TagDaily Brew

Florida marijuana legalization measure blocked from 2022 ballot

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Florida Supreme Court blocks marijuana legalization initiative from 2022 ballot

Last week, I wrote that New Mexico became the third state in a month to enact recreational marijuana legalization, along with New York and Virginia. In related news, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 on April 22 that the state could not include a marijuana legalization initiative on the 2022 ballot. The court called the ballot summary misleading. “A constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law,” the majority opinion said. “And a ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading.”

Florida’s measure would have added a section to the state constitution legalizing the personal possession, use, and purchase of 2.5 ounces of marijuana and allowing Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to sell marijuana for personal use to adults 21 years or older.

In April 2020, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill requiring the Florida Supreme Court to review whether the proposed amendment is “facially invalid under the United States Constitution” in addition to its existing requirements to review the initiative’s ballot title and compliance with the state’s single-subject rule. 

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R), the state legislature, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce filed briefs arguing that the measure was invalid because it violated federal law. The Florida Supreme Court didn’t rule on the issue because it blocked the measure based on the ballot summary. Republican governors have appointed all seven justices on the Florida Supreme Court.

In 2016, Florida voters approved Amendment 2 by a vote of 71% to 29%. That measure legalized medical marijuana for individuals with specific medical conditions that a doctor determines are debilitating.

Seventeen states and D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana—12 through statewide citizen initiatives, one through a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, and five through state legislatures. 

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Democratic, Republican Party committee 2022 fundraising about even

Through the end of the first quarter, Federal Election Commission finance reports from April 15 show where party committee fundraising stands so far—about even between the two parties. The Democratic and Republican parties each have three major party committees—a national committee and two Hill committees that focus on elections to the U.S. Senate and House.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $105.0 million, and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and Republican National Committee (RNC) raised $101.4 million. These six committees raised a combined $2.65 billion during the two-year 2020 election cycle.

Here are three takeaways from the first quarter reports:

  • The three Democratic Party committees (DNC, DSCC, DCCC) outraised the three Republican Party ones (RNC, NRSC, NRCC) after the first quarter of the 2022 election cycle. This is the first time that has occurred in the last three cycles.
    • The Democratic Party committees raised 3.5% more than the Republican Party committees. In 2017 and 2019, the Republican Party committees outraised the Democratic Party committees by 31.3% and 29.6%, respectively.
  • House committees: The DCCC has raised 1% more than the NRCC ($34.1 million to $33.8 million).
    • At this point in the 2020 election cycle, the DCCC had raised 25% more than the NRCC ($32.5 million to $25.1 million).
  • Senate committees: The NRSC has raised 2% more than the DSCC ($23.1 million to $22.7 million).
    • At this point in the 2020 election cycle, the NRSC had raised 35% more than the DSCC ($19.5 million to $13.8 million).
  • The DNC raised 8% more than the RNC ($48.2 million to $44.4 million).
    • At this time in the 2020 election cycle, the RNC had raised 75% more than the DNC ($45.8 million to $20.9 million).

The chart below shows cumulative first-quarter fundraising totals for all three committees from each party for 2017, 2019, and 2021.

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SCOTUS issues rulings in three cases 

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) issued opinions in three cases argued earlier this term. SCOTUS ends its April sitting this week and was scheduled to hear six hours of oral arguments from April 26 to 28. The court is scheduled to hear arguments in one case during its May sitting on May 4, concluding the 2020-2021 term.

Here’s a quick summary of the three recent decisions—click the link at the bottom for more information on each:

  • Jones v. Mississippi: In a 6-3 vote, the court ruled that the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not require a juvenile to be found as permanently incorrigible before imposing a life sentence without parole. The term incorrigibility refers to when a juvenile does not accept an adult’s authority. 
  • Carr v. Saul (consolidated with Davis v. Saul): The court issued a unanimous opinion holding that Social Security disability claimants are not required to make Appointments Clause challenges relating to the administrative law judges hearing their claims during administrative proceedings before seeking judicial review.
  • AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission: SCOTUS issued a unanimous opinion concluding that the Federal Trade Commission Act does not authorize the commission to seek equitable monetary relief like restitution or disgorgement and does not authorize a court to award such relief. 

The court agreed to hear 62 cases this term and has so far issued 30 opinions. Six cases were decided without argument. In the 2019-2020 term, SCOTUS agreed to hear 74 cases and issued decisions in 62 cases. Twelve cases were postponed to the 2020-2021 term due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Do you love following what happens at the Supreme Court as much as I do? If so, you’ll want to subscribe to our Bold Justice newsletter to stay up to date on court cases, noteworthy rulings, and judicial nominations and retirements. With SCOTUS due to issue almost 30 rulings in the next few months, you won’t want to miss an edition!

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The Daily Brew: Highlights from April’s State Ballot Measure Monthly

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Welcome to the Monday, April 26, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Highlights from our latest State Ballot Measure Monthly newsletter
  2. Troy Carter wins Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District special election
  3. COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week

Highlights from our latest State Ballot Measure Monthly newsletter

In case you don’t receive our State Ballot Measure Monthly newsletter, the most recent issue hit inboxes on Friday—April 23—and it’s a great one. The April edition of SBMM covers 19 new 2022 certified ballot measures as well as initiative restrictions. We’ve also updated the numbers below to include two new measures in Montana that were certified in recent days.

Twenty-one statewide measures were certified for the 2022 ballot from March 16 through April 22 in 12 states. This brought the total number of 2022 statewide measures certified so far up to 30 in 17 states. An average of 22 measures were certified for even-year ballots by this point from 2011 through 2019. No new 2021 measures were certified.

Here are a few highlights from the April edition of SBMM:

  • After gaining the supermajority required in November 2020, Republican lawmakers in West Virginia put a constitutional amendment on the 2022 ballot that would say that no state court has any authority over impeachment proceedings or judgments. 
    • The amendment is in response to impeachment proceedings against supreme court justices in 2018 that temporary supreme court justices blocked from going to trial.
  • Arkansas, Idaho, and Kentucky voters will decide in 2022 whether to give their legislatures the power to call themselves into special session. These measures were proposed partially in response to COVID-19.
  • In Idaho, the legislature passed and Gov. Brad Little (R) signed Senate Bill 1110 to increase signature distribution requirements for ballot initiatives.
  • Arkansas, South Dakota, and Utah legislators also passed ballot measure restrictions. Arkansas voters will decide a constitutional amendment in 2022 that would require 60% supermajority voter approval for any future constitutional amendments or initiated state statutes.

Click below to read the full April edition of SBMM.

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Troy Carter wins Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District special election

Troy Carter (D) won the special election for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District on Saturday—April 24. Carter received 55.2% of the vote, and fellow Democrat Karen Peterson received 44.8%. The two advanced to the general election from the March 20 all-party primary. Carter was elected to the state Senate in 2015 and has previously served in the Louisiana House of Representatives and the New Orleans City Council.

Former incumbent Cedric Richmond (D) and several U.S. House members endorsed Carter, a state senator. Peterson, who is also a state senator, had endorsements from 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) and Gary Chambers (D), who finished third in the primary. 

Richmond resigned in January to become a senior adviser to President Joe Biden (D) and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He was first elected in 2010 and won re-election last year with 63.9% of the vote. Since 2000, the seat has been occupied by a Democrat in all years except 2009-2011, when it was occupied by Joseph Cao (R).

Carter and Peterson both supported legalizing marijuana, ending cash bail, forgiving student debt loans for up to $50,000, and a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal land and waters. They also supported increasing the federal minimum wage but disagreed on what it should be raised to. Carter supported a $15 per hour minimum wage, while Peterson said she would support raising it to $20 per hour. The candidates also differed on healthcare policy, with Carter supporting a public option and Peterson supporting a Medicare for All plan.

This was the second special election decided for the 117th Congress. On March 20, voters in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District elected Julia Letlow (R) in a special election to fill the vacancy left by Luke Letlow (R), who died before being seated in the 117th Congress from complications related to COVID-19.

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COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week

We continue our Monday series highlighting policy changes and events related to the coronavirus pandemic from one year ago this week. Five major events are below. 

  • On April 27, 2020, Mississippi’s stay-at-home order became the fourth to expire. Alaska’s stay-at-home order expired first on April 24, while Montana’s and Colorado’s each ended on April 26. 
  • On April 27, the New York State Board of Elections canceled the Democratic presidential preference primary, which had been scheduled for June 23, 2020.
  • On April 28, President Donald Trump (R) signed an executive order aimed at keeping meat processing plants open throughout the country. Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to designate meat processing plants as critical infrastructure.
  • On April 29, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) extended the statewide closure of schools to in-person instruction from April 30 to May 15.
  • On April 30, stay-at-home orders in Texas, Tennessee, Idaho, Georgia, and Alabama expired. Thirty-four stay-at-home orders remained in place.  

Click the link below for more policy changes and events from one year ago this week.

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The Daily Brew: The progression of state vaccine eligibility

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Welcome to the Friday, April 23, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Recapping coronavirus vaccine eligibility over time (March 15-April 19) + vaccination rates by state
  2. Judge dismisses recall charges against Seattle school board members
  3. #Friday trivia: Special House elections

Recapping coronavirus vaccine eligibility over time (March 15-April 19) + vaccination rates by state

On Monday, April 19, everyone 16+ became eligible to receive coronavirus vaccines in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The data in the map above show the loosest restrictions in each state on the date specified and may not reflect statewide accessibility at the time.

Alaska was the first state to offer vaccines to all residents 16+ on March 9. The final six states that opened eligibility on April 19 were:

  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

On April 18, the CDC announced that 50.4% of American adults over the age of 18 had received at least one dose of a vaccine. 

As of April 22, the states with the highest vaccination rates (including those who have received at least one dose) as a percentage of total population—children included—were:

  • New Hampshire (Republican governor): 59%
  • Connecticut (Democratic governor): 51%
  • Massachusetts (Republican governor): 51%
  • Maine (Democratic governor): 51%
  • Vermont (Republican governor): 49%

The states with the lowest rates were:

  • Mississippi (Republican governor): 30%
  • Alabama (Republican governor): 31%
  • Louisiana (Democratic governor): 31%
  • Idaho (Republican governor): 33%
  • Tennessee (Republican governor): 33%

Want daily updates about changes to government policies regarding vaccine eligibility, travel restrictions, and more? Our Documenting America’s Path to Recovery newsletter delivers the latest coronavirus-related updates to our subscribers’ inboxes each weekday. Click here to subscribe.

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Judge dismisses recall charges against Seattle school board members

On April 19, a King County Superior Court judge dismissed recall charges against six of seven Seattle Public Schools school board members. Recall supporters filed the charges last month. The school board voted to appoint District IV representative Erin Dury on March 24—after the charges were filed.

Recall supporters said the board failed to transition to in-person instruction in a timely manner. Seattle Public Schools started out the 2020-2021 school year in remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The board voted on March 24 to move pre-K through fifth-grade students into in-person instruction starting in April 2021. School board members did not publicly respond to the recall effort.

Judge Mafé Rajul said the decision to close schools was a “discretionary act and members of a school board cannot be recalled unless they arbitrarily or unreasonably exercised such discretion.” Rajul said the board members had not acted arbitrarily or unreasonably when they voted to close schools.

Article I, §33 of the Washington Constitution says a recall can only occur if the targeted public official has engaged in the “commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office, or who has violated his oath of office.” If the judge had approved the charges, recall supporters would have had to collect signatures equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last election for each official.

Twelve of the 19 school board recall efforts we’re tracking so far this year are related to COVID-19. In 2020, nine of the 26 school board recalls we tracked were related to COVID-19. 

In Washington last year, seven elected officials were the subject of recall efforts. None of those recalls qualified for the ballot.

Read on 

#Friday trivia: Special House elections

This week, we’ve written in the Brew about two upcoming special elections: one for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District (April 24) and one for Texas’ 6th Congressional District (May 1). These are two of seven special House elections happening—so far—for the 117th Congress.

How many U.S. House special elections took place for the 116th Congress?

  1. 2
  2. 8
  3. 11
  4. 15

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The Daily Brew: New York’s $3 billion environment bond measure

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

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

  1. New York voters will decide $3 billion environment and climate change projects bond measure in 2022
  2. 2021’s third special congressional election is next Saturday, May 1 
  3. South Dakota’s new Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources 

New York voters will decide $3 billion environment and climate change projects bond measure in 2022 

New York voters will head to the polls next year to decide a $3 billion environment and climate change projects bond measure. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed legislation on April 19 that referred the measure to the November 2022 ballot. It was originally put on the 2020 ballot but was withdrawn in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure would authorize the issuance of $3 billion in general obligation bonds for projects related to the environment, natural resources, water infrastructure, and climate change, as stated in the legislation. A bond issue is when a state government asks voters to approve or deny additional proposed spending. Revenue from the bonds would be distributed as stated in the bill as follows:

  • not less than $1 billion for flood risk reduction, coastal rehabilitation, shoreline restoration, and ecological restoration projects;
  • up to $700 million for projects designed to mitigate the impacts of climate change, such as those related to green buildings, carbon sequestration, urban forest and habitat restoration, reduce the urban heat island effect, reduce and eliminate air pollution in what the legislation refers to as environmental justice communities, and reduce and eliminate water pollution in those communities;
  • up to $550 million for land conservation and recreation plans, programs, and projects, and fish hatcheries; and
  • not less than $550 million for projects related to wastewater, sewage, and septic infrastructure, lead service line replacement, riparian buffers, stormwater runoff reduction, agricultural nutrient runoff reduction, and addressing harmful algal blooms.

The measure would define environmental justice communities as “minority or low-income [communities] that may bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local, and tribal programs and policies.”

Between 1990 and 2020 in New York, voters decided seven statewide bond measures, approving three and rejecting four. Two issues were for projects related to the environment. A $1.975 billion measure was defeated in 1990. Voters approved a $1.75 billion bond issue in 1996.

Twenty-five statewide ballot measures have been certified in 15 states for the 2022 ballot so far. From 2012 through 2020, the average number of statewide measures certified for the ballot by the third week in April of the previous year was 21.

Read on

2021’s third special congressional election is next Saturday, May 1 

The third special election of the 117th Congress takes place on May 1 in Texas’ 6th Congressional District. Twenty-three candidates are running to succeed former Rep. Ronald Wright (R), who died from complications related to COVID-19 in February. A runoff will occur (the exact runoff date, if one is needed, has not been scheduled and would be decided after the preliminary election) if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. 

In the 2020 general election, Wright defeated Stephen Daniel (D) 53%-44%, while Trump carried the district 51%-48%. Wright won re-election in 2018 with 53% of the vote and in 2016 with 58% of the vote.

According to the Texas Tribune, the race is likely to head to a runoff. The Tribune identified seven prominent candidates in the race—three Democrats and four Republicans. Each of the Republican candidates has campaigned on policies related to firearms, immigration, border issues, deregulation, and abortion. Each of the three Democrats has emphasized economic issues, education, and expanding affordable medical care as key parts of their platform.

Here’s a look at major Republican endorsements:

  • Jake Ellzey, a Navy veteran, received endorsements from former Gov. Rick Perry, the Texas Farm Bureau, and the War Veterans Fund.
  • Brian Harrison, the chief of staff to former Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, has endorsements from more than 100 members of the Trump administration, including Azar, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Administrator of the Small Business Administration Linda McMahon.
  • Sery Kim, a former Small Business Association official, received endorsements from Reps. Young Kim and Michelle Steel. Kim and Steel rescinded their endorsements in early April following comments Sery Kim made about Chinese immigrants.
  • Susan Wright, the widow of Ronald Wright, received endorsements from five members of Congress, the state party executive committee, and the mayor of Fort Worth. 

Major Democratic endorsements include the following:

  • Lydia Bean, a former teacher, received endorsements from the county and state AFL-CIO and the local branch of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. 
  • Shawn Lassiter, also a teacher, was endorsed by two local school board members, a former state board of education member, the 314 Action Fund, and the Voter Protection Project. 
  • Jana Lynne Sanchez, a communications consultant, was endorsed by state Rep. Michelle Beckley, two Arlington City Council members, and the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Four special election candidates completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Survey. Click the link below to read their responses.

Read on 

South Dakota’s new Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources 

Hunter Roberts assumed office on Apr. 19 as secretary of the newly-formed South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Governor Kristi Noem (R) appointed Roberts to the position in August 2020.

The Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment and Natural Resources officially merged on Apr. 19. South Dakota also has an elected state office—commissioner of school and public lands—that is responsible for supervising lands designated for educational use by the federal government.

Agriculture commissioners are elected in 12 states and appointed in 38, while natural resources commissioners are appointed in 44 states and elected in five. Of those five states, three (Arkansas, New Mexico, and South Dakota) have both an appointed and elected officeholder responsible for natural resource management. Wyoming is the only state without a natural resources commissioner. 

There are 37 nonpartisan agriculture commissioners, 11 Republicans, one Democrat, and one vacancy (in Wisconsin, where ​the state Senate has not yet voted on Secretary-designee Randy Romanski’s confirmation). There are 47 nonpartisan natural resources commissioners, three Republicans, and two Democrats.

Read on 

The Daily Brew: Louisiana’s second special congressional election is on Saturday

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Welcome to the Wednesday, April 21, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District special election is April 24
  2. We’re covering elections across 22 counties and 70 cities in 2021
  3. Suellentrop removed as Kansas Senate majority leader

Yesterday, the jury in the trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. Chauvin faces up to 40 years imprisonment. His sentencing was set for several weeks following the verdict announcement.

Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District special election is April 24

Voters will decide the second special election of the 117th Congress on Saturday, April 24. Democrats Troy Carter and Karen Peterson are running to represent Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District. Carter and Peterson received the most votes (36% and 23%, respectively) in the District’s special primary election on March 20. In the Louisiana majority-vote system, if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in an all-party primary, the top two vote recipients advance to a general election.

Carter and Peterson, both state senators, agree on several policy issues—such as legalizing recreational marijuana, forgiving student loans up to $50,000, and ending cash bail. 

Both support increasing the federal minimum wage but disagree on how high it should be. Carter supports raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, while Peterson said she would support raising it to $20 per hour. The candidates also differ on healthcare policy. Carter supports a public option, while Peterson supports a Medicare for All plan.

In January, former incumbent Cedric Richmond (D) endorsed Carter and 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) endorsed Peterson. In recent weeks, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams (D) endorsed Carter and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) endorsed Peterson. Gary Chambers (D), who finished third in the primary with 21%, also endorsed Peterson. 

Richmond was first elected to the U.S House in 2010. He resigned on Jan. 15 to become a senior adviser to President Joe Biden (D) and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. 

Five special elections have been scheduled for the 117th Congress so far. Two other special elections remain to be scheduled. An average of 12.5 special elections were held in each of the four Congresses from the 113th to the 116th. 

Tomorrow, we’ll preview the May 1 special election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District. 

Read on

We’re covering elections across 22 counties and 70 cities in 2021

At Ballotpedia, an odd-number year following a presidential election year is no excuse to let up on our election coverage. 

As regular Brew readers know, we cover local elections in the 100 largest U.S. cities by population and in the counties that overlap those cities. We’ve expanded our 2021 coverage of local elections to include mayoral, city council, and district attorney elections in the 32 state capitals that weren’t included in our largest-cities coverage. 

In 2021, we’re covering municipal elections—including 43 mayoral elections—in 22 counties and 70 cities. According to 2013 Census Bureau estimates, those 70 cities had a total population of 32.9 million.

Read on

Suellentrop removed as Kansas Senate majority leader

Members of the Kansas state Senate Republican caucus voted 22-4 to remove Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop (R) from his position on April 9. Assistant Majority Leader Larry Alley will act as majority leader until the Republican caucus selects a new leader in May. 

Suellentrop stepped down from the position on March 17 after the Kansas Highway Patrol arrested him for allegedly driving under the influence and attempting to flee from a law enforcement officer. On April 8, Kansas news network WIBW released the arresting officer’s affidavit of probable cause, which says Suellentrop’s blood-alcohol level was 0.17, more than twice the legal limit. The affidavit also says Suellentrop taunted the Highway Patrol officer. 

In a statement issued on March 17, Suellentrop said, “Today, out of respect for Senate leadership, my Republican colleagues, and the entire Kansas Senate, I have decided to transfer the bulk of the formal duties of my office to the Assistant Majority Leader. I will do so until matters that I am currently dealing with are resolved.”

Suellentrop was elected Senate majority leader in December 2020 for a term lasting through 2024. The majority leader is the second-highest leadership position in the Kansas Senate, after the Senate president. As the floor leader of the majority caucus, the majority leader is the principal speaker during floor debates and works to promote the party’s legislative agenda. 

Suellentrop was first elected to the state Senate in 2016, defeating Tony Hunter, 67% to 34%. He served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2009 to 2017. 

Read on

The Daily Brew: Checking-in on ballot rejection rates from 2020

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

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

  1. Absentee/mail-in ballot rejection rates in the 2016 and 2020 general elections
  2. New Mexico becomes the third state to approve recreational marijuana legalization this year
  3. Rep. Steve Stivers (R) to resign in May 

Absentee/mail-in ballot rejection rates in the 2016 and 2020 general elections

Mail-in voting increased in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, with an estimated 65.6 million absentee/mail-in ballots cast in the 2020 general election versus 33.4 million in 2016. In 2020, absentee/mail-in ballots were 41.1% of all ballots cast in November. In 2016, they were 23.8%.

Each state publishes data on the overall rejection rate of these ballots. The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) publishes a comprehensive report on such data (among other things in their typically 225+ page report) for all 50 states. We used data from the EAC’s 2016 Election Administration Voting Survey in the following analysis of rejection rates. The EAC’s 2020 survey is tentatively scheduled to be released on June 30. 

While we eagerly await the official report, we’ve been compiling information on 2020 rejection rates from news sources, publicly available election statistics, and direct outreach to state election officials. We’ll provide updates to our rejection rate data as information becomes available. So far, we have data for 31 of the 50 states.

  • Ballotpedia’s analysis of 2020 election data shows that at least 20 states rejected a smaller percentage of absentee/mail-in ballots during the 2020 general election than they did in 2016
  • At least seven states rejected a greater percentage, and 
  • Four states’ rejection rates remained the same. 

Nineteen states have not yet released the data necessary for making a comparison—those states aren’t included in this analysis.

The number of absentee/mail-in ballots cast in the 31 states for which data is available increased 113% from 24.4 million in 2016 to 51.8 million in 2020. The number of rejected ballots also increased from 222,096 in 2016 to 368,949 in 2020—a 66% increase. 

While the number of absentee/mail-in ballots cast and rejected were both higher in 2020 than in 2016, the rejection rate across these 31 states decreased by 0.2 percentage points from 0.9% in 2016 to 0.7% in 2020.

Nationwide, the rejection rate for the 33.4 million absentee/mail-in ballots cast in 2016 was 1.0%. 

Click the link below to learn more about how we gathered this preliminary data.

Read on 

New Mexico becomes the third state to approve recreational marijuana legalization this year

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed House Bill 2 (HB2) on April 12, which legalized recreational marijuana. This made New Mexico the third state to enact recreational marijuana legalization in the last month. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a marijuana legalization bill on March 31. On April 7, the Virginia General Assembly approved Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) amended legalization proposal, moving up the effective date from 2024 to July 1 of this year.

New Mexico’s law allows the possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana, 16 grams of concentrated marijuana, and 800 milligrams of edible cannabis. It allows each person to grow up to six mature and six immature marijuana plants, with a limit of 12 mature plants per household. Local governments will be allowed to pass laws regulating certain commercial activity and density. 

New Mexico was the fifth state to approve legalized recreational marijuana through legislative action rather than a voter-approved ballot measure. Including New Mexico, 17 states and D.C. have enacted marijuana legalization. 

Of the 17 states where recreational marijuana is legal, 12 have Democratic governors and five (Alaska, Arizona, Massachusetts, Montana, and Vermont) have Republican governors.

Read on

Rep. Steve Stivers (R) to resign in May

U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) announced on Monday he will resign from the House on May 16 to become president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Stivers represents Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.

Stivers has served in the U.S House since 2011. He most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Democrat Joel Newby 63% to 37%.

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) will set a special election date to fill the vacancy. Five special elections have been scheduled during the 117th Congress so far, including a special to fill a vacancy in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. The 11th District special primary is on Aug. 3 and the general election will be held on Nov. 2. A date for Florida’s 20th Congressional District special election has not yet been set.

Five representatives have left office early so far. Along with Marcia Fudge of Ohio’s 11th District, two other Democrats resigned to serve in President Joe Biden’s administration. Reps. Ronald Wright (R) and Alcee Hastings (D) died in office. In addition, Luke Letlow (R) died after winning the November election but before taking office, creating a vacancy in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District. 

Eight special House elections occurred for the 116th Congress. Fourteen took place for the 115th Congress. Seven special House elections were held during the 114th Congress.

Read on 

The Daily Brew: A year ago this week, Alaska became first state to lift stay-at-home order

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Welcome to the Monday, April 19, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. COVID-19 policy changes and events – one year ago this week
  2. Who’s running for New Jersey governor
  3. Maryland legislature sends two amendments to the ballot at end of session

COVID-19 policy changes and events – one year ago this week

One year ago this week, Alaska became the first state to lift a stay-at-home (SAH) order that was imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) ended the order on April 24, allowing several types of businesses—including barbershops, tattoo parlors, and nail salons—to reopen with restrictions. Alaska had a SAH order in effect for 27 days. The longest SAH order was in California. We classified California’s order as active until Dec. 3—for 259 days—because Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) original order did not have an expiration date, and he issued regional orders on Dec. 3. 

In total, 43 states issued stay-at-home orders—closing certain categories of businesses and requiring people to stay home unless doing activities designated as essential—between March 19 (California) and April 7 (South Carolina). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

Today, we continue our one-year lookback at policy changes and events related to the coronavirus pandemic. Here is a sampling of events.

At this point in the pandemic one year ago, states were extending school closures from their original dates through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. All 50 states closed schools to in-person instruction statewide by April 2, 2020. Forty-eight states eventually closed schools for the remainder of the school year.

  • On April 20, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that schools in their respective states would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 1 in both states.
  • On April 21, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Before the announcements, Colorado and West Virginia schools were closed through April 30, and Massachusetts schools were closed through May 1.
  • Election changes:
    • On April 20, U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Berg issued an order reducing the petition signature requirements for primary candidates in Michigan to 50% of their statutory requirements. Berg also extended the filing deadline from April 21 to May 8 and directed election officials to develop procedures allowing for the collection and submission of electronic petition signatures.
    • On April 22, The Republican Party of Wisconsin postponed its state convention, originally scheduled to take place in May, to July 10-11. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed HB3005 into law, canceling in-person Election Day voting, in-person early voting, and in-person voter registration in the June 30 primary election.
  • Travel restrictions
    • On April 21, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy extended the 14-day quarantine requirement for international and out-of-state travelers through May 19.
  • Federal government responses:
    • On April 20, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico would be extended another 30 days. The restrictions, implemented in agreement with Canada and Mexico in late March, prohibited nonessential travel.
    • On April 24, President Donald Trump signed the $484 billion Paycheck Protection and Health Care Act, a package that increased funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The bill also included funding for hospitals and testing. The Senate passed it on April 21, and the House passed it on April 23.

For the most recent news about policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery

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Who’s running for New Jersey governor

Last week, we discussed the candidate field for this year’s election for governor of Virginia. Today let’s look at who’s running for the top office in New Jersey—the only other state with a regularly scheduled gubernatorial election in 2021. 

Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) faces no opposition in the Democratic primary on June 8. Lisa McCormick and Roger Bacon were disqualified from the ballot on April 13 due to insufficient numbers of valid signatures. McCormick announced on April 13 she is running as a write-in candidate.

Four candidates are running in the Republican primary: Jack Ciattarelli, Brian Levine, Philip Rizzo, and Hirsh Singh. Ciattarelli and Singh both ran for governor in 2017. Then-lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno received 47% of the vote in the Republican primary that year to become the party’s nominee. Ciattarelli finished second and received 31% of the vote and Singh was third with 10%.

Four other candidates have also filed to run in the general election: 

  • Gregg Mele  (Libertarian Party)
  • Joanne Kuniansky  (Socialist Workers Party)
  • Justin Maldonado  (Independent)
  • David Winkler  (Independent)

As of April 13, two of the three major election forecasters Ballotpedia tracks rated the general election as Solid Democratic and the third rated it as Likely Democratic. Between 1992 and 2021, Republicans held the governorship for 16 years and Democrats held the governorship for 14 years.

New Jersey is currently a Democratic trifecta, with a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. New Jersey was last under divided government in 2017, when Democrats controlled the legislature and Chris Christie (R) was governor. Murphy won the 2017 election with 57% of the vote to Guadagno’s 42%. The state is also holding legislative elections this year.

Since New Jersey’s and Virginia’s gubernatorial offices were last up for election in 2017, 10 governors’ offices have changed party hands. Eight of those changes were from Republicans to Democrats, one was from Democrat to Republican, and one was from independent to Republican.

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Maryland legislature sends two amendments to the ballot at end of session

This is the time of year when state legislators pass bills that send measures before voters. As I wrote last week, the Maryland legislature referred a constitutional amendment on April 6 that would rename the state’s highest appeals courts. Here are a few other instances. 

The West Virginia legislature just referred three amendments to the 2022 ballot on the final days of its session—April 9 and 10. The Maryland legislature sent two constitutional amendments to the 2022 ballot on April 12—its last day in session. Today, we’ll take a look at Maryland’s other proposed amendments.

One measure would amend the state constitution to increase the minimum amount in dispute that guarantees a right to a jury trial in civil cases. Currently, if a plaintiff files a case where the amount in controversy is greater than $15,000, the defendant may request a trial by jury in the circuit court. The amendment would change the minimum to $25,000.

The other amendment would require that, starting in January 2024, state legislative candidates maintain a primary place of abode in the district they wish to represent for at least six months before the election. Currently, the state constitution requires that a candidate has resided in the district for six months before the election. It would also change all gendered language in the amended sections of the state constitution to gender-neutral language.

So far, 23 statewide ballot measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 13 states.

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The Daily Brew: All U.S. adults eligible for coronavirus vaccine starting April 19

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

  1. All U.S. adults to be eligible for coronavirus vaccine starting April 19
  2. Join our State of Redistricting briefing April 21
  3. Nebraska governor appoints new Insurance director

All U.S. adults to be eligible for coronavirus vaccine starting April 19

Beginning Monday—April 19—everyone 16 and older will be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Alaska was the first state to offer vaccines to all residents 16+ on March 9. 

The final seven states that will open eligibility to all adults between today and April 19 are:

  • Virginia (April 18)
  • Hawaii (April 19)
  • Massachusetts (April 19)
  • New Jersey (April 19)
  • Oregon (April 19)
  • Rhode Island (April 19)
  • Vermont (April 19)

Five of those states have Democratic governors, and two (Massachusetts and Vermont) have Republican governors. 

Currently, all residents 16 and older are eligible for a vaccine in 43 states. Of those 43, 18 have Democratic governors and 25 have Republican governors.

On April 13, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended all state and local vaccine providers stop administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  By that evening, every state and Washington, D.C., had paused distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The recommendation came after six recipients in the United States developed blood clots within two weeks of vaccination.  All six recipients were women between the ages of 18 and 48. One recipient died, and three are still hospitalized. 

On April 14, the CDC announced its advisory panel needed at least a week to investigate the blood clot connection before determining whether to lift the pause recommendation. As of April 15, this pause had not caused any states to roll back or delay vaccine eligibility for everyone 16 and older. 

Want daily updates about changes to government policies regarding vaccine eligibility, travel restrictions, and more? Our Documenting America’s Path to Recovery newsletter delivers the latest coronavirus-related updates to subscribers’ inboxes each weekday. Click here to subscribe.

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Join our State of Redistricting briefing April 21

On Tuesday, we looked at congressional and state legislative redistricting deadlines in each state. With the Census Bureau scheduled to release congressional apportionment counts by April 30, our redistricting team is gearing up to review that data and what it means for states. We’ve also been following how states are responding to expected delays in getting detailed, local data from the Census Bureau due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Next Wednesday, April 21, join our election policy and redistricting expert Jerrick Adams and staff writer Amée LaTour for a briefing on the state of redistricting following the 2020 census. They will touch on the most recent developments, including:

  • State lawsuits against the Census Bureau 
  • State-specific proposals to postpone or condense the redistricting process 
  • Efforts in some state legislatures, such as Texas, to postpone primary elections and candidate filing deadlines

The briefing will take place at 11 a.m. Central Time on April 21. You can click here to register, or follow the link below. If you sign up but can’t watch live, we’ll send you a link to the recording when it’s available so you can watch it whenever it works for you. I hope you’ll join us! 

In the meantime, check out our page listing apps and software that provide access to population and election data and allow users to create, modify, and share district maps based on criteria such as competitiveness and demographics. Some of these programs are designed for state governments to use, while others are geared toward the general public, but they’re all really interesting to see in action!

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Nebraska governor appoints new Insurance director

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) appointed Eric Dunning on April 2 to serve as the state’s Department of Insurance director. Dunning starts his new job on Monday—April 19—and succeeds Bruce Ramge, Nebraska’s longest-serving Department of Insurance director, who retired on April 9. Former Gov. Dave Heineman (R) appointed Ramge in November 2010. 

The insurance commissioner or director is a state-level position in all 50 states. The duties of the position vary from state to state, but the office generally serves as a consumer protection advocate and insurance regulator. The nation’s longest-serving current insurance commissioner is Mike Kreidler, Washington’s commissioner since 2001. 

The position is elected in 11 states and appointed in 39. The office is nonpartisan in 38 states. The 12 states in which the position is partisan include the 11 states where the insurance commissioner is elected, as well as Ohio. Currently, Republicans hold the office in nine states where it is partisan, and Democrats hold it in three.

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State legislatures considering 124 bills governing ballot measures

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

Here’s an updated look at this year’s proposed legislation regarding ballot measures

We regularly provide updates in the Brew regarding individual ballot measures from across the country. Today, let’s take a look at how states are considering changes to the direct democracy process. Ballotpedia tracks legislative proposals regarding the ballot measure process—that is, state action regarding how initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recalls can appear before voters. 

At least 124 proposals have been introduced this year in the legislative sessions of 34 states. We have tracked eight bills approved so far. The chart below displays the number of legislative proposals relating to ballot measures and recalls by year. The number of legislative proposals in 2021 is not final, as more bills may still be filed in current legislative sessions.

I asked Josh Altic, our ballot measures expert, for his opinion on the most interesting bills so far. Here are six of the most notable changes to laws regarding ballot measures that were either passed or proposed in 2021:

  • Utah enacted a proposal to ban pay-per-signature as a method of compensating signature gatherers who collect signatures for ballot initiatives and veto referendums. Utah’s legislation also made other changes to the initiative process.
  • The South Dakota Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would require a 60% supermajority vote for future ballot measures that increase taxes or fees or that require the state to appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years.
  • Legislation to enact or increase supermajority requirements for ballot measures was introduced this year in seven states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. These proposed requirements range from 60% to two-thirds (66.67%) of voters in favor for approval. Some of these proposals apply only to citizen-initiated measures but not referrals, some to constitutional amendments—both citizen-initiated and legislatively referred, and some to measures proposing tax increases or certain levels of funding allocation.
  • The Idaho Legislature passed a bill to change the state’s distribution requirement to require signatures from 6% of voters from all 35 legislative districts for ballot initiatives and veto referendums instead of the existing requirement of 6% of voters from 18 of the state’s legislative districts. In 2019, the Idaho Legislature passed but the governor vetoed a pair of bills that were designed to increase the state’s initiative signature requirement and its distribution requirement, among other changes. 
  • Bills to increase initiative and referendum signature requirements or signature distribution requirements were introduced in Idaho, Missouri, Montana, and Oklahoma.
  • Proposals to establish statewide initiative, referendum, or recall processes were introduced in Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The last state to establish a statewide process for initiatives that didn’t have one previously was Mississippi, which adopted its process in 1992.

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Eight states have enacted laws that limit governors’ emergency power authority since 2020

There’s another area where we’re tracking activity in state legislatures this year—those relating to laws limiting governors’ emergency powers. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, governors and state agencies in all 50 states relied on emergency power authority to enact lockdown and stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and other restrictions on businesses and individuals.

Since March 2020, legislators across the country have sponsored bills to give the legislative branch more oversight of governors’ emergency powers. Out of the hundreds of bills sponsored in 2020 and 2021 aimed at increasing legislative oversight of governors’ emergency powers, 10 bills in eight states have been enacted into law: Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah. Additionally, voters in Pennsylvania will decide a statewide measure on May 18 that would limit the governor’s emergency powers.

State laws generally allow legislators to terminate emergency declarations and orders or restrict a governor’s authority to regulate city- and county-level public health decisions. 

The political control breakdown of these states is as follows. (A trifecta is when one political party holds the governorship, and majorities in both chambers of a state’s legislature.)

  • Republican trifectas: Arkansas, Ohio, Utah
  • Democratic trifectas: Colorado, New York
  • Divided governments (Democratic governor, Republican majorities in House and Senate): Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania

Here’s a rundown of three newly enacted laws.

  • In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed Senate Bill 50 into law on March 24. Under the law, anyone burdened by an executive order, school board policy, or county health directive can file a lawsuit, and courts must respond to the lawsuit within 72 hours to determine if the order or policy is narrowly tailored to the emergency. 
  • In Ohio, Republican majorities in the General Assembly voted on March 24 to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) veto of Senate Bill 22, which placed a 90-day limit on states of emergency and authorized lawmakers to pass resolutions to terminate a state of emergency after 30 days.
  • In Kentucky, Republican majorities in the General Assembly voted to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) vetoes of Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2. The bills limit the governor’s emergency orders to 30 days unless extended by the legislature and grant legislative committees more oversight of the governor’s emergency administrative regulations. 
    • Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd temporarily blocked parts of both bills from taking effect on March 3, after Beshear filed a lawsuit arguing the bills would undermine public health measures meant to protect people in Kentucky from the coronavirus pandemic. Those injunctions remain in effect.

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It’s Tax Day—in some states

Today, April 15, is Tax Day…in some states. Last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Department extended payment and filing deadlines to July 15 for 2019 taxes. This year, the deadline is extended to May 17.

Forty states have followed suit, extending both payment and filing deadlines to May 17. Seven states do not have an income tax. Iowa extended its deadline to June 1, and Maryland extended its deadline to July 15. 

Three of the states which have state income tax did not extend either the filing or payment deadlines. In Alabama, the filing deadline was postponed but the payment deadline was not; interest has not been waived and will accrue between April 15 and May 17. In Hawaii and New Hampshire (NH has no state income tax but does have interest and dividends taxes), neither the filing nor the payment deadlines were postponed. This means that state residents have different due dates for their federal and state taxes.

Just for fun, here are a few facts about the history of Tax Day.

  • The first Tax Day was on March 1, 1914. Congress instituted it following the ratification of the 16th Amendment, which gave Congress the power to collect income tax.
  • The initial income tax exemption was $3,000 for single filers and $4,000 for married couples
  • The Revenue Act of 1918 moved Tax Day to March 15 to give taxpayers more time to file
  • In 1954, the yearly income tax filing date was changed from March 15 to April 15

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The Daily Brew: Who’s running in Virginia’s gubernatorial race

Ballotpedia's Daily Brew

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

  1. Who’s running for Virginia governor
  2. April 6 election updates: Omaha and Anchorage mayoral races
  3. West Virginia to join 41 other states with intermediate appellate courts

Who’s running for Virginia governor

Virginia is one of two states—along with New Jersey—holding a regularly scheduled gubernatorial election in 2021. (Signatures on a recall of California Gov. Gavin Newsom are also being verified. If it makes the ballot, the recall will be voted on sometime this fall.) Virginia’s incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is unable to seek re-election due to term limits. The Virginia Republican Party will hold a nominating convention to determine its candidate on May 8. A Democratic primary will be held on June 8. The general election is on Nov. 2.

Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections, as well as all 13 statewide elections in Virginia since 2012. Northam defeated Ed Gillespie (R) 54%-45% in the 2017 gubernatorial election. The last Republican governor was Bob McDonnell (2010-2014).

Let’s take a look at who’s running. Note: Candidate lists are unofficial and may be incomplete. 

Democratic primary

At least five candidates are running in the Democratic primary, all current or former officeholders: Del. Lee Carter, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan. This is the largest number of Democrats running in a gubernatorial primary in Virginia’s history. 

Here are some noteworthy endorsements for the three candidates leading in endorsements and fundraising:

  • Carroll Foy: Clean Virginia, Democracy for America, and three members of the General Assembly
  • McAuliffe: Northam, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and 34 members of the General Assembly (including the House speaker and Senate majority leader)
  • McClellan: New Virginia Majority, Care in Action, and 12 members of the General Assembly

Republican convention

At least seven candidates are competing in the Republican convention. Commentary on the Republican convention has focused on four candidates: state Sen. Amanda Chase, Del. Kirk Cox, 2013 lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Pete Snyder, and former global investment firm co-CEO Glenn Youngkin. 

Some noteworthy endorsements for those four candidates are listed below.

  • Chase: former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn
  • Cox: former Govs. Bob McDonnell (R) and George Allen (R) and 24 General Assembly members
  • Snyder: former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) and five General Assembly members
  • Youngkin: commentator and talk show host Hugh Hewitt (R) and Del. John McGuire (R)

Due to coronavirus crowd-size restrictions, the unassembled Republican convention will be held across 37 locations. Unlike previous conventions in the state, there will be no limit on how many delegates can participate. Delegates are voting members who register as representatives of their local voting units ahead of the convention. Each voting unit is allocated a set number of delegate votes, which are then equally divided among the delegates representing that voting unit. Delegates will cast a single ballot using ranked-choice voting to determine a winner, rather than using multiple rounds of voting. This is the first time the party is using ranked-choice voting for a convention.

Other Virginia elections

Virginia is also holding elections for lieutenant governor, attorney general, and House of Delegates in 2021. All 100 House districts are up for election. This is one of three state legislative chambers—along with New Jersey’s Assembly and Senate—with regularly scheduled elections in 2021.

In 2019, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate, making Virginia a Democratic trifecta for the first time since 1994.

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April 6 election updates: Omaha and Anchorage mayoral races

Last week, I highlighted some April 6 election results out of Wisconsin and Missouri. I’m following up today with results of the Omaha, Nebraska, and Anchorage, Alaska, mayoral races.

Omaha mayoral election

Incumbent Jean Stothert (R) and RJ Neary (D) advanced from the top-two mayoral primary to a May 11 general election. Stothert received 57% of the vote followed by Neary with 16%. Third-place finisher Jasmine Harris (D) received 14%. Though the race was officially nonpartisan, we determined candidates’ party affiliations through the Nebraska Voter Information Lookup

Stothert has been mayor for eight years, making her the city’s longest-serving Republican mayor since 1906, when Frank E. Moores (R) died in office after serving for nine years. Before Stothert’s election in 2013, Democrats had held Omaha’s mayorship from 2001 to 2013.

Anchorage mayoral election

David Bronson and Forrest Dunbar advanced to a May 11 runoff election, as neither candidate won more than 45% of the vote. As of April 12, Bronson had received 33% of the vote to Dunbar’s 31%. No other candidate had received more than 15% of the vote.

Incumbent Ethan Berkowitz (D) resigned from office in October. The Anchorage Assembly selected Austin Quinn-Davidson to serve as acting mayor and did not seek a full term.  Former Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell (R) endorsed Bronson. Planned Parenthood endorsed Dunbar and two other candidates.

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West Virginia to join 41 other states with intermediate appellate courts

As I alluded to in Monday’s Brew, Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed a bill into law on April 9 that provides guidelines for creating the West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals. Currently, the Supreme Court of Appeals is the state’s only appellate court. Intermediate appellate courts serve as an intermediate step between the trial courts and the courts of last resort in a state.

West Virginia is one of nine states without an intermediate appellate court.  Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming do not have intermediate appellate courts. The Superior Court of Delaware serves as both a trial court and an intermediate appellate court. 

West Virginia’s intermediate appellate court will consist of three judges set to assume office on July 1, 2022. The first three judges will be appointed—one each to a term ending in December 2024, December 2026, and December 2028. The Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission will submit a list of recommendations to the governor, who will nominate judges from the list. Nominees are subject to state Senate confirmation. 

Nonpartisan elections for the position will be held beginning in 2024. Judges will be elected to 10-year terms.

Twelve other states hold nonpartisan elections for intermediate appellate court judges. Seven states hold partisan elections. Twenty states use various appointment methods. In two states—Virginia and South Carolina—state legislators elect judges.

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