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States Enact 239 Election-Related Bills In 2023 Amid Partisan Divide

Democrats sponsored 19.7% of bills, while Republicans sponsored 59.8%. Governors vetoed 30 bills this year.

States enacted 28 bills this week, more than three times the number of bills enacted during the same week in 2022. 

Of the bills active over the past week, Democrats sponsored 16, a 60% decrease from the 40 Democrat-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before. 

Republicans sponsored 22 of the bills acted on this past week, a 22.2% increase from the 18 Republican-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before.

The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were contest-specific procedures (13), election dates and deadlines (13), audits and oversight (12), voter registration and list maintenance (8), absentee/mail-in voting (7), and counting and certification (7).

States have enacted 239 election-related bills in 2023, compared to the 175 bills enacted at this point in 2022. Democrats sponsored 47 (19.7%), Republicans sponsored 143 (59.8%), and 29 (12.1%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 20 (8.4%) bills. 

Florida (Republican trifecta)

  • FL H0031: Partisan Elections for Members of District School Boards. (The legislature referred this constitutional amendment to the 2024 ballot in May, but formally transmitted the approved amendment to the Secretary of State on June 21.)
  • FL H1175: Sarasota County

Maine (Democratic trifecta)

  • ME LD1344: An Act to Improve the State’s Election Laws by Amending the Laws Relating to Automatic Voter Registration

Nevada (divided government)

  • NV AB192: Revises provisions relating to elections. (BDR 24-836)

North Carolina (divided government)

  • NC S265: Increase Municipal Election Participation Act

Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta)

  • RI S0742: State Board Of Elections
  • RI H6033: Primary Elections
  • RI H5055: General Provisions
  • RI S1010: Primaries For Election Of Delegates To National Conventions And For Presidential Preference
  • RI S0035: General Provisions
  • RI H6309: Primaries For Election Of Delegates To National Conventions And For Presidential Preference

South Carolina (Republican trifecta)

  • SC S0335: Hilton Head Redistricting
  • SC H4217: Beaufort County Voting Precincts

Texas (Republican trifecta)

  • TX HB87: Relating to the presidential electors of this state.
  • TX SB1599: Relating to ballots voted by mail.
  • TX SB1131: Relating to the authority of certain independent school districts to change the date of the general election for officers.
  • TX SB477: Relating to accommodating voters with a disability.
  • TX SB545: Relating to death records maintained and provided by the vital statistics unit of the Department of State Health Services.
  • TX SB2620: Relating to authorizing certain political subdivisions to change the date on which their general election for officers is held.
  • TX SB994: Relating to the declaration of a candidate’s ineligibility on the basis of failure to pay a filing fee or submit a petition in lieu of a filing fee.
  • TX SB1070: Relating to the interstate voter registration crosscheck program.
  • TX SB1661: Relating to a ballot scan system used in a central counting station.
  • TX SB1750: Relating to abolishing the county elections administrator position in certain counties.
  • TX SB1933: Relating to certain oversight procedures of the state over county elections.
  • TX SB924: Relating to the combination of certain election precincts.
  • TX HB246: Relating to establishing a pilot program for recording ballot counting activity.

Utah (Republican trifecta)

Vermont (divided government)

  • VT H0509: An act relating to approval of amendments to the voter qualification provisions of the charter of the City of Burlington

16 bills have passed both chambers and are awaiting gubernatorial action, compared to 54 bills that had passed both chambers at this point in 2022. 

No bills passed both chambers since our last edition. 

Governors have vetoed 30 bills this year, compared to 15 at this point in 2022. 

Arizona (divided government)

  • AZ SB1095: Early ballot envelope; notice 
  • AZ SB1175: Registrations; observers; counting procedures; verification
  • AZ SB1332: Cast vote record; public records
  • AZ SB1471: Ballot tabulation; hand count comparison
  • AZ SB1595: Early ballots; identification; tabulation
  • AZ SB1596: Polling places; office spaces; appropriation
  • AZ SB1598: Federal candidates; observers; elections

Nevada (divided government)

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) vetoed four pieces of election-related legislation. 

  • AB242 would require machine counting of votes.
    • Lombardo said the bill would make it harder for “county officials to ensure their vote-counting procedures are best-aligned with the needs of their electorate.” Chief Deputy Secretary of State Gabriel Di Chiara said for Nevada’s elections “to have the same high standard of accuracy and security, that that means counting ballots mechanically and not by hand.”
  • AB246 would require election materials to be printed in other languages.
    • Lombardo said current law already allows printing election materials in other languages. All Voting is Local Nevada Campaign Manager Mary Janet Ramos said the bill would “have been a huge step forward for the diverse communities in Nevada.”
  • SB443 would allow tribal government photo IDs as proof of identity for voter registration and let voters cast a provisional ballot if they lack the requisite identification.
    • Lombardo said the bill “would allow for insufficient proofs of residency to be used by potential electors in order to vote.” Native Voters Alliance NV Program Manager Alvin Chan said the bill would make it “easier for new and old residents of our state to procure the required identification” to vote.
  • SB60 would require constitutional officers’ inaugural committees to disclose donations of more than $1,000.
    • Lombardo said that “if transparency is truly a priority for the Legislature, it should pass legislation requiring disclosure of activities beyond a single office.” Attorney Bradley Schrager said “refusing to disclose [donations] is…cheating the public out of its right to know who’s funding its elected officials.”
This chart shows enacted bills by topic and sponsorship, 2022 vs. 2023
* Note: Contest-specific procedures refers to primary systems, municipal election procedures, recall elections, special election procedures, and other systems unique to a particular election type. 
The chart above shows the topics of a sample of the 2,608 bills we have tracked this year. Note that the sums of the numbers listed do not equal the total number of bills because some bills deal with multiple topics.  

Twenty (40.8%) of the 49 bills with activity this week are in Democratic trifecta states, 18 (36.7%) are in Republican trifecta states, and 11 (22.4%) are in states with divided governments. 

Of the 78 bills acted on in the same week in 2022, 35 (44.9%) were from states with Democratic trifectas, 19 (24.4%) were from states with Republican trifectas, and 24 (30.8%) were from states with divided governments.

Of the total bills introduced in 2023, 1,141 (43.8%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,147 (44%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 320 (12.3%) are in states with divided governments. 

Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (394). Texas holds legislative sessions in odd years only, and so had no activity in 2022. 

The Texas Legislature is in a special session as of June 22, with the regular session adjourning on May 29. New York was the most active state at this point in 2022, with 417 bills introduced. Texas has enacted the most bills this year (33). In 2022, Louisiana had enacted the most bills at this point (17).

On June 20, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed two bills affecting the administration and oversight of elections in Texas’ largest county, Harris County

SB1750 would transfer all powers and duties of a county elections’ administrator to the county tax assessor-collector and county clerk in counties with a population of more than 3.5 million. 

Harris County is the only Texas county with a population exceeding 3.5 million. The other piece of legislation, SB1933, would permit the secretary of state to order a new election in Harris County if more than 2% of polling places run out of ballot paper for more than one hour. 

Harris County officials said they will challenge the laws. County Attorney Christian D. Menefee said, “I’m gearing up to sue the state over these bills and I expect to be in the courts in the next couple weeks”, adding, “The Texas Constitution makes clear that Texas legislators should not be abusing their power by singling out a county to address political vendettas instead of doing what’s right for all Texans.” 

Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R), the author of both bills, said, “These bills received bipartisan votes during their passage. It’s about performance, not politics. It’s time for the Harris County Commissioners Court to stop filing frivolous election lawsuits that lose consistently and replace a failed Elections Administrator’s Office with Democrat elected officials, as both those departments have a history of running elections far better than the failed appointed Elections Administrator’s.”

Produced in association with Ballotpedia

Edited by Daisy Atino and Virginia Van Zandt

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