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SCOTUS issues ruling concerning Texas abortion law

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights a SCOTUS ruling on a Texas abortion law  and COVID-19 booster shots authorized for 16 and 17 year olds. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Note: We will not be publishing The Federal Tap on Dec. 25 or Jan. 2. We’ll return to your inboxes on Jan. 8. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones from all of us at Ballotpedia!

Congress is in/out of session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday and Tuesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, Biden traveled to Kentucky and Tennessee, where he surveyed storm damage and delivered remarks.


On Thursday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.

On Friday, Biden traveled to Orangeburg, South Carolina, where he delivered remarks at South Carolina State University’s 2021 Fall Commencement Ceremony. After delivering remarks, Biden traveled to his private residence in Wilmington, Delaware.

Opinion polling comparison during the Trump and Biden administrations

President Biden’s approval rating for the 46th week of his term was 42.5%, up 0.5 percentage points from the week before. President Trump’s approval rating at the same point in his term was 39.5%, up 0.4 percentage points from the week before.

Federal Judiciary

  • 79 federal judicial vacancies
  • 35 pending nominations
  • 38 future federal judicial vacancies

Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 39 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Jan. 21, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Vanessa Gilmore announced that she would retire on Jan. 2, 2022. The most recent was on Dec. 13, 2021, when U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz announced she would assume senior status upon the confirmation of her successor. Twenty-one vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judge has not announced the date they will leave the bench. 

The next upcoming vacancy will occur on Dec. 27, when U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon Judge Michael Mosman assumes senior status.

For historical comparison, the week of Dec. 13-19, 2020, there were 55 vacancies and five upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.

Three nominees confirmed to federal judgeships

This week, the U.S. Senate confirmed three of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to lifetime Article III judgeships:

To date, 31 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed. For historical comparison since 1981, the following list shows the date by which the past six presidents had 31 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:

As of this writing, 13 Article III nominees are awaiting a confirmation vote from the U.S Senate, 15 nominees are awaiting a Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance their nominations to the full Senate, and 12 nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee held an executive business meeting on Dec. 16 to consider the nominations of four individuals and vote on whether the nominees will be reported favorably to the full Senate. The results of the meeting are pending.

SCOTUS issues ruling concerning Texas abortion law 

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a ruling on Dec. 10 in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, involving Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB 8). The court allowed Texas abortion providers to pursue pre-enforcement actions against certain state officials but not others. A pre-enforcement action permits those affected by a law—in this case, the Texas abortion providers—to challenge the law in court before it’s enforced against them. SCOTUS allowed the law to remain in effect while the case is returned to the lower courts.

The Supreme Court partially upheld and partially reversed the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas’ order denying the state officials motions to dismiss, and remanded the case for further proceedings. 

In an 8-1 opinion authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court held that abortion providers may file federal lawsuits against Texas state licensing officials to prevent them from enforcing the provisions of SB 8—such as taking disciplinary action against a doctor who violates the law—under an exception to the sovereign immunity doctrine established in Ex parte Young (1908). Justice Clarence Thomas was the sole dissenting justice to this part of the opinion.  The court also ruled by a 5-4 vote that the abortion providers cannot sue state judges and clerks to block them from trying private lawsuits under SB 8. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett were in the majority, and Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented. 

The court noted that its decision did not address the constitutionality of SB 8 itself.

Ballotpedia’s The Heart of the Primaries delivered weekly starting Jan. 6

Texas will hold the first primary elections of the 2022 midterms on March 1. North Carolina was scheduled to hold the second statewide primary on March 8, but a recent state supreme court decision postponed those primaries until May. 

What do these primaries—and the hundreds of others approaching—mean for the direction of the major parties and the nation?

We have stories on these primaries and more in our third issue of The Heart of the Primaries, which went out Dec. 16. Starting in January, we’ll send out one Democratic version and one Republican version of The Heart of the Primaries each week, allowing you to follow stories happening within the party you care most about (or both!).

Click here to subscribe and to read previous issues.

Booster coronavirus vaccinations authorized for 16 and 17 year olds

On Dec. 9, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization to Pfizer’s booster vaccine for individuals aged 16 and 17. Shortly after the FDA’s announcement, the Centers for Disease Control updated its booster recommendations to include that age group. Pfizer first announced it would seek the authorization on Nov. 30. Individuals in the expanded age range, like those 18 and older, can receive booster doses six months after receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The CDC and FDA authorized the Pfizer booster for adults 18 and older on Nov. 19, ten days after the company announced it had applied for the authorization. At least 15 states approved the booster vaccine for all adults in the days leading up to the federal government’s authorization, beginning with California on Nov. 9.

The CDC announced on Nov. 29 that it was strengthening its recommendation regarding booster vaccines, saying: “the recent emergence of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.”

New Mexico enacts congressional maps; Connecticut, Virginia expected to adopt redistricting measures next week

Connecticut

The Connecticut Reapportionment Commission faces a Dec. 21 deadline to complete the state’s congressional redistricting after the state supreme court had granted the commission a three-week extension from its original Nov. 30 deadline. The Connecticut Supreme Court had taken control of the redistricting process on Dec. 1 after the first deadline had passed. 

The nine-member commission consists of four Democratic state lawmakers, four Republican state lawmakers, and one Republican former state representative who the other commission members selected. The commission took over the redistricting process after the state’s eight-member Reapportionment Committee did not meet its Sept. 15 deadline. Unlike the committee, the Reapportionment Commission’s maps did not need approval from the General Assembly. The commission unanimously approved state legislative maps in November.

New Mexico

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed legislation on Dec. 17 enacting new boundaries for the state’s three congressional districts. The legislature had approved the redistricting measure strictly along party lines, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans voting against. The state Senate approved the maps on Dec. 10 and the state House approved them on Dec. 11. Robert Nott of the Santa Fe New Mexican wrote that the proposal “gives Democrats a comfortable lead in all three congressional districts.” The current party affiliation of New Mexico’s U.S. House members is two Democrats and one Republican. New Mexico is the 20th state to complete congressional redistricting after the 2020 census.

Virginia 

The Supreme Court of Virginia is expected to approve final congressional and legislative maps on Dec. 19. Two special masters that the court had selected on Nov. 19 released proposed district boundaries on Dec. 8. Virginia Mercury’s Peter Galuszka wrote that the maps “tend to favor Democrats more than Republicans because they are concentrated around natural social centers, such as cities.”
This was the first redistricting cycle after Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2020 establishing a commission-led redistricting process. However, that commission missed its deadlines, sending authority to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which, in turn, named the two special masters—one nominated by Democrats and one by Republicans.



Three states enact indoor mask requirements

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights new indoor mask requirements in three states and five constitutional amendments passed in the Pennsylvania House. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Note: We will not be publishing The State & Local Tap on Dec. 25 or Jan. 2. We’ll return to your inboxes on Jan. 8. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones from all of us at Ballotpedia!

Ballot Measures Update

2021 review

Voters in nine states decided 39 statewide ballot measures on four different election dates in 2021. Twenty-six were approved and 13 were defeated. Four of the measures were citizen initiatives, three were advisory questions about taxes in Washington, eight were bond issues, one was a legislatively referred statute, and the remaining 23 were legislatively referred constitutional amendments.

2022 ballot measures

Sixty-three statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 30 states so far. No new measures were certified for the ballot last week.

Proponents of three additional citizen initiatives in South Dakota and Massachusetts have submitted signatures:

Three candidates file for South Carolina Senate special election

Three candidates have filed to run in the special election for District 31 in the South Carolina State Senate. State Rep. Jay Jordan (R), Mike Reichenbach (R), and Suzanne La Rochelle (D) all filed before the Dec. 11 filing deadline. Jordan and Reichenbach will face off in the Republican primary on Jan. 25. The winner of the Republican primary will face La Rochelle in the special election on March 29.

The seat became vacant after the death of Hugh Leatherman (R) on Nov. 12. He had served in the state Senate since 1981. He was unopposed in his re-election bid in 2020.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 29-16 majority in the state Senate with one vacancy. South Carolina has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of December, 15 state legislative special elections have been scheduled to take place in 2022. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. South Carolina held 33 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2020.

States in session

Seven state legislatures—Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Dec. 11 – Louisiana: Voters in New Orleans decided two property tax measures to fund housing and libraries, respectively. The libraries tax measure was approved, and the housing tax measure was defeated.
  • Nov. 13 – Louisiana: Voters in Baton Rouge approved a property tax measure to fund public transportation.
  • Nov. 9 – Arkansas: Voters in Little Rock approved a property tax increase for libraries.
  • Nov. 2 – Ballotpedia covered 156 local ballot measures on the Nov. 2 ballot in 18 states.  The outcome of the final measure was called on Dec. 6 after a recount was finalized in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Voters approved 109 measures and defeated 47.

Special Elections

Sixty-six state legislative special elections took place in 21 states this year. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 33 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 33. Three seats flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and three seats flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.

Another 15 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2022 in nine states.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2021, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 85 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 95, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77, 2021: 66).

Upcoming special elections include:

Jan. 11

Jan. 25

Voters recall Nebraska county supervisor

A recall election against Doris Karloff (R), District 2 representative of the seven-member Saunders County Board of Supervisors in Nebraska, was held on Dec. 14. A majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the recall to remove Karloff from office.

The recall effort was started by Rhonda Carritt, a resident of Wahoo, Nebraska, which is represented by Karloff on the county board of supervisors. Carritt said Karloff was not representing “the best interests of the district.” Carritt confirmed with the Wahoo Newspaper that the recall was related to a solar farm project in the county among other things.

Karloff’s son went into contract with the company starting the solar farm. Because of that connection, Karloff said she abstained from all discussions on the permit and did not vote on any actions related to the solar farm. “I have tried to do my best to make sure that I was doing everything legally correct,” Karloff said.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 165 recall efforts against 263 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Ballotpedia’s The Heart of the Primaries delivered weekly starting Jan. 6

Texas will hold the first primary elections of the 2022 midterms on March 1. North Carolina was scheduled to hold the second statewide primary on March 8, but a recent state supreme court decision postponed those primaries until May. 

What do these primaries—and the hundreds of others approaching—mean for the direction of the major parties and the nation?

We have stories on these primaries and more in our third issue of The Heart of the Primaries, which went out Dec. 16. Starting in January, we’ll send out one Democratic version and one Republican version of The Heart of the Primaries each week, allowing you to follow stories happening within the party you care most about (or both!).

Click here to subscribe and to read previous issues.

Kshama Sawant defeats recall effort

District 3 City Councilmember Kshama Sawant defeated a recall effort in Seattle, Washington. The election was held Dec. 7. As of Dec. 16, there were 306 more votes opposed to the recall than supporting it. Results will be certified Dec. 17. 

The Seattle Times reported, “Any challenged ballots resolved between the time votes were counted on Thursday afternoon and the 4:30 p.m. deadline — about a two-hour window — were to be added to the count before certification, according to King County Elections Chief of Staff Kendall Hodson. That number is unlikely to change the results.”

Recall organizers alleged that Sawant misused city funds in support of a ballot initiative, disregarded regulations related to COVID-19 by admitting people into City Hall for a rally, and misused her official position by disclosing Mayor Jenny Durkan’s residents to protesters. Sawant referred to the effort as a “right-wing recall” and called the charges dishonest. See our coverage below to read the full sample ballot and court filings from both parties.

Sawant is a member of the Socialist Alternative Party. The city council office is officially nonpartisan.

Three states enact indoor mask requirements

Since Dec. 10, three states have announced new indoor mask requirements

  • New York: A new mask requirement took effect Dec. 13. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) made the announcement Dec. 10. Under the order, masks are required regardless of vaccination status at indoor public settings, unless the business or venue mandates proof of vaccination.
  • California: The California Department of Health issued an order requiring indoor mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people in some parts of the state. The requirement, which went into effect Dec. 15, only applies to local health jurisdictions that did not previously have a universal indoor mask requirement, meaning the order does not affect localities with pre-existing universal mask requirements.
  • Rhode Island: On Dec. 15, Gov. Dan McKee (D) announced a new statewide mask requirement would go into effect on Dec. 20. Under the order, masks will be required regardless of vaccination status at indoor venues with a capacity of 250 or more. For smaller indoor venues and businesses with indoor operations, establishments will have to either require masks for all individuals, require vaccines for all individuals, or allow individuals to either wear a mask or show proof of vaccination.

As of Dec. 17, masks were required in ten states with Democratic governors. Thirteen states with Democratic governors and all 27 states with Republican governors had no state-level mask requirements in effect.

Redistricting updates in Alaska, South Carolina, and Virginia

Alaska

The cities of Skagway and Valdez, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and three Anchorage residents filed four lawsuits challenging Alaska’s legislative redistricting plan. The deadline to file challenges was Dec. 10 All four lawsuits request the Alaska Redistricting Board revise its Nov. 10 map.  

Three of the challenges allege the redistricting plan does not adhere to the state’s requirement that each district contains an “integrated socio-economic area.” The Matanuska-Susitna Borough lawsuit contends that each of the borough’s state House districts is overpopulated and dilutes the borough’s votes.

Alaska has had a five-member independent redistricting commission since 1998. Two commissioners are appointed by the governor, one by the state Senate majority leader, one by the state House majority leader, and one by the chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court. The commission voted 3-2 to approve the maps. The three Republican-appointed members voted in favor of the maps, while the two members without a party affiliation voted against.

South Carolina

South Carolina enacted new state legislative district maps on Dec. 10 when Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed a proposal approved by the South Carolina House and Senate into law. The South Carolina Senate approved House and Senate map proposals in a 43-1 vote on Dec. 7, and the House approved the new districts in a 75-27 vote on Dec. 9. Gov. McMaster signed the bill into law the next day. This map will take effect for South Carolina’s 2022 state legislative elections.

Rep. Wendy Brawley (D) said the proposal was “highly gerrymandered…to the disadvantage of most Democrats and to the disadvantage of many minorities — it protects Republicans.” Rep. Jay Jordan (R) said, “We worked very hard to make sure that was not the case, and I feel very comfortable in saying that was not the case.”

Virginia 

The Supreme Court of Virginia is expected to approve final congressional and legislative maps on Dec. 19. Two special masters that the court had selected on Nov. 19 released proposed district boundaries on Dec. 8. Virginia Mercury’s Peter Galuszka wrote that the maps “tend to favor Democrats more than Republicans because they are concentrated around natural social centers, such as cities.”

This was the first redistricting cycle after Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2020 establishing a commission-led redistricting process. However, that commission missed its deadlines, sending authority to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which, in turn, named the two special masters—one nominated by Democrats and one by Republicans. 

Pennsylvania House passes five constitutional amendments; bill heads back to state Senate

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a bill that contains five constitutional amendments, which voters would decide as distinct ballot measures, on Dec. 15. In April, the state Senate approved the bill as a single constitutional amendment. Since the House changed the bill to include more constitutional amendments, the bill returns to the Senate for final first-session approval during the 2021-2022 legislative session. Topics include the lieutenant governor election, executive order time limits, legislative disapproval of regulations, election audits, and voter identification.

In Pennsylvania, constitutional amendments require legislative approval during two successive legislative sessions. The legislation would need to be approved again during the 2023-2024 legislative session before voters would decide the changes. The earliest possible date for the amendments is the spring municipal elections on May 16, 2023.

The original version of the bill was a constitutional amendment to allow a political party’s candidate for governor to choose their own candidate for lieutenant governor. Currently, a party’s nominees for governor and lieutenant governor run on a joint ticket during the general election but in separate primaries. On April 27, 2021, the Senate voted 43-4 to pass the bill. The four votes against the amendment were two Democrats and two Republicans.

On Dec. 14, the House voted to add the four additional constitutional amendments to the bill. The lieutenant governor amendment also received a grammatical change. Votes on two amendments were along party lines, with all 113 Republicans supporting and all 90 Democrats opposing. On the other two amendments, one Democrat joined Republicans in supporting the changes. Along with the lieutenant governor amendment, the amended bill includes:

  • a constitutional amendment to provide that executive orders and proclamations with the force and effect of law cannot last more than 21 days without legislative approval; 
  • a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to pass a resolution, which the governor cannot veto, by a simple majority to disapprove regulations;
  • a constitutional amendment to require election audits, including elections administration, election machine certification, the list of registered voters, and election results; and
  • a constitutional amendment to require voter identification, regardless of the voting method.

In the 50-seat Senate, Democrats hold 21 seats, Republicans hold 28 seats, and an independent holds one seat.



The Federal Tap: Biden signs Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act becoming law and a judicial ruling against the American Rescue Plan Act’s tax provision. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

We won’t publish the Tap next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Our next edition will be on Dec. 4.

Biden signs Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law

President Joe Biden (D) signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law on Nov. 15. The law allocates $1.2 trillion in new and regular annual infrastructure spending. It includes provisions to invest $89.9 billion in new infrastructure funding and reauthorizations, $66 billion in funding for Amtrak maintenance and development, and $65 billion to create universal access to reliable high-speed internet.

The bill was approved by the Senate on Aug. 10 in a 69-30 vote. All 48 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with Democrats voted in favor of the bill, along with 19 Republicans. Thirty Republicans voted against the bill and one abstained.

The House voted 228-206 to pass the bill on Nov. 5. The yeas consisted of 215 Democrats, who were joined by 13 Republicans, while the nays were made up of 200 Republicans and six Democrats.

Prior to the House passage of the bill, Democratic leaders in the chamber had been waiting on holding a vote until a vote could also be held on the final legislative language of the Build Back Better Act. On Nov. 6, the House voted to approve consideration of the Build Back Better Act.

U.S. district judge rules against American Rescue Plan Act tax provision

On Nov. 15, U.S. District Judge Scott Coogler, who was nominated to the court by George W. Bush (R) in 2003, blocked the enforcement of a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that prevented states from using relief funds to offset tax reductions or credits. 

The lawsuit was brought by 13 states, led by West Virginia and Alabama. The other plaintiff states were: Arkansas, Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah. In their suit, they argued the provision in question violated the Constitution’s spending clause and the 10th Amendment.

In his ruling, Coogler said, “The language of the Tax Mandate makes it impossible for States to ‘make an informed choice’ about the costs of receiving ARPA funds because it is impossible to know how to exercise taxing authority without putting ARPA funds at risk.” He went on to say that, “any ARPA funds the Plaintiff States receive could be viewed as indirectly offsetting any reduction in net tax revenue from a change in state law or policy.”

Coogler’s ruling prevents the U.S. Treasury Department from enforcing the ARPA provision in any of the states that were plaintiffs in the suit. As of Nov. 18, the Department of Justice had not said whether it would seek to appeal the ruling.

Members of Congress not seeking re-election in 2022

Thirty-two members of Congress—six members of the U.S. Senate and 26 members of the U.S. House—have announced they will not seek re-election. Twenty members—six senators and 14 representatives—have announced their retirement. Five retiring Senate members are Republicans and one is a Democrat, and of the retiring House members, 10 are Democrats and four are Republicans.

Biden issues no pardons or commutations through Sept. 30

From his inauguration through Sept. 30, President Joe Biden (D) issued no pardons or commutations. Since 1902, the other presidents not to issue a pardon or commutation in that same window of time were Barack Obama (D), George W. Bush (R), Bill Clinton (D), and Richard Nixon (R). Obama, Bush, and Clinton did not issue a pardon or commutation until their third year in office. As of November 2021, presidents have issued an average of 120.4 pardons and 55.8 commutations annually.

The U.S. Department of Justice maintains a record of statistics about pardons and commutations. These figures are broken down by fiscal years, which run from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. When presidential transitions occur (such as between Donald Trump and Biden), both presidents can issue pardons and commutations in the same fiscal year.

The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, grants the president the power of executive clemency. Executive clemency includes the power to pardon, in which the president overturns a federal conviction and restores “an individual to the state of innocence that existed before the conviction.” Executive clemency also includes the power of commutation, which allows a president to shorten or reduce a federal prison sentence.

Nevada is 14th state to enact new congressional maps; authority over redistricting in Washington passes to state supreme court

Nevada: Governor Steve Sisolak (D) signed the state’s new congressional and legislative maps into law on Nov. 16, which will take effect during the 2022 election cycle.

The Nevada Senate approved the redistricting plans by a 12-9 vote on Nov. 14 followed by the state Assembly voting 25-17 on Nov. 16. The maps were passed largely along party lines, with Democrats voting to approve and Republicans voting against.

After signing the maps, Sisolak said, “After a thoughtful, efficient and productive session, I am proud to sign these bills into law today. These maps reflect Nevada’s diversity and reflect public feedback gathered throughout the legislative process.” State Assm. Jill Dickman (R) said, “This bill is universally disliked, but the reason has nothing to do with compromise because there was none.” 

Nevada is the 14th state to enact congressional maps after the 2020 census. During the 2010 redistricting cycle, Nevada enacted its congressional map on Oct. 27, 2011, 20 days earlier than this year. Congressional redistricting is now complete for 111 of the 435 seats (25.5%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Washington: On Nov. 16, the Washington Redistricting Commission announced that it did not produce new congressional and legislative redistricting plans by its Nov. 15 deadline. According to state law, the authority to draw new maps now rests with the Washington Supreme Court, which has until April 30, 2022, to produce new maps. Although past the deadline, the commission ultimately agreed upon map plans on Nov. 16 and submitted them to the state supreme court for consideration.

In Washington, congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn by a five-member non-politician commission that was established by a constitutional amendment in 1983. The majority and minority leaders of the state Senate and House each appoint one registered voter to the commission. These four commissioners then appoint a fifth, non-voting member to serve as chair.

After the 2010 census, the commission agreed upon new congressional and legislative district plans on Jan. 1, 2012, which was the deadline for them to approve maps before authority over redistricting would have passed to the state supreme court.

Upcoming Article III judicial vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 35 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Jan. 21, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Vanessa Gilmore announced that she would retire on Jan. 2, 2022. The most recent announcement was on Nov. 4, when U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit Judge Susan Carney announced that she would assume senior status upon the confirmation of her successor. As of Nov. 19, 18 vacancy effective dates were unknown because the judge had not announced the date they would leave the bench. The next upcoming vacancy is scheduled to occur on Nov. 23, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge Raymond Alvin Jackson assumes senior status.

For historical comparison, the week of Nov. 15-21, 2020, there were 61 federal judicial vacancies and three upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.

Congress is out of session

Both the House and Senate are out of session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Tuesday, Biden delivered remarks on the infrastructure law in Woodstock, New Hampshire. 

On Wednesday, Biden delivered remarks on the infrastructure law at General Motors’ Factory ZERO, Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center in Detroit, Michigan.  

On Thursday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Friday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Wilmington, Delaware. 

Federal Judiciary

  • 77 federal judicial vacancies
  • 26 pending nominations
  • 35 future federal judicial vacancies


The State and Local Tap: Louisiana voters approve one constitutional amendment and defeat three

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights Louisiana’s ballot measure results and a Texas state representative’s party switch from Democratic to Republican. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

We won’t publish the Tap next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Our next edition will be on Dec. 4.

Louisiana voters approve one constitutional amendment and defeat three

On Nov. 13, Louisiana voters approved Amendment 2, which decreased the maximum allowable individual income tax rate from 6% to 4.75% for tax years beginning in 2022. Through House Bill 278, the legislature provided in statute that the tax bracket rates beginning in 2022 for an individual would be 1.75% on the first $12,500 of net income; 3.50% on the next net income up to $50,000; and 4.25% on income above $50,000.

Voters rejected Amendments 1, 3, and 4. Amendment 1 would have created the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission tasked to provide streamlined electronic filing and remittance of all sales and use taxes. Amendment 3 would have allowed Louisiana levee districts created after 2006 to levy an annual property tax of up to five mills ($5 per $1,000 of assessed value) without voter approval if those districts approved the 2021 constitutional amendment. Amendment 4 would have increased the amount of funds (from 5% to 10%) that could be redirected to a purpose other than what was originally provided for by law or as stated in the constitution during a projected budget deficit.

With 100% of precincts reporting, the vote totals were as follows:

Louisiana Amendment 1, Creation of the State and Local Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Commission Measure (2021)

  • Yes: 199,291 (48%)
  • No: 214,432 (52%)

Louisiana Amendment 2, Reduction of the Maximum Individual Income Tax Rate Measure (2021)

  • Yes: 223,269 (54%)
  • No: 189,973 (46%)

Louisiana Amendment 3, Authorize Certain Levee Districts to Collect a Five-Mill Annual Property Tax Measure (2021)

  • Yes: 172,545 (42%)
  • No: 237,605 (58%)

Louisiana Amendment 4, Increase Limit on Funding Reductions and Redirections During Budget Deficits Measure (2021)

  • Yes: 112,930 (28%)
  • No: 294,375 (72%)

The Louisiana Constitution limits legislation and constitutional amendments in odd-numbered years to matters concerning the state’s budget, government finance, and taxation.

A total of 52 constitutional amendments appeared on the statewide ballot in Louisiana during odd-numbered years from 1999 through 2019. Of the 52 amendments, 36 (69.23%) were approved and 16 (30.77%) were defeated.

Texas state Rep. Ryan Guillen switches to Republican Party

On Nov. 15, Texas state Rep. Ryan Guillen (R) announced that he was leaving the Democratic party. “After much thought and much prayer with my family, today I am announcing that I’ll proudly be running as a Republican to represent house district 31,” Guillen said in a press conference held with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and House Speaker Dade Phelan (R).

Guillen most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Marian Knowlton (R) 58.4% to 41.6%.

He first assumed office in 2003, when he ran in the general election unopposed. 

As of November 2021, Ballotpedia has counted 146 state legislators who have switched parties since 1994. Ballotpedia has counted 39 state senators who have switched parties and 107 state representatives. Fifty-three state representatives have switched parties from Democrat to Republican, and 75 state lawmakers have switched parties in total. 

Party control of mayor’s office in Columbia, South Carolina, flips from Democratic to Republican in runoff

Daniel Rickenmann defeated Tameika Isaac Devine in the runoff election for mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, on Nov. 16. Rickenmann received 52% of the vote to Devine’s 48%. Both Rickenmann and Devine are members of the Columbia City Council.

While mayoral elections in Columbia are nonpartisan, Rickenmann is affiliated with the Republican Party. Incumbent Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, a Democrat, did not run for re-election. Benjamin endorsed Devine, also a Democrat, in the runoff.

Fifteen state capitals held mayoral elections in 2021. Before these elections, 14 officeholders were Democrats and one was nonpartisan. As a result of the 2021 elections, 12 mayoral offices will remain under Democratic control (Atlanta, Georgia, will hold a runoff election between two Democrats on Nov. 30). The election in Columbia flips one office from Democratic to Republican control. One office continues to be held by a nonpartisan mayor, and one newly-elected mayor has not responded to inquiries.

Four states enact legislative maps; authority over redistricting in Washington passes to state supreme court

Colorado: The Colorado Supreme Court approved the state’s legislative maps on Nov. 15. The new district boundaries had been approved by the Colorado Independent Legislative Commission in October. The state supreme court previously approved the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission’s congressional map on Nov. 1.

Colorado Politics’ Evan Wyloge observed that the new maps created nine House and eight Senate districts where previous election results fell within a five percentage point margin of victory. At the time of approval, Democrats held a 42-23 majority in the House and a 20-15 majority in the Senate.

This is the first redistricting cycle following the passage of Amendment Z by voters in 2018, which established a non-politician commission to handle state legislative redistricting. Under Colorado’s redistricting rules, once the commission approves its final versions, those maps are then sent to the state supreme court for approval. The plans redraw the state’s 35 Senate districts and 65 House districts and will take effect for the state’s 2022 state legislative elections. 

Nevada: Governor Steve Sisolak (D) signed the state’s new congressional and legislative maps into law on Nov. 16, which will take effect during the 2022 election cycle.

The Nevada Senate approved the redistricting plans by a 12-9 vote on Nov. 14 followed by the state Assembly voting 25-17 on Nov. 16. The maps were passed largely along party lines, with Democrats voting to approve and Republicans voting against.

After signing the maps, Sisolak said, “After a thoughtful, efficient and productive session, I am proud to sign these bills into law today. These maps reflect Nevada’s diversity and reflect public feedback gathered throughout the legislative process.” State Assm. Melissa Hardy (R) criticized the maps, saying, “A process that affects every person living in the state … deserves to be thoroughly vetted and questioned by this body as a whole. Instead, there are a lack of answers to questions posed, an inability to ask questions of those who have the answers, and an overall lack of transparency throughout.”

Utah: Governor Spencer Cox (R) signed new state legislative districts for both chambers into law on Nov. 16. The state legislature had approved the House and Senate district maps on Nov. 10.

Both proposals differed from those presented to the legislature by Utah’s Independent Redistricting Commission on Nov. 1. The commission presented 12 maps (three each for House, Senate, congressional, and school board districts) to the Legislative Redistricting Committee. Utah previously enacted its new congressional district map on Nov. 12.

Senator Scott Sandall (R), who along with Rep. Paul Ray (R) co-chaired the Legislative Redistricting Committee, said the new maps were drawn with citizens’ interests in mind. “After listening to Utahns and touring the state, Rep. Ray and I created maps that we believe incorporate the interests of all Utahns,” Sandall said. Summit County Democratic Party Chair Katy Owens said, “We would love to be able to have the opportunity to elect the representatives that we want but these maps have been deliberately drawn to prevent that.”

Connecticut: On Nov. 18, the Connecticut Reapportionment Commission voted 8-0 in favor of new maps for the state’s 151 House districts. The commission, made up of four Democratic and four Republican lawmakers, took over the redistricting process after the previous Reapportionment Committee failed to meet its Sept. 15 deadline. Census data was not delivered to the state until Sept. 16. Unlike the committee, the commission’s maps do not need to win two-thirds approval from both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly, meaning the commission enacts its maps outright. Senate district maps have not yet been released.

Initial analyses indicated that no incumbent legislators seeking re-election were drawn out of their current districts. Commissioner and House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora (R) said, “I think overall, we made a lot of difficult decisions trying to keep a lot of the core districts in tact, but recognizing the fact that with population changes so do come changes to various districts.”

The Connecticut House is the second-largest legislative chamber to have completed its redistricting process following the 2020 census, behind only Massachusetts’ 160-seat House.

Nationwide, 21 states have adopted legislative district maps for at least one chamber, and legislative redistricting has been completed for 687 of 1,972 state Senate seats (34.8%) and 1,931 of 5,411 state House seats (35.7%).

Washington: On Nov. 16, the Washington Redistricting Commission announced that it did not produce new congressional and legislative redistricting plans by its Nov. 15 deadline. According to state law, the authority to draw new maps now rests with the Washington Supreme Court, which has until April 30, 2022, to produce new maps. Although past the deadline, the commission ultimately agreed upon map plans on Nov. 16 and submitted them to the state supreme court for consideration.

In Washington, congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn by a five-member non-politician commission that was established by a constitutional amendment in 1983. The majority and minority leaders of the state Senate and House each appoint one registered voter to the commission. These four commissioners then appoint a fifth, non-voting member to serve as chair.

After the 2010 census, the commission agreed upon new congressional and legislative district plans on Jan. 1, 2012, which was the deadline for them to approve maps before authority over redistricting would have passed to the state supreme court. 

Fifteen states move to authorize booster shots for all adults ahead of federal guidance 

Since Nov. 9, 15 states have moved to make COVID-19 booster shots available to adults age 18 and older, preempting official authorization from the federal government. On Nov. 19, the Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots of Moderna’s and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines. As of Nov. 19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky had not yet signed off on booster shots, though a decision was expected over the weekend. California was the first state to open up booster shots to all adult residents, followed by Colorado, New Mexico, and Arkansas.

Generally, governors or health officials in states allowing all adults to get a COVID-19 booster have said that booster shots are reserved for those who got their last Moderna or Pfizer shot more than six months ago or their last Johnson & Johnson shot more than two months ago. 

The federal government authorized Pfizer booster shots on Sept. 22 and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots on Oct. 21. In both cases, however, boosters were reserved for adults 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions or jobs that would make them more vulnerable to catching the virus. 

The states that expanded booster shot eligibility without federal approval are California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, West Virginia, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Utah. 

Ballot Measures Update

Nov. 13 review

Voters in Louisiana approved one constitutional amendment and defeated three on Nov. 13.

2021 review

As of Nov. 13, voters in nine states decided 39 statewide ballot measures on four different election dates. Twenty-six were approved and 13 were defeated. Four of the measures were citizen initiatives, three were advisory questions about taxes in Washington, eight were bond issues, one was a legislatively referred statute, and the remaining 23 were legislatively referred constitutional amendments.

2022 ballot measures

Sixty-two statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 30 states so far. No new measures were certified for the ballot last week.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Nov. 13 – Louisiana: Voters in Baton Rouge approved a property tax measure to fund public transportation.
  • Nov. 9 – Arkansas: Voters in Little Rock approved a property tax increase for libraries.
  • Nov. 2 – Ballotpedia covered 156 local ballot measures on the Nov. 2 ballot in 18 states. At least 102 were approved, at least 43 were defeated, and the remaining 11 were too close to call as of Nov. 18.

Special Elections

Sixty-six state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Sixty-one specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 31 of the seats and Republicans previously controlled 30. Three seats flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and two seats flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Nov. 23

Nov. 30

Dec. 7

Dec. 14

States in session

Seven state legislatures—Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.



Fifth Circuit stays Biden administration coronavirus vaccine or testing requirement

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the Fifth Circuit’s decision to stay the Biden administration’s vaccine or testing requirement and SCOTUS’ accepting three more cases for argument. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday, Biden returned to Washington, D.C., from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. 

On Tuesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Wednesday, Biden met with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Washington, D.C. He also attended former Governor Ruth Ann Minner’s funeral in Milford, Delaware, and delivered remarks on the infrastructure deal at the Dundalk-Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore, Maryland. 

On Thursday, Biden participated in the centennial anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

On Friday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Camp David, Maryland. 

Opinion polling comparison during the Trump and Biden administrations

President Biden’s approval rating for the 41st week of his term was 43.8%, down 0.3 percentage points from the week before. President Trump’s approval rating at the same point in his term was 38.3%, down 0.4 percentage points from the week before.

Federal Judiciary

  • 77 federal judicial vacancies
  • 26 pending nominations
  • 33 future federal judicial vacancies

Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 33 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Jan. 21, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Vanessa Gilmore announced that she would retire on Jan. 2, 2022. The most recent announcement was on Nov. 4, when U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit Judge Susan Carney announced that she would assume senior status upon the confirmation of her successor. As of Nov. 12, sixteen vacancy effective dates are unknown because the judge has not announced the date they will leave the bench. The next upcoming vacancy is scheduled to occur on Nov. 23, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge Raymond Alvin Jackson assumes senior status.

For historical comparison, the week of Nov. 8-14, 2020, there were 65 federal judicial vacancies and three upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.

SCOTUS accepts three cases for argument during the 2021-2022 term

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Nov. 5 accepted three additional cases for argument during its 2021-2022 term:

Ruan concerns the good faith defense available to defendants charged under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. The question presented to the court in the case is: “[W]hether a physician alleged to have prescribed controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice may be convicted under Section 841(a)(1) without regard to whether, in good faith, he ‘reasonably believed’ or ‘subjectively intended’ that his prescriptions fall within that course of professional practice.” Ruan originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and Kahn came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Marietta Memorial Hospital originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and concerns the Medicare Secondary Payer Act. The Act prohibits group health plans from considering a plan participant’s eligibility when the individual has end-stage renal disease, and from providing different benefits to these individuals compared to other covered participants. 

Egbert came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and concerns the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents (1971). In Bivens claims, private individuals may sue FBI agents for violating their Fourth, Fifth, and/or Eighth Amendment rights. 

The court had agreed to hear 48 cases during its 2021-2022 term as of Nov. 5. Three cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Fifteen cases had not yet been scheduled for argument. To date, the court has issued decisions in two cases, both of which were decided without argument.

Fifth Circuit stays Biden administration coronavirus vaccine or testing requirement for companies with more than 100 employees

On Nov. 6, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed the implementation of the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine or testing requirement for companies with more than 100 employees, which was set to take effect on Jan. 4, 2022. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the rule as an emergency regulation on Nov. 5, 2021.

On the same day the rule was released, five states, led by Texas, filed a lawsuit against OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor. In the plaintiffs’ motion to stay, they argued the rule exceeded OSHA’s scope of authority and its enactment violated administrative law standards. Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah are also plaintiffs in the suit.

This lawsuit is one of four multistate lawsuits filed against the OSHA emergency regulation. As of Nov. 11, there were at least five additional multistate lawsuits filed against the Biden administration’s vaccine requirement rules for federal contractors and healthcare workers.

Redistricting Roundup

Montana

On Nov. 12, the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission enacted a new congressional map following the 2020 redistricting cycle. The commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the map and to transmit it to the Montana Secretary of State. Both Republican commissioners and Maylinn Smith, the nonpartisan tiebreaker, voted in favor of the map, and the two Democratic commissioners voted against the map.

A version of the congressional map enacted by the commission had previously been approved on Nov. 4. The map that received final approval on Nov. 12 made a minor change in Pondera County, allocating a smaller portion of it to the western district.

Following the 2020 census, population increases in Montana gave the state two congressional districts. Previously, the state was an at-large congressional district. The next deadline ahead of the commission will be preparing a legislative redistricting plan by the 10th day of the upcoming regular legislative session.

Ohio

On Nov. 10, the Ohio Joint Committee on Congressional Redistricting held the first of two required public hearings on congressional redistricting proposals. The deadline for enacting new maps is Nov. 30. For any map to be put in place for a full 10 years, support from at least a third of the members of the minority party is required, and any approved plan that does not meet this threshold will only be effective for four years. The joint committee consists of three state Senators and three state Representatives and has four Republicans and two Democrats.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission did not meet an Oct. 31 deadline to draw and approve a congressional district plan, meaning the authority to create such districts passed to the state legislature. Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike DeWine (R), said the delayed release of U.S. Census Bureau data “essentially took five months out of the process,” and did not leave sufficient time for the commission to draft and debate new congressional districts. 

Virginia

On Nov. 12, the Virginia Supreme Court disqualified one of the Republican nominees for the position of Special Master as the court began its process for deciding the state’s congressional redistricting plan. According to the order, “the Court believes that [Thomas Bryan’s] work for the Senate Republican Caucus related to the very subject matter for which the Court is called upon to appoint Special Masters creates a conflict.” The court also expressed concerns about the other two Republican nominees and unanimously ordered party leaders to submit three or more additional nominees by Nov. 15. 
The state supreme court is now responsible for drawing new maps after the Virginia Redistricting Commission missed a Nov. 8 deadline to produce an approved congressional district plan. Under the constitutional amendment that established the state’s redistricting process, party leaders of the House of Delegates and Senate are each required to nominate three special masters to assist the court in the redistricting process. The court will then select one special master from each party’s list of nominees. The special masters will have 30 days to draft a proposal to submit to the court for review.



Texas Gov. Abbott appoints Evan Young as state supreme court justice

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights Gov. Abbott’s state supreme court justice appointment and Louisiana’s upcoming primaries. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Nov. 13 preview

Voters in Louisiana will decide four statewide measures on Nov. 13.

Nov. 2 review

Voters in six states decided 24 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 2. Fourteen (14) measures were approved and 10 were defeated. Four of the measures were citizen initiatives, three were advisory questions about taxes in Washington, one was a bond issue for transportation, and the remaining 16 were legislatively referred constitutional amendments. Click here to see election results.

2022 ballot measures

Sixty-one (61) statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far.No new measures were certified for the ballot last week.

States in session

Seven state legislatures—Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Nov. 13 – Louisiana: Voters in Baton Rouge will decide on a property tax measure to fund public transportation.
  • Nov. 9 – Arkansas: Voters in Little Rock approved a property tax increase for libraries.
  • Nov. 2 – Ballotpedia covered 156 local ballot measures on the Nov. 2 ballot in 18 states. At least 100 were approved, at least 42 were defeated, and the remaining 14 were too close to call as of Nov. 11.

Special Elections

Sixty-six (66) state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Fifty-eight (58) specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 29 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 29. Three seats flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and two seats flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Nov. 13

Nov. 23

Nov. 30

Dec. 7

Signatures submitted to Loudoun County Circuit Court to recall school board member Brenda Sheridan

Supporters of a recall against six of the nine members of the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia submitted signatures against Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan on Nov. 9. Supporters said they filed 1,859 signatures. A total of 803 signatures are required to move the recall forward.

The signatures were submitted to the Loudoun County Circuit Court, where the petition will be reviewed by a judge. If the case is accepted, a trial will be held. At the trial, recall supporters must “demonstrate the officer engaged in neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance” in order to remove Sheridan from office.

Five other members were also included in the recall effort. One member passed away in August, and another resigned in November before a trial could take place. Petitions against the other three members have not been filed.

The recall effort is sponsored by the Fight For Schools political action committee (PAC). Recall supporters said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group, which they said was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act as well as the school board’s Code of Conduct because the members discussed public matters in a private setting. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.

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

A group called Loudoun For All formed a political action committee to counteract the recall effort. “There is no reason equity in our schools should be this controversial,” Rasha Saad, president of Loudoun For All, said in a statement.

Ballotpedia has tracked 84 school board recall efforts against 215 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year.

Texas Gov. Abbott appoints Evan Young as state supreme court justice

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott (R) appointed Evan Young (R) to the Texas State Supreme court on Nov. 1. Young assumed office on Nov. 9. Young was appointed to succeed Eva Guzman (R), who resigned from the court in June 2021 to run for Texas attorney general. 

Before he was appointed to the state supreme court, Young was a partner at the law firm Baker Botts LLP and a professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

Under Texas law, the governor appoints a replacement to the Texas Supreme Court in the event of a midterm vacancy. The Texas State Senate must then confirm the nominee. Appointees serve until the next general election, in which they must participate in a partisan election to remain on the bench for the remainder of the unexpired term.

In 2021, there have been 18 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Seventeen (17) of the vacancies have been caused by retirements, and one vacancy was caused by a justice’s death. To date, 14 of those vacancies have been filled.

South Dakotans Decide Healthcare submits signatures for Medicaid expansion initiative

South Dakotans Decide Healthcare submitted 47,000 signatures for their Medicaid expansion initiative on Nov. 8. To qualify for the ballot, 33,921 valid signatures are required.

The measure would amend the constitution to require the state to provide Medicaid benefits to adults between ages 18 and 65 whose incomes are below 133% of the federal poverty level. Because the Affordable Care Act includes a 5% income disregard, this measure would effectively expand Medicaid to cover those with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

As of November 2021, a total of 38 states and Washington, D.C. had expanded or voted to expand Medicaid, while 13 states had not. Six states have expanded Medicaid through citizen initiatives.

Dakotans 4 Health also circulated a Medicaid expansion initiated amendment but did not submit signatures by the deadline. Dakotans 4 Health filed a Medicaid expansion initiative to amend state law (rather than the state constitution). Since the deadlines for initiated measures that amend state law was extended to May 3, 2022, Dakotans 4 Health said they would collect signatures for that measure and would support South Dakotans Decide Healthcare’s constitutional amendment.

Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota enact new legislative maps

Three states enacted new legislative maps this week.

Alaska

The Alaska Redistricting Board adopted a new legislative map on Nov. 10 for the state’s 20 Senate and 40 House districts after the 2020 census. While the new map has been enacted, there will now be a 30-day period during which time interested parties may file legal challenges against the new map. The board’s three Republican-appointed members—John Binkley, Bethan Marcum, and Budd Simpson— voted in favor of the final map while the two nonpartisan members—Melanie Bahnke and Nicole Borromeo—voted against it.

KTOO’s Andrew Kitchenman reported that, since the new map largely altered the state’s Senate districts, 19 of the 20 districts will hold elections in 2022. Alaska normally staggers elections to its Senate, with half the chamber holding elections in one even-year cycle and the other half holding elections in the next, and all members would serve four-year terms. In 2022, certain districts will elect senators to two-year terms while others will elect them to four-year terms in order to restart the staggered process under the new district lines. Alaska’s House districts hold elections every two years.

North Dakota

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) signed new state legislative maps into law on Nov. 11. The House approved the maps in a 73-18 vote on Nov. 9, and the Senate approved the maps in a 40-7 vote on Nov. 10. Since North Dakota was apportioned a single at-large U.S. House seat, they do not need to draft a congressional map.

The state legislature completed legislative redistricting during a special session that began on Nov. 8. The map was drafted by the Legislative Redistricting Committee, which had fourteen Republican members and two Democratic members. The state maintained its 47 legislative districts, but three new districts were placed near more populous areas and three districts were removed from less populous rural areas.

South Dakota

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed legislation enacting the state’s new legislative districts on Nov. 10. Both chambers of the legislature approved the final proposal, known as the Sparrow map, on that day. The state House approved the new districts by a 37-31 vote and the Senate by a vote of 30-2. The South Dakota legislature began a special session to consider redistricting proposals on Nov. 8. 

The Sparrow map was a compromise proposal between two other district plans that each chamber had previously passed. The two proposals mainly differed in their approach to Native American reservations and the rural areas around Rapid City. The Sparrow map preserves Native American districts and redraws the districts covering Rapid City. 

Voters in Dover to decide city council special election on Nov. 16

The city of Dover, D.E., is holding a nonpartisan special election for District 1 on the city council on Nov. 16. The filing deadline for this election was Nov. 1.

Julia Pillsbury and Brandy Walker are running in the special election. The special election was called after Matthew Lindell resigned from his seat on the nine-seat city council after deciding to move from the district. Lindell served from 2017 to 2021.

Dover is the capital city of Delaware and the second-largest city in the state. It had an estimated population of 39,403 in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Ballotpedia covers elections for mayor, city council, and district attorney in all capital cities in the U.S.

Louisiana to hold primaries ahead of the fall general election

Louisiana voters will decide four statewide ballot measures on Nov. 13. In addition to the ballot measures, special election primaries are being held for three seats in the Louisiana State Legislature. Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We are also covering a special election primary for a seat on the Caddo Parish Public Schools school board.

Four statewide ballot measures are certified to appear on the ballot. The measures concern taxes and the state budget. The Louisiana Constitution limits legislation and constitutional amendments in odd-numbered years to matters concerning the state’s budget, government finance, and taxation.

Special election primaries are being held for one seat in the Louisiana State Senate and two seats in the Louisiana House of Representatives. The winners of the special elections will serve until Jan. 8, 2024.

In New Orleans, primaries are being held for mayor, city council, sheriff, assessor, coroner, civil district court clerk, and criminal district court clerk. Two local judicial seats are on the ballot in Baton Rouge.

A special election primary is being held for one seat on the Caddo Parish Public Schools school board. The District 7 seat became vacant on Apr. 6 when Raymond Green resigned to spend more time with his family.

Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

Gov. Edwards signed an executive order on Sept. 9 postponing the state’s fall elections due to damage from Hurricane Ida. The primary, originally scheduled for Oct. 9, was changed to Nov. 13. The general election, originally scheduled for Nov. 13, was changed to Dec. 11.



The State and Local Tap: This week’s state and local election highlights

Ballot Measures Update

Nov. 2 review

Voters in six states decided 24 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 2. Fourteen measures were approved, and 10 were defeated. Four of the measures were citizen initiatives, three were advisory questions about taxes in Washington, one was a bond issue for transportation, and the remaining 16 are legislatively referred constitutional amendments.

  • Colorado voters defeated three citizen initiatives, including one to increase marijuana taxes and create an out-of-school education program.
  • Maine voters approved three measures:
    • a citizen initiative to prohibit the construction of certain electric transmission lines, including the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC);
      • The campaigns supporting and opposing the initiative have raised $94 million combined, making the measure’s campaigns the most expensive of 2021 and the most expensive in Maine history.
    • a bond issue; and 
    • a legislatively referred constitutional amendment to create a right to produce, harvest, and consume food.
  • New Jersey voters decided two constitutional amendments. An amendment expanding college sports betting was defeated, and an amendment concerning raffles was approved.
  • New York voters decided five constitutional amendments concerning redistricting, environmental rights, voting policies, and the NYC Civil Court. They approved the amendments on environmental rights and the NYC Civil Court, and defeated the others.
  • Texas voters approved all eight constitutional amendments on their ballots, including two that were responses to COVID-19 regulations. 
    • Proposition 3 prohibits the state or any political subdivision from enacting a law, rule, order, or proclamation that limits religious services or organizations.
    • Proposition 6 gives residents of nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or state-supported living centers a right to designate an essential caregiver that may not be prohibited from visiting the resident.
  • A majority of Washington voters chose “repeal” on three advisory questions on taxes recently passed by the legislature.

Click here to see election results.

A total of 39 statewide ballot measures were certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states.

  • Twenty-four measures were certified for the Nov. 2 ballot. Fourteen were approved, and 10 were defeated.
  • Four measures have been certified for the Nov. 13 ballot.
  • Four measures were on the ballot on May 18 in Pennsylvania. They were approved.
  • Seven bond measures were on the ballot on March 2 in Rhode Island. They were approved.

2022 ballot measures

Sixty-one statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far.

  • No new measures were certified for the ballot last week.

States in session

Seven state legislatures—Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.


Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Ballotpedia covered 156 local ballot measures on the Nov. 2 ballot in 18 states. At least 95 were approved, at least 36 were defeated, and the remaining 25 were too close to call as of Nov. 5.
    • Arizona – Voters in Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Tucson decided on 11 local ballot measures.
    • California – Voters in 18 different cities, school districts, and special districts in 11 different California counties decided 19 local ballot measures.
    • Colorado – Ballotpedia covered 21 local ballot measures in Colorado for voters in three cities, two counties, and two school districts.
    • Florida – Ballotpedia covered one measure in Miami and eight measures in St. Petersburg.
    • Georgia – Ballotpedia covered two local ballot measures in Georgia for voters in one city school district and one county.
    • Idaho – Ballotpedia covered two local ballot measures in Idaho for voters in one city and one school district.
    • Maryland – Ballotpedia covered one local ballot measure: a measure in the city of Greenbelt that would create a 21-member commission to review, discuss, and make recommendations on local reparations for African American and Native American residents of Greenbelt. 
    • Massachusetts – Ballotpedia covered three local ballot measures in Boston.
    • Michigan – Ballotpedia covered four local ballot measures in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
    • Minnesota – Ballotpedia covered four local ballot measures in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
    • New Mexico – Voters in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the public school districts of the two cities decided 16 local ballot measures.
    • New York – Voters in Albany decided two local ballot measures
    • Ohio – Voters in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Hamilton County, and Lucas County decided 10 local ballot measures.
    • Pennsylvania – Voters in Philadelphia decided four charter amendments.
    • Texas – Ballotpedia covered 28 measures in two cities, two counties, and 11 school districts.
    • Virginia – Ballotpedia covered two local ballot measures in Richmond and Virginia Beach.
    • Washington – Voters in King County decided two local ballot measures.
    • Wyoming – Voters in Laramie County decided 14 local ballot measures.

Below are some of the notable local measures on Nov. 2:

  • Voters in Austin, Texas, defeated an initiative to establish minimum police staffing requirements resulting in the city having to hire additional police officers. The initiative was also designed to require additional police officer training and create certain police hiring guidelines and incentives.
  • Voters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, defeated an initiative to replace the city police department with a department of public safety.
  • Voters in Cleveland, Ohio, approved an initiative to make changes related to police oversight, discipline, and policies.
  • Voters in Albany, New York, approved a measure to give the existing Community Police Review Board more authority over investigation and oversight over complaints against police.
  • Voters in Detroit, Michigan, approved a measure to create a city reparations committee tasked with making recommendations for housing and economic development programs for Black Detroit residents.
  • Voters in Tucson, Arizona, approved a $15 per hour minimum wage initiative.
  • Voters in Broomfield, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Westbrook, Maine, decided measures to enact ranked-choice voting. The Ann Arbor and Westbrook measures were approved. The Broomfield measure was ahead but too close to call as of Nov. 5.

Special Elections

Sixty-six state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Fifty-eight specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 29 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 29. Three seats flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and two seats flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Nov. 13

Nov. 30


Glenn Youngkin (R) wins Virginia governorship

Glenn Youngkin (R) defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in the general election for governor of Virginia on Nov. 2, becoming the first Republican to win a statewide election in the state since 2009. Incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was unable to seek re-election due to term limits.

Youngkin’s victory switched Virginia to a split government after two years as a Democratic trifecta.

Youngkin is a former co-CEO and president of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, where he worked from 1995 to 2020. In a Candidate Connection survey submitted to Ballotpedia, Youngkin said, “We need a governor with real-world experience who can create jobs, keep businesses from leaving, put an open-for-business sign on Virginia, and create a rip-roaring economy that lifts all Virginians.” Read his full survey responses here

In more recent messaging, Youngkin released campaign advertisements addressing the teaching of race in education and the topic of critical race theory, saying McAuliffe would change Virginia’s public school curriculum if elected.

Princess Blanding (Liberation) and Paul Davis (I) also ran in the election. Blanding appeared on the general election ballot. Davis ran as a write-in candidate.

At the time of the election, Democrats had won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012. Joe Biden (D) won the state in the 2020 presidential election, receiving 54% of the vote to Donald Trump‘s (R) 44%.


Phil Murphy (D) becomes the first Democrat to win re-election as governor of New Jersey since 1977

Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) defeated former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R), becoming the first Democrat to win re-election as governor of New Jersey since 1977.

As of 3:00 p.m. ET on Nov. 5, Murphy led Ciattarelli by a margin of 44,281 votes or 1.8 percentage points. If this margin holds, it will be 12 percentage points narrower than Murphy’s initial election in 2017. The results may also be subject to a recount. In New Jersey, any candidate can request a recount within 17 days of the election.

Charles Stile of NorthJersey.com called the election a “race to the bottom” in a September 2021 article, citing Murphy and Ciattarelli’s negative attacks targeting the other. Murphy used campaign ads and events to portray Ciattarelli as out of touch with the state’s electorate and wanting to introduce former President Donald Trump‘s (R) agenda to the state. Ciattarelli highlighted issues such as taxes and the handling of sexual abuse allegations to frame Murphy as an elected official who does not understand the needs of average New Jerseyites.

Murphy’s win preserves New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta, as well as its Democratic triplex. A win for Ciattarelli would have broken New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta and replaced the state’s Democratic triplex with a Republican triplex.

In New Jersey, gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates run together on joint tickets. Along with Murphy, incumbent Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver (D) was re-elected.


Democrats lose majority in VA House

All 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates were up for election on Nov. 2. As of 4:30 p.m. E.T. on Thursday, 50 races had been called for Republican candidates with four races outstanding. This meant that the control of the chamber would at least be split between Republicans and Democrats, and any of the four remaining seats being called for Republicans would lead to a Republican majority.

Heading into the election, Democrats held a 55-seat majority to Republicans’ 45 seats. This was the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the House. Democrats won control in the 2019 elections after Republicans had controlled the chamber since 2000.

Ballotpedia identified 25 of the races as battlegrounds, meaning these races had the potential to be more competitive than other races and could possibly lead to shifts in a chamber’s partisan balance. Prior to the election, Democrats held 19 of the battleground districts and Republicans held six. Of the 21 battleground races that have been called, five changed from Democratic to Republican control.

In the event of a tied chamber, the House would vote on a power-sharing agreement and the Clerk of the House would preside over the vote for a speaker. Any tie vote in the chamber would reject any agreement, speaker, or legislation. In 1998, the chamber was split 50-50. Delegates adopted a power-sharing agreement by a 90-2 vote. This agreement left a Democrat as speaker but required the speaker to consult Republican leadership for committee assignments and committee membership was expanded. Committees had co-chairs from each party that rotated chair duties.


Minneapolis mayor wins re-election

Incumbent Jacob Frey (D) defeated 16 other candidates to win re-election as mayor of Minneapolis. 

Voters could rank up to three candidates on the ballot under Minneapolis’ ranked-choice voting system. If no candidate won more than 50% of the first-choice vote, candidates who were mathematically unable to win were eliminated and their voters’ votes redistributed to their second, then third choice. 

Frey defeated Kate Knuth (D) 56.2% to 43.8% in the second round of vote tallying. Sheila Nezhad (D) and AJ Awed (D) won 21.1% and 4.7%, respectively, of the first round vote. 

Frey was first elected in 2017. Among the major issues in the race, which took place the year after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, was the city’s approach to policing. Frey opposed and Knuth supported Question 2, a proposed charter amendment that would have replaced the city police department with a department of public health. Voters rejected Question 2, also by a 56.2% to 43.8% margin.

Minneapolis last elected a Republican mayor in 1957. The last Republican mayor to hold office was Richard Erdall (R), who became acting mayor for one day on December 31, 1973.


Michelle Wu elected mayor of Boston

Michelle Wu defeated Annissa Essaibi George in Boston’s nonpartisan mayoral election. Both Wu and Essaibi George are at-large city councilors, and both received endorsements from Democrats and groups that typically back Democrats.

Media outlets described Wu as the more progressive candidate and Essaibi George as the more moderate one.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who placed fourth in the Sept. 14 primary, endorsed Wu in the general election.

The Boston Globe’s Laura Crimaldi wrote, “Although census figures show about 65 percent of city residents identify as people of color, the upcoming election will be the first in Boston history that won’t result in a white man becoming mayor.” Wu’s parents immigrated from Taiwan, while Essaibi George is the daughter of Polish and Tunisian immigrants.


Teachers’ union-backed slate wins Jersey City Public Schools elections

Paula Jones, Younass Mohamed Barkouch, and Natalia Ioffe won election to the Jersey City Public Schools school board in New Jersey.

The three ran with the endorsement of the New Jersey Education Association, the local teachers’ union, on the Education Matters slate.

All three candidates were running for open seats held by outgoing incumbents Mussab Ali, Marilyn Roman, and Joan Terrell-Paige, each of whom was last elected in 2018 on the Education Matters slate.

Their win means candidates elected on the Education Matters slate will maintain a 7-2 majority on the board.


California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar resigns

California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar resigned on Oct. 31 to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank in Washington, D.C. Former Gov. Jerry Brown (D) appointed Cuéllar to the state supreme court in July 2014, and voters retained him in November 2014 with 68% of the vote. 

When there is a midterm vacancy on the California Supreme Court, the governor is responsible for appointing a replacement. To remain in office, the new appointee must stand for retention in an election occurring at the time of the next gubernatorial race, which is held every four years. After that, the judge is subject to a retention election every 12 years.

Democratic governors appointed four of the six active California Supreme Court justices; Republican governors appointed the other two justices. Cuéllar’s replacement will be Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) second appointee to the state supreme court.


Redistricting updates

Alabama

Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed congressional and legislative map proposals into law on Nov. 4. The Senate map was approved by state senators approved on Nov. 1 with a 25-7 vote, and by state representatives on Nov. 3 with a 76-26 vote. The House map was approved by representatives 68-35 on Nov. 1 and senators followed on Nov. 3 with a 22-7 vote. Additionally, Ivey signed new board of education maps into law, which passed the Alabama State Senate and Alabama House of Representatives on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3, respectively. The House voted 65-38 in favor of the congressional map on Nov. 1 followed by the Senate voting 22-7 on Nov. 3.

North Carolina

The North Carolina General Assembly enacted congressional and legislative redistricting proposals on Nov. 4. Governors do not have veto power over new maps in North Carolina, so they became law without Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) signature. The House map passed the North Carolina House of Representatives 67-49 on Nov. 2, and the North Carolina State Senate 25-21 on Nov. 4. The Senate map passed 26-19 in the Senate on Nov. 3 and 65-49 in the House on Nov. 4. The congressional map was approved by the Senate 27-22 on Nov. 2, and the House 65-49 on Nov. 4. 

Wisconsin

On Nov. 3, the Wisconsin People’s Maps Commission, a redistricting commission established by Gov. Tony Evers, released its final proposed state legislative and congressional maps. Evers signed an executive order creating the commission on Jan. 27, 2020, to prepare congressional and state legislative district plans for consideration by the state legislature.

The maps narrow Republican’s state legislative and congressional majorities in the state compared to the proposals introduced by Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) last month, which Evers said he would not sign. “Wisconsinites won’t stand for gerrymandering 2.0 and neither will I, so I want to be clear today if the Republican maps come to my desk as they are currently drafted I will veto them,” Evers said.

Two lawsuits, one state and one federal, have been filed asking the courts to assume authority for redistricting if Evers and the state legislature do not agree on new maps.



The Federal Tap: Florida’s 20th Democratic primary result unknown

Congress is in session

The House is in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

Members of Congress not seeking re-election in 2022

Twenty-nine members of Congress—five members of the U.S. Senate and 24 members of the U.S. House—have announced they will not seek re-election. Seventeen members—five senators and 12 representatives—have announced their retirement. All five retiring Senate members are Republicans, and of the retiring House members, eight are Democrats and four are Republicans.

SCOTUS is in session

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in five cases next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday, Biden delivered the Leader Statement at the COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. 

On Tuesday, Biden delivered remarks on global forest preservation, the Build Back Better World initiative, the Global Methane Pledge, and clean technology at the COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.  

On Wednesday through Friday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.

Federal Judiciary

  • 76 federal judicial vacancies
  • 20 pending nominations
  • 30 future federal judicial vacancies

Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 30 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Dec. 1, 2020, when U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Judge Paul K. Holmes announced that he would assume senior status on Nov. 10, 2021. The most recent was on Oct. 13, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Cynthia Rufe announced that she would assume senior status on Dec. 31, 2021. Thirteen vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judge has not announced the date they will leave the bench. The next upcoming vacancy will occur on Nov. 10, when Holmes assumes senior status.

For historical comparison, the week of Nov. 1-7, 2020, there were 66 federal judicial vacancies and three upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.


Biden has appointed most federal judges through Nov. 1 of a president’s first year

President Joe Biden (D) has appointed and the Senate has confirmed 28 Article III federal judges through Nov. 1 of his first year in office. This is the most Article III judicial appointments through this point in all presidencies since 1981. The Senate had confirmed 11 of President Donald Trump’s (R) appointees at this point in his term.

The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through Nov. 1 of their first year in office is 13.

  • The median number of Supreme Court appointees is one. Four presidents (Reagan, Clinton, Obama, and Trump) made one appointment. Three presidents (H.W. Bush, W. Bush, and Biden) had not appointed any.
  • The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is three. Biden appointed the most with nine. Obama appointed the fewest with one.
  • The median number of United States District Court appointees is six. Biden appointed the most with 19. Obama appointed the fewest with three.

Dale Holness, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick lead in Florida’s 20th Congressional District Democratic primary

The Democratic primary in Florida’s 20th Congressional District remains too close to call.

A special election is taking place Jan. 11 in the Miami-area district last represented by Alcee Hastings (D). Hastings died on April 6, 2021. He last won re-election with 79% of the vote in 2020, meaning the winner of the Democratic primary is likely to win the general election.

As of 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 4, Dale Holness led the 11-candidate field with 23.8% of the vote, followed by Shelia Cherfilus-McCormick with 23.7%. Twelve votes out of the nearly 50,000 cast separated them.

Under Florida law, a machine recount is required if the initial election night result is within 0.5 percentage points. If the machine recount results in a margin within 0.25 percentage points, a manual recount occurs.


CDC authorizes use of Pfizer vaccine for 5-11 year-olds

On Nov. 2, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5-11 after its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the approval in a 14-0 panel vote, making it the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved for that age group. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved emergency use authorization of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5-11 on Oct. 29, after its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted to recommend the authorization in a 17-0 vote on Oct. 26.

In a press release, the CDC said it began distributing pediatric vaccinations this week and planned to scale to full capacity by the week of Nov. 8.


Redistricting updates

Alabama

On Nov. 4, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a congressional map into law. The House voted 65-38 in favor of the congressional map on Nov. 1 followed by the Senate voting 22-7 on Nov. 3. The Montgomery Advertiser‘s Brian Lyman wrote that under the maps Republicans could maintain control of six of the state’s seven congressional districts, adding, “The new maps do not significantly alter the existing districts, and do not give the GOP many opportunities to extend their majorities further.” The congressional and legislative maps will take effect for Alabama’s 2022 elections.

Colorado

On Nov. 1, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously approved the congressional redistricting plan that the state’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission approved on Sept. 28. The map will take effect for Colorado’s 2022 congressional elections.

Eleven of the twelve commissioners approved the congressional plan. Four unaffiliated members, four Republican members, and three of the four Democratic members voted in favor. The maps required approval from at least eight members, including two unaffiliated members.

North Carolina

The North Carolina General Assembly enacted a congressional redistricting proposal on Nov. 4. Governors do not have veto power over new maps in North Carolina, so it became law without Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) signature. The congressional map was approved by the Senate 27-22 on Nov. 2, and the House 65-49 on Nov. 4. Rep. Destin Hall (R), chair of the House Redistricting Committee, said redistricting this cycle was “the most transparent process in the history of this state.” Democratic members of the legislature criticized the new maps, with Rep. Kandie Smith (D) saying: “When I look at these congressional maps – they stink. People don’t want gerrymandering. That’s what we have.” At least one lawsuit has been filed challenging the maps, which, barring a successful legal challenge, will take effect for North Carolina’s 2022 elections.

Texas

On Nov. 2, Texas Democratic lawmakers filed two federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the state’s newly enacted redistricting maps. Members of the Texas House Mexican American Legislative Caucus filed one court challenge, and State Sen. Beverly Powell (D) along with six Tarrant County voters filed another.

The 41-member Texas House Mexican American Legislative Caucus filed a lawsuit against the state with the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in which the caucus members said the newly enacted maps “discriminate on the basis of race and impermissibly dilute the vote of Latino populations.” 

Sen. Powell and six Tarrant County voters filed a federal lawsuit in the same federal court in which they said the new Senate map involved a “racially discriminatory scheme to dismantle Senate District 10 (“SD10”) as a performing crossover district for Tarrant County’s minority voters that a federal court declared intentionally discriminatory last decade.


SCOTUS begins November argument sitting

On Nov. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) began its November argument sitting of the 2021-2022 term. The court is hearing arguments in person and providing audio livestreams of arguments.

This week, SCOTUS will hear arguments in five cases. Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

Nov. 1

  • Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and asks the court to consider: “[W]hether a State can insulate from federal-court review a law that prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right by delegating to the general public the authority to enforce that prohibition through civil actions.”
  • United States v. Texas also originated from the Fifth Circuit and asks the court to consider: “May the United States bring suit in federal court and obtain injunctive or declaratory relief against the state, state court judges, state court clerks, other state officials, or all private parties to prohibit S.B. 8 from being enforced.”

Nov. 2

  • Houston Community College System v. Wilson asks the court to consider: “Does the First Amendment restrict the authority of an elected body to issue a censure resolution in response to a member’s speech?” The case originated from the Fifth Circuit.
  • Badgerow v. Walters originates from the Fifth Circuit and concerns “Whether federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under Sections 9 and 10 of the [Federal Arbitration Act] where the only basis for jurisdiction is that the underlying dispute involved a federal question.”

Nov. 3

Next week, SCOTUS will hear arguments in five cases.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 45 cases this term. Three cases were dismissed and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Twelve cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.



Previewing Tuesday’s state and local elections

Our weekly summary of state & local news previews Tuesday’s state and local elections and highlights a New York judge declining to block the NYC vaccine mandate. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

We’re three days out from the Nov. 2 election, so be sure you don’t ghost your ballot. Click here to find out what will be on your ballot.

Ballot Measures Update

Nov. 2 preview

Voters in six states will decide 24 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 2. Four of the measures are citizen initiatives, three are advisory questions about taxes in Washington, one is a bond issue for transportation, and the remaining 16 are legislatively referred constitutional amendments.

  • Colorado voters will decide three citizen initiatives, including one to increase marijuana taxes and create an out-of-school education program.
  • Maine voters will decide three measures:
    • a citizen initiative to prohibit the construction of certain electric transmission lines, including the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC);
      • The campaigns supporting and opposing the initiative have raised $94 million combined, making the measure’s campaigns the most expensive of 2021 and the most expensive in Maine history.
    • a bond issue; and 
    • a legislatively referred constitutional amendment to create a right to produce, harvest, and consume food.
  • New Jersey voters will decide two constitutional amendments, one concerning college sports betting and one concerning raffles.
  • New York voters will decide five constitutional amendments concerning redistricting, environmental rights, voting policies, and the NYC Civil Court.
  • Texas voters will decide eight constitutional amendments, including two that are responses to COVID-19 regulations. 
    • Proposition 3 would prohibit the state or any political subdivision from enacting a law, rule, order, or proclamation that limits religious services or organizations.
    • Proposition 6 would give residents of nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or state-supported living centers a right to designate an essential caregiver that may not be prohibited from visiting the resident.
  • Washington voters will decide three advisory questions on taxes recently passed by the legislature.

Click here to see live election results updates Tuesday night.

A total of 39 statewide ballot measures were certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states.

  • 24 measures were certified for the Nov. 2 ballot.
  • 4 measures have been certified for the Nov. 13 ballot.
  • 4 measures were on the ballot on May 18 in Pennsylvania. They were approved.
  • 7 bond measures were on the ballot on March 2 in Rhode Island. They were approved.

2022 ballot measures

Sixty-one statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far.

  • No new measures were certified for the ballot last week.

States in session

Seven state legislatures—Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections, police-related policies, and race and ethnicity. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Ballotpedia is covering 156 local ballot measures on the Nov. 2 ballot in 18 states.
    • Arizona – Voters in Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Tucson will decide on 11 local ballot measures.
    • California – Voters in 18 different cities, school districts, and special districts in 11 different California counties will decide 19 local ballot measures.
    • Colorado – Ballotpedia is covering 21 local ballot measures in Colorado for voters in three cities, two counties, and two school districts.
    • Florida – Ballotpedia is covering one measure in Miami and eight measures in St. Petersburg.
    • Georgia – Ballotpedia is covering two local ballot measures in Georgia for voters in one city school district and one county.
    • Idaho – Ballotpedia is covering two local ballot measures in Idaho for voters in one city and one school district.
    • Maryland – Ballotpedia is covering one local ballot measure: a measure in the city of Greenbelt that would create a 21-member commission to review, discuss, and make recommendations on local reparations for African American and Native American residents of Greenbelt. 
    • Massachusetts – Ballotpedia is covering three local ballot measures in Boston.
    • Michigan – Ballotpedia is covering four local ballot measures in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
    • Minnesota – Ballotpedia is covering four local ballot measures in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
    • New Mexico – Voters in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the public school districts of the two cities will decide 16 local ballot measures.
    • New York – Voters in Albany will decide two local ballot measures
    • Ohio – Voters in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Hamilton County, and Lucas County will decide 10 local ballot measures.
    • Pennsylvania – Voters in Philadelphia will decide four charter amendments.
    • Texas – Ballotpedia is covering 28 measures in two cities, two counties, and 11 school districts.
    • Virginia – Ballotpedia is covering two local ballot measures in Richmond and Virginia Beach.
    • Washington – Voters in King County will decide two local ballot measures.
    • Wyoming – Voters in Laramie County will decide on 14 local ballot measures.

Below are some of the notable local measures on Nov. 2:

  • Voters in Austin, Texas, will decide an initiative to establish minimum police staffing requirements resulting in the city having to hire additional police officers. The initiative was also designed to require additional police officer training and create certain police hiring guidelines and incentives.
  • Voters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will decide an initiative to replace the city police department with a department of public safety.
  • Voters in Cleveland, Ohio, will decide an initiative to make changes related to police oversight, discipline, and policies.
  • Voters in Albany, New York, will decide a measure to give the existing Community Police Review Board more authority over investigation and oversight over complaints against police.
  • Voters in Detroit, Michigan, will decide a measure to create a city reparations committee tasked with making recommendations for housing and economic development programs for Black Detroit residents.
  • Voters in Tucson, Arizona, will decide a $15 per hour minimum wage initiative.
  • Voters in Broomfield, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Westbrook, Maine, will decide measures to enact ranked-choice voting.

Special Elections

Sixty-four state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Forty-four specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 21 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 23. Two seats flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and one seat flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Nov. 2

Nov. 13

Previewing the Virginia governor’s race

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R), a former co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, are running for governor of Virginia. Incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is term-limited.

An average of the five most recent polls, conducted between Oct. 10 and 25, showed 48% of respondents supporting McAuliffe and 47% supporting Youngkin.

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz wrote that the race “can begin to answer some of the questions about the current state of the electorate and forces that will shape the races next year.” Walz said that includes “the role of Donald Trump as a motivator, for Republicans but especially for Democrats, and how that affects who votes and who doesn’t.”

The outcome of this election, in addition to the state’s House of Delegates elections, will also determine Virginia’s trifecta status. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019.

Princess Blanding (Liberation) will also appear on the general election ballot and Paul Davis (I) is running as a write-in candidate.

Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012. In 2019, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate, creating a Democratic trifecta in Virginia for the first time since 1994. Most recently, Joe Biden (D) won the state in the 2020 presidential election, beating Trump 54-44%.

Previewing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court election

Kevin Brobson (R) and Maria McLaughlin (D) are running in the Nov. 2 general election for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Justice Thomas Saylor (R), who joined the court in 1998, is not running for another term because he turned 75 in 2021. Pennsylvania judges must retire at the end of the calendar year in which they reach 75 years of age. Brobson received 52% of the vote in the Republican primary, defeating Patricia McCullough and Paula A. Patrick. McLaughlin ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press wrote in July: “The result won’t shift power on the high court, currently with a 5-2 Democratic majority, but in a state where the two parties have for decades been locked into a perpetual death match over political control, it will surely draw considerable money and the most statewide attention.”

This is the first state supreme court election in Pennsylvania since 2017, when three justices were up for election or retention. The partisan balance of the court changed as a result of the 2015 elections from a 4-3 Republican majority to a 5-2 Democratic majority. After 2021, the next scheduled election for a seat on the court is in 2022, as current chief justice Max Baer (D) will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 that year. After that, the next scheduled state supreme court elections in Pennsylvania will take place in 2025 when the three Democratic justices first elected in 2015 will be up for re-election. 

Previewing the upcoming school board elections

School board elections have become a major focal point in the 2021 elections, driven by everything from the coronavirus pandemic to debates over school curriculum and policies. This year, we are covering 503 school board races in 180 districts across 24 states. Sixty of those seats are up for election on Nov. 2.

Here’s a preview of two upcoming battleground school board elections.

Jeffco Public Schools, Colorado

Three seats on the board are up for general election on Nov. 2. All three incumbents are not seeking re-election. The election will help determine the board’s governing majority for the next two years. Danielle Varda and Jeffrey Wilhite are running in District 1. David Johnson, Paula Reed, and Theresa Shelton are running in District 2. Kathy Miks and Mary Parker are running in District 5. Varda, Reed, and Parker are running together as the Jeffco Kids Slate. The Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), the local teachers’ union, endorsed this slate. Another slate of candidates with no formal name, composed of Wilhite, Shelton, and Miks, was endorsed by the Jefferson County Republicans. According to Chalkbeat, the Jeffco Kids Slate is prioritizing staff hiring, teacher retention, and neighborhood schools, while their opponents are running on the issues of fiscal management and expanding school choice.

Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia

Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools school board in Georgia—three at-large and six district seats—are up for general election. Six incumbents are seeking re-election: Cynthia Briscoe Brown (At-Large District 8), Jason Esteves (At-Large District 9), Aretta Baldon (District 2), Michelle Olympiadis (District 3), Erika Yvette Mitchell (District 5), and Eshé Collins (District 6). Three incumbents are not seeking re-election: Kandis Wood Jackson (At-Large Seat 7), Leslie Grant (District 1), and Nancy Meister (District 4). With one-quarter of APS students enrolled in charter and partner schools, standards for renewing and expanding charter schools have been a major issue in this race. COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, are also an issue. The 2021 election is the last election during which every board seat is up for election simultaneously, as Georgia’s HB 1075 changed the state’s school board election process so that members’ terms are staggered.

Previewing the upcoming city elections

Ballotpedia covers municipal elections in the 100 largest cities in the U.S. by population and in all 50 state capitals regardless of population. Our coverage of municipal elections this year includes 40 mayoral elections, 27 of which are taking place Nov. 2. Here’s a preview of some of the upcoming battleground city elections.

Boston mayoral election

At-Large City Councilors Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu are running for Boston mayor. Essaibi George has said her background as a teacher equips her to address issues with the city’s schools and has emphasized her opposition to decreasing the police department budget. Wu has highlighted her prioritization of climate issues and her support for rent control to provide short-term relief for renters. Both candidates have union backing in the race. Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who lost in the primary, and Democratic Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are among Wu’s endorsers. Former Boston Police Commissioner William Gross endorsed Essaibi George. The winner will be Boston’s first elected female mayor.

Minneapolis mayoral election

Incumbent Jacob Frey (D), AJ Awed (D), Katherine Knuth (D), Sheila Nezhad (D), and thirteen other candidates are running in a ranked-choice election for mayor of Minneapolis. Frey was elected in 2017. This election is the first since George Floyd’s death, and the candidates have staked out differing positions on criminal justice policies and policing. The race is also taking place against the backdrop of three proposed amendments to the city’s charter, which voters will decide on Election night. The amendments include one that would change the city’s approach to policing, one that would change the balance of power between the mayor and the city council, and one that would allow the city to enact rent control policies. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are among Frey’s endorsers. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has endorsed both Knuth and Nezhad. Under a ranked-choice voting system, voters can rank up to three choices on the ballot. 

Seattle city attorney election

Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy are running in the general election. Davison said the city needs “balanced leadership that makes us smart on crime: proactive not reactive” and said she would “focus on improving efficiencies within division in regards to zoning” and “transform existing Mental Health Court to specialized Behavioral Health Court for cases that involve mental health, substance use disorder or dual diagnosis.” Thomas-Kennedy is running on a platform of decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, and ending homeless sweeps, and said, “Every year the City Attorney chooses to prosecute petty offenses born out of poverty, addiction and disability. These prosecutions are destabilizing, ineffective, and cost the City millions each year.” Former governor Dan Evans (R), former King County Prosecutor Chris Bayley (R), former Seattle Municipal Judge Ed McKenna, and the Seattle Times endorsed Davison. The Seattle newspaper The Stranger, Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn (D), and several local Democratic party organizations endorsed Thomas-Kennedy.

Two states enact congressional, legislative redistricting proposals

Two states—Texas and West Virginia—enacted congressional and legislative redistricting plans this week.

Texas

Texas enacted new congressional districts on Oct. 25 when Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a proposal approved by the Texas House and Senate into law. This map will take effect for Texas’ 2022 congressional elections. The legislature approved a final version of the map on Oct. 18 with the Senate approving, 18-13, and the House approving the plan, 84-59. Texas was apportioned 38 seats after the 2020 census, a net gain of two seats as compared to apportionment after the 2010 census.

The Texas House and Senate approved maps for each other’s districts on Oct. 15. The House approved the Senate plan by an 81-60 vote, and the Senate approved the House map by an 18-13 vote.

West Virginia

West Virginia enacted new congressional districts on Oct. 22 when Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed a proposal approved by the House of Delegates and Senate into law. On Sept. 30, the House and Senate Redistricting Committees released 18 congressional district map proposals. The West Virginia Senate passed a plan on Oct. 13 by a 30-2 vote that Sen. Charles S. Trump IV proposed. The House voted 84-12 to approve the proposal on Oct. 14. West Virginia was apportioned two seats after the 2020 census, a net loss of one seat as compared to apportionment after the 2010 census.

West Virginia also enacted new state legislative districts on Oct. 22 when Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed map proposals approved by both legislative chambers. The Senate Redistricting Committee approved its map by a 31-2 vote on Oct. 19, and the House approved that map, 72-19. A single-member district map proposal for the West Virginia House of Delegates passed that chamber on Oct. 13, 79-20, and that proposal passed the state Senate on Oct. 18 by a 28-5 vote.

Six states have adopted congressional maps, one state’s congressional map is awaiting approval by the state supreme court, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 37 states have not yet adopted congressional maps after the 2020 census. Congressional redistricting has been completed for 66 of the 435 seats (15.2%) in the U.S. House of Representatives. At this point in the 2010 redistricting cycle, 24 states had enacted new congressional maps.

Eight states have adopted legislative maps, one state’s legislative map is awaiting approval by the state supreme court, one state enacted its legislative boundaries based on Census estimates which will be revised in an upcoming special session, and 40 states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census. Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 304 of 1,972 state Senate seats (15.4%) and 758 of 5,411 state House seats (14%). At this point in the 2010 redistricting cycle, 26 states had enacted state legislative maps.

New York judge declines to block NYC vaccine mandate

On Oct. 27, New York Supreme Court 2nd Judicial District Judge Lizette Colon dismissed the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York’s (PBA) request to temporarily block Mayor Bill de Blasio’s city employee vaccine mandate, which was scheduled to take effect Oct. 29. The PBA is the city’s largest police union. 

De Blasio announced the vaccine mandate on Oct. 20. The mandate requires city employees to have received at least one dose of a vaccine by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. De Blasio said city employees who could not provide proof of vaccination would be placed on unpaid leave. 

The PBA sued the city on Oct. 25 and asked the state Supreme Court to block the mandate while the lawsuit works its way through court. 

Ballotpedia is tracking state employee vaccine requirements. To date, 20 states have required state employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Michael DiMassa (D) resigns from Connecticut state House

Connecticut state Rep. Michael DiMassa (D-116) resigned on Oct. 25 after he was indicted on charges of wire fraud.

DiMassa submitted a letter of resignation dated Oct. 21 that the secretary of state received on Oct. 25. DiMassa was arrested on Oct. 18 after he allegedly created a fraudulent company that received more than $600,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.

DiMassa was first elected to represent the 116th district in 2017, after defeating Richard DePalma (R) 73.39% to 26.61%.

Vacancies in the Connecticut state legislature are filled by special elections. The governor must call for an election no later than 10 days after the vacancy happens, and all special elections must be held no later than 46 days after a governor’s declaration. If the vacancy happens with less than 125 days left before the general election, the special election must be held on the same day as the general election. No election can be called by the governor if the vacancy happens with less than 49 days before the general election.As of October 2021, there have been 116 state legislative vacancies in 41 states. Five of those vacancies have occurred in Connecticut.



The State and Local Tap: Indiana completes redistricting; Iowa legislature rejects first map proposal

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights redistricting updates in Indiana and Iowa and a school board recall advancing to trial. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-nine statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states so far.

  • Statewide measures for 2021 are finalized. No new measures are expected to be added to the ballot.
    • 24 measures are on the Nov. 2 ballot.
    • 4 measures are on the Nov. 13 ballot.
    • 4 measures were on the ballot on May 18 in Pennsylvania. They were approved.
    • 7 bond measures were on the ballot on March 2 in Rhode Island. They were approved.

Sixty statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far. 

  • No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.

States in session

Eight state legislatures—Arkansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Oct. 5 – Alaska: Voters in Juneau decided a 3% sales tax renewal measure. The Juneau Office of the City Clerk stated that unofficial election results would be available on Oct. 8 or Oct. 11.
  • Oct. 12 – Nebraska: Voters in the Ralston Public Schools District will decide an $83.75 million bond issue.

Special Elections

Sixty-four state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Forty-two specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 19 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 23. One seat flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and one seat flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Oct. 12

Oct. 19

Oct. 26

Two challengers defeat incumbents in Birmingham general runoff election

Birmingham, Ala., held a general runoff election on Oct. 5. The runoff was necessary after no candidate earned a majority of the vote in several races during the general election on Aug. 24. 

Candidates competed for two seats on the nine-seat city council. Challengers defeated incumbents in both districts. J.T. Moore won the District 4 seat against incumbent William Parker, earning 58.4% of the vote to Parker’s 41.6%. In District 9, LaTonya Tate received 51.6% of the vote to defeat incumbent John Hilliard, who received 48.4%.

Candidates also competed for two seats on the nine-seat Birmingham Board of Education. In District 9, Jason Meadows earned 72.1% of the vote, defeating Le’Darius Hilliard with 27.9%. The District 1 race remained too close to call as of Oct. 8, with only a few votes separating incumbent Douglas Ragland from challenger Sherman Collins Jr.

Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama by population and the 99th-largest city in the U.S.

Michigan state Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R) dies

Michigan state Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R) died from stomach cancer on Oct. 1. Schroeder was first elected to represent House District 43 in 2018.  She most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Nicole Breadon (D) 59.7% to 40.3%.

When a vacancy occurs in the Michigan State Legislature, the governor must call for a special election to fill the vacancy, which should be held when the next general election is scheduled. 

Michigan is one of 25 states to fill state legislative vacancies through special elections.

This is the 20th vacancy in 2021 caused by the death of a serving legislator. So far this year, there have been 109 vacancies in 40 state legislatures. Sixty-seven (67) of those vacancies have been filled.

Special primary election held in Rhode Island Senate district

A special primary election was held on Oct. 5 for District 3 of the Rhode Island State Senate. According to unofficial results, former Providence City Council member Sam Zurier won the Democratic primary with 1,282 votes (37%). Geena Pham came in second with 982 votes (24%). Bret Jacob received 908 votes (22%), Hilary Levey Friedman received 613 votes (15%), and Ray Rickman received 269 votes (7%).

Zurier will now face Alex Cannon (R) in the Nov. 2 special election. The Republican primary was canceled after Cannon was the only candidate to file.

The winner of the general election will serve until January 2023. The seat became vacant after the resignation of Gayle Goldin (D) on Aug. 17. Goldin resigned to accept a position in President Joe Biden’s (D) administration as a senior adviser for the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. Prior to her resignation, Goldin had served in the state Senate since 2013.

Democrats have a 32-5 majority in the Rhode Island Senate with one vacancy. Rhode Island has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of October, 64 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Rhode Island held seven state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Loudoun County Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial

An effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools board in Virginia moved forward at a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5. At the hearing, a Loudoun County Circuit Court judge ruled that the recall effort could advance to a full trial, denying Barts’ motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney.

The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor to take the place of Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj. Recall supporters said Biberaj was a friend of Barts’. The case will go to trial after the special prosecutor is named.

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia also requires certain reasons to be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures ​​equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. The recall effort against Barts needed 1,176 signatures. Recall supporters announced they collected 1,860. They submitted the petition signatures on Aug. 25.

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

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

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

Ballotpedia has tracked 75 school board recall efforts against 195 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) issues coronavirus executive orders, Gov. Brad Little (R) repeals them

On Oct. 6, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) issued an executive order banning state agencies from implementing coronavirus testing and proof of vaccination requirements. McGeachin issued the order while Gov. Brad Little (R) was out of the state. 

In a tweet, McGeachin said: “Today, as Acting Governor, I fixed Gov. Little’s Executive Order on ‘vaccine passports’ to make sure that K-12 schools and universities cannot require vaccinations OR require mandatory testing. I will continue to fight for your individual Liberty!”

On the same day, Little issued an executive order repealing McGeachin’s executive order. In a Facebook post, he said: “I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected Governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf.”

On May 27, McGeachin similarly issued an executive order banning mask requirements in schools and state buildings while Little was out of the state. Little repealed the order on May 28.

Indiana completes redistricting; Iowa Legislature rejects first map proposal

Indiana became the fourth state to enact new congressional and state legislative district boundaries after the 2020 census. The General Assembly approved the maps on Oct. 1, and Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed them into law on Oct. 4. In Indiana, the state legislature is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines. Indiana has been a Republican state government trifecta since 2011.

The Indiana state Senate approved the final congressional and legislative district boundaries by a vote of 36-12, with all votes to approve coming from Republicans. Eleven Senate Democrats joined state Sen. Ron Grooms (R) in voting against the maps. The Indiana House of Representatives approved the final district maps by a vote of 64-25. All votes in favor were by Republicans with 22 Democrats and three Republicans voting against.

Kaitlin Lange of the Indianapolis Star wrote that the new congressional boundaries “will enable Republicans to keep seven of the nine congressional seats in Indiana and make the 5th District, which contains suburban Hamilton County, a more reliably Republican district.” The maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.

In Iowa, the state Senate rejected the Legislative Services Agency’s (LSA) first proposed congressional and state legislative district boundaries on Oct. 5. The vote was 32-18 along party lines with all votes against the plan from Republicans and all votes in favor by Democrats. Since this was the Agency’s first proposal, the legislature could only vote to approve or reject the maps and could not make any amendments. 

After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R) said, “Senate Republicans believe LSA can improve the compactness and population deviation of several districts by developing a second redistricting plan. My colleagues and I look forward to reviewing that plan and its compliance with the criteria established in Iowa Code.” Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls (D) said, “This was a fair map drawn by the nonpartisan, independent commission. It met all the requirements laid out in state law. This is an outrageous use of political power to rig elections in their favor.”

Under state law, the LSA must send a second redistricting plan to the legislature within 35 days. On Oct. 6, the LSA announced that it would submit its next proposed congressional and legislative redistricting maps to the legislature by Oct. 21. On Sept. 14, the Iowa Supreme Court extended the state’s deadline to complete legislative redistricting to Dec. 1.