The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest On Election Administration, August 4, 2023
Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin: Zenger News’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration. Every Friday, we deliver the latest updates on election policy around the country, including nationwide trends, legislative activity, updates on notable lawsuits and policy changes.
- States enacted five bills since our last edition. In the same period in 2022, no bills were enacted.
- States have enacted 303 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 211 bills.
- Democrats sponsored two of the bills active over the past week, a 50% decrease from the four Democrat-sponsored bills in state legislatures the week before. Republicans sponsored one of the bills acted on this past week, a 50% decrease from the two Republican-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before.
- The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were: Contest-specific procedures (5), Ballot access (2), Election funding (2), Audits and oversight (2), and Election dates and deadlines (2).
Here is the current status of this year’s election-related bills:
- 303 enacted bills (5 more than in our last edition)
- 11 that have passed both chambers (-5)
- 186 that have passed one chamber (-14)
- 1,745 introduced bills (-74)
- 499 dead bills (+90)
States have enacted 303 election-related bills in 2023, compared to 211 at this point last year. Of these bills, Democrats sponsored 69 (22.8%), Republicans sponsored 151 (49.8%), and 47 (15.5%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 36 (11.9%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
Bills enacted since our last edition, with their official titles, are listed below.
New Jersey (Democratic trifecta)
- NJ A5176: Requires periodic reporting of election results on night of primary and general election and until final tally thereafter; appropriates $1.5 million.
Oregon (Democratic trifecta)
- OR HB3073: Relating to public disclosure of voter records; and prescribing an effective date.
- OR HB2107: Relating to voter registration.
- OR SB1094: Relating to election transparency.
- OR HB5035: Relating to the financial administration of the Secretary of State; and declaring an emergency.
Bills that passed both chambers
11 bills have passed both chambers and are awaiting gubernatorial action, compared to 32 bills at this point last year. To see all bills that have currently passed both chambers, click here.
No bills passed both chambers since our last edition.
Governors have vetoed 34 bills this year, compared to 17 at this point in 2022. To see all bills vetoed in 2023, click here.
No bills have been vetoed since our last edition.
Enacted bills by topic and sponsorship, 2022 vs. 2023
The chart below shows the topics of the bills with legislative activity since our last edition. Click here to see a full list of bill categories and their definitions.
* 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.
All 2023 bills by topic and sponsorship
The chart below shows the topics of a sample of the 2,892 bills we’ve kept track of 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.
Recent activity by state and trifecta status
All of the seven bills with activity this week are in states with Democratic trifectas.
Of the 17 bills acted on in the same week in 2022, 16 (94.1%) were from states with Democratic trifectas and one (5.9%) was from a state with divided government.
Of all the election-related bills introduced this year, 1,318 (45.6%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,235 (42.7%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 339 (11.7%) are in states with divided governments.
Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (396). Texas holds legislative sessions in odd years only, and so had no activity in 2022. The Texas Legislature held a special session, with the regular session adjourning on May 29. New York was the most active state at this point in 2022, with 416 bills introduced. Texas has enacted the most bills this year (33). In 2022, Louisiana and Arizona had enacted the most bills at this point (18).
Federal judge dismisses challenge to Michigan election results
On Aug. 3, a federal judge in Michigan dismissed a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the state’s 2020 presidential election results. Plaintiffs in the September 2022 suit, including the Macomb County Republican Party and the Election Integrity Fund and Force, asked the court to decertify Michigan’s presidential election results, preserve records and documents related to the election, and prohibit the use of certain voting equipment in future elections. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan Judge Paul Maloney ruled that, “Many of plaintiffs’ allegations rely on tired examples of alleged malfeasance that have been debated for several years, most without proof or resolution. The wrinkle added to this lawsuit concerns the use of allegedly uncertified voting machines. Plaintiffs, however, have not pled facts to connect the use of uncertified voting machines to a concrete and particularized injury sufficient to maintain a cause of action.” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said, “The Court appropriately saw this suit for what it was, an effort to de-certify the results of a free and fair election and disregard the votes of millions of Michigan residents.” Irving Township Clerk Sharon Olson, also a plaintiff in the case, said that issues with the state’s voting machines were “not hard to find if anyone wants to look.”
Federal judge blocks Mississippi voter assistance law
On July 26, a U.S. district court judge suspended the enforcement of a Mississippi bill regulating voter assistance with mail-in ballots. On May 31, Disability Rights Mississippi and the League of Women Voters of Mississippi filed a lawsuit challenging SB2358, a bill regulating who can assist voters with completing mail-in ballots, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The bill prohibits anyone other than election officials, postal workers, family members, household members, or caregivers from assisting voters with completing and returning mail-in ballots. In the order suspending the law, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate, who was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan (R), said the statute could “deter otherwise lawful assistors from providing necessary aid to a vulnerable population.” Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said, “Let me be clear – it should be easy to vote and hard to cheat in an election. Political operatives should not be collecting countless numbers of ballots. We all saw how some groups abused ballot harvesting in recent years, and we will not allow that to happen in Mississippi. We’ll continue to work every day to secure Mississippi’s elections so that you can be confident in the integrity of the results.” League of Women Voters of Mississippi co-president Peg Ciraldo said, “Mississippi voters in need of assistance to vote can be assured that their voices will be heard at the ballot box. The League and its members can now continue its critical work to advocate for all voters, especially those who depend on us to return their absentee ballot.”
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