TagDaily Brew

51 years ago today, North Dakota voters approve constitutional convention

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

  1. 51 years ago today, North Dakota voters approve constitutional convention
  2. Arrivals and departures: A look at recent changes in state legislative membership
  3. So far this year, 19 members of Congress have announced their retirement, on par with recent odd-numbered years

51 years ago today, North Dakota voters approve constitutional convention

On Sept. 1, 1970, North Dakota voters approved a proposal to hold a constitutional convention. The state legislature referred the proposal to the ballot, and voters approved it 58.6% to 41.4%.

The vote set in motion a year-and-a-half-long drafting and approval process. It began with the election of 98 delegates that November. The 98 delegates included 85 men and 13 women. The three most common occupations among the delegates were businessman (34 delegates), farmer (25), and lawyer (14).

The constitutional convention held its organizing session in April 1971, selecting officers and organizing six committees. Each committee drafted portions of the constitution dealing with different subject areas.

The delegates spent the remainder of 1971 holding 16 public hearings to discuss ideas for the new constitution before re-convening to draft the document in January 1972.

The changes proposed in the new constitution included: 

  • a reduction in the number of elected executive offices from 14 to seven, 
  • an extension of the regular legislative session from 60 to 80 days, and 
  • the creation of an independent commission made up of district judges to draw state legislative district lines.

The convention closed in February to allow a period of public discussion ahead of the April 28, 1972, vote on the proposed constitution. The convention put five questions on the ballot: one on whether to adopt the new constitution and four related to specific details in the proposal that delegates decided to leave to voters.

Voters rejected the new constitution 62.7% to 37.3%. Voters were in favor of modifying the structure of the state legislature to have a single unicameral chamber, like in Nebraska, rather than a separate House and Senate. Voters rejected a proposal to lower the age of adulthood to 18 and a proposal that would have allowed the state legislature to authorize lotteries. Because the new constitution was not approved, none of the proposed changes took effect.

North Dakota still uses its original constitution, adopted in 1889. The last state to adopt a new constitution as opposed to amending its existing constitution was Rhode Island in 1986. The Massachusetts Constitution is the oldest state constitution currently in use. It was adopted in 1780—eight years before the current U.S. constitution.

The last state to vote in favor of holding a constitutional convention was Hawaii in 1996. The ballot question on whether to hold a convention that year received 50.5% votes in favor and 49.5% votes opposed. However, the state supreme court ruled that the vote had not met the 50% threshold required to hold a convention because fewer than half of the voters participating in the election had voted in favor (many voters left the convention question blank).

In 14 states, the question of whether to hold a constitutional convention is automatically referred to a statewide ballot periodically. Three states have convention questions on the 2022 ballot: Alaska, Missouri, and New Hampshire.

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Arrivals and departures: A look at recent changes in state legislative membership

Since Aug. 23 across eight states, two state legislators have left office and six have been sworn in. 

Two Democrats and four Republicans were sworn in as new state legislators. Five of the new legislators were appointed to offices previously held by members of their own party: 

  • Maryland state Del. Roxane Prettyman (D), 
  • New Mexico state Rep. Viengkeo Kay Bounkeua (D), 
  • West Virginia state Del. Jordan Maynor (R), 
  • Kansas state Rep. Cyndi Howerton (R), and 
  • Oregon state Rep. Christine Goodwin (R). 

A special election in Connecticut’s 36th state Senate District filled the sixth vacancy. State Sen. Ryan Fazio (R) won that election. Fazio’s win changed party control of the office, which Democrat Alex Kasser had held since 2018. Kasser was the first Democrat to win election in the 36th District since at least 1942.

Kentucky state Rep. Robert Goforth (R) resigned on Aug. 24, and Mississippi state Rep. Abe Marshall Hudson Jr. (D) resigned on Aug. 30. Goforth was first elected to the state House in 2018 and Hudson in 2016. Both Kentucky and Mississippi hold special elections to fill vacancies due to resignation.

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So far this year, 19 members of Congress have announced their retirement, on par with recent odd-numbered years

Three members of the U.S. Senate and sixteen members of the U.S. House have announced they will not seek re-election in 2022. All three senators and eight of the 16 House members are Republicans. The other eight House members are Democrats. This figure does not include two Republican senators who announced their upcoming retirements before this year. 

Seventeen members of Congress had announced retirements by the end of August 2013 and August 2017. Eighteen members had announced retirements by the end of August 2015 and August 2019. At the end of August 2011, the last congressional election cycle to take place during ongoing redistricting, 27 members had announced retirements. Since 2011, 40% of the congressional retirements for the cycle had been announced by the end of August in the odd year.

March and November are the months with the most congressional retirement announcements in recent odd-numbered years. Since 2011, 13% of all congressional retirements in odd-numbered years have taken place in November and another 13% have taken place in March (this includes retirements from March 2021). 

When both odd- and even-numbered years are included, January leads in congressional retirement announcements. Since 2011, 17% of all congressional retirement announcements have taken place in January. June had the fewest retirement announcements during the same period at 4%.

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The final stretch of California’s gubernatorial recall

Welcome to the Tuesday, August 31, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. The final stretch of California’s gubernatorial recall
  2. Checking in on voting bills in Georgia and Texas
  3. Property tax rate initiative qualifies for Colorado ballot

The final stretch of California’s gubernatorial recall

We are two weeks away from the Sept. 14 recall election regarding California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Early voting has already begun. County election officials began mailing absentee/mail-in ballots to all registered voters on Aug. 16. Let’s take a look at the race with two weeks to go.

Recall supporters said Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. In 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.”

Voters are faced with two questions. The first asks whether Newsom should be recalled. The second asks who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. If that majority is reached, then the candidate with the most votes on the second question wins the election, no majority required. Voters may vote on both questions regardless of whether they vote in favor or against the recall.

Forty-six candidates—including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans—appear on the ballot for the second question, including 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).

Real Clear Politics reports that, based on averages from four recent polls, 48% of respondents supported the recall and 48% said they would vote against it. For the second question, on average, 22% of respondents supported Elder (R) followed by 11% for Paffrath (D). A plurality of respondents gave some other response, which might include another candidate, leaving the second question blank, or unsure. Two polls included in the average excluded respondents from polling on the second question if they chose to leave that question blank.

Campaign finance reports as of July 31 show committees opposing Newsom’s recall have accounted for most of the money raised and spent. These committees have raised $50.0 million and spent $21.5 million spent. For the second question, Republican candidates have raised $16.0 million and spent $11.5 million, collectively, while Democrats have raised and spent roughly $400,000.

While the election will be held on Sept. 14, the results will not be certified until Oct. 22. A semifinal official canvass of the votes will begin at 8:00 p.m. on election day and election officials may begin counting absentee/mail-in ballots on Sept. 7. This means initial returns may be released soon after polls close. The official canvass will begin on Sept. 16 and must be completed no later than Oct. 14.

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

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Checking in on voting bills in Georgia and Texas

Several states have passed or proposed election policy packages this year affecting various aspects of voting. Here’s an update from two of those states: Georgia and Texas.

Georgia

U.S. District Court Judge Jean-Paul Boulee temporarily suspended a recently enacted state law prohibiting photographs of cast ballots. The injunction prevents the state from enforcing the provision regarding ballot photographs pending resolution of the case

On Aug. 20, Boulee, a Donald Trump (R) appointee, wrote: “[The photography rule’s] broad sweep prohibits any photography or recording of any voted ballot in public and nonpublic forums alike,” adding that the plaintiffs were “substantially likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment challenge” to the rule.

The photography rule in question was part of Senate Bill 202 (S.B. 202), an election policy bill Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed into law on March 25. Boulee’s injunction suspended the provision of that law regarding ballot photographs but left the remainder intact. Boulee denied plaintiffs’ requests to block other parts of the law.

Texas

The Texas House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1 (S.B. 1)—a legislative package related to early voting, elections officers, voter registration, and voting systems—after Democratic members returned to the capitol, ending a 38-day walkout. 

On July 12, 51 of the chamber’s 67 Democrats left the state for Washington, D.C. in order to break quorum and prevent action on the bill. The walkout ended on Aug. 19 after three members returned to the chamber, providing a quorum.

On Aug. 27, the House voted 80-41 in favor of the bill with 80 Republicans voting yes and 40 Democrats voting no. Republican Rep. Lyle Larson joined Democrats voting against the bill, which now goes to the Republican-controlled state Senate for approval.

Property tax rate initiative qualifies for Colorado ballot

Colorado voters will decide whether the state should lower its property tax rates in the Nov. 2, 2021, general election. On Aug. 26, Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) announced that proponents of Initiative 27 submitted a projected 138,567 valid signatures. To qualify, 124,632 needed to be valid.

If passed, the initiative would reduce the state’s residential property tax assessment rate from 7.15% to 6.5% and its non-residential rate from 29.0% to 26.4%. It would also allow the state to retain and spend $25 million in revenue above its spending cap for five years to offset lost revenue for local governments. Currently, the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits the amount of money the state can take in and spend. Any money collected above this limit is refunded to taxpayers.

Michael Fields of Colorado Rising Action sponsored the measure. Fields said it would offset the effect rising home values have had on tax levels. “Our houses are worth more,” Fields said, “but that doesn’t mean you have more money in your pocket to be able to pay for the property taxes.”

Elliot Goldbaum of the Colorado Fiscal Institute opposes the measure. Goldbaum said most Coloradoans do not own property and would not receive any tax benefits from the initiative: “there are a lot of millionaires and billionaires who own very expensive property who are going to get a very large tax cut.”

In addition to Initiative 27, voters will decide on Initiative 25, a measure to increase the marijuana sales tax to fund a statewide out-of-school education program. Proponents of a third measure transferring control of the state’s custodial funds from the treasurer to the legislature submitted signatures. The secretary of state must finish verifying signatures for that initiative by Sept. 1.

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SCOTUS stays busy even when between terms

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

  1. SCOTUS Roundup: Orders include eviction moratorium, vaccine requirements
  2. Introducing the new lieutenant governor of New York
  3. WA school board candidate re-enters race after receiving most primary votes

SCOTUS Roundup: Orders include eviction moratorium, vaccine requirements

While the Supreme Court does not begin its new term until Oct. 4, the court is still issuing opinions from its emergency docket. This includes cases that are not part of the court’s merits docket and scheduled for argument.

Here’s a roundup of key orders this month:

  • Aug. 26: The Supreme Court vacated the nationwide moratorium on evictions of tenants who live in a county experiencing substantial or high levels of COVID-19 transmission and make declarations of financial need. The moratorium was imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the 6-3 ruling, the court wrote, “If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it.” Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett were in the majority. Justices Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
  • Aug. 24: The court denied the Biden administration’s application to stay an injunction from the  U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas requiring the reinstatement of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. This policy requires asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while awaiting a U.S. immigration court hearing. The court’s order stated that Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan would have granted the application. Five justices are needed to grant a stay.
  • Aug. 20: Justice Amy Coney Barrettwho is assigned to respond to emergency matters from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin—denied a request from Protect Our Parks to halt the construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park in Chicago.  The request was denied without being referred to the full court.
  • Aug. 12: Barrett also denied a request for emergency relief to block Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students. The request was denied without being referred to the full court.

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Introducing the new lieutenant governor of New York

The newly sworn-in governor of New York, Kathy Hochul (D), announced at an event in Harlem on Aug. 26 that she had selected Brian Benjamin as her pick for lieutenant governor. Benjamin currently represents the 30th District in the New York State Senate and serves as the chamber’s senior assistant majority leader.

Benjamin ran for New York City comptroller over the summer, finishing fourth in the Democratic primary with 11.6% of the vote.

Hochul said during the announcement that Benjamin would be sworn in after Labor Day. The special election for Benjamin’s vacant seat in the state senate will likely coincide with the November general election. Benjamin was last elected in the district with 93.0% of the vote in 2020 and 99.6% in 2018.

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WA school board candidate re-enters race after receiving most primary votes

Clallam County, Washington, has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate—going back four decades to 1980!

Clallam County is also a Boomerang Pivot County, meaning it backed Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012, Donald Trump (R) in 2016, and Joe Biden (D) in 2020. There are 24 other Boomerang Pivot Counties in the U.S.

Here’s one of the interesting local races coming out of Clallam County:

Kristi Schmeck, who suspended her campaign for a seat on the five-member Sequim School District Board of Directors in the late spring, rejoined the race after receiving the most votes—28.9%—in the Aug. 2 primary. She advanced to the general election with Virginia R. Sheppard, who received 28.7%.

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The latest developments regarding sports betting in Florida

Welcome to the Friday, August 27, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Gaming compact between Seminole Tribe and Florida goes into effect
  2. Local Elections: School board filing deadline updates
  3. #FridayTrivia: What percentage of absentee/mail-in ballots cast last year were rejected?

Gaming compact between Seminole Tribe and Florida goes into effect

The Seminole Tribe and the state of Florida have approved a compact, or agreement, giving the Tribe the exclusive right to conduct sports betting in the state, including online wagering. Under the compact, the Tribe must share revenue from sports wagering with the state for the next 30 years, with the state expected to receive up to $6 billion by 2030. The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs published the compact in the Federal Register on Aug. 11. 

Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988, which allowed tribes to establish casino gambling on tribal land and permitted states to form compacts with tribes to regulate gaming. Ballotpedia identified 193 such compacts published in the Federal Register since 1997. The IGRA requires any gaming activities established through compacts between Indian tribes and state governments occur only on Indian lands.

Two Florida casinos have filed lawsuits challenging the compact in U.S. district court, alleging that allowing online sports wagering violates federal law since bets can be placed anywhere in the state and not just on Indian lands. The suits challenge the compact’s provision stating that online sports betting in Florida takes place on the Seminole Tribe’s lands because that’s where the sportsbooks and servers are located.

Sponsors of an initiative to allow entities other than the Seminole Tribe to conduct sports betting in Florida are attempting to qualify a measure for the 2022 ballot. Sponsors must submit 891,589 valid signatures in time for election officials to verify them by Feb. 1, 2022. Additionally, sponsors must collect signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote in the last presidential election from 14 of the state’s 27 congressional districts. 

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Local Elections: School board filing deadline updates 

Candidate filing periods for municipal and school board positions are open in cities across the country. Here’s an update about recent candidate filing deadlines for school board positions in three states: 

Colorado

The filing deadline is today—Aug. 27—for candidates to run for school board across Colorado. Ballotpedia is covering school board elections this year for 47 seats in 16 districts in the state, including the two districts with the highest enrollment: Denver Public Schools and Jeffco Public Schools.

Candidates who want to run for a position on a Colorado school board must:

  • Be a registered voter in the corresponding school district for the 12 months before the election,
  • Be a resident of the corresponding geographic district if the school district elects school board members by district, and
  • Not have been convicted of a sexual offense against a child.

In the Jeffco Public school district in suburban Denver, three of the board’s five seats are up for election. The three incumbents in these districts—Susan Harmon, Ron Mitchell, and Brad Rupert—were all first elected in a 2015 recall election and re-elected to a full term in 2017. None of these incumbents have announced they are running for re-election this year, according to a list of unofficial candidates on the Jeffco Board of Education website.  

Albuquerque Public Schools

The filing deadline to run for school board passed on Aug. 24 in four of seven districts on the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education, the largest school district in New Mexico. The last time an incumbent ran for re-election and lost in this district was in 2015. The official candidate list for these elections is not yet available.

Ohio

The filing deadline to run as a write-in candidate for school board in Ohio passed on Aug. 23. Election officials will only count votes for write-in candidates who file a declaration of intent and pay a $30 filing fee. Voters will know that a write-in candidate has filed for a specific office because a blank line will appear on the ballot with “Write-in” below the line. According to the Ohio School Boards Association, “voters won’t be given a list of official write-in candidates, but election officials will provide a list, if requested. Voters who know the name of a write-in candidate they support can simply type in the name on the voting machine or write in the name on an absentee ballot.” Ballotpedia is covering school board elections this year for 61 seats in 20 districts in Ohio.

Ballotpedia provides in-depth coverage of school board elections in America’s largest school districts by enrollment. In addition to the 200 largest school districts in the nation, Ballotpedia covers school districts that overlap with the nation’s 100 most populous cities. This year, we’re covering elections for 504 school board seats in 178 districts nationwide.

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#FridayTrivia: What percentage of absentee/mail-in ballots cast last year were rejected?

In Monday’s Brew, we highlighted our recently completed analysis of the rates that election officials rejected absentee/mail-in ballots in the 2020 general election. Voters cast 70.5 million absentee/mail-in ballots nationwide in 2020. For comparison, 30.4 million absentee/mail-in ballots were cast in 2018, and 33.4 million such ballots were cast in 2016.

What percentage of absentee/mail-in ballots cast last year were rejected?

  1. 0.8%
  2. 1.4%
  3. 1.8%
  4. 2.6%


39 days until SCOTUS begins its new term

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

  1. Five interesting facts about the U.S. Supreme Court’s previous term
  2. Idaho Supreme Court rules law changing state’s ballot measure signature distribution requirement is unconstitutional
  3. Results from Tuesday’s mayoral elections in Birmingham, Alabama, and St. Petersburg, Florida

Five interesting facts about the U.S. Supreme Court’s previous term

There are 39 days until the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) begins its next term on Oct. 4. Since the Court has released the final opinions of its previous term on July 2, it announced which cases it will hear oral arguments for in both October and November. The court will hear nine cases from Oct. 4 to Oct. 13 and nine cases between Nov. 1 and Nov. 10. So far, the Court has agreed to hear 33 cases during its 2021-2022 term. At this point last year, the Court had agreed to hear 31 cases during its 2020-2021 term. 

While we wait (excitedly!) for the Supreme Court’s new term to start, here are five interesting facts about its last term:

  • The Court issued 67 opinions during its 2020-2021 term. Two cases were decided in one consolidated opinion. Ten cases were decided without argument.
  • The court heard all oral arguments remotely via teleconference and provided live audio streams of the argument sessions. This was done in accordance with public health guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Court heard more cases on appeal—14—from the Ninth Circuit than any other circuit. The Ninth Circuit is the largest federal appellate court and has jurisdiction over the district courts in nine western states, including California. Seven of the 33 cases the Court has so far agreed to hear in its upcoming term are on appeal from the Ninth Circuit. The Court heard six cases each from three other appellate courts—the Third Circuit, Fifth Circuit, and District of Columbia Circuit. 
  • The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of a lower court in 79.7% of cases last term. Since 2007, it has reversed a lower court decision 70.7% of the time.
  • The Court issued 29 unanimous rulings last term, and 10 rulings where a lone justice dissented. The Court issued 10 decisions where the majority opinion was supported by five justices—eight 5-4 rulings and two 5-3 decisions.

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Idaho Supreme Court rules law changing state’s ballot measure signature distribution requirement is unconstitutional 

It’s been a busy week for court rulings on prominent ballot measures and processes. As we covered in Tuesday’s Brew, a California judge ruled on Aug. 20 that last year’s Proposition 22—which defined app-based transportation and delivery drivers as independent contractors—is unconstitutional. This week—on Aug. 23—the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that a law changing the state’s distribution requirement for ballot measure signatures was unconstitutional. 

A distribution requirement is a statutory or constitutional mandate requiring that a certain number or percentage of a ballot measure’s petition signatures come from different political subdivisions, rather than from the state as a whole.

The law changed the state’s distribution requirement to require signatures from 6% of voters from all 35 legislative districts for ballot initiatives and veto referendums. In its ruling, the Court said the state had no compelling interest to increase the distribution requirement and reinstated the existing requirement of collecting signatures from 6% of voters in 18 state legislative districts. 

Seventeen states have distribution requirements for initiative or veto referendum signatures. Michigan’s attorney general has blocked enforcement of that state’s distribution requirement law. Idaho is one of five states that bases its distribution requirement on state legislative districts. In seven states, the distribution requirement is based on counties. Four states base their requirement on congressional districts.

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Results from Tuesday’s mayoral elections in Birmingham, Alabama, and St. Petersburg, Florida 

Voters cast ballots in mayoral elections on Aug. 24 in two cities that are among America’s 100 largest cities by population. Here are the results of those races:

Birmingham, Alabama

Voters in Birmingham, Alabama, re-elected incumbent Randall Woodfin to a second term as mayor. Based on unofficial results, Woodfin received 64% of the vote against seven challengers. Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales came in second, receiving 21%. 

Woodfin, who had previously served on the Birmingham City School Board, was first elected mayor in 2017. While mayoral elections in Birmingham are officially nonpartisan, Woodfin, Scales, and third-place finisher and former Mayor William Bell are all affiliated with the Democratic Party. 

St. Petersburg, Florida

Former Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch and city council member Robert Blackmon advanced to the Nov. 2 general election for mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida. Welch finished first in Tuesday’s nonpartisan, top-two primary with 39%, and Blackmon was second with 29%. 

Welch has run for office as a Democrat, and Blackmon is a registered Republican. Incumbent Rick Kriseman, who was first elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017, was term-limited and unable to run for re-election. Kriseman is a Democrat. 

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Five states allow local governments to set policies on recalling local officials

Welcome to the Wednesday, August 25, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. A closer look at Tennessee’s recall laws
  2. One year ago this week, Republicans held presidential nominating convention
  3. Redistricting Roundup: 11 states require that prison inmates are counted at their pre-incarceration address

A closer look at Tennessee’s recall laws

Recalls have been in the news throughout 2021, whether they are about statewide recalls or hyper-local efforts. We cover recalls extensively, and one of our writers found some interesting aspects of Tennessee’s recall laws that I wanted to share.

Tennessee statutes allow recalls in any “governmental entity having a charter provision for a petition for recall.” This delegates the decision about recalls of local officials to each municipality. If a local government’s charter allows for such recalls, then state law establishes the signature requirements and filing deadlines for conducting them. This also applies to school board members. Tennessee law says, “Any member of the board of education of the city elected or appointed…may be removed from office by the registered voters of the city.”

Tennessee also allows any county with a metropolitan form of government and more than 100,000 residents to establish its own recall procedures in its charter. One example of this is in Nashville, which has a population of 715,884, according to 2020 census data. In 1963, the governments of the city of Nashville and Davidson County merged to form the Nashville-Davidson Metro Government.

Here are three differences between Tennessee’s laws and Nashville’s charter regarding recalls:

  • Nashville allows for the recall of any elected municipal official except during the first and last 180 days of their terms. Tennessee law prohibits recalls during the first and last 90 days of an official’s term.
  • Nashville requires that petitioners collect signatures within 30 days of filing a notice of intention to collect signatures for a recall. Tennessee law gives petitioners 75 days to collect the required number of signatures.
  • For recalls of school board members or city council officials elected from a district or subdivision of a city, Nashville requires that petitioners collect signatures from more than 15% of registered voters of the district from which the officer was elected. Tennessee law requires signatures from 66% of the total vote at the last regular election for that office. Both Nashville and Tennessee require petitioners to gather signatures from more than 15% of registered voters for officials elected citywide.

Ballotpedia has tracked 13 recall campaigns in Tennessee since 2009, with four of them in Nashville. Petitioners did not submit signatures for three Nashville recall efforts—one in 2012 and two efforts in 2020. In 2009, voters recalled Councilwoman Pam Murray, 542 votes to 540.

Four other states—Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire—allow local jurisdictions to set policies for the recall of municipal and school board officials.

In 2020, Ballotpedia tracked recall efforts against nine elected officials in Tennessee. California had the most officials targeted for recall—41.

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One year ago this week, Republicans held presidential nominating convention 

One year ago this week, from August 24-27, the Republican National Committee held its 2020 presidential nominating convention. Limited in-person events took place in Charlotte, North Carolina, and President Donald Trump formally accepted the party’s nomination from the White House.

The Republican National Committee Executive Committee voted in June 2020 to downsize the convention in Charlotte due to the coronavirus pandemic and reduced the number of in-person delegates from 2,500 to 336. Statewide restrictions in North Carolina in response to the coronavirus pandemic led to the proposed relocation of some events to Jacksonville, Florida. On July 23, 2020, Trump announced that high-profile convention events previously moved to Jacksonville—including his nomination acceptance speech—had been canceled for public health and safety reasons. 

President Trump gave his nomination acceptance speech on Aug. 27 from the White House lawn. Vice President Mike Pence gave his vice presidential nomination acceptance speech on Aug. 26 at Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore.

The Democratic National Committee held its presidential nominating convention during the week of August 17, 2020, across four stages in New York City, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Wilmington. Most of the convention’s events took place remotely.

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Redistricting Roundup: 11 states require that prison inmates are counted at their pre-incarceration address

Alaska: The state’s Redistricting Board approved a schedule on Aug. 23 that treated Aug. 12 as the starting point of its 90-day process. The schedule sets Sept. 11 as the deadline for publishing the commission’s proposed plans and Nov. 10 as the deadline for adopting its final plan. 

Incarcerated persons: Eleven states have passed policies since 2010 requiring redistricting authorities to count prison inmates who are state residents at their pre-incarceration address, rather than in the community where their detention facility is located. Ten states will have those policies take effect with the current redistricting, while Illinois’ policy will not go into effect until 2025. President Joe Biden (D) won all 11 of these states in the 2020 presidential election.

These states differ on whether their policy for counting incarcerated persons in their pre-incarceration districts applies to legislative or congressional maps. Four states will count incarcerated persons at their pre-incarceration addresses for legislative maps only, and seven will count them at their pre-incarceration residences for both legislative and congressional maps.

The states’ policies also differ on how out-of-state inmates, and inmates with unknown previous residences, are counted. Two states—Colorado and Virginia—count these people as residents in their correctional facility for redistricting purposes. Seven exclude this group from all district redistricting population calculations. Connecticut counts these inmates as generic residents of the state, and Nevada’s policies do not address the issue.

Federal inmates are counted the same as state inmates in six states and are excluded from redistricting calculations in two states. Three states have not addressed how to count persons incarcerated in federal facilities for redistricting.

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What’s next for Prop 22

Welcome to the Tuesday, August 24, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. California judge rules 2020 measure regarding app-based drivers is unconstitutional
  2. Register for our Aug. 25 briefing on the recall of California Gov. Gavin Newsom
  3. New York’s new governor to take office today

California judge rules 2020 measure regarding app-based drivers is unconstitutional

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled on Aug. 20 that two sections of California’s Proposition 22 (Prop 22) were unconstitutional, and the entire measure was unenforceable. Roesch ruled that Prop 22 unconstitutionally limited the power of the legislature and violated the state’s single-subject rule for ballot measures. 

Proponents of Prop 22 have announced they would appeal Roesch’s ruling. UC Berkeley law professor Catherine Fisk, who filed an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs, told the Los Angeles Times there could be a stay of Judge Roesch’s ruling within two weeks. She also said, “After consideration by the state court of appeals, it will eventually be decided by the California Supreme Court.”

Voters approved Proposition 22, 59% to 41%. It defined app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers as independent contractors. It also created labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies, such as an earnings floor, healthcare subsidy requirements, training programs, and accidental death insurance requirements.

A group of plaintiffs—including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—filed a lawsuit challenging Prop 22 in January. The plaintiffs alleged Prop 22 removed app-based drivers from the state’s system of workers’ compensation, limiting the legislature’s constitutional power to extend workers’ compensation benefits to app-based drivers. The plaintiffs also said the measure violated single-subject rules because voters “were not told they were voting to prevent the Legislature from granting the drivers collective bargaining rights, or to preclude the Legislature from providing incentives for companies to give app-based drivers more than the minimal wages and benefits provided by Proposition 22.”

Prop 22 overrode California Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), which Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed into law in 2019. AB 5 created the presumption that a worker is an employee, rather than an independent contractor, unless the hiring business can prove otherwise. 

Prop 22 was the most expensive ballot measure in California’s history and was the first time voters decided a statewide measure on gig economy policies. Proponents of Prop 22, including DoorDash, Instacart, Lyft, and Uber, raised $205.4 million to support the measure. Opponents, including two SEIU locals, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and other unions, raised $18.9 million. 

Roesch was appointed to the Alameda County Superior Court by Gov. Gray Davis (D) in 2001. He was re-elected without opposition ever since, most recently in 2020. In Massachusetts, proponents filed two versions of a measure similar to Prop 22 with the state attorney general’s office on Aug. 4. The Massachusetts attorney general’s office must approve these initiatives to ensure they comply with the state’s single-subject rule before proponents can gather signatures.

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Register for our Aug. 25 briefing on the recall of California Gov. Gavin Newsom  

In other California news, the Sept. 14 recall election is less than a month away. As we’ve regularly covered in the Brew, California voters will decide whether to recall Gov. Newsom (D). The Ballotpedia Power Index (BPI) estimates that, as of Aug. 20, there is a 73% chance Newsom will be retained and a 27% chance he will be recalled.

The BPI is an election forecasting tool that factors in polling averages from RealClearPolitics and share prices on PredictIt to project the overall chances of an outcome occurring in an election. The chart below shows the BPI for the first recall question in this election. In other words, a 60% score for no and a 40% score for yes would mean that, according to the combination of polling averages and PredictIt prices, there would be a 60% chance of voters not recalling Newsom and a 40% chance of voters recalling Newsom.

Should he be recalled, Newsom would be the second California governor in history to be recalled, and voters would choose his replacement on the same ballot. Forty-six candidates, including nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, are running in the election. The candidates with the most media attention and performing best in polls 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).     

Do you want to learn more about the Newsom recall? We’re holding a briefing tomorrowAug. 25 at 11 a.m. CTto discuss the latest news, how the recall election will work, and identify parallels to the state’s 2003 recall of Gov. Davis (D). Marquee staff writer Joel Williams and I will cover all of that (and more!), so be sure to click the link below to register and join us then. And if you can’t attend the briefing live, we’ll email you the link to watch it on your schedule.

Register now! 

New York’s new governor to take office today

New York’s new governor—former Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D)—takes office today following the resignation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). Cuomo announced his resignation on Aug. 10. 

The Gothamist said Cuomo’s resignation would be effective at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 23, and New York Court of Appeals Chief Justice Janet DiFiore would swear Hochul in as governor just after midnight Tuesday morning. A ceremonial swearing-in event is planned for later this morning.

Until Hochul selects a new lieutenant governor, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) will assume the duties of that office, such as serving as governor when Hochul is out of state. A 2009 New York Court of Appeals ruling determined that the governor can appoint a new lieutenant governor if that position is vacant.

Cuomo is the ninth governor of New York to resign. Nationwide, 218 state governors have resigned before the expiration of their terms since 1776. Of these, 76% took place because the governor was elected or appointed to another office, 7% took place following allegations of misconduct, and 17% were for various personal reasons, such as illness or policy disputes with the state legislature.

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20% of state legislative incumbents faced primary opposition this year

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

  1. Twenty percent of state legislative incumbents faced primary opposition this year
  2. Republican win in Connecticut Senate district is first to change party control in a state legislative special election this year
  3. 17 candidates file to run for mayor of Minneapolis

Twenty percent of state legislative incumbents faced primary opposition this year

Most states hold legislative elections in even-numbered years, and New Jersey and Virginia are the only states holding such contests this year. On Monday, we looked at the percentage of open seats in this year’s state legislative elections in New Jersey and Virginia and how that compared to past years. Today, let’s take a look at the number of incumbents that faced primary opponents.

Of the 203 incumbents that filed for re-election, 40—19.7%—faced opposition in the primary. That’s down from 30.1% in 2019 but is the third-highest percentage in an odd-numbered year since 2011.

Here’s the breakdown of incumbents that faced primary opposition by chamber:

  • New Jersey Senate: 4 of 36 incumbents (11.1%)
  • New Jersey Assembly: 19 of 72 incumbents (26.4%)
  • Virginia House of Delegates: 17 of 95 incumbents (17.9%)

The Virginia Senate is not up for election this year.

Republican incumbents faced more contested primaries this year than Democratic incumbents. Of the 78 Republican incumbents that sought re-election, 17—21.8%—had a primary opponent. Of the 125 Democratic incumbents seeking re-election, 23, or 18.4%, faced a contested primary.

Overall, eight incumbents out of 40 lost their primaries, meaning that 80% of incumbents with contested primaries won. That’s less than in the previous two odd-year election cycles. In 2019, 93% of incumbents in contested primaries won, and, in 2017, every incumbent won their contested primary. In 2020, 85% of state legislative incumbents that faced primary opposition won. Since 2010, approximately 88% of state legislative incumbents have won contested primaries.

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Republican win in Connecticut Senate district is first to change party control in a state legislative special election this year

Ryan Fazio (R) defeated Alexis Gevanter (D), 50% to 48%, in Tuesday’s special election in a Connecticut state Senate district. The seat was vacant after Alex Kasser (D) resigned on June 22. This is the first district to change party control in a state legislative special election this year.

Kasser was first elected in 2018, defeating Scott Frantz (R), 50% to 49%. Kasser was re-elected in 2020, defeating Fazio, 51% to 49%. In the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) in this district, 57% to 39%. Last year, President Joe Biden (D) defeated Trump, 62% to 37%.

In The Hill, Reid Wilson wrote that “Fazio is likely to be held up as an example of the GOP’s momentum as the midterm election season begins, and as voters in states like Virginia and New Jersey prepare to hit the polls this year.” He also stated, “Democrats dismissed the results as a low-turnout affair that would bear little resemblance to the political realities of the forthcoming year.”

Voters have decided 35 state legislative special elections so far this year. In 2020, eight seats changed partisan control in 59 state legislative special elections. The chart below shows the number of state legislative seats that switched partisan control in special elections since 2010.  

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17 candidates file to run for mayor of Minneapolis

The filing period for candidates wishing to run for municipal office—including mayor—in Minneapolis ended on Aug. 10. Mayor Jacob Frey (D), who was first elected in 2017, faces 16 challengers on Nov. 2.

There are no municipal primaries in Minneapolis, which uses ranked choice voting to elect city officials. Then-City Councilman Frey defeated 15 other candidates, including incumbent Betsy Hodges (D), in 2017 after the fifth round of vote tabulations.

Fifty-eight candidates filed to run for 13 seats on the Minneapolis City Council. In 2017, 43 candidates ran for one of the 13 council seats. Minneapolis voters will also elect two members of the city’s Board of Estimate and Taxation and all nine members of the Park and Recreation Commission. 

Elections in Minneapolis are officially nonpartisan, but candidates can select a party label to appear on the ballot. Every mayor since 1978 has been a member of the state’s affiliate of the national Democratic Party—the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). The DFL also currently holds 12 of 13 seats on the city council.

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Montana could become fifth state to elect supreme court justices by district

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

  1. Montana voters to decide measure on electing state supreme court justices
  2. Clallam County municipal primary results certified
  3. Seattle primary results certified

Montana voters to decide measure on electing state supreme court justices

Montana voters will decide three statewide ballot measures in November 2022. Let’s look at one of them, which addresses how the state’s supreme court chief justices are elected.

Montana voters will decide on LR-132, a legislatively referred state statute that would:

  • require that the seven state Supreme Court justices be elected by district and 
  • provide for the selection of the chief justice by a majority vote of the justices beginning with the general election of 2024. 

If adopted, the law would make Montana the fifth state to elect supreme court justices by district. Four states—Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi—have state supreme courts that represent districts. Twenty-four states select their supreme court chief justices via majority vote of the justices.

Currently, Montana Supreme Court justices serve eight-year terms following a general statewide nonpartisan election. Montana Supreme Court chief justices are also elected through a nonpartisan election to eight-year terms.

If passed, here’s how the law would work:

  • Montana LR-132 would divide the state into seven districts for each of the seven supreme court justices. The measure would not remove any sitting state supreme court justice. 
  • Associate justices would be assigned district numbers according to their seat number, and the chief justice would be assigned the seventh district. 
  • Associate justices may seek re-election in the district assigned to them or resign from their current district to file to run in another district. 
  • The Montana State Legislature would be required to review the districts after the decennial census to ensure the districts contain approximately the same number of residents without dividing counties.

A similar law was referred to Montana ballots in 2012, but it was removed before the primary election by the Montana Supreme Court because it required justices to reside in the district they wished to represent. The 2022 law would not require that justices live in the district in which they wish to represent. In Illinois, Kentucky, and Louisiana, supreme court justices are required to reside in the districts they represent.

For the full background of the measure, click the link below.

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Clallam County municipal primary results certified

As part of our efforts to provide coverage of local elections, we’re branching out of our normal scope of elections in the 100 largest cities by population, as well as elections for mayors, city councils, and district attorneys in all 50 state capitals and school boards in the 200 largest public school districts.

Today, we’re focusing on Clallam County, Washington. Clallam County is on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and has a population of 77,331. Why this county in particular? Clallam has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Clallam County became a Boomerang Pivot County in 2020, meaning voters voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and then voted for Joe Biden in 2020. 

The county held top-two primaries in three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks—on Aug. 3. The county auditor certified the results on Aug. 17. The following offices were up for election:

  • Fire District #3, Commissioner Position No. 1 (multi-county race which includes votes from Jefferson County)
  • Forks City Council Position No. 2
  • Port Angeles School District Director Position No. 2
  • Port Angeles City Council (four seats) 
  • Sequim School District Director at Large, Position No. 4 

Click the link below to view the results for the above races.

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Seattle primary results certified

In other Washington state elections news, Seattle, Washington, held municipal primaries on Aug. 3 for mayor, two at-large city council seats, and city attorney. Washington is a vote-by-mail state, so election results were delayed. On Aug. 19, King County Elections certified the results. They are listed below.

Mayor

Former City Council President Bruce Harrell and current City Council President Lorena González advanced in the mayoral primary with 34.0% and 32.1% of the vote, respectively. Fifteen candidates ran in the primary. Current Mayor Jenny Durkan didn’t seek re-election.

City council

For the position 8 council seat, incumbent Teresa Mosqueda and Kenneth Wilson advanced with 59.4% and 16.2% of the vote, respectively.

For the position 9 council seat, which González currently holds, Creative Justice executive director Nikkita Oliver and Fremont Brewing co-owner Sara Nelson advanced with 40.2% and 39.5% of the vote, respectively. 

City attorney

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Ann Davison advanced after incumbent Pete Holmes conceded on Aug. 6. Thomas-Kennedy received 36.4% of the vote followed by Davison with 32.7% and Holmes with 30.6%.

The general election is on Nov. 2.

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13 states currently require masks in schools

Welcome to the Wednesday, August 18, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Thirteen states require staff, students to wear masks in schools for the upcoming year
  2. Six recall efforts targeting school board members have petition filing deadlines in August
  3. Redistricting Roundup

Thirteen states require staff, students to wear masks in schools for the upcoming year

Schools are coming back into session across the country. Here’s an update on state-by-state mask rules:

  • 13 states require staff and students to wear face-coverings in schools for the upcoming year. 
  • 30 states have left school mask decisions up to local authorities, 
  • 7 states—Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah—have banned school mask requirements.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance for K-12 schools on Aug. 5 that said, “safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall [of] 2021 is a priority,” and recommended “universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”

Here are a few developments regarding mask requirements in schools in three states:

Arizona: Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner ruled on Aug. 16 that Arizona’s law banning school mask requirements could not take effect until Sept. 29. Warner said, “Under Arizona law, new laws are effective 90 days after the legislative session ends, which is Sept. 29 this year.” The ban on school mask requirements was passed as a budget amendment during the 2021 regular legislative session.

Tennessee: Gov. Bill Lee (R) issued an executive order allowing parents to send their children to school without masks in K-12 public schools that enacted mask requirements. If a parent or guardian provides written notification to school authorities, a student will not be required to wear masks at school, on school buses, or at school functions.

Texas: The state supreme court temporarily overturned lower court orders in Bexar and Dallas Counties on Aug. 15 that would have allowed those local governments to disregard Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) ban on mask requirements. Abbott issued an executive order on May 18 prohibiting government entities from requiring masks.

The map below identifies the status of face-covering requirements in schools for the 2021-2022 school year. Nevada’s school mask requirement only applies to districts with more than 100,000 residents, and New Mexico’s only applies to unvaccinated individuals and all individuals in elementary school.

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Six recall efforts targeting school board members have petition filing deadlines in August 

Six recall efforts targeting local school board members in four states—Arizona, California, North Dakota, and Wisconsin—must submit petitions this month to move their efforts forward. Here is a brief summary of these recalls and the reasons supporters have given for each effort. Click on the links provided to learn more:

Between 2006 and 2020, Ballotpedia covered an average of 23 recall efforts against an average of 52 school board members each year. The number of school board recalls in 2021 has surpassed that average with 58 efforts against 144 members as of Aug. 12. This is the highest number of recalls since we began tracking them in 2010.

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Redistricting Roundup

Virginia

The Virginia Redistricting Commission voted on Aug. 16 to officially begin the state’s redistricting process on Aug. 26. The commission is expected to receive data that an outside consultant is reformatting by that date. The Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. 

Virginia law requires that the commission submit proposed state legislative maps to the General Assembly within 45 days of receiving census data and proposed congressional district boundaries within 60 days. This means the commission will propose new state legislative districts by Oct. 10 and congressional districts by Oct. 25. When adopted, the new congressional map will take effect for the 2022 U.S. House elections, and new state legislative districts will be used in 2023. This year’s state legislative elections will continue to use maps that were enacted after the 2010 census.

Ohio

The Ohio Redistricting Commission announced on Aug. 13 that it had scheduled 10 public hearings across the state. The hearings will take place at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily between Aug. 23 and Aug. 27 at eight colleges and universities.