TagDaily Brew

The Daily Brew: 2021 voter registration deadline round up

Welcome to the Friday, October 1, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 2021 voter registration deadline roundup
  2. Recall elections scheduled for four Wisconsin school board members
  3. #FridayTrivia: By this date in 2011, how many states had enacted congressional district maps?

Quick reminder: This is my last day writing the Daily Brew as I begin to help drive and facilitate Ballotpedia’s coverage of the once-a-decade redistricting process. My team members will be taking the reins from here. You can expect them in your inbox at the same time each morning, but the email will be delivered from Ballotpedia instead of Dave Beaudoin. 

Thank you for all the kind words this week. It has been an honor to be part of your morning news routine. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you around Ballotpedia. 

Sincerely, 

Dave

2021 voter registration deadline roundup

With 32 days until the Nov. 2 general election, we are beginning to see voter registration deadlines approaching. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of those deadlines.

Texas: the voter registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 4. Voters can check their registration status here.

  • Ballot measures: Voters in Texas will decide eight statewide ballot measures at the general election. All eight measures are constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the Texas State Legislature.

Virginia: the voter registration deadline is Oct. 11. Voters can check their registration status here.

  • State executives: Three state executive offices are on the statewide ballot this year: governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Democrats currently hold all three positions but only one incumbent—Atty. Gen. Mark Herring (D)—is seeking re-election, leaving the other two offices open. 
  • State legislative: All 100 seats of the Virginia House of Delegates are also up for election making this the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber. 

New Jersey: the voter registration deadline is Oct. 12. Voters can check their registration status here.

  • State executive: Voters will cast their ballots for governor and lieutenant governor as incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) faces former state Assm. Jack Ciattarelli (R) and three others. In New Jersey, the outcome of the gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial election defines the rest of the executive branch: the offices—elected on a joint ticket—are the only directly-elected executive officials in the state, with the remainder being appointed by the governor. 
  • State legislative: All state legislative seats in the state Senate and General Assembly are also up for election. Democrats currently hold majorities in both chambers. 
  • Ballot measures: Voters will also decide two statewide ballot measures, both of which are constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the legislature. 

Pennsylvania: the voter registration deadline is Oct. 18. Voters can check their registration status here.

  • State courts: Pennsylvanians will elect a new state supreme court justice. Justice Thomas Saylor (R) could not seek re-election due to reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75. Voters will decide his replacement between Maria McLaughlin (D), a judge of the Pennsylvania Superior Court, and Kevin Brobson (R), a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge. In addition to the supreme court election, seven positions on the state’s intermediate appellate courts are also up for election. Three of those are partisan elections while the other four are retention elections.
  • Ballot measures: Voters will also decide four statewide ballot measures, three of which are constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the legislature. The fourth measure is a legislatively referred state statute.

Washington: the voter registration deadline is Oct. 25. Voters can check their registration status here.

Keep reading 

Recall elections scheduled for four Wisconsin school board members

Recall elections seeking to remove four of the seven members on the Mequon-Thiensville School District Board of Education in Wisconsin will be held on Nov. 2, 2021. Board members Wendy Francour, Erik Hollander, Akram Khan, and Chris Schultz are on the ballot. The three remaining board members were not eligible for recall as they had not served in office for at least one year.

Recall supporters said they began the process due to concerns about the school district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the topic of race in education, and a decline in academic performance metrics.

A spokeswoman for the district said, “MTSD’s focus remains on advancing our vision and planning for a robust learning experience for all students for the 2021-2022 school year.”

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to collect around 4,200 signatures per board member in 60 days. Supporters submitted more than 4,400 signatures on Aug. 23. All four members named in the recall petitions filed challenges on Sept. 2. On Sept. 21, the petitions were found to be sufficient, allowing the recall elections to be scheduled.

Ballotpedia has tracked 70 school board recall efforts against 182 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year since beginning this coverage in 2010. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In addition to the recalls in the Mequon-Thiensville School District, Ballotpedia is tracking four other recall elections on Nov. 2: a school board recall in Kansas and three city official recalls in Michigan, Missouri, and Colorado.

Keep reading 

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

In Thursday’s Brew, we took a look at Oregon, which, on Sept. 27, became the first state in the 2020 redistricting cycle to enact redrawn congressional district maps. By this date—Oct. 1—in 2011, following the 2010 census, how many states had enacted congressional district maps?

  1. 4
  2. 21
  3. 44
  4. 32

Correction: At this point in the 2018 election cycle, 65% of members of Congress who did not run for re-election did so in order to seek another office, a larger percentage than in this cycle. The lead story in Wednesday’s Brew misstated this figure.



The Daily Brew: Oregon enacts first congressional map after 2020 census

Welcome to the Thursday, September 30, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1.  Redistricting Roundup: Oregon becomes first state to enact congressional maps after 2020 census
  2.  How vacancies are filled on state supreme courts
  3.  Announcing Ballotpedia’s Newest Learning Journey on Agency Dynamics in Adjudication

Quick reminder: This is my last week writing the Daily Brew as I transition to a different role at Ballotpedia. My excellent team members will be taking over from here. You can expect them in your inbox at the same time each morning, but the email will be delivered from Ballotpedia instead of Dave Beaudoin. Thanks for reading! – Dave

Redistricting Roundup: Oregon becomes first state to enact congressional maps after 2020 census

Here’s a summary of the week’s noteworthy redistricting news from Oregon and Colorado:

Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and state legislative maps into law on Sept. 27, making Oregon the first state to enact congressional maps. If the maps are not changed by the state supreme court after any possible legal challenges, this would be the third time since 1910 that Oregon’s redistricting maps were approved by the legislature and governor without alteration.

The congressional maps were approved by the state Senate, 18-6, and the state House of Representatives, 33-16. The state legislative maps were approved by the state Senate, 18-11, and the House of Representatives, 31-18. The Oregonian stated the map created three safe Democratic seats, one safe Republican seat, one seat that leans Democratic, and one seat that is a toss-up.

​​After signing the maps, Brown said in a statement, “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.” Both the enacted congressional and legislative maps were amended after their initial proposal during the redistricting session.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R) criticized the maps, saying, “This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”

Following the 2010 census, Ohio legislators passed a revised congressional redistricting plan on Dec. 14, 2011, which Gov. John Kasich (R) signed on Dec. 15.

By this date in 2011, 19 states had finalized their congressional district maps. Seven states did not have to do congressional redistricting since they were only apportioned one congressional district

Colorado: The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission approved a final map of the state’s congressional districts on Sept. 28. Eleven of the 12 commissioners agreed on the final vote, satisfying the group’s constitutional requirement of at least eight votes in favor, two of which must come from unaffiliated members. Of the nine proposals from which to choose, the commission ultimately selected a version of the third staff plan amended by Commissioner Martha Coleman (D).

This is the state’s first redistricting process using an independent commission after voters approved Amendment Y in 2018. That amendment also requires that the Colorado Supreme Court approve new congressional district boundaries. 

The Denver Post’s Alex Burness said that the approved map “gives comfortable advantages to each of Colorado’s seven incumbent members of Congress — Democrats Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette, and Ed Perlmutter and Republicans Ken Buck, Lauren Boebert and Doug Lamborn.” Regarding the state’s new eighth district, Burness wrote, “Recent election results suggest the new 8th Congressional District will be a close race in 2022.”

Under Amendment Y, redrawn congressional districts must be competitive, which is defined as having a reasonable potential to change parties at least once every ten years. After the commission approves a final map, it is required to create a report demonstrating the extent to which districts are competitive. The legislature does not approve redrawn congressional districts and the governor cannot veto the plan. It is also not subject to the state’s veto referendum process.

Keep reading 

How vacancies are filled on state supreme courts

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia Clark died on Sept. 24, creating a vacancy on the five-member supreme court.

The process for filling vacancies on state supreme courts varies by state. Under Tennessee law, midterm vacancies on the supreme court are filled via gubernatorial appointment with legislative approval. In most states, the governor appointments a replacement justice, either outright or with assistance from a nominating commission.

Here are the five primary methods used:

  1. 18 states fill vacancies on the state supreme court through direct gubernatorial appointments.
  2. 28 states fill vacancies through a gubernatorial appointment with assistance from a nominating commission.
  3. Two states—South Carolina and Virginia—fill vacancies through legislative appointments.
  4. In Illinois, the state supreme court nominates a replacement justice.
  5. In Louisiana, voters elect a replacement in a special election.

The methods that courts use to fill vacancies do not necessarily line up with how they regularly select judges. For example, only one state uses elections to fill vacancies, while 20 states use them to regularly select judges.

The most common reasons for a vacancy on a state supreme court include reaching the mandatory retirement age, retiring before the end of a term, death, or appointment to another office.

Keep reading 

Announcing Ballotpedia’s Newest Learning Journey on Agency Dynamics in Adjudication

Adjudication is a quasi-trial-like process that aims to resolve regulatory disputes between agencies and private parties or between two private parties. One of the primary functions of agencies is to adjudicate disputes.

This Learning Journey will walk you through how this process works as well as the main areas of contention in this space.

To learn more and sign up, click here.



The Daily Brew: What’s different about Congressional retirements this year?

Welcome to the Wednesday, September 29, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. More members of Congress leaving for other offices than in recent cycles
  2. The Heart of the Primaries returns for the 2022 cycle!
  3. One three-term, three two-term incumbents on the ballot in Clallam County, Washington

Fewer members of Congress have retired from public office this cycle than in any since 2018

So far this year, 23 members of Congress have announced they will not run for re-election in 2022. Thirteen (56%) are not running for a different office, while the remaining 10 (44%) are running for a different office. This is the largest proportion of retiring members of Congress running for a different office since 2018.

At this point in the 2020 cycle, 25 members of Congress had announced they would not run for re-election. Nineteen (76%) did not run for a different office, while six (24%) did. At this point in 2018, 26 members of Congress had announced their retirements. Nine of them (35%) did not run for a different office, while 17 (65%) did.

More departing Republican members are choosing to run for another office this year than in 2020, driving the change in overall retirement trends. So far this year, six of the 14 departing Republicans (43%) are running for a different office rather than retiring from politics. Across the 2016, 2018, and 2020 cycles, 92 Republican members of Congress did not seek re-election. Twenty-two of them (24%) ran for a different office—roughly half the proportion that chose to do so this year.

On the Democratic side, nine members of Congress are not running for re-election, four of whom (44%) are running for a different office. In 2020, 40% of departing Democrats ran for another office, down from 50% in 2018 and 47% in 2016.

Between 2016 and 2020, 44 members of Congress left to run for a different office, including 22 Democrats and 22 Republicans. More than half of them (27) ran for the U.S. Senate, 10 ran for governor, two ran for president, and five ran for other offices.

Keep reading

The Heart of the Primaries returns for the 2022 election cycle!

It’s back! Ballotpedia is revving up our weekly newsletter Heart of the Primaries to keep you abreast of developments in the 2022 state and congressional primaries.

Beginning Oct. 13, we’ll send a series of five newsletters reviewing the biggest stories from 2018 and 2020 and setting the stage for 2022. Then, every two weeks beginning Nov. 11, and weekly starting in January, we’ll send out one Democratic and one Republican version of The Heart of the Primaries. You can subscribe to one or both depending on which party’s stories you want to follow. In the meantime, stay tuned for emails looking back to some of our best Heart of the Primaries stories from 2018 and 2020 and looking forward to what may come in 2022.

Keep reading 

One three-term, three two-term incumbents on the ballot in Clallam County, Washington

This year, Ballotpedia is following municipal elections taking place in Clallam County, Wash. Located on the Olympic Peninsula in coastal Washington, Clallam has the longest-running record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980.

This year, 26 offices are up for election across the county’s three cities (Port Angeles, Forks, and Sequim). Nineteen of those races have incumbents running for re-election.

The county’s longest-serving incumbent, Port Angeles School Board president Sarah Methner, is running for re-election. Methner was first elected in 2009 and re-elected in 2013 and 2017. Methner and Lola Moses are running for a four-year term on the board.

Three more incumbents are running who were first elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017: Port of Port Angeles Commissioner Colleen McAleer, Sequim Parks and Recreation Commissioner Frank Pickering, and Quillayute Parks and Recreation Commissioner Donald Grafstrom. All three are running unopposed.

Keep reading 



The Daily Brew: Breaking down the battlegrounds: The hottest races on the ballot this November

Welcome to the Wednesday, September 22, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Previewing this year’s battleground elections
  2. Your help is needed today
  3. Three state legislative special elections have already been scheduled for 2022

Previewing this year’s battleground elections

Election Day 2021 is less than six weeks away! In yesterday’s edition, we looked at the 999 elections within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope taking place on Nov. 2, 2021. Today, we’re focusing on the 25 elections we’ve designated as battlegrounds.

Ballotpedia designates elections that we expect will have a meaningful effect on the balance of political power as battlegrounds. Few elections have more potential to make a difference in the balance of power in state government than those for trifecta offices. A state government trifecta occurs when the governor’s party also controls majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. This year, we’ve identified three elections for trifecta office as battlegrounds:

Governor of Virginia: Virginia’s unique constitutional prohibition on governors serving back-to-back terms means there is never an incumbent on the ballot. Democrats have held a trifecta in Virginia since winning a majority in both chambers of the state legislature in 2019. Between 1977 and 2009, the party that lost the previous year’s presidential election won the Virginia gubernatorial election. This trend was broken when Terry McAuliffe (D) was elected governor in 2013, the year after Barack Obama (D) was re-elected president.

This year, McAuliffe, Glenn Youngkin (R), Princess Blanding (Liberation), and Paul Davis (I) are in the running. A win for McAuliffe would preserve Virginia’s Democratic trifecta if the party also maintains their legislative majority and a win for Youngkin would break it regardless of the legislative election results. Two election forecasting agencies say the race leans towards McAuliffe and a third says he is likely to win.

Virginia House of Delegates: All 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates are also up this year. Democrats hold a 55-45 majority, making this the first election year since 1999 when Virginia Democrats are defending a state house majority. The party that won the previous year’s presidential election has lost seats in five of the seven post-presidential election years since 1993.

In 2019, Democrats flipped six seats to win control of the chamber, which had been under a 51-49 Republican majority. In the 2017 election, Democrats flipped 15 seats, with control of the chamber coming down to a drawing of straws

If Republicans win a majority this year, they will break the Democratic trifecta regardless of the results of the gubernatorial election. If Democrats maintain their majority and win the gubernatorial election, they will preserve their trifecta. No seats are up in the Virginia State Senate.

Governor of New Jersey: Incumbent Phil Murphy (D), Jack Ciattarelli (R), Madelyn Hoffman (G), Gregg Mele (L), and Joanne Kuniansky (Socialist Workers) are running for governor of New Jersey. Although New Jersey is holding elections for both chambers of the state legislature, Democrats are expected to maintain their majorities, meaning New Jersey’s trifecta status will likely come down to the gubernatorial election.

Murphy was first elected in 2017, defeating Kim Guadagno (R) 56.0% to 41.9%. Two election forecasters say the race is solidly in Murphy’s column, while a third says Murphy is likely to win. No Democrat has been re-elected as governor of New Jersey since Brendan Byrne (D) in 1977.

Our selection of political battlegrounds is not limited to trifecta offices; here’s a selection of some of the other races we’ll be following this November:

Pennsylvania Supreme Court: One of the seven seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is up for election this year. Pennsylvania State Supreme Court justices are elected in partisan elections. Currently, five members of the court were elected as Democrats, one was elected as a Republican, and one was appointed by a Democratic governor. 

The position up for election is currently held by Chief Justice Thomas Saylor (R), who will retire on Dec. 31 after reaching the mandatory retirement age. Maria McLaughlin (D) and Kevin Brobson (R) will be on the ballot for a 10-year term.

Mayor of Boston: Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George are running in the nonpartisan election for mayor of Boston. Political observers describe the conflict between the two, both members of the city council, as ideological, with Wu running as a progressive and Essaibi George as a moderate. The winner will become the first woman and the first person of color to be elected mayor of Boston.

Seattle city attorney: Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy are in the running for this office after incumbent Pete Holmes was eliminated in the nonpartisan primary. Both have pledged to change course from Holmes’ approach to law enforcement.

Davison, who ran as a Republican for lieutenant governor in 2020, said she would step up the city’s law enforcement efforts and prosecute more offenses. Thomas-Kennedy said she would put an end to the prosecution of misdemeanors, saying these crimes were often committed by individuals facing other social problems such as poverty and addiction.

Keep reading

Your help is needed today

As readers of the Brew, you are familiar with Ballotpedia’s unwavering commitment to providing timely, unbiased information about elections, politics, and policy. Ballotpedia’s dedication to the facts has made us more than the Encyclopedia of American politics…we’ve become an essential and growing part of our nation’s civic life. 

Today, we have a special request for you. Please consider joining the Ballotpedia Society, our monthly giving program. This program provides critical resources to Ballotpedia’s day-to-day work delivering the information voters need to understand the complex world of American politics and elections.

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Three state legislative special elections have already been scheduled for 2022

Election Day 2021 may be just around the corner, but the special election calendar never stops. Ballotpedia is tracking three state legislative special elections that have already been called for 2022.

The three elections include two in Alabama and one in Massachusetts. Two are for Democrat-held seats and one is for a Republican-held seat. Here’s more on each:

Massachusetts (Jan. 11): A special general election will be held on Jan. 11, following a primary scheduled for Dec. 14, 2021, to fill the vacancy opened when state Sen. Joseph Boncore (D) resigned to take a job in the private sector. The First Suffolk & Middlesex District last had a contested general election in 2012. That year, incumbent Anthony Petruccelli (D) defeated Thomas Dooley, III (R) 81.6% to 18.4%. No candidates have filed yet.

Alabama (Feb. 1): A special general election will be held on Feb. 1 to fill the vacancy opened when state Rep. Bill Poole (R) resigned to take office as director of the Alabama Department of Finance. Alabama’s 63rd state house district last had a contested general election in 2010. That year, Poole defeated Susan Pace Hamill (D) 63.8% to 36.2%. The only candidate to file so far for the special election is Cynthia Almond (R), although minor party and independent candidates have until Oct. 19.

Alabama (March 1): Alabama’s second special state legislative election of the year will take place March 1 to fill the vacancy opened by the death of state Rep. Thad McClammy (D). Alabama’s 76th state house district has not had a contested general election since at least 2006. The only major party candidate to file was McClammy’s daughter Patrice McClammy (D). Minor party and independent candidates have until Nov. 16 to file.

So far in 2021, 64 state legislative elections have either taken place or been scheduled for later this year. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 state legislative special elections took place each year. A plurality of this year’s elections (27) were called after the incumbent resigned to either take a different elected or appointed office or to run for a different office.

Of the elections that have taken place so far this year, two resulted in partisan control of the seat changing. Democrats picked up a seat from Republicans in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, while Republicans gained a seat from Democrats in the Connecticut State Senate.

Keep reading 



The Daily Brew: There are 414 days until the 2022 November general election…

Welcome to the Monday, September 20, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. There are 414 days until the 2022 November general election…
  2. Sonoma County District Attorney retains office after voters defeat recall effort
  3. U.S. Senate confirms two federal judicial nominees 

There are 414 days until the 2022 November general election…

Can you believe the 2022 midterm elections will be underway in just a few months?! These midterms have the potential to quickly redefine the nation’s political landscape! It’s crucial that America’s voters have clear, concise, and unbiased information about the candidates and issues on their ballots.

We at Ballotpedia are committed to providing timely, trustworthy information about elections, public policy, and American politics; but to do that, we need your help. Please join our monthly donor program, the Ballotpedia Society, to give voters the everyday information they need about politics and policy!

New this year, your cumulative gift totaling $250+ will qualify you for membership in Ballotpedia’s Donor Clubs, which will include various benefits designed with you, our supporters, in mind. 

Join today

Sonoma County District Attorney retains office after voters defeat recall effort

You likely already know about the California gubernatorial recall election from last Tuesday. But, here’s one you may not have read about. A recall election seeking to remove Jill Ravitch from her position as the district attorney of Sonoma County, California, failed in an election held on Sept. 14. A majority of voters—79.9%—cast ballots against the recall, defeating the effort and keeping Ravitch in office.

The recall effort began in October 2020. Recall supporters said Ravitch had ignored issues of inequality, injustice, and fire safety; failed to hold corporations accountable for environmental issues; prevented the release of police body camera recordings; disproportionately incarcerated minorities; and abused her powers to pursue personal vendettas.

In response to the recall effort, Ravitch defended her record and said, “I’m so proud of the work the District Attorney’s Office does, and it’s such an honor to lead a dedicated group of professionals who work hard every day to ensure justice. […] These allegations strike not just at me but the work my office does, and that’s unfortunate.” The Sonoma County Democratic Party published a statement on Mar. 9 saying it was opposed to the recall effort.

Ravitch took office as district attorney in 2011. Prior to the filing of the notice of intent to recall, Ravitch had announced that she would not seek re-election when her term ends in 2022.

To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters had to submit 30,056 signatures in 160 days. The county verified 32,128 signatures, which was sufficient to schedule a recall election.

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.

Keep reading 

U.S. Senate confirms two federal judicial nominees 

The U.S. Senate confirmed two of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to Article III courts on Sept. 14. To date, 11 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed.

  • David Estudillo, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, by a vote of 54-41.
  • Angel Kelley, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, by a 52-44 vote.

Estudillo was nominated to the Western District of Washington on Apr. 29 to replace Judge Ronald Leighton, who assumed senior status on Feb. 28, 2019. Kelley was nominated to the District of Massachusetts on May 12 to replace Judge Douglas Woodlock, who assumed senior status on June 1, 2015. 

The confirmed nominees will join their respective courts upon receiving their judicial commissions and taking their judicial oaths.

The following map shows the percentage of federal district court vacancies in each state as of Sept. 1.

Keep reading 



The Daily Brew: Dive into the Administrative State on our newest Learning Journey

Welcome to the Friday, September 17, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Announcing our newest Learning Journey: the Overview of Agency Dynamics
  2. Three of the top-100 U.S. cities have mayoral primaries still to come
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many state supreme court justices are there?

Announcing our newest Learning Journey: the Overview of Agency Dynamics

Ballotpedia’s Learning Journeys bring deep dives into political and governmental topics right to your inbox. Today, we are introducing our newest Learning Journey: the Overview of Agency Dynamics. To date, we’ve published 29 Learning Journeys.

In this Learning Journey, we provide you with a thorough overview of agency dynamics, a term used to describe the structure and function of administrative agencies as well as the nuts and bolts of agency functions, including rulemaking and adjudication proceedings.

We will guide you through the types of agencies and their functions as well as introduce you to the main areas of discussion and debate around these dynamics.

While a majority of agencies are housed under the executive branch, others are established as independent federal agencies or are housed under the legislative or judicial branches. The structural variations affect agency oversight and interactions across branches.

This journey is part of Ballotpedia’s coverage of the administrative state, making up one of the five pillars necessary to understand the administrative state. For each pillar, we offer several Learning Journeys designed to help you understand that pillar and its effect on the administrative state. The other pillars include nondelegation, judicial deference, executive control of agencies, and procedural rights.

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Three of the top-100 U.S. cities have mayoral primaries still to come

Three of the 100 largest U.S. cities by population have mayoral primaries still to come: Durham, N.C. (Oct. 5), Hialeah, Fla. (Nov. 2), and New Orleans, La. (Nov. 13).

The incumbents in Durham and Hialeah—Steve Schewel (D) and Carlos Hernandez (R), respectively—are not seeking re-election, meaning a new mayor will be elected. In New Orleans, incumbent LaToya Cantrell (D) is running against 13 others in the city’s mayoral primary. Cantrell was first elected in 2017.

These three cities represent 28 of the top-100 cities holding mayoral elections in 2021. While most of these cities will hold general elections on Nov. 2, nine top-100 cities have already held mayoral elections this year.

Of the nine mayoral elections held so far this year, one has resulted in an office changing partisan control. In Anchorage, Alaska, David Bronson (R) was elected to succeed nonpartisan acting mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, who assumed office following the resignation of Ethan Berkowitz (D). One other mayorship also changed partisan control when North Las Vegas Mayor John J. Lee (R) announced he was switching his affiliation from Democratic to Republican in April 2021.

In 2020, mayoral elections were held in 29 top-100 cities, and seven offices changed partisan control. In 2019, 31 top-100 cities elected mayors, resulting in four party changes.

Since 2014, the number of mayoral elections in top-100 cities per year has ranged from 23 to 36.

Currently, 63 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 26 are affiliated with the Republican Party, four are independents, six identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, and one mayor’s affiliation is unknown. 

While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party. Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets. 

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: How many state supreme court justices are there?

Each state within the U.S. has at least one supreme court or court of last resort. Oklahoma and Texas both have two courts of last resort, one for civil appeals and one for criminal appeals.

How many justices serve on state supreme courts nationwide?

  1. 344
  2. 602
  3. 108
  4. 819


The Daily Brew: U.S. Census Bureau will release 2020 data in easier-to-use format

Welcome to the Thursday, September 16, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. U.S. Census Bureau will release 2020 data in easier-to-use format 
  2. Redistricting Roundup: Ohio Redistricting Commission approves state legislative redistricting maps by party-line vote
  3. Federal Register tops 50,000 pages

U.S. Census Bureau will release 2020 data in easier-to-use format


The U.S. Census Bureau will release data from the 2020 census in easier-to-use formats on Sept. 16. In addition to providing the data.census.gov tool, the bureau will deliver DVDs and flash drives of the data to state legislatures and redistricting authorities on that date.

The Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census in a legacy format on Aug. 12, which included county-level demographic information. That release allowed states to begin the process of drawing congressional and state legislative district maps.

The Census Bureau was originally scheduled to deliver redistricting data to the states by Mar. 30, but the process was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sixteen states have constitutional deadlines requiring that they complete their legislative redistricting this year, and eight have such deadlines to complete their congressional redistricting. 

Keep reading

Redistricting Roundup: Ohio Redistricting Commission approves state legislative redistricting maps by party-line vote

Here’s a summary of the week’s noteworthy redistricting news from Iowa and Ohio. Authorities in seven states also released draft congressional or legislative maps:

Ohio: The Dayton Daily News reported that the Ohio Redistricting Commission tentatively approved new state legislative district maps by a 5-2 party-line vote on Sept. 9, 2021. If the Commission files those maps with the secretary of state, they will be effective for four years rather than 10 because they passed without support from at least two commissioners from each party. 

This is the first state legislative redistricting conducted under Ohio’s Bipartisan Redistricting Commission Amendment, which voters approved in 2015. The commission consists of the governor, state auditor, secretary of state, and four members of the state legislature—two from each party. Maps drawn by the commission are valid for 10 years if at least two commissioners from each major political party vote for them. If the maps pass along strictly partisan lines, they are valid for two general elections of the state House of Representatives.

The deadline for the commission to adopt final state legislative maps was Sept. 15. The Ohio Supreme Court has jurisdiction over all cases involving state legislative redistricting.

Iowa: On Sept. 14, the Iowa Supreme Court extended the deadline for state legislative redistricting to Dec. 1 due to delays in receiving data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The court said that because the process would not be complete by the state’s Sept. 15 constitutional deadline, it was exercising its responsibility and authority over redistricting. The Iowa Legislative Services Agency said that the Iowa Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission would release the first draft of proposed state legislative district maps on Sept. 16.

Nationwide: Redistricting commissions and state legislative committees in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, and New York all released draft congressional or legislative maps over the past week. 

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Federal Register tops 50,000 pages

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 overall regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions. We periodically update you about its status—here’s a recent report.

From Sept. 6 through Sept. 10, the Federal Register grew by 934 pages for a year-to-date total of 50,836 pages. By this point in President Donald Trump’s (R) first year as president, the year-to-date total was 42,578 pages. Last week’s Federal Register featured the following 449 additions:

  • 354 notices
  • Seven presidential documents
  • 29 proposed rules
  • 59 final rules

Ballotpedia has maintained page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project since 2017. Click below to learn more about how the Federal Register has changed from the Trump administration to the Biden administration.

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Last night at the polls

Welcome to the Wednesday, September 15, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Newsom recall results
  2. Mayoral primary results in Boston and Cleveland
  3. Loudoun County Circuit Court judge recuses himself, delays recall hearing

California voters retain Gov. Gavin Newsom

Among the replacement candidates, Larry Elder (R) received the largest share of the votes at 42.1% followed by Kevin Paffrath (D) at 11.2%. 

The recall election presented voters with two questions. The first asked whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second asked who should succeed Newsom if he was recalled. If Newsome had been recalled, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would have won the election, no majority required.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, ran in the election. The candidates to receive the most media attention and perform best in polls before the election were YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

Recall supporters said Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In a March 2021 response, Newsom called the effort a “Republican recall — backed by the RNC, anti-mask and anti-vax extremists, and pro-Trump forces who want to overturn the last election and have opposed much of what we have done to fight the pandemic.” Newsom was elected as governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote.

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. 

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Mayoral primary results in Boston and Cleveland

The Newsom recall wasn’t the only election we were watching yesterday. Nonpartisan mayoral primaries were held in Boston and Cleveland. The November elections in both cities will be between the top two finishers in each primary.

In Cleveland, Justin Bibb and Kevin Kelley advanced from the mayoral primary. As of 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Bibb had 27.1% of the vote to Kelley’s 19.4%. Dennis Kucinich was third with 16.5%.

Seven candidates ran in the nonpartisan primary to succeed Frank Jackson (D), who chose not to seek election to a fifth four-year term. November’s mayoral election will be the first without an incumbent on the ballot since 2001.

Three of the candidates currently hold elected office — Basheer Jones and Kelley are members of the city council, while Sandra Williams is a state senator. Two more have held political office in the past — Dennis Kucinich served as mayor in the 1970s and was a member of the U.S. House from 1997 through 2013. Zack Reed served for 17 years on the city council before running for mayor in 2017, losing to Jackson 59.5% to 40.5% in the general election. Bibb, a chief strategy officer with technology firm Urbanova, and Ross DiBello, a document review attorney, have not held elected office.

Results for Boston’s mayoral primaries were delayed as city officials processed ballots on election night. As of midnight Eastern Time, a few hundred ballots had been counted.

Seven candidates ran for mayor of Boston after former incumbent Marty Walsh (D) left office in March 2021 to become President Joe Biden’s (D) secretary of labor. The four candidates who led in polling and fundraising before the primary were Acting Mayor Kim Janey, Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Michelle Wu. All four are members of the city council.

Three independent polls conducted over the past three weeks each showed Wu leading the other six candidates by more than the margin of error. Local political observers noted the candidates’ ideological differences, with Campbell, Janey, and Wu running as progressives and Essaibi George as a moderate. Although the office is officially nonpartisan, Boston hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1930.

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Loudoun County Circuit Court judge recuses himself, delays recall hearing

A hearing on a recall petition seeking to remove Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia was delayed after Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Stephen E. Sincavage recused himself. The hearing, initially scheduled for Sept. 13, was delayed until Sept. 15 (today). In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. 

Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another six members of the nine-member school board. Recall backers say they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. 

Barts’ attorney, Charlie King, filed a motion to dismiss the petition against her since it did not have an attorney’s signature. King also asked the circuit court judges to recuse themselves from the case because it involved local officeholders.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on November 5, 2019. Barts received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, the Loudoun County Democratic Committee supports Barts.

There were 83,606 students enrolled in the Loudoun County Public Schools during the 2019-2020 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 64 school board recall efforts against 165 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

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California’s gubernatorial recall election is today

Welcome to the Tuesday, September 14, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. California’s gubernatorial recall election is today
  2. Joe Biden (D) has appointed the most federal judges through September 1 of a president’s first year
  3. First 2022 state supreme court vacancy announced

California’s gubernatorial recall election is today

Today, Sept. 14, is the deadline for California voters to cast their ballots in the gubernatorial recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Polling places will be open for in-person voting or ballot drop-off from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT. These polling places also allow for same-day voter registration. All registered voters in the state were previously sent an absentee/mail-in ballot in August. Those ballots must be postmarked today to be counted.

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first asks whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote supporting the recall is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. If that occurs, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the elections, no majority required.

California allows election officials to begin counting ballots as they are received, meaning it is likely some results will be made available after polls close tonight. The timing of the final result is harder to determine since officials will be receiving absentee/mail-in ballots until next Tuesday and voters are given about a month to correct signature errors. If the race is close, we might be waiting for that final result.

For context, here’s what the timeline looks like coming up:

  • Sept. 14: Deadline to cast a ballot in the recall election. This is also the deadline for voters to place completed absentee/mail-in ballots in the mail.
  • Sept. 21: Deadline for officials to receive absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Oct. 6: Deadline for officials to notify voters of signature mismatches.
  • Oct. 12: Deadline for voters to verify signatures in the case of a mismatch.
  • Oct. 22: Election certification date.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. The candidates who have received the most media attention and best poll performances so far are YouTuber Kevin Paffrath (D), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), radio host Larry Elder (R), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), California State Board of Equalization member Ted Gaines (R), former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R).

Averages from the four polls released this month showed 41% of respondents supporting the recall on the first question and 57% opposing. An average of 36% of respondents said they would leave the second question blank—which Newsom has recommended—and 32% said they would support Elder (R).

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

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Joe Biden (D) has appointed the most federal judges through September 1 of a president’s first year

President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the U.S. Senate has confirmed nine Article III judicial appointments through Sept. 1 of his first year in office. This is the largest number of Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies going back to Ronald Reagan (R). The U.S. Senate confirmed six of Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term.

The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through Sept. 1 of their first year in office is four.

Of the nine judges appointed by Biden, five filled vacancies left by judges who were nominated by Republican presidents: four by George W. Bush (R) and one by Ronald Reagan (R). The remaining four judges filled vacancies left by judges nominated by Democratic presidents: three by Bill Clinton (D) and one by Barack Obama (D). The full list is shown below:

Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the U.S. Constitution. Article III judges on all of the following courts: U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. courts of appeals, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.

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First 2022 state supreme court vacancy announced

Wyoming State Supreme Court Justice Michal K. Davis announced he would retire on Jan. 16, 2022, upon reaching the state court’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years. This vacancy is the first state supreme court vacancy announced for 2022. 

Davis’ replacement will be Gov. Mark Gordon’s (R) first nominee to the five-member supreme court. Under Wyoming’s assisted appointment method, Gordon will pick a replacement from a list of three judges provided to him by a nominating commission, made up of the current chief justice, three members appointed by Gordon, and three members appointed by the state bar.

In our 2021 “Determiners and Dissenters” analysis, we found that the Wyoming Supreme Court was the sixth-most unanimous state supreme court in the country. This analysis examined how frequently justices ruled unanimously on an issue versus a split decision. In the 158 cases before the Wyoming Supreme Court in 2020, justices ruled unanimously on 152 of them (96.2%). Only the state supreme courts in Georgia, Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Nebraska had higher unanimity rates.

Ballotpedia has tracked 16 state supreme court vacancies so far in 2021. Of those 16 vacancies, two were announced in 2020, though neither as early as Davis’ announcement for 2022. Thirteen of the vacancies in 2021 have been filled with one vacancy outstanding. The remaining two justices are set to retire on Dec. 31, 2021, meaning their replacements likely will not be sworn in until 2022.

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Loudoun County school board recall effort heads to court

Welcome to the Monday, September 13, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Hearing on Loudoun County school board recall effort set for Sept. 13
  2. Tomorrow’s California recall election
  3. Florida Realtors suspends initiative campaign following compromise with state legislators

Hearing on Loudoun County school board recall effort set for Sept. 13

Ballotpedia has tracked 64 school board recall efforts against 165 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

One of those recall efforts this year is based out of Loudoun County, Virginia. Here’s an update.

On Aug. 25, opponents of Beth Barts submitted petition signatures to recall her from the Loudoun County School Board of Education. The show cause hearing on those petitions will take place on Sept. 13 (today).

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia, which is the only state to use this court process, also requires certain criteria be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures ​​equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. The recall effort against Barts needed 1,176 signatures. Recall supporters announced they had collected 1,860.

Barts’ attorney filed a motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney. He also asked the circuit court judges to recuse themselves from the case because it involved local officeholders.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. She received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, Barts is supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another six members of the nine-member school board. They said the board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group, where they discussed public matters in a private setting, was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act and the school board’s Code of Conduct. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.

Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the district uses a Culturally Responsive Framework that “speaks to providing a welcoming, affirming environment and developing cultural competence through culturally responsive instruction, deeper learning, equitable classroom practices and social-emotional needs for a focus on the whole child.” Ziegler said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum.

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Tomorrow’s California recall election

California voters will head to the polls on Sept. 14 for the recall election seeking to remove California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. If Newsom is recalled, the candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election—no majority required.

Polling places across the state will be open for in-person voting or ballot drop-off from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. These polling places also allow for same-day voter registration.

All registered voters in the state were previously sent a vote-by-mail ballot in August. Those mail ballots must be postmarked by Sept. 14 to be counted. California voters can click here to find their polling place.

Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the 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.

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Florida Realtors suspends initiative campaign following compromise with state legislators

On September 7, 2021, Floridians for Housing, a ballot initiative committee sponsored by Florida Realtors, announced they were suspending their ballot initiative campaign. The initiative would have created state and local government housing trust funds for “affordable housing access and availability, including funding of programs addressing new construction, down payment and closing cost assistance, rehabilitation, and financing for affordable housing development.” 

As of Sept. 8, the group had submitted 65,018 valid signatures. To qualify for the ballot, sponsors would have needed to submit 891,589 valid signatures by February 1, 2022. 

Florida Realtors President Cheryl Lambert said, “The legislative leadership has committed to working with us to find significant, immediate solutions to Florida’s workforce housing crisis. This crisis cannot wait. Every day, we hear about workers who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic who can’t afford a home. This approach will help bring homeownership within reach of Floridians much faster.” Florida Realtors had contributed at least $13 million to the ballot initiative committee.

Ballotpedia is tracking 24 potential initiatives targeting Florida’s 2022 ballot. As of Sept. 8, seven of the initiative campaigns had zero valid signatures submitted. For the other 17 campaigns, the number of valid signatures on file ranged from two to 9,347. That top figure came from Florida Voters in Charge, the sponsor of an initiative to expand casino gaming in Florida.

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