in the special Democratic primary for Florida’s 20th Congressional District on Nov. 2. The special general election will be held on Jan. 11, 2022, to fill the vacancy left by Alcee Hastings (D), who died on April 6, 2021. 

Hastings had been in office since 1993 and, since 2012, had won re-election every two years in the 20th District by an average of 64.3 percentage points. He ran unopposed in 2018. This has led race forecasters like Inside Elections to rate the special election as Solid Democratic. Thus, the primary is very likely to decide the next representative of this district.

Of the 11 candidates in the Democratic primary, five currently hold elected office: state Rep. Bobby DuBose, state Rep. Omari Hardy, Broward County Commissioners Dale Holness and Barbara Sharief, and state Sen. Perry Thurston. A sixth candidate, Priscilla Taylor, previously held office as a Palm Beach County Commissioner.

The fundraising leader in the race, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, has not held elected office, but ran against Hastings in the 2020 and 2018 Democratic primaries, receiving between 26 and 31% of the vote. As of June 30, Cherfilus-McCormick had raised $2.4 million and spent $367,664, leaving her with $2.1 million on hand. Holness, the next-closest fundraiser, had raised $305,719 and had $268,102 on hand.

All five elected officials received endorsements from state legislators. DuBose also had an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.). The Florida branch of the Service Employees International Union endorsed Holness and the Florida AFL-CIO backed Thurston. U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), from the neighboring 21st District, endorsed Sharief. The group Brand New Congress endorsed Cherfilus-McCormick.

In addition to the above candidates, Elvin Dowling, Phil Jackson, Emmanuel Morel, and Imran Siddiqui are also running in the Democratic primary. Two candidates—Jason Mariner and Greg Musselwhite—are running in the Republican primary also being held on Nov. 2.

Keep reading 

Ohio’s 11th and 15th Congressional Districts

Voters in Ohio’s 11th and 15th Congressional Districts will also cast ballots in general special elections on Nov. 2. In the 11th District, Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown (D) faces Laverne Gore (R) to fill a vacancy left when Rep. Marcia Fudge (D) resigned to become the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In the 15th District, former president of the Ohio Coal Association, Mike Carey (R), faces Allison Russo (D) to fill a vacancy left when Rep. Steve Stivers (R) resigned to become President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. 

The 11th and 15th Districts are considered solidly Democratic and Republican, respectively, meaning the winners of those specific primaries are considered to be the likely winners on Nov. 2. Here’s a quick look at our coverage of those Aug. 3 primaries.

In the 11th District, rated Strong Democratic, Ballotpedia identified the Aug. 3 Democratic primary as a battleground election. Thirteen candidates filed for the primary, including Brown and former state Sen. Nina Turner. The Hill’s Julia Manchester described the primary as “a proxy battle for the Democratic Party establishment and national progressives,” referring to endorsements for Brown and Turner from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), respectively. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Seth Richardson added that local endorsements did not necessarily break down along the same dividing lines as national endorsements. Brown won the primary with 50.4% of the vote.

In the 15th District, rated Strong Republican, Ballotpedia tracked the Aug. 3 Republican primary as a battleground election. Eleven candidates filed for the primary including Carey and state Rep. Jeff LaRe. Former U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and outgoing officeholder Stivers issued dueling endorsements in the race with Trump supporting Carey and Stivers backing LaRe. Carey won the primary with 37.0% of the vote. He also completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, in which he said that he would “Bring back America First policies and rebuild the American economy…again”.

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An overview of special congressional elections in 2021

In addition to the three special elections described above, four Congressional special elections have already taken place this year. If there are no additional special elections during the 117th Congress, it would tie the 114th Congress for the lowest number of special congressional elections in recent years.

Here’s a look at those races that have already been decided:

As of Oct. 2021, 54 special congressional elections were held during the 113th through 117th Congresses (2013-2022). During that time, special elections were called for 18 seats vacated by Democrats and 36 vacated by Republicans.

The graphic below shows some historical information about party changes and special congressional elections. Figures for 2021 show only those special elections that have already been decided.

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A look ahead: U.S. congressional elections, 2022

We are less than two months away from the first candidate filing deadlines in the 2022 election cycle. All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election. Democrats currently hold a majority in the chamber with 220 seats to Republicans’ 212.

In the U.S. Senate, 34 of the chamber’s 100 seats are up for election. Democrats currently control the chamber with 48 seats alongside two independents. Republicans hold the remaining 50 seats. Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, serves as a tie-breaking vote. Of the 34 seats up for election, 14 are held by Democrats and 20 by Republicans.

We also know that at least 27 seats—22 in the House and five in the Senate—will be won by newcomers.

In the House, 13 Democratic incumbents and nine Republicans have announced that they will not be seeking re-election in 2022. Half of those—eight Democrats and three Republicans—appear to be retiring. The other half—five Democrats and six Republicans—are running for some other office. The 22 announced retirements place us lower than the number announced at this time in the 2020 (25) and 2018 (24) election cycles.

Five members of the Senate, all Republicans, have also announced their retirements. This is already higher than the number of Senators who announced retirements in the 2020 (4) and 2018 (3) election cycles.

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Explore campaign finance figures in Virginia’s House races

Welcome to the Friday, October 22, Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

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

  1. Take a deep dive into our coverage of campaign finance in Virginia’s House races
  2. A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, Oct. 19-23, 2020
  3. #FridayTrivia: By this date in 2011, how many states had enacted congressional redistricting maps?

Take a deep dive into our coverage of campaign finance in Virginia’s House races

Ballotpedia has published a series of articles analyzing candidate fundraising in the 2021 Virginia House of Delegates elections. These articles are part of a larger partnership with Transparency USA to provide campaign finance information for state-level elections.

Collecting campaign finance information for federal elections is a relatively straightforward process: all candidates running for federal office must file with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) which compiles and released data in bulk with a standardized format.

This information is less readily available in state-level elections where each state has its own campaign finance agency with its own standards for reporting, processing, and publishing campaign finance data. Transparency USA, a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3), has streamlined access to this information allowing us to provide a similar level of detailed financial information for state-level races.

As part of a pilot program, we have worked with Transparency USA to collect information in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In 2022, we plan to expand this informative campaign finance coverage to state executive and state legislative races across the country

In Virginia, the only state on the list above holding state legislative elections this year, Democrats have a 55-45 House majority. There are 93 districts with both a Democratic and Republican candidate on the ballot this Nov. 2, a decade high for the chamber. This is also the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Ballotpedia has identified 22 battleground districts in the chamber—16 held by Democrats and six by Republicans—shown below:

Here’s a comprehensive list of the items we’ve written on candidate fundraising in these contests:

Plus, we have several more stories planned between now and election day on both Ballotpedia News and here in the Brew.

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A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, Oct. 19-23, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates. We periodically look back at what was happening one year ago at this time. 

Here are some of the policy changes that happened one year ago between Oct. 19 and 23. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, Oct. 19, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • The North Carolina State Board of Elections directed counties to accept absentee/mail-in ballots received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12 and postmarked on or before Election Day. The state board of elections also issued new guidance on how voters could resolve problems with their absentee/mail-in ballots.
    • The U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order extending the receipt deadline for mail-in ballots to Nov. 6 for ballots postmarked on or before Election Day.

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) announced he would extend an executive order allowing local governments to impose mask requirements through the end of the year.
  • Election changes:
    • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit declined to block the extension of North Carolina’s absentee/mail-in ballot return and receipt deadlines. As a result, ballots would be accepted if they were postmarked on or before Election Day and received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12.

Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 

  • Election changes:
    • The Iowa Supreme Court upheld an Iowa law barring county election officials from sending absentee/mail-in ballots to voters who omitted information on their ballot application forms.
    • The U.S. Supreme Court, on a 5-3 vote, reinstated Alabama’s prohibition against curbside voting.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance changing the definition of close contact for an individual infected with coronavirus. Under previous guidelines, close contact was defined as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case. The new guidance defined a close contact as someone who was within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ordered nursing homes and assisted living facilities to allow children to visit residents indoors. His order also allowed outdoor visits regardless of a facility’s case count, as long as visitors and residents practiced social distancing and wore masks.

Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • Texas’ Third Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s Oct. 14 ruling that suspended Governor Greg Abbott’s (R) order restricting the number of absentee/mail-in ballot return locations to one per county.
    • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled election officials could not reject a mail-in ballot because the signature on the ballot return documents did not appear to match the voter’s signature on file.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.

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#FridayTrivia: By this date in 2011, how many states had enacted congressional redistricting maps?

In Wednesday’s Brew, we gave an update on redistricting following the 2020 census. As of Oct. 21, four states—Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon—have adopted and enacted new congressional district maps. By this date, Oct. 22, in 2011, following the 2010 census, how many states had enacted congressional district maps?

  1. 3
  2. 48
  3. 13
  4. 24


Your questions answered via Ballotpedia’s candidate survey

Welcome to the Thursday, October 21, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

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

  1. Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Expansion Project brings your questions to candidates in six cities
  2. How many state legislative vacancies have opened this year? Ballotpedia has the numbers
  3. San Francisco school board recall elections scheduled for Feb. 15

Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Expansion Project brings your questions to candidates in six cities

Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey offers candidates the opportunity to connect with voters by answering questions that speak to who they are as a person and what their motivations are for seeking political office as well as questions about their message and policies. In 2020, 4,745 candidates completed the Candidate Connection survey.

This year, Ballotpedia launched the Candidate Connection Expansion Project to give voters a more direct connection to the candidates they elect. Our readers in six pilot cities submitted custom questions for their candidates. An advisory board selected between three to five questions in each city to be incorporated into our candidate survey.

As of Oct. 20, 2021, 52 candidates running for office in all six cities have answered the questions submitted by Ballotpedia readers like you. The respondents include five mayoral candidates—four in Minneapolis and one in Atlanta.

In Atlanta, both candidates for city council District 9—Devin Barrington-Ward and Dustin Hillis—answered community questions in their Candidate Connection surveys. Selected responses from both are reproduced below:

What do you think about the transit options currently available in Atlanta? Would you make any changes?

Barrington-Ward: Transit options overwhelmingly favor bus service and the rail service that is available favors communities with high incomes and more access. I would shift our transit expansion projects to prioritize northwest, west, and southwest Atlanta communities and ensure that low income communities are afforded opportunities to work on these projects to help increase household incomes.

Hillis: I believe bus routes should be modified to go more places, more frequently – with the priority being areas where residents need and rely on public transportation the most. I supported the More MARTA plan, which will bring a new and full-sized Bankhead MARTA station to District 9 and more light rail lines.

What plans do you have regarding infrastructure?

Barrington-Ward: Use large public infrastructure projects to address issues around transportation, housing, and climate change while also putting people to work as a means of reducing poverty, income disparities, and crime throughout District 9 and Atlanta.

Hillis: I support the city going to voters in May 2022 to approve the Renew Atlanta Bonds and TSPLOST 2.0 in order to fund hundreds of millions of dollars more in much-needed infrastructure improvements.

What question would you have for a candidate running for political office in your local elections? Let us know—maybe your nomination could make it into a future survey!

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How many state legislative vacancies have opened this year? Ballotpedia has the numbers

A vacancy opening in Congress, as last happened with Rep. Steve Stivers’ (R) resignation in May to serve as president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, often invites national media coverage and attention. However, vacancies opening in state legislative chambers tend to draw less attention. Starting in 2019, Ballotpedia has published publicly available articles summarizing each state legislative vacancy that opened in a given year, how and when it was filled, and whether control of the seat changed as a result.

So far in 2021, there have been 113 state legislative vacancies opening in 41 states. A plurality (52) were opened when the legislator resigned, with another 20 opening when a legislator died. The remaining vacancies include 37 that opened when the legislator took a different office and four that opened when a legislator was removed from office.

Seventy-two of the 113 vacancies opened this year (64%) have been filled. Forty-two of those vacancies were filled via appointment and 30 were filled via special election. This year, there have been three seats where a legislator of a different party filled a vacancy—two where a Republican legislator succeeded a Democrat and one where a Democrat succeeded a Republican.

In 2019, the last odd-numbered year, 177 state legislative vacancies opened across 45 states. Republicans lost a net two seats owing to vacancies opening in 2019, while Democrats and independents each gained a net one seat.

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San Francisco school board recall elections scheduled for Feb. 15

Recall elections against three of the seven members of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education in California have been scheduled for Feb. 15, 2022. Petitions to recall board members Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga were certified in October 2021.

Recall sponsor Siva Raj said the effort was “a campaign to get politics out of education…What we saw consistently was a pattern where the school board leadership focused on a lot of political stunts and symbolic gestures like trying to rename schools, and doing that ultimately badly.”

In response to the recall effort, 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.”

All three board members named in the recall petitions were first elected to the board on Nov. 6, 2018. They received the most votes in an at-large election, defeating 16 other candidates. The other four members of the board were not eligible for recall at the same time as López, Collins, and Moliga as they had not served in their current terms for six months. They were elected or re-elected to the board on Nov. 3, 2020.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had 160 days to collect signatures from 10% of registered voters in the city. The total number of signatures needed was 51,325 per board member, and the deadline to submit them was Sept. 7. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall on Feb. 15, the mayor of San Francisco will appoint replacements.

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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The latest on redistricting: Final deadlines approaching in California and Connecticut

Welcome to the Wednesday, October 20, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

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

  1. California and Connecticut set final deadlines for redistricting
  2. U.S. Reps. David Price (D), Michael Doyle (D), announce retirements
  3. SCOTUS accepts two cases to 2021-2022 merits docket

California and Connecticut set final redistricting deadlines

As of Oct. 19, 2021, four states have adopted new congressional district maps following the 2020 census and six states have adopted new state legislative district maps. As of Oct. 19, 2011, 22 states had adopted new congressional district maps and 24 had adopted new state legislative district maps.

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Nevada, and Washington.

California: On Sept. 22, the California Supreme Court set a Nov. 15, 2021, deadline for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to release initial draft district plans. The court also set a Dec. 27, 2021, deadline for the delivery of final district plans to the secretary of state.

Connecticut: According to the Connecticut Constitution, the Reapportionment Committee was required to select a map, which needed two-thirds approval from both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly, by Sept. 15. The committee did not meet this deadline due to delays in the release of census data. Under state law, the committee was disbanded because it did not meet the Sept. 15 deadline and was replaced by a Reapportionment Commission. The majority and minority leaders of both chambers of the state legislature each selected two members to serve on the commission. The eight commissioners will select a ninth member. The commission’s final deadline is Nov. 30.

New Jersey: On Oct. 5, the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission announced it would hold 10 public hearings—five in-person and five virtual. The first virtual hearing will be held on Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. The first in-person hearing will be held on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. The second virtual hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on Oct. 30.

Nevada: The Nevada Committee to Conduct an Investigation into Matters Relating to Reapportionment and Redistricting held its first public meeting on Oct. 7. Committee Chairwoman Brittney Miller (D) said there will be at least three public hearings. One will be held in the Reno metro area, one in the Las Vegas metro area, and another in Carson City.

Washington: In an Oct. 14 press release, the Washington State Redistricting Commission said third-party maps should be submitted by Oct. 22 in order to receive full consideration. Maps can be sent until Nov. 15, but the commission said “we notify the public of the suggested deadline only to ensure that Commissioners have the time to properly consider public submissions.”

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U.S. Reps. David Price (D), Michael Doyle (D) to retire in 2022

Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Michael Doyle (D-Penn.) announced Monday they would not run for re-election next year, bringing the number of outgoing members of Congress to 27.

Price, who was first elected in 1986, is one of five Democrats in North Carolina’s 13-member U.S. House delegation. Price defeated Robert Thomas (R) 67-33% in 2020. Price’s win was within a single percentage point of Joe Biden’s (D) performance in the district. 

Doyle, who represents a district in the Pittsburgh metro area, was first elected in 1994 and is one of nine Democrats in Pennsylvania’s 18-member delegation. In 2020, Doyle won re-election 69% to 31% over Luke Negron (R). That year, Joe Biden (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 65% to 34% in the district.

Of the 27 members not seeking re-election, five are U.S. senators—all of them Republican. The 22 outgoing House members include 13 Democrats and nine Republicans. Eleven of them—eight Democrats and three Republicans—are retiring from public office. The other six Republicans and five Democrats are running for a different office.

At this point in the 2020 cycle, 28 members of Congress had announced they would not run for re-election. That number included 21 Republicans and seven Democrats. All but six of the outgoing members (four Republicans and two Democrats) were retiring from public office.

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SCOTUS accepts two cases to 2021-2022 merits docket

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Oct. 18 accepted two cases for argument during the 2021-2022 term:

  1. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas, originating from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
  2. Denezpi v. United States, originating from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Both cases concern the sovereign powers of Native American tribal nations. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo involves the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama and Coushatta Indian Tribes of Texas Restoration Act (1987), the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) (1988), and gaming regulation on tribal lands. Denezpi involves the Court of Indian Offenses’ jurisdiction and the Fifth Amendment’s double jeopardy clause, which prohibits an individual from being prosecuted for the same crime twice.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 41 cases during the term. Three cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Ten cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.

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Dive into one of Virginia’s battleground districts with Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Welcome to the Tuesday, October 19, Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

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

  1. State race spotlight: Virginia House of Delegates District 66
  2. Beth Barts, subject of Loudoun County, Va., school board recall effort, resigns
  3. Democrats gain majority in the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives after special election

State race spotlight: Virginia House of Delegates District 66

The Virginia House of Delegates is one of three state legislative chambers holding general elections this year. All 100 districts are up for election, with Democrats holding 55 to Republicans’ 45, making this the first time since 1999 where Democrats are defending a majority in the chamber. Ballotpedia identified 22 battleground House races based on four criteria, which can be found here

Today, let’s take a  closer look at the battleground race for Virginia’s House District 66 between Mike Cherry (R) and Katie Sponsler (D). Both candidates are Air Force veterans. Cherry has worked as a pastor and head of a parochial school while Sponsler has worked as a park ranger and physical trainer.

The district’s incumbent, Del. Kirk Cox (R), is not seeking re-election this year. Cox ran for governor instead and lost in the May 8 Republican primary. Cox was most recently re-elected in District 66 in 2019, winning 52-47%, his closest race since at least 2009. In 2020, Joe Biden (D) won the 66th district, defeating Donald Trump (R) 55-44%.

Both Cherry and Sponsler completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Survey, which gives candidates a chance to speak directly with voters. Our survey goes beyond issue questions to elicit thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about and hope to achieve. Responses allow voters to access their candidates and identify those that best align with their values.

Here’s a look at Cherry and Sponsler’s responses to two questions from the survey, reproduced here verbatim:

Question: Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?

Cherry:

  • When Mike entered the USAF, he took an oath to protect our constitutional rights. He believes all Americans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
  • Mike believes a strong and safe Virginia is only possible with a strong police system.
  • As an educator, Mike has a very clear understanding of what is going on in today’s education system.

Sponsler:

  • Education should be public, equitable, and fully funded to serve the needs of diverse communities and a wide range of abilities
  • Economic Justice is central in every American family’s needs. Without reliable, fair, and safe employment our communities and families can not thrive.
  • Our environment is not just climate change, it is the landfills and factories in our our [sic] backyards. We must address the air, water and soil pollution in our district.

Question: What is your favorite book? Why?

Cherry

The Bible. It is the most impactful book in the history of mankind. It is the instructions for a successful life.

Sponsler

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It’s [sic] discussion of the human experience and how that forms us in different ways causing a deep internal look no matter how many times I read it and that is what I think all the best books do.

You can read Cherry’s full responses here and Sponsler’s here.

According to recent campaign finance reports, Cherry had $165,162 on hand and Sponsler had $176,751. Cherry’s largest single donor is the Republican Party of Virginia, which contributed $17,552 to his campaign. Sponsler’s largest donor is Clean Virginia, a political organization focused on energy and government ethics, which contributed $50,000.

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Beth Barts, subject of Loudoun County, Va., school board recall effort, resigns

In other Virginia news, here’s an update that came late on Oct. 15. Beth Barts, the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia, announced her resignation effective Nov. 2. Barts was the subject of a recall effort that included five other members of the board.

Barts’ announcement comes 10 days after Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Jeanette Irby ruled the recall could advance to a full trial. At the Oct. 5 pretrial hearing, Irby denied Barts’ motion to dismiss the recall petition against her since an attorney did not sign her motion. In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than through a public vote.

Barts was first elected on Nov. 5, 2019, receiving 54.8% of the vote. Though school board elections in Virginia are nonpartisan, the Loudoun County Democratic Committee supported Barts.

In her resignation announcement, Barts said, “This was not an easy decision or a decision made in haste. After much thought and careful consideration, it is the right decision for me and my family.” Her attorney said he expected the recall case against Barts to be declared moot.

The school board will select Barts’ successor, who must be a qualified voter living in the school board’s Leesburg District.

Supporters of Barts’ recall are also circulating petitions against five other members of the nine-member school board in Northern Virginia.

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts tracked in a single year. The next-highest year was 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

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Democrats gain majority in the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives after special election

On Oct. 16, Corina Magofna (D) defeated Grace Sablan Vaiagae (R) in a special election for District 3 of the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives. Magofna’s victory changed the party control of the seat, which Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R) represented from 2017 until his death on July 23, 2021.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is one of five unincorporated, organized U.S. territories. An unincorporated territory is a self-governing entity subject to the federal government. CNMI’s legislature consists of a Senate and House. There are 20 House members—18 elected from Saipan and the islands north of it, one from Rota, and one from Tinian and Aguiguan. Representatives serve two-year terms and are not subject to term limits.

The special election tipped the partisan scales in the House. Heading into the election, Democrats and Republicans both held eight seats with independents representing three. Magofna’s victory gives Democrats nine seats to Republicans’ eight. Of the three independents, one is affiliated with Republicans and two are affiliated with Democrats, giving the Democratic-Independent bloc a governing majority in the chamber.

As recently as 2019, there were no declared Democrats serving in the territorial House.

Republicans have a 5-1-3 majority in the territorial Senate. There are three independents and one Democrat. The territory’s governor, Ralph Torres, is a Republican.

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