Ballot Measures Impacting State Legislative and Executive Power

By Valerie Newberg

Please note that this article is based on projected results and may change with certified election results.

Changes to legislative and executive power in the states were on the ballot this November. In this year’s state elections, voters considered issues like the power to convene a special legislative session, the state legislative veto and the creation of new executive offices. This article analyzes the results of these ballot measures in Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas and Kentucky.

Arkansas, Idaho and Kentucky considered options for calling a special legislative session.

Kentucky voters decided against a constitutional amendment addressing legislative power with 54% of voters selecting “no”[1]. Constitutional Amendment 1 would have allowed the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House to convene the legislature by a Joint Proclamation for up to 12 days a year and allowed each chamber to extend the end date for the legislative session by a three-fifths vote.[2] With the failure of this measure, only the Governor can call a special legislative session in Kentucky.

In Arkansas, 61% of voters rejected a similar ballot measure for Issue 1.[3] This amendment would have allowed either a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers or a joint proclamation by House and Senate leadership to convene a special session. Currently, only the Governor of Arkansas has that power.

Kentucky and Arkansas are two of 13 states that give the governor sole power over calling a legislative session. Illinois, Ohio and Delaware are the only three states that do not require a legislative vote or Governor’s authority to convene a special legislative session.[4]

With 52% of Idaho voters selecting “yes” on Constitutional Amendment SJR 102, the state now allows Senate and House leadership to convene a special legislative session if they receive a joint proclamation from three-fifths of lawmakers in each chamber.[5] Idaho joins 17 other states where a supermajority is required to convene a special legislative session.

Arizona voters decided to create the position of lieutenant governor.

Proposition 131 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that establishes the office of Lieutenant Governor who would run for election on a joint ticket with the gubernatorial candidate. Voters in Arizona supported this ballot measure with 55% voting “yes”. Before this ballot measure was passed, the Arizona constitution stipulated that if the office of the Governor becomes vacant, the Secretary of State should succeed, but the passage of this amendment transferred that power to the Lieutenant Governor.[6]

With this amendment, Arizona joins 45 states who have an elected lieutenant governor position.[7]

Kansas voters rejected the state legislative veto.

Kansas Constitutional Amendment 1, the Legislative Veto or Suspension of Executive Agency Regulations Amendment, was narrowly rejected by voters. Constitutional Amendment 1 authorized the legislature to veto or suspend rules or regulations adopted by executive agencies via a simple majority vote. With a close finish, 50.5% of voters selected to reject this amendment.

From 1939 through 1984, Kansas lawmakers could rewrite or veto any regulation adopted by an administrative agency. In 1984, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in Stephan v Kansas House of Representatives[8] that this legislative veto violated the constitutional commitment to separation of powers. Before the election, Kansas legislators could only revise or reject administrative procedures by passing a bill that the governor signs into law, but a joint committee could review regulations and make recommendations. Passage of Constitutional Amendment 1 would have expanded legislators’ power and limited the ability of state agencies to unilaterally implement rules that have the effect of law.

Since 1976, Idaho, Iowa and Nevada have passed ballot measures expanding the legislative veto.[9] If Constitutional Initiative 1 was passed, Kansas would have joined at least six others- Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, New Jersey and Nevada– in allowing legislators to veto executive actions.[10]

CSG will continue to provide initial results on key topics as well as more in-depth analysis in the days following the election. Find those articles on Twitter (@CSGovts) and at csg.org/state-talk.


[1] https://vrsws.sos.ky.gov/liveresults/

[2] https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/acts/21RS/documents/0027.pdf

[3] https://ballotpedia.org/Arkansas_Issue_1,_Legislative_Authority_to_Call_a_Special_Session_Amendment_(2022)

[4] https://ballotpedia.org/Kentucky_Constitutional_Amendment_1,_Changes_to_Legislative_Session_End_Dates_and_Special_Sessions_Measure_(2022)#Convening_special_state_legislative_sessions

[5] https://ballotpedia.org/Idaho_Constitutional_Amendment_SJR_102,_Legislative_Authority_to_Call_a_Special_Session_Amendment_(2022)

[6] https://azsos.gov/sites/default/files/for_scr1024_proposition_131_lieutenant_governor_joint_ticket.pdf

[7] https://ballotpedia.org/Arizona_Proposition_131,_Create_Office_of_Lieutenant_Governor_Amendment_(2022)

[8] https://law.justia.com/cases/kansas/supreme-court/1984/56-880-1.html

[9] Https://ballotpedia.org/Kansas_Constitutional_Amendment_1,_Legislative_Veto_or_Suspension_of_Executive_   Agency_Regulations_Amendment_(2022)

[10] https://apnews.com/article/2022-midterm-elections-health-legislature-state-governments-constitutions-60f6103f666d886be18917bdd32bba82

Women in State Government: Impact of the 2022 Election

By Rebecca Halpryn

Women Making History

Prior to the 2022 general election, only ten women across nine states and one territory held the gubernatorial position. Nine of these women ran as the incumbent candidates in the 2022 election – all nine gubernatorial incumbent women won (Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon did not run for reelection due to term limits). Four other states, Arkansas, Arizona, Massachusetts and Oregon, elected women governors, setting a record for the most women serving as governors concurrently. 

Nationally, prior to the 2022 midterm elections, 23 states had never elected a woman as governor, 16 of which held gubernatorial elections during the 2022 midterm elections. Women were on the ballot for the 2022 gubernatorial race in 12 of these 16 states, and nominated as either a Republican or Democratic candidate in six (Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio). Women won the gubernatorial election in three states, Arkansas, Massachusetts and New York, bringing the number of states that have never elected a woman to the gubernatorial role down to 20.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) made history in 2022 as the first woman to be governor of Arkansas. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) is the first woman elected as lieutenant governor in Arkansas. Massachusetts’ Attorney General Maura Healey (D) and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) of New York made history as the first elected governors of their respective states (both states appointed women as governors previously). Arkansas and Massachusetts are the first states to have women serving concurrently in both the governor and lieutenant governor positions. Additionally, both Healey of Massachusetts and Tina Kotek (D) of Oregon made national history simultaneously as the first openly lesbian candidates to be elected governors in the US.

Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands also held gubernatorial elections in 2022. The Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands have never elected a woman to the gubernatorial position. Christina Sablan made history as the first woman in the Northern Mariana Islands to be nominated by a major party for the gubernatorial role. In Guam, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero made history in 2018 as the first woman elected to governor. Guerrero won reelection in 2022.

Results as of 11/15/22

Election Results So far

As of Nov. 15, 2022, Ballotpedia has projected winners for 92.1% of the 6,514 state-level races in the 2022 general election. Data from Ballotpedia shows that 35.5% of state-level race candidates are women. Of these women, 45.3% were incumbents, 7.1% ran for positions in the executive branch, 5.0% ran for positions in the judicial branch and 88.0% ran for positions in the legislative branch. In just under half (48.6%) of the state level races, at least one candidate identified as a woman. Overall, women won 34.1% of all projected state level races and won 71.5% of all projected state level races with at least one woman on the ballot. 46.1% of women incumbent candidates won reelection.

(NOTE: gender information for 12.9% of state level candidates was unavailable. Gender information for all candidates within a race was unavailable for 1.7% of all state races. These candidates and races were excluded from all analyses).

Gubernatorial elections took place in 36 states and three territories in 2022. Women won 12 states and one territory out of the 29 gubernatorial races with a woman candidate on the ballot (27 states and two territories) and accounted for 31.8% of the gubernatorial candidates on the ballot. The number of states and territories with a female governor increased from 10 to 13.

Of the 4,464 lower legislature races across 49 states and three territories, just under half (47.9%) had at least one woman candidate on the ballot.

35.2% of these candidates were women of which 46.9% were incumbents.

Women won 72.6% of the 1,938 projected lower legislature races with a woman candidate and 33.9% of all projected lower legislature races.

96.9% of women incumbents in projected races won.

In the upper legislature, nearly half (48.0%) of the 1,278 races across 46 states and two territories, had at least one woman running on the ballot, and women made up 34.2% of the candidates. Of these women, 40.4% were the incumbent candidate.

Women won 69.2% of the 1,193 projected state senate races with a woman candidate and 32.4% of all projected upper legislature races.

96.3% of women incumbents in projected races were reelected.

What These Results Tell Us

Overall, data from projected races indicate that fewer women than men, about one-in-three candidates, appeared on the ballot in the 2022 general elections. Women won just over one-in-three races across all state level races. When looking just at the races that include at least one woman on the ballot, women perform better, winning about seven-in-ten races. Women perform particularly well in state judicial races and in the races in which they appear on the ballot, perform worst in state executive races.


Incumbency Performance in State Elections

By Ben Reynolds

In elections, incumbents typically hold an electoral advantage. Attempts to defeat an incumbent, or flip a seat’s partisan control, can be difficult. Generally, incumbents have advantages in fundraising, name recognition and past policy work to name a few. In the 2022 general election, there were 6,728 state legislative seats, 307 state executive seats and 384 judicial court seats on the ballot. There were 5,095 incumbent candidates and 7,069 non-incumbent candidates running for election. Overall, the judicial branch had the highest percentage of incumbents running for election compared to the legislative and executive branches.

Table 1: Incumbent candidates by branch of state government

Office BranchPercentage of Candidates that were Incumbents
Legislative42%
Executive24%
Judicial75%

When comparing candidates by party, 49% of Republican candidates were incumbents and 45% of Democratic candidates were incumbents. Republican and Democratic incumbent candidates made up 33% of all total candidates running for office in the 2022 midterm elections.

Table 2: Percentage of Incumbents Running

Political PartyPercentage Incumbent
Democrat45%
Republican49%
Libertarian>1%
Independent>1%
Nonpartisan5%
Other Parties>1%

17% (2,088) of state races were uncontested elections (elections in which candidates run unopposed). Republican candidates were more likely to run in uncontested elections (55%) while Democratic candidates were more likely to run in competitive races (66%). Of Democrats running unopposed, 87% were incumbents. In comparison, among Republicans running unopposed, 79% were incumbents.

The following analysis looks at competitive races, defined as races that have two or more candidates running for the same office. In this year’s election, 83% of races were competitive.

As of November 15, 2022, there were 4,302 winners of competitive races in this year’s election. Of those winners, 67% were incumbents. Among incumbents, only 4% lost a competitive race.

Breaking down incumbent performance by party shows that Republican incumbents performed slightly better than Democratic incumbents. Republican incumbents won 85% of their races compared to 83% of competitive races won by Democratic incumbents.  

Table 3: Incumbent and Non-Incumbent Performance in Competitive Races

Political PartyIncumbent WinIncumbent LostNon-Incumbent WinNon-Incumbent Lost
Democrat1,450 886231,734
Republican1,362517801,807
Libertarian010384
Independent939298
Nonpartisan41441244

Incumbents vs Non-Incumbents by Office Branch

Incumbent performance in competitive races was relatively similar among the three office branches.

Table 4: Incumbent Performance by Office Branch

Office BranchTotal Incumbents WonIncumbent Win PercentageTotal Races Won
Legislative266067%3,977
Executive17063%271
Judicial3365%54

Incumbents won the majority of executive races. Nearly all incumbent state governors won re-election. When breaking down incumbent performance by political party, Democratic and Republican incumbents won competitive executive races at similar rates, and nonpartisan incumbents won 9% of competitive executive races.

In the legislature, incumbents won 67% of races. Democratic incumbents won 43%, while Republican incumbents won 41% of competitive legislative races. Non-Republican and Democratic incumbents accounted for less than 1% of winners in competitive legislative races.

Incumbents won 65% of competitive judicial races. When you compare by political party, Democratic incumbents won 9%, Republican incumbents won 27% and nonpartisan incumbents won 27% of competitive judicial races. Many state’s judicial races are considered nonpartisan elections, so it is expected that nonpartisan incumbents performed better in this category.

In elections, incumbents typically hold an electoral advantage, and that stood true in this year’s general. Nearly all incumbent state governors won re-election. Currently, only Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak lost to challenger Joe Lombardo. Overall, judicial incumbents performed the best followed by legislative incumbents and finally executive incumbents.


Partisan Control of States After the 2022 Election

By Dr. Dakota Thomas

Please note that this article is based on projected results and may change with certified election results. 

The 2022 election will decide which party will control state government in many states. This article focuses on the 22 battleground states where partisan control was considered likely to change. A trifecta occurs when one party controls both houses[1] of the state legislature as well as the governorship. Divided government, on the other hand, means one or both houses of the state legislature are held by a different party than the governor.

After the 2022 election, next year will see 22 Republican trifectas, 17 Democratic trifectas and 10 divided governments (though not all state races have been officially called as of Nov. 15, 2022). Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota have all moved from divided government to unified Democratic control. No states have moved from a Democratic trifecta or divided government to Republican leadership yet, though Alaska might move in that direction. Nevada has moved from a Democratic trifecta to divided government, and Arizona has moved from a Republican trifecta to divided government.

Prior to the 2022 election, there were 23 Republican trifectas, 14 Democratic trifectas and 13 divided governments. According to our partners at Ballotpedia, 22 states in the 2022 elections were battlegrounds for control – 7 states currently controlled by Democrats and 6 controlled by Republicans were considered vulnerable, and 9 states currently under a divided government had potential to become trifectas or remain divided (4 potential Democratic trifectas, 2 potential Republican trifectas, and 3 complete tossups).

Partisan Control of State Governments in Battleground States

StatePre-Election ControlPost-Election Control
AlaskaDividedNot called (Nov. 15 2022)
ArizonaRepublicanDivided
ColoradoDemocraticDemocratic
DelawareDemocraticDemocratic
FloridaRepublicanRepublican
GeorgiaRepublicanRepublican
IllinoisDemocraticDemocratic
IowaRepublicanRepublican
KansasDividedDivided
MaineDemocraticDemocratic
MarylandDividedDemocratic
MassachusettsDividedDemocratic
MichiganDividedDemocratic
MinnesotaDividedDemocratic
NevadaDemocraticDivided
New HampshireRepublicanRepublican
North CarolinaDividedDivided
OregonDemocraticDemocratic
PennsylvaniaDividedDivided
TexasRepublicanRepublican
WashingtonDemocraticDemocratic
WisconsinDividedDivided

Why does this matter?

Which party controls a state government has a huge influence on state level policymaking. In general, a trifecta of one party has an easier time passing policies in general, while a state with divided government usually moves slower and passes fewer new policies. The specific policies that get enacted (or not enacted) also obviously depend on which specific party is in control of a given state.

Abortion policy is likely to be one major policy area where state political control proves important. After the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade earlier this year in their ruling for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, states are free to create their own rules around abortion and are likely to be the primary arena in which abortion policy is decided. Voters directly weighed in on abortion policy in several ballot referenda in 2022 as well – there were ballot measures related to restricting abortion in Kentucky and Montana, though both were voted down. Several states, like California, Michigan, and Vermont, also had ballot measures in the opposite direction that would enshrine a right to reproductive healthcare into their state constitutions – all those measures appear to have passed (as of Nov. 14, 2022). Abortion policy is just one of many areas of state level policymaking that will be highly influenced by which party (if any) controls a state’s government.

Gun control/gun rights are another policy area that will likely be highly influenced by state political control. Like abortion, recent US Supreme Court rulings have given states more power to determine gun rights policy. In the 2022 election, voters in Iowa approved Amendment 1 which adds a right to own and bear firearms to the Iowa Constitution and requires scrutiny for any alleged violations of said right by the courts. Oregon’s Measure 114[2], which will require a permit issued by local law enforcement in order to buy a firearm in the state, was also approved by voters (as of Nov. 15, 2022).

Finally, cannabis legalization may also be influenced by partisan control of states. Arkansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota voters all elected to keep cannabis rules as they were rather than legalizing recreational use – in all three states, cannabis is legal only for medicinal purposes. Missouri and Maryland voters approved ballot measures to legalize recreational use of cannabis.

CSG will continue to monitor state election results, ballot measures, and policymaking trends and provide resources as state leaders navigate these and other areas of state policy.


[1] Note that Nebraska has a unicameral legislature with only one house.

[2] It would also require photo ID, fingerprints, safety training, criminal background check, and paying a fee to apply for said permit; as well as prohibit the manufacturing, importing, purchasing, selling, possessing, using, or transferring ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds and make violations thereof a class A misdemeanor.


Ballot Measures on Election Administration and the Initiative Process

By Cassandra Hockenberry

Please note that this article is based on projected results and may change with certified election results. 

This year, six states voted on ballot measures to change election administration processes in their states. The measures included topics like voter ID laws and early voting, among other topics. Of note, many city and county jurisdictions had similar ballot measures for local election administration. For example, Multnomah County Oregon approved a measure to utilize ranked-choice voting for county elections.

Connecticut

The Allow for Early Voting Amendment in Connecticut was approved by voters. This amends the Connecticut Constitution to allow the Connecticut General Assembly to pass laws allowing early in-person voting to be conducted in the state. Previously, the General Assembly was barred by the Constitution from passing any law which would allow early voting. We will be monitoring Connecticut’s General Assembly Legislative Session beginning April 10, 2023, to learn more about how the state will be implementing this.

Michigan

Michigan voters approved Proposal 2, which amended the Michigan Constitution to add several election and voting-related policies. Some of these policies already existed in state statute but others are new to the state. Below is a non-inclusive list of policies that Proposal 2 adds to the constitution:

  • Creates a nine-day early voting period.
  • Requires voters to present photo identification or sign an affidavit when voting in person or applying for an absentee ballot.
  • Requires that military and overseas citizen ballots postmarked by election day are counted.
  • Provides voters with a right to request an absentee ballot.
  • Requires the state to fund prepaid stamps and a tracking system for absentee ballots.
  • Requires the state to fund a number of absentee ballot drop boxes.
  • Provides that local governments can accept charitable and in-kind donations to assist with running elections so long as the donations are disclosed and are not from foreign entities.
  • Provides that election officiations are responsible for election audits, requires election audits be conducted in public, and requires that election results be certified based on votes cast.
  • Added constitutional language that “harassing, threatening or intimidating conduct” as well as laws, regulations, and practices that have “the intent or effect of denying, abridging, interfering with, or unreasonably burdening the fundamental right to vote” are prohibited.

To learn more about how Proposal 2 will change Michigan elections see the comparison table created by Ballotpedia here.

Nebraska

Voters in Nebraska approved Initiative 432. This initiative amended Article I of the Constitution of Nebraska to require a voter provide photo identification before they are allowed to vote. The state Senate must now pass legislation implementing this change while ensuring the “preservation of an individual’s rights under the United States Constitution.”

Ohio

Voters in Ohio approved Issue 2, referred to as the Citizenship Voting Requirement Amendment. Issue 2 bars local governments from allowing persons who lack the below qualifications from voting in local elections:

  • Being 18 years or older.
  • Being a resident of the state, county, township or ward.
  • Having been registered to vote for thirty days.

This amendment changes Article V, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution from “Every citizen of the United States… is entitled to vote at all elections” to “Only a citizen of the United States…”

Arizona and Nevada

Ballot measures related to voting policies were also included on ballots in Arizona and Nevada. The results of these ballot measures have not yet been projected. Arizona voted on Proposition 309 which would require date of birth and voter identification number for mail-in ballots and eliminate a two-document alternative to photo ID for in-person voting. Nevada voted on Question 3 which would provide for open top-five primaries and ranked-choice voting for general elections.

Slavery and Involuntary Servitude as a Punishment in the United States

By Blair Lozier

Please note that this article is based on projected results and may change with certified election results. 

The 13th amendment to the United States Constitution states reads,“…that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime, where the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction”. As of October 2022, 20 state constitutions still included language permitting enslavement or servitude (typically as criminal punishment or for debt payments). During the 2022 midterm elections, five states – Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont voted on whether to remove constitutional language that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude. Four of these states voted to approve these ballot measures, while Louisiana did not. This article analyzes the ballot measures and results in each of these states.

Alabama approved the Recompiled Constitution Ratification Question on the ballot as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. The updated and recompiled state constitution was drafted to:

  • Arrange it in proper articles, parts and sections.
  • Remove all racist language.
  • Delete duplicative and repealed provisions.
  • Consolidate provisions regarding economic development.
  • Arrange all local amendments by county of application.

Section 32 of Article I, which stated: “That no form of slavery shall exist in this state; and there shall not be any involuntary servitude, otherwise than for the punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted.” was removed from the constitution by the adoption of this ballot measure. This measure received support from 76.5% of voters (as of noon on Nov. 10).

Oregon passed Measure 112 which repeals language from the state constitution that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishment and adds language that authorizes an Oregon court or a probation or parole agency to order alternatives to incarceration for a convicted individual as part of their sentencing. Voters approved removing slavery as a criminal punishment with a 55.2% majority (as of noon on Nov. 10).

Tennessee Constitutional Amendment 3 amends the state constitution to remove language that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments and replace it with the statement, “slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited.” Tennessee passed Constitutional Amendment 3 with 79.5% of the vote (as of noon on Nov. 10).

Vermont Proposal 2 repeals language stating that persons could be held as servants, slaves or apprentices with the person’s consent for the payments of debts, damages, fines or costs. The amendment adds that “Slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited” to the state constitution. Vermont passed Proposal 2 with an 89% majority (as of noon on Nov. 10).

Louisiana Amendment 7 would have removed language from the state constitution that allows involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime and adds language to the constitution that prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude except when used as part of the lawful administration of criminal justice. Louisiana did not pass Amendment 7, with 60.9% of voters voting no to the amendment (as of noon on Nov. 10). This may be due to the legislative sponsor of Amendment 7, State Representative Edmond Jordan (D), urging voters to reject the measure as written due to the unclear and ambiguous wording of the amendment. Representative Jordan hopes to bring the amendment back next year with clearer language.

Additional Resources:

CSG will continue to provide initial results on key topics as well as more in-depth analysis in the days following the election. Find those articles on Twitter (@CSGovts) and at csg.org/state-talk.

A First Glance at Election Results and Trends: State Races and Ballot Measure Results

Please note that this article is based on projected results and may change with certified election results.

Polls are closed on the 2022 general election where voters in 46 states decided on 6,278 state legislative races, 36 governors and 133 statewide ballot measures. The Council of State Governments, the nation’s only nonpartisan organization serving all three branches of state government, will provide coverage and analysis of state elections with attention to state races and the impact of ballot measures. This article provides an overview of the results and trends in state races and ballot measure results based on projections made through midday Nov. 9.

States are seeing increased diversity in elected candidates.

Several races, projected by Ballotpedia, are historical firsts, expanding gender, race and age representation amongst elected officials. Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R), former press secretary for President Donald Trump, made history in Arkansas as the first female governor in Arkansas. Governor Maura Healy (D) of Massachusetts and Governor Kathy Hochul (D) of New York also made history as the first female elected governor in their respective states. Governor Healy is also the first openly lesbian governor in the US and the first openly gay governor in Massachusetts. U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D) became the longest-serving female member of Congress with reelection to Ohio’s 9th District. Governor Wes Moore became the first Black governor of Maryland and his lieutenant governor, Aruna Miller (D), is the first immigrant and first Asian American to be elected to statewide office in Maryland. In Rhode Island, Chinese American Victoria Gu (D) and Japanese American Linda Ujifusa (D) became the first Asian candidates elected to the state legislature, and Shri Thanedar (D) became the first Indian American U.S. Representative for Michigan. Maxwell Frost (D) won Florida’s 10th Congressional District race, making him the first Democratic member of Congress from Gen Z and the first Afro-Cubano to head to Congress.

Partisan legislative and state control remains steady with Democrats consolidating power in some states.

So far, Democrats have consolidated power in several states – Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota. Previously, these states were under a divided government. No new state government trifectas have been called for Republicans yet, and no state governments that were trifectas controlled by one party have moved to divided government yet. However, these results may change as more state elections are called. Partisan legislative control remains relatively steady as election results are projected. The Democratic Party in Minnesota has consolidated legislative power from previously split control, and Michigan has flipped from Republican legislative control to Democratic control. Results have not yet been projected for six states which may change these results.

Incumbent Governors are being re-elected and the Democratic party has gained some control.

This year there are 36 governor seats up for reelection, currently, 32 of the races have been called. Seven governors did not seek reelection. Democrats have picked up two governor seats in Maryland and Massachusetts. Currently, every incumbent governor that was up for reelection has won. There are currently six newly elected governors; Maura Healy (D) Massachusetts, Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) Arkansas, Jim Pillen (R) Nebraska, Josh Green (D) Hawaii, Josh Shapiro (D) Pennsylvania and Wes Moore (D) Maryland. Governor races that have not been confirmed yet are Alaska, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. In the US Territories incumbent Lou Leon Guerrero (D) won reelection in Guam. Incumbent Albert Bryan (D) won reelection as governor of the US Virgin Islands while incumbent Ralph Torres (R) is facing a runoff versus Arnold I. Palacios (I).

With his win in Maryland, Wes Moore is a growing figure nationally among Democrats. Governor Ron DeSantis handedly won reelection in Florida by wide margins and continues his growth as a leader in the GOP and potential presidential candidate in 2024.  

States have passed ballot measures addressing state legislative authority, election administration and voting-related policies and state tax changes.

On the ballot this year were several possible changes to some states’ constitutional amendment processes. So far, Arizona’s Proposition 132 is too close to call. If enacted, this measure will require a 60% majority for future constitutional amendments that approve new taxes. In Arkansas, Issue 2 was defeated. This measure would have required a 60% majority for future constitutional amendments.

Some states considered changes to voting policy and election administration. Nebraska voters approved Initiative 434, requiring a photo ID for voting. Ohio passed Issue 2, prohibiting local governments from allowing anyone who does not meet the qualifications for an elector (e.g. a non-citizen) to vote in local elections. Connecticut voters approved Question 1, allowing the legislature to establish early voting. Michigan approved Proposal 2, which made several changes to voting procedures including creating a 9 day early voting period, requiring photo ID, requiring military and overseas ballots postmarked by election day to be counted, prohibiting voter intimidation and several other changes. A proposed photo ID requirement in Arizona and Nevada’s possible adoption of ranked choice voting are still too close to call.

At least six states proposed ballot measures changing state tax laws. In California, voters rejected Proposition 30, which would have raised taxes on those making more than $2 million to subsidize electric vehicle infrastructure and wildfire prevention. Colorado voters passed Proposition 121, lowering the income tax from 4.55% to 4.40%. West Virginia failed to pass Amendment 2, which would have allowed lawmakers to exempt property taxes on motor vehicles and personal property used by businesses. The results of Arizona’s Propositions 130 and 310, allowing lawmakers to pass a personal tax exemption and increasing sales taxes to fund fire districts, are too early to call. Massachusetts voters passed Question 1, imposing an additional 4% tax on those making over $1 million to fund education and transportation. Idaho approved the Advisory Question, which asked voters for their opinion on tax changes including additional rebates to taxpayers, reduction of the corporate tax rate and allocation of tax revenue to education.

States have passed ballot measures addressing the regulation of marijuana, abortion and enslavement.

Several state elections included ballot measures addressing marijuana, abortion and enslavement. According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials are at the forefront of the recent rise in public support for the legalization of marijuana and abortions. It is likely that these ballot measures motivated Millennials and younger generations to vote in the 2022 elections.

Before the elections, marijuana was legal in 19 states and D.C. Of those 19 states, 13 and D.C. had legalized marijuana through the ballot measure process. During the 2022 midterm elections, Maryland and Missouri passed ballot measures legalizing marijuana. Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota rejected ballot measures legalizing marijuana.

There were five ballot measures addressing abortion in the midterm elections. California, Michigan and Vermont voted to add “reproductive freedom” to their state constitutions, and Kentucky voted no to a constitutional amendment stating nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion. Montana results are not confirmed, but current results look like abortion rights will remain.

As of October 2022, 20 state constitutions included language permitting enslavement or servitude as criminal punishment or debt payments. During the 2-22 midterm elections, five states had ballot measures repealing such language. Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont have voted to repeal language allowing slavery or involuntary servitude as criminal punishments. Louisiana voted not to repeal language allowing involuntary servitude as criminal punishments which may be due to confusion with the wording of the ballot measure.

CSG will continue to provide initial results on key topics as well as more in-depth analysis in the days following the election. Find those articles on Twitter (@CSGovts) and at csg.org/state-talk.

Achieving Balance Between Security and Ballot Access when Serving Military and Overseas Citizen Voters

Members of The Council of State Governments (CSG) Overseas Voting Initiative (OVI) recently released a position paper titled, “Electronic Ballot Return for Military and Overseas Voters: Considerations for Achieving Balance Between Security and Ballot Access.

Created by 14 state and local election officials comprising the Sustainability of UOCAVA Balloting Systems Subgroup (SUBSS), this set of recommendations was issued in response to the current state of change within the states regarding election policy. As states grapple with how to best serve their voters, SUBSS members are seeking to make clear that military and overseas voters face novel challenges when participating in elections. These challenges may necessitate the consideration of additional voting solutions such as electronic return of voted ballots. These recommendations are targeted towards key stakeholders within the elections community, such as election officials, state legislators, researchers and election-centered federal agencies.

Electronic ballot return poses unique advantages to military and overseas voters via its ability to serve highly mobile citizens and/or those in highly austere environments. This is a complex issue that requires balance between accessibility, security, and a level of acceptable risk.

Through these recommendations, SUBSS members shared further information on ways to mitigate the risks inherent to electronic return and the need for a fresh evaluation of all ballot return methods for military and overseas voters.

This is the second set of recommendations issued by OVI members within the past year regarding how states can best serve their voters covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). In July 2020, these election officials also put forth best practices on how states could overcome barriers posed by international mail disruptions experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Those recommendations are found here: https://ovi.csg.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/FailSafeRecommendations.pdf.

Since 2013, the OVI has worked collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Defense Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) and our Working Group of state and local election officials to ensure election access for military and overseas citizen voters. The recommendations recently issued by the OVI are a culmination of these efforts and demonstrate the unique position of Working Group members to provide expertise and resources on electronic ballot return for UOCAVA voters.

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Beyond the Ballot with Paul Lux

“The sun never sets on voting in Okaloosa County,” shared Paul Lux as he showcased the pins representing his overseas voters that dot the world map in his office. In 1999, Lux was working as an information technology (IT) specialist for a local real estate office in Okaloosa County when he was approached by the company’s secretary regarding an open position with the Supervisor of Elections. Influenced by his educational background in government and his voting experience during his military service, Lux soon applied for the position. Shortly thereafter, he was brought on staff as an Information Systems Coordinator, a role in which he served for five years before rising through the ranks to become Supervisor of Elections in 2009.

While in office, Lux has witnessed numerous advancements in the technologies used to administer elections. During the early 2000’s, lever machines and punch card voting were still commonly used to cast and count voters’ ballots. Following the Bush v. Gore Presidential Election, punch card voting was largely abandoned due to counting issues stemming from incompletely punched chads. Direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines were then adopted due to their utility for voters with disabilities, provision of immediate feedback to voters, and prevention of overvotes. Some machines, however, do not produce voter-verified paper audit trails (VVPAT), and thus many jurisdictions have since transitioned back to the use of paper ballots and optical scanners.

Despite rapid advancements within the technology sector at-large, innovation within the realm of voting equipment has been slow moving. According to Lux, this can be attributed in part to the uncertainty surrounding how frequently new iterations of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) – the standards and requirements to which all voting systems in the U.S. must adhere – would be adopted. “This (uncertainty) disincentivized technology vendors from investing in research and development given the lack of clarity surrounding the length of time for which new systems would be considered compliant with the VVSG,” Lux explained.

By 2015, Lux had become a well-known figure in the wider elections community with a demonstrated interest in tackling barriers to the development of voting technologies. As such, Lux was selected to become a member of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Standards Board. While on the board, Supervisor Lux represented the perspective of local election officials while working closely with members of the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) to review 15 high level assertions for the VVSG*. Impressed with Lux’s work on the Standards Board, EAC Commissioner Don Palmer appointed Lux to the TGDC in 2019, a role in which he remains today.

Although advancements in voting technology have been slow moving, this has not deterred Supervisor Lux from securing his County’s participation in technology-centered pilot projects for uniformed and overseas citizen voters (UOCAVA). In Okaloosa County, approximately one-fifth of registered voters are uniformed services voters posted at military installations within the County, such as Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, and Duke Field, among others.

The prevalence of this protected group in his jurisdiction, in combination with his previous military service, prompted Lux to put voting access for these citizens at the forefront of his tenure in office. While serving as the county’s IT specialist, Lux helped oversee the Voting Over the Internet (VOI) project. Through this pilot program, UOCAVA voters were permitted to return their ballots to the Supervisor of Elections via the Internet. Although the pilot was successful, events surrounding the 2000 election largely overshadowed its impact within the wider elections community.

In 2004, Lux and his colleagues at the Supervisor of Elections office secured Okaloosa’s participation in the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE). This program once again allowed UCOAVA voters to cast their ballot via the Internet while also allowing them to register to vote online. After security concerns prompted the cancellation of the program, Okaloosa County partnered with Scytl, a Spanish provider of electronic voting systems and election technology, to initiate the 2008 Distance Ballot Pilot project. This project allowed UOCAVA voters to utilize a kiosk to cast their ballots while abroad rather than mark and return a ballot via mail or the Internet. Four years later, Okaloosa County secured its participation in both Electronic Absentee System for Elections (EASE) grant programs administered by the Federal Voting Assistance Project.

Despite the relative success of these pilots, concerns regarding the security of electronic ballot return methods have stifled Supervisor Lux’s ability to provide his UOCAVA voters with a long-term solution for electronic ballot return. Although voters in Florida are authorized to utilize fax technology to return their ballots, Lux does not see this as a viable alternative to mailed ballots. “I’m still struggling with looking for means of electronic ballot return that are beneficial for soldiers in the field. What guys in forward deployed areas in Afghanistan don’t have access to is a fax machine” explained Lux.

Despite the barriers Lux has faced as Supervisor, he remains committed to pursuing a viable and secure means of electronic ballot return for his uniformed and overseas citizen voters. In addition to his membership on the TGDC, Lux plays an active role in The Council of State Governments Overseas Voting Initiative (OVI) where he collaborates with fellow election officials and OVI team members to assess feasible and secure methods of electronic ballot return for UOCAVA voters. According to Lux, this pursuit is what continues to drive him as an election official. “That’s the legacy I want to leave behind – that through my office, I was able to make sure that military voters got to vote,” said Lux.

*VVSG high level assertions break down agreed upon voting system requirements into clear guidelines for how voting systems should be designed and developed and how they should operate.

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Beyond the Ballot with Michael Winn

The Greek philosopher Aristotle said that by nature, man is a social animal. For Michael Winn, this quote has long resonated deeply with his desire to bring about positive change. While working as a sanitarian in the mid-1990s, Winn realized it was time to switch paths and pursue this passion through a career in public service. Shortly after beginning his job search, Winn was approached by an acquaintance working in the Bexar County Clerk’s Office regarding an open position as a contract specialist. Shortly thereafter, he was brought on staff. What he anticipated to be a 9:00-5:00 commitment quickly became a life-long passion. 

As a contract specialist, Winn developed a foundational understanding of election processes in his jurisdiction and an awareness of how these procedures contributed to a cohesive statewide system. Winn continued to build upon this foundation as he rose through the ranks to become the Administrator of Elections in Harris County in 2019 and the Chief Deputy of Administration for the County Clerk’s Office one year later. According to Winn, his experience as an administrator has greatly facilitated his ability to educate voters on critical aspects of elections at the municipal, county, and statewide levels. 

Given this background, Winn soon came to prioritize engagement with the community as Chief Deputy to better reach and educate his jurisdiction’s diverse voting population. Harris County, home to the city of Houston, boasts one of the most diverse populations in the nation. As of 2016, the County’s foreign-born population totaled approximately 1.2 million, with residents hailing from Mexico, El Salvador, India, and Vietnam, among others. Although Winn had previously held positions in Bexar and Travis counties, the diversity of Houston posed a new and exciting challenge. 

To address this challenge and better meet the needs of his constituents, Winn and his colleagues turned to the numerous community organizations throughout the city for support. In Houston, these organizations exist to foster a sense of belonging, maintain cultural ties and traditions, and advocate for the interests of the group(s) they represent. As such, organizational leadership is uniquely positioned to inform election administrators of their community’s needs and assist in voter education efforts. 

In Harris County, long-standing relationships have been built with organizations such as the Texas Civil Rights Project, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and those representing the interests of the Hispanic and Asian communities. Over the years, these relationships allowed Winn and his colleagues to effectively disseminate information regarding upcoming elections and polling place locations. Through feedback solicited from these organizations, the Clerk’s Office also was able to better locate polling places based on voters’ access to private and public transportation. 

Community partnerships also have played a critical role in helping Houston’s voters overcome the language barriers they may experience prior to and once having arrived at their polling place. Although election officials in Harris County have incorporated four languages – English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese – into their operations, numerous other languages and dialects also are prevalent within the community. Therefore, further action was needed in order to better serve all voters. 

Recognizing this need, Winn and his colleagues in Harris County worked alongside a local vendor to expand the language services available to voters. Prior to the 2020 presidential primary, officials in the Clerk’s office were looking for ways to repurpose older iPads that had long fallen out of use. With the help of the local vendor, 29 different languages were incorporated into each tablet’s software. Volunteers in the field were then equipped with the tablets so they could better communicate timely and accurate election information to voters with limited English proficiency. When asked about this collaboration, Winn stated that “While forging connections with community groups may be a daunting task, it is critical to ensuring that this (electoral) process works for everyone.” 

By the November 2020 election, the COVID-19 pandemic had yet to subside, leaving election officials throughout the nation with mounting uncertainties. In Harris County, relationships with community leaders were once again leveraged to put procedures in place that protected the health of poll workers and voters alike.  

At the time of the election, conflicting guidance from varying state officials in Texas resulted in confusion among residents regarding mask wearing requirements at the polls. Winn and his colleagues resolved this confusion by first consulting with members of the community on what procedures they felt were necessary to ensure their safety. Through surveys, the Clerk’s Office found overwhelming support for mask mandates and social distancing requirements within election facilities. Upon finalizing procedures with this feedback in mind, relationships with trusted community leaders were then leveraged to ensure these requirements were made clear to the public.  

After the results had been declared and the election fervor subsided, the success of Harris County’s contingency planning was made clear. Despite over 1.8 million Houston residents having voted in the November election, Chief Deputy Harris is not aware of any cases of community transmission linked to the County’s polling locations. According to Winn, the success of the November election was reliant upon one key takeaway: listening to your electorate. “When you listen to the electorate that you serve and include them in critical conversations taking place, it makes for a better process,” stated Winn.  

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