Tagelection administration

Control of Alaska House of Representatives remains uncertain after Alaska Supreme Court decision

The Alaska Supreme Court confirmed Alaska Representative Lance Pruitt’s (R) 11-vote loss to Democratic challenger Liz Snyder on Friday, January 8. The court ruled that Pruitt did not provide sufficient evidence to sustain his challenge of the election results.

Pruitt’s loss means that control of the chamber will likely remain uncertain until at least January 19, when lawmakers will convene in Juneau for the start of the legislative session. As a result of this decision, the Alaska House of Representatives is currently split between a 20-member Republican faction and a multi-partisan coalition of 16 Democrats (including Snyder), three independents, and Republican Louise Stutes. Had Pruitt won, it could have given the Republican wing of the House the 21 votes needed to control the chamber.

Pruitt’s lawsuit centered on the argument that the state did not adequately notify the public when the Alaska Division of Elections moved a polling location and that the Division of Elections did not provide suitable election security in regard to absentee ballots. Pruitt’s attorney in the case, Stacey Stone, said that Pruitt will not pursue any further action to contest the results of the election. “The integrity of our election system serves as the foundation of our government. We respect the decision of the court today, but we hope the Division (of Elections) addresses the issues that occurred in Precinct 915 so that these type of events do not occur in the future, and that all voters constitutional rights are guaranteed. We await the supreme court’s full opinion as to how they addressed the multiple points on appeal,” Stone said. After the verdict was announced, Snyder said, “It was great to see that come out the way we anticipated it.”

Although Republicans won a 23-16 majority with one independent in the 2018 elections, a coalition of 15 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independents elected Bryce Edgmon (I) as House speaker on February 14, 2019. The parties split control of key leadership positions and committees and Edgmon was elected speaker after leaving the Democratic Party. The House majority consisted of 15 Democrats, eight Republicans, and two members unaffiliated with either party. Of the eight Republicans who joined the majority coalition in 2018, only Steve M. Thompson and Louise Stutes were re-elected in 2020.

Eighty-six of 99 state legislative chambers across 44 states held general elections on November 3, 2020. Heading into the 2020 elections, Republicans had majorities in 59 chambers and Democrats had majorities in 39 chambers. Partisan control flipped in two chambers—Republicans gained majorities in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the New Hampshire State Senate.

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37 states modified absentee/mail-in voting procedures in Nov. 3 elections

The November 3, 2020, general elections included races for president, 35 U.S. Senate seats, 435 U.S. House of Representatives seats, 120 statewide ballot measures, 165 state executive offices, state legislative seats in 86 chambers, and thousands of local offices and ballot measures.

All told, 37 states modified their absentee/mail-in voting procedures for the general election. These modifications can be divided into five broad categories. Here’s a recap of all of the changes made throughout 2020.

Automatic absentee/mail-in ballots: Five states (California, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, and Vermont) automatically sent absentee/mail-in ballots to all eligible voters.

Automatic mail-in ballot applications: Eleven states (Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) automatically sent absentee/mail-in ballot applications to all eligible voters.

Eligibility expansions: Twelve states (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) expanded absentee/mail-in voting eligibility.

Deadline extensions: Five states (Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania) extended absentee/mail-in ballot application or submission deadlines.

Other process changes: Four states (Alaska, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia) made other modifications to their absentee/mail-in ballot procedures.

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Who runs elections in the United States?

Image of a red sign with the words "Polling Place" a pointing arrow.

Election administration in the U.S. is largely decentralized. Administrators at the state and local level are responsible for running elections, from maintaining voter registration records to counting ballots. As a result, election laws and procedures vary widely among states and localities.

Each state has an agency that manages elections. Responsibilities of the state-level office often include training local elections officials, maintaining a voter registration database, and offering guidance on the testing of voting machines. Each state also has a head elections official. In 24 states, the chief elections official is an elected Secretary of State.

At the local level, county governments are most commonly responsible for election administration, rather than city or town governments. According to one estimate, more than 10,000 local entities administrate elections in the U.S. In many municipalities, elections are managed by a clerk, recorder, or registrar, who has other duties in addition to running elections.

On the national level, the Election Assistance Commission is responsible for maintaining a national voter registration form and offers guidance on elections administration to state agencies. Meanwhile, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is responsible for enforcing federal campaign finance laws. Established in 1975, the FEC manages public funding of presidential campaigns, oversees limits on campaign contributions, and publishes information on how campaigns raise and spend money.

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