Enactment rate of single-topic versus omnibus-style election bills on par with 2022

The percentage of all enacted election-related bills dealing with single or multiple topics has stayed consistent from 2022 to 2023. As of May 2023, 53.5% of enacted bills address a single topic (61 of 114 bills), compared to 55.6% (158 of 284) of bills enacted by the end of 2022. Enactment of omnibus-style election bills, which we define here as bills addressing five or more topics, is similar to last year. Omnibus bills comprise 7% of bills enacted this year (eight of 114) compared to 9.2% (26 of 284) at the end of 2022, and 8% (nine of 113) of enacted bills as of the same date last year.

So far in 2023, 64.8% of all election-related bills address a single topic, 3.8% are omnibus bills, and 0.78% (19 bills) contain provisions related to 10 or more categories. Last year, 61.7% of all election-related legislation were single-topic bills, 4.8% were omnibus bills, and just 19 bills (0.73%) addressed 10 or more topics. 

In 2022 and 2023, Republican-trifecta states have enacted more omnibus election bills than states with divided governments or Democratic trifectas, and Republican lawmakers have sponsored more enacted election omnibus bills across all states. Republican trifecta states have enacted six of this year’s eight enacted omnibus election bills, while at the same point in 2022, Republican trifecta states had enacted seven of nine omnibus bills nationwide. At the end of 2022 legislative sessions, Republicans had sponsored 14 of the 26 enacted bills that address five or more topics, while Democrats sponsored five, four were introduced by a committee of the legislature, and three had bipartisan sponsorship. 

New Mexico’s HB4 and Utah’s HB0448, both enacted earlier this year, provide examples of omnibus election legislation.

New Mexico’s HB4, among other changes, expands the roster of state agencies that provide automatic voter registration services, restores voting rights to people convicted of a felony who have completed any required prison time, and defines who may return another voter’s absentee ballot. 

Utah’s HB0448, among other changes, authorizes the lieutenant governor to establish audit requirements and procedures, provides new guidelines and time frames for voter list maintenance, and mandates training for election employees and volunteers. 

Seventy-three bills addressing five or more topics are still under consideration, while 1,266 single-topic bills and 543 bills that address two-to-four topics remain active in 2023 regular legislative sessions. 

Ballotpedia’s comprehensive Election Administration Legislation Tracker is the basis for the data and analysis in this report. This user-friendly tracker covers thousands of election-related bills in state legislatures and organizes them by topic with neutral, expert analysis from Ballotpedia’s election administration researchers. We assessed whether each bill addresses a single or multiple topics by tagging them with one of 92 tags, organized into 23 broader subject areas. For more information on these subject category tags, click here.

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Marijuana legalization campaign to continue signature gathering in Ohio for 2023 ballot

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the campaign supporting a marijuana legalization initiative in Ohio, began collecting a second round of signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot on Nov. 7, 2023.

Previously, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol submitted 136,729 valid signatures to the secretary of state in two separate rounds of signature gathering–the first submission of 206,943 signatures on Dec. 20, 2021, and the second submission of 29,918 signatures on Jan. 13, 2022. In Ohio, if a campaign is short of a valid signature requirement after they submit signatures, they have a one-week cure period to collect additional signatures. The secretary of state announced the number of signatures validated on Jan. 28, 2022.

On April 29, 2022, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol filed a lawsuit against state legislative leaders, arguing that legislative leaders claimed that signatures weren’t submitted in time. In a series of emails, state legislators claimed that a legislative vote can’t take place because valid signatures were not submitted 10 days prior to the start of the legislative period. The coalition and state legislative leaders ended and settled the lawsuit, allowing the coalition to resubmit the first 132,887 collected signatures at the start of the 2023 legislative session.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose put the initiative to the Ohio General Assembly at the start of their legislative session. In Ohio, initiated state statutes are indirect, meaning the state legislature must either approve the initiative, allowing it to become law, or not approving it, and letting it go to the ballot for voters to decide. The state legislature has four months to either approve the initiative, reject it, or not act on it. If the state legislature does not act on the measure or rejects it, the campaign supporting the initiative has another 90 days to collect the second round of signatures.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has 90 days to collect another additional round of signatures, starting on May 5, 2023. An initiative would need 124,046 signatures in the second round to qualify for the 2023 ballot.

Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol spokesman Tom Haren said, “It’s going to be on the ballot and it’s going to pass. Ohio consumers will not have to rely on their drug dealers or go to Michigan. They will be able to have safe, effective and regulated adult use of cannabis right here in the Buckeye State. … The primary way that it will help Ohio is it’ll provide an alternative to the illicit and unregulated market.”

The initiative would legalize the use, possession, cultivation, and sale of recreational marijuana for adults over 21 years old. It would also enact a 10% cannabis tax rate on adult-use sales. Currently, 21 states and Washington, D.C., had legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes, and 37 states and D.C. had legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) opposes the measure, saying, “I do not … support legalizing marijuana for recreational use. I have seen the negative effects it has had in states that have legalized it and fear that it would also lead to increased use by underage kids and that small children could consume marijuana-laced foods that look like candy.”

As of May 8, there were no ballot measures on the Nov. 7, 2023, general election ballot in Ohio. There were five potential measures that could make the ballot, including the marijuana legalization measure.

Additional reading:

Indiana Legislature passes bill related to nonprofit donor privacy and disclosure

On April 25, the Indiana General Assembly passed HB1212, a bill prohibiting state and local governments from requesting or disclosing nonprofit donors’ personal information. The bill defines personal information as data that identifies a person as a supporter or member of a nonprofit organization. It would prohibit government agencies from requiring individuals, contractors, or grantees to disclose this information, and it would penalize violators of these provisions with a fine of no less than $2,500 per violation. 

State Rep. Michael Karickhoff (R) and co-author Rep. Elizabeth Rowray (R) introduced HB1212 on Jan. 10.  State Sens. Liz Brown (R), Eric Koch (R), and James Buck (R) also sponsored the bill. The bill passed the Indiana House of Representatives 77-21 on Jan. 31. Ten House Democrats and 67 Republicans voted for the bill, while 20 Democrats and one Republican voted against it. The state Senate passed an amended version of the bill 48-1 on March 28, with eight Democrats and 40 Republicans voting in favor and one Democrat voting no.

The House did not accept the proposed Senate amendments, and a conference committee took up consideration of the bill on April 19. On April 24, the House voted 74-20 for an amended version of the bill, with 11 Democrats and 63 Republicans voting in favor. Eighteen Democrats and two Republicans voted no. The Senate again voted 48-1 to pass the bill on April 25, with the same partisan breakdown of votes as it had on initial passage. 

Supporters of HB1212 said donor privacy is essential for encouraging charitable giving. Claudia Cummings, the president and CEO of the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, said, “Speaking with our members, it’s clear that donor privacy is one of the basic things that they’re asked when consulting with donors.” Bill sponsor Sen. Liz Brown said, “Donors get to choose how they spend their money — these are their private dollars. They can choose to save it, they can choose to buy something with it, or they can choose to give it. … If those donors were to withdraw from investment in the social sector, what impact would that have?”

Opponents of the bill say it would reduce government transparency. Aaron McKean, legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, said, “These kinds of bills … make it harder to get information about who is trying to influence our government officials or or our elected officials. And that’s information that voters need in order to be able to assess whether the government is actually working on their behalf or if government is working on behalf of those wealthy special interests who are lining their pockets.” Pete Quist, deputy research director at OpenSecrets, said, “When you choose to get involved in politics, you choose to step into the public sphere… it’s the people’s right, the public’s right, to know who is funding their politicians. And that for us, trumps any donor privacy.”

The bill now heads to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R). Indiana has a Republican trifecta, meaning the Republican Party controls the governorship and majorities in both legislative chambers. Republicans have a 70-30 majority in the House and a 40-10 majority in the Senate. 

If signed into law, HB1212 would be the third donor privacy bill enacted in 2023. The other states enacting donor privacy bills this year are Kansas (HB2170) and Kentucky (SB62). 

Florida Legislature approves election bill that eliminates resign to run provision

On April 28, Florida S7050 passed the state House 76-34, clearing both chambers of the state legislature. The Florida Senate passed the bill 28-12 on April 26. The Republican-sponsored bill makes a number of changes to the state’s election laws, including:

  • Creates an exception to the state’s resign-to-run law for any individual seeking the office of president or vice president of the United States, and exempts these candidates from requirement related to the submission of certain documents, financial interest disclosures, petition signatures, and payment of filing fees.
  • Makes signature matching mandatory, requires anyone conducting signature matching to undergo training.
  • Requires first-time registrants without certain identification to vote in-person the first time they cast a ballot.
  • Increases fines for violation of voter registration and campaign finance law violations.
  • Requires third-party voter registration organizations to re-register with the state every election cycle, changes the deadline for application delivery from 14 to 10 days, increases fines for late delivery, and requires the organization to give applicants receipts.
  • Allows special election or referendum notices to be published on local government websites instead of in newspapers.
  • Outlines penalties and prohibitions for harassment of election workers, including related definitions.

Sen. Danny Burgess (R) said, “This bill does not and will not hinder anyone’s right to vote, nor would I ever subscribe my name to something that could even remotely be concluded to be voter suppression. There is nothing in this bill that makes it harder for a lawfully registered voter to cast their ballot.”

Sen. Geraldine Thompson (D) said, “This really is suppression. It is suppression, just like poll taxes. That was suppression. Just like violence against people who wanted to vote was suppression. Just like intimidation when you had the Ku Klux Klan march through certain communities was suppression. So I see different characters but the same objective, and that’s to make sure that only certain people vote.” 

Wisconsin Assembly passes unemployment insurance indexing bill

Wisconsin lawmakers on April 25 passed several bills related to unemployment insurance, including one that would index the length of unemployment insurance benefits to the state’s unemployment rate. Assembly Bill 153 would reduce the maximum number of benefit weeks to 14 during times when the unemployment rate is at or below 3.5%. The bill also proposes capping the maximum benefit length at 26 weeks during times when the unemployment rate is more than 9%.

Wisconsin’s current maximum benefit length is 26 weeks, and the state’s unemployment rate in February was 2.7%, according to preliminary data from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The maximum weekly benefit would fall by 12 weeks (from 26 weeks to 14 weeks) if the bill becomes law and the unemployment rate remains stable.

The other bills in the package include provisions that propose:

  • Broadening the definition of employment misconduct that would disqualify a fired person from claiming unemployment benefits.
  • Requiring the DWD to create a process through which employers can disclose any known information about unemployment claimants that might disqualify them from benefits eligibility.
  • Changing language referring to unemployment insurance to read reemployment assistance in all relevant state statutes and requiring drug testing for certain claimants.
  • Requiring claimants to prove their identities when filing initial unemployment insurance claims.

The package of bills now advances to the state Senate for consideration. The legislation is similar to a package that Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) vetoed in the previous legislative session.

Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

For information about unemployment insurance programs across the country, click here.

Additional reading:

Work requirements proposal included in debt ceiling bill

The U.S. House of Representatives on April 26, 2023, voted 219-210 to pass H.R. 2811, the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, which aims to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling and includes provisions related to work requirements for certain able-bodied adults receiving Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance.

The proposal would require applicable Medicaid and SNAP recipients to complete 80 hours a month of community engagement or work-related activity. Applicable individuals under the proposal generally include adults between the ages of 19 and 55 who are physically able to work, not pregnant, and not serving as a caregiver to a dependent or incapacitated person. The proposal also includes provisions aimed at reducing TANF caseloads by modifying certain reporting and performance measures for the program’s existing work requirements.

In his April 19 remarks on the House floor, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) argued, “Our plan ensures adults without dependents earn a paycheck and learn new skills. By restoring these commonsense measures, we can help more Americans earn a paycheck, learn new skills, reduce childhood poverty and rebuild the workforce.”

Democrats, including House Agriculture Committee ranking member David Scott (D-Ga.), have argued against the work requirements. Scott stated in a press release, “Holding food assistance hostage for those who depend on it—including 15.3 million of our children, 5.8 million of our seniors and 1.2 million of our veterans—in exchange for increasing the debt limit is a nonstarter.” President Joe Biden (D) stated that he would veto the legislation if it reached his desk.

Additional reading:

Legislation related to work requirements for public assistance programs

Court cases related to work requirements for public assistance programs

Enacted ballot collection bills make mostly small changes, several states considering new restriction and penalties

Ten states are considering legislation related to ballot collection, or ballot harvesting, while three states have enacted legislation on the topic so far in 2023. In 2022, seven states enacted bills while 15 others considered legislation. The number of bills and states considering ballot collection measures is smaller in 2023 than last year. 

Most legislation introduced this year makes small changes to existing laws, although several states are considering more substantial changes. Active, bipartisan-sponsored bills in Rhode Island and Wyoming, two states that do not currently specify whether someone may return ballots on behalf of another voter, would add restrictions to ballot collection. Elsewhere, Republican-sponsored bills in three states currently allowing voters to choose someone to return their ballot (Nebraska, Oregon, and Virginia) would narrow or limit the authorized individuals who may return another voter’s ballot.

Eight of the 12 bills in 2023 legislative sessions were sponsored by Republican legislators, two were sponsored by Democrats, and two had bipartisan sponsorship.

Mississippi, New Mexico and South Dakota have enacted legislation related to ballot collection. 

In Mississippi, Republican-sponsored SB2358 creates new penalties for an existing ban on third-party ballot collection. 

In New Mexico, Democratic-sponsored SB180 expands the list of persons authorized to return another voter’s absentee/mail-in ballot as part of a larger package of election modifications. Existing law prohibits anyone not an immediate family member from collecting and delivering a ballot. The bill adds domestic partners, grandchildren, grandparents, or persons “with whom the voter has a continuing personal relationship” to the definition of “immediate family.”

In South Dakota, Republican-sponsored HB165 requires election officials to “keep a record of the authorized messenger requesting an absentee ballot to be delivered to another voter.” In South Dakota, an authorized messenger may return another voter’s absentee ballot.

Iowa and South Carolina were the only states to make significant changes to their ballot collection laws in 2022 legislative sessions. 

In Iowa, both SF413 and SF568 restricted ballot collection to “an individual who lives in the same household as the registered voter, the registered voter’s immediate family member,” or an individual serving as a caretaker or registered delivery agent for a blind or otherwise disabled voter. 

In South Carolina, S0108 instituted a photo-ID requirement for an individual authorized to return another voters’ ballot and limited the number and prohibited anyone from returning more than five ballots in addition to their own. 

Also last year, Florida increased penalties for illegal ballot possession from a misdemeanor to a felony. Oklahoma added a prohibition on [d]istributing an absentee ballot application or request to a voter using the official letterhead of a candidate or elected official” to an existing ballot harvesting ban. 

Of the 22 states that currently have a Republican trifecta, 11 states specify or otherwise limit who may return another voter’s absentee ballot, while four others do not have any law related to ballot collection. Of the 17 Democratic trifecta states, three specify or otherwise limit who may collect and return absentee ballots, while five states’ statutes do not reference ballot collection. 

Additional reading:

Utah in the top-three for rate of election policy legislation enactment for second straight year

Utah is among the top three states enacting the highest percentage of their introduced election-related legislation for the second year in a row. It is the only state among the top three in 2022 and 2023. Utah lawmakers enacted 12 of the 29 election-related bills (41.4%) introduced in 2023 and nine of 18 in 2022 (50%). Republicans were the sole sponsors of all but two of these bills. Utah is a Republican trifecta. 

Joining Utah in the top three states in terms of bill enactment so far this year are Arkansas (45% of introduced election bills enacted) and South Dakota (42.1%), both of which are also Republican trifecta states. The most common topic of enacted bills in these states is counting and canvassing procedures (6 bills), followed by audits (5 bills). In 2022, Colorado (50%) and Connecticut (50%), both Democratic trifectas, rounded out the top three. 

The most common topics of enacted legislation in Utah from both years were:

  • Ballot access for candidates (5 bills).
  • Counting and canvassing procedures (4 bills).
  • Audits, ballot measures (initiative and referendum), voter ID for absentee/mail-in ballots, signature matching, vacancy procedures, enforcement against non-officials, absentee/mail-in voter assistance, cybersecurity, and physical security (3 bills each).  

In Utah’s 2023 legislative session, whose regular session ended on March 3, the most commonly enacted bill topics were signature matching, and absentee/mail-in voter assistance (3 bills each). In 2022 it was ballot access for candidates (4 bills). 

An example of a bill about ballot access for candidates is 2022’s SB0170 which, among other provisions, established a new filing period for candidates of a qualified political party to be elected at the next general election. 

An example of a signature matching bill is 2023’s HB0037. This bill established a new signature matching requirement for absentee ballots. The change requires poll workers to verify that a signature is “reasonably consistent with the individual’s signature in the voter registration records” or verifiable by other means before determining that a mailed ballot shall be canvassed. This bill also requires election officers to establish a method of accessible voting to a voter with a disability who cannot vote by mail, providing an example of legislation addressing absentee/mail-in voter assistance. 

An example of counting and canvassing procedures is 2022’s HB0264 which describes the voting process and determining winners in an alternate voting methods race depending on the voting method selected by a municipality participating in the state’s Municipal Alternate Voting Methods Pilot Project. The Municipal Alternate Voting Methods Pilot Project is a program established by the Utah legislature through HB35 in 2018 that allows municipalities to adopt ranked-choice voting for local elections. 

Ballotpedia Legislation Tracker

REINS Act included in debt ceiling bill

The U.S. House of Representatives on April 26, 2023, voted 219-210 to pass H.R. 2811, the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, which aims to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling and includes provisions related to congressional review of agency rulemaking known as the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.

The REINS Act would require congressional approval of certain major agency regulations before the rules could take effect. The REINS Act defines major agency regulations as those that have financial impacts on the U.S. economy of $100 million or more, increase consumer prices, or have significant harmful effects on the economy. A version of the REINS Act was passed in Wisconsin in 2017. A Florida law with similar provisions to the REINS Act was enacted in 2010. Republican lawmakers have introduced the REINS Act during every session of Congress since the 112th Congress (2011-2012).

Congresswoman Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) introduced the REINS Act in the 118th Congress with more than 170 Republican cosponsors. Following the vote on the Limit, Save, Grow Act, Cammack released the following statement: “With the passage of the Limit, Save, Grow Act, the most historic regulatory reform in history—the REINS Act—is one step closer to law. The regulatory regime has gone unchecked for decades and it’s time we return power to the American people, not the nameless, faceless bureaucrats in Washington.”

President Biden has stated that he will veto the Limit, Save, Grow Act if it reaches his desk. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated in January, “Congress is going to need to raise the debt limit without—without—conditions and it’s just that simple,” according to ABC News.

Additional reading:

Major rule

Regulatory review

Alaska governor signs bill to formally recognize federally recognized American Indian tribes

On July 28, 2022, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy (R) signed House Bill 123 (HB 123) into law, which would formally recognize 229 federally recognized American Indian tribes in Alaska. The bill was approved by the state legislature on May 17, 2022, before going to the governor’s desk.

“House Bill 123 codifies in law what Alaskans have long recognized: the important role that Native Tribes play in our past, present, and future,” said Gov. Dunleavy in a statement.

Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky (D-38), who sponsored the bill, called this action long overdue. “While the inherent sovereignty of Alaska Tribes has been consistently affirmed in Federal policy, in rulings by the Supreme Court, and by Executive Order in 2018, the signing of House Bill 123 provides formal recognition in statute for the first time in our State’s history,” she said.

HB 123 adds a section to Alaska state statute that recognizes federally recognized tribes. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, a federally recognized tribe is “an American Indian or Alaska Native tribal entity that is recognized as having a government-to-government relationship with the United States, with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations attached to that designation, and is eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.”

Initially, the move for the state to recognize American Indian tribes in Alaska came from a ballot initiative that was intended to be placed on the 2022 ballot. The initiative was filed by Wáahlaal Gíidaak Barbara Blake, Chaa yaa eesh Richard Peterson, and La quen náay Liz on August 11, 2021. The Alaskans for Better Government PAC was registered in support of the measure. 

“With a respectful partnership we’ll have more ways to enhance the lives of Alaskans by streamlining services; partnering to amplify federal and state funding for deep, sustainable, and long-term impact; and tapping in to the 10,000 plus years of Indigenous brilliance, diversity, and knowledge of our Native homelands that so many now call home,” the Alaskans for Better Government campaign said, “The basis of any good relationship is respect, and too often when sovereign governments cannot work together our Tribal peoples disproportionately bear the price of injustice, diminishing equity, liberty, and freedoms for all.”

In Alaska, the initiative process for state statutes is indirect. This means that rather than a campaign submitting signatures to put the initiative directly on the ballot the initiative first goes to the state legislature. The state legislature then has a chance to approve or reject the measure. If the state legislature rejects the measure, the measure goes to the ballot for voters to decide. If the state legislature approves the measure, it goes to the governor’s desk for approval.

The Alaskans for Better Government campaign submitted 56,200 signatures on January 13, 2022. Of that total, 47,199 signatures were found to be valid on March 3, 2022. The number of required signatures to send the initiative to the state legislature was 36,140.

In 2021, several legislators introduced House Bill 123, which Alaskans for Better Government described as “functionally identical and… written to serve the same purpose” as the ballot initiative. Instead of considering the initiative, the state legislature approved HB 123 in May.

Since the measure was passed by the state legislature, it will not appear on the ballot but instead will go into effect immediately.

Alaska Federation of Natives President Julie Kitka called this formal recognition a ‘historic step’. 

“The cultural survival of our Indigenous people is dependent on our ability to maintain our values, practice our traditions, and maintain freedom to live our lives well with dignity and respect for each other,” she said. “We have strengthened our tribal governments and have initiated multiple efforts to continue our path to self-determination and self-governance. The formal recognition through this legislation is an historic step for us to have a successful relationship with the state.”

Additional reading:

Alaska 2022 ballot measures