Ballot Box Weekly: Paint barely dry on 2013 elections with less than one month until first filing deadline of 2014

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November 13, 2013

Edited by Geoff Pallay

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Welcome to the sixth edition of our new publication, Ballot Box Weekly, a compilation of election coverage from across the various pages on Ballotpedia and Judgepedia. Our weekly series will be published on Wednesday afternoons and cover a range of election news from our projects, including candidate filing deadlines, primaries and elections. The report focuses specifically on the projects covered by the staff of Ballotpedia and Judgepedia: state executives, state legislatures, school boards, State courts, Congress and state and local ballot measures. We'll be bringing you an assortment of elections coverage each week from up and down the ballot. This report is generated by the non-profit, nonpartisan Lucy Burns Institute, the organization that sponsors Ballotpedia and Judgepedia.

This week's Ballot Box Weekly features a closer look at some of the storylines from last week's election, along with a glimpse at some unresolved races including elections in Louisiana on Saturday. For all the details of this year's races, visit the Ballotpedia and Judgepedia election hub pages. Even as we have barely closed the books on the 2013 elections, we're less than one month away from the first candidate filing deadline for elections in 2014.

What happened at the polls?

Although the election took place 8 days ago, not every race has been decided. Still, a lot more is clear now than the morning after November 5 polls closed. Let's take a look.

  • The Virginia Attorney General has two candidates separated by razor-thin margins, with a likely recount looming.
  • The majority coalition of the Washington State Senate was strengthened last week by a special election win. Jan Angel (R) defeated Nathan Schlicher (D) in a seat that was previously held by a Democratic State Senator, Derek Kilmer. The race was the most expensive state legislative campaign in Washington history, drawing more than $2.3 million in spending.[1][2][3]
  • Washington Advisory Vote 3 has shifted to a 5 point lead in favor of being maintained, which moves that measure from "too close to call" to defeated. The measure asked voters if they wished to maintain the law. A vote to "approve" the measure would have eliminated the law, whereas a vote "against" the measure was a vote in favor of the law. The question was non-binding, which meant that the law would have stood either way. Of the 31 state ballot measures, 24 were approved, 6 were defeated and 1 is still undecided.
  • New York's Judicial election results are in. A total of 63 seats were up for election at the Supreme, New York City Civil and County-level courts. Most incumbents won re-election. In two of the races, the incumbent was defeated. New York Supreme Court 9th Judicial District Judge Daniel Angiolillo lost his re-election bid. Angiolillo, a Republican, had served on the court since 1999. He received 10.5 percent of the vote in a race with 10 candidates seeking 5 seats. He was one of three incumbents on the ballot and the only one to lose.[4] In a race for a seat on the Nassau County Court, incumbent Judge David Ayres was defeated in a re-election bid after only receiving 22.2 percent of the vote. Ayres ran as a Democratic candidate and was defeated by two Republican nominees. Ayres was first elected to the court in 2004.
Election Coverage across Ballotpedia/Judgepedia -- November 11-November 17, 2013
Race Date Seats
Arkansas State Senate District 21 Primary November 12, 2013 1
Louisiana State House District 87 November 16, 2013 1
Louisiana's 5th Congressional District November 16, 2013 1
Louisiana Judicial Elections November 16, 2013 5

Highlighted Race: Virginia Attorney General Election

See also: Virginia attorney general election, 2013

The extremely close race between Mark Herring (D) and Mark Obenshain (R) for Virginia Attorney General looks to be concluded.

Provisional ballot counting concluded yesterday and Herring has a 163-vote lead. The state Board of Elections will certify the results by November 25. If the race results in a tie, the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly would choose a winner, likely giving the race to Mark Obenshain.[5][6] If Herring's victory holds, the Democratic Party will have won the three state executive races on November 5 -- Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.

In the event of a recount, elections officials double-check and re-add totals from voting machine records. During the 2005 recount, the returns from nine precincts were also examined by hand.[7] The recount cannot take place until after the vote is certified by the Board of Elections. Once that occurs, the apparent losing candidate has 10 calendar days to file a recount petition with the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond. A study of statewide recounts by FairVote between 2000 and 2012 found the average shift to the final total to be about 0.03 percent, enough to give the election to either candidate.[8] As local election boards recount their tallies, corrections have already been made. The boards are combing through ballots, looking for errors.

The recount court, which determines the procedures of the recount, consists of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court where the recount petition was filed and two other judges appointed by the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Virginia. The court then appoints recount officials to represent the respective parties to the recount. Once all the votes cast are recounted, the court certifies the candidate with the most votes as the winner.[9]

Upcoming Candidate Filing Deadlines

Looking ahead: upcoming elections

Quote of the Week

"Nobody even older than me remembers it ever being this close."
-- Charles Judd, chairman of the Virginia State Board of Elections, discussing the tight race for Virginia Attorney General[12]

Elections scoreboard

The November 2013 election scoreboard has been updated to include school board races. More than 28 percent of the races analyzed were uncontested, where voters did not have a choice when going to the polls.[11]

Elections Scoreboard -- Breaking Down the Ballot Box
Candidate Election Results Analysis
Total races covered by Ballotpedia/Judgepedia 1,539
Total races analyzed 876**
Incumbents on the ballot 581**
Total incumbents defeated 78
Total incumbent Democrats defeated 3
Total incumbent Republicans defeated 8
Total incumbent Independents/Third Parties/nonpartisans defeated 66
Total uncontested races 251**
Total uncontested Democratic wins 24
Total uncontested Republican wins 34
Total uncontested Independents/nonpartisans wins 193
Ballot Measures Results Analysis
Total state measures 31
State measures approved 24
State measures defeated 6
State measures too close to call 1
Total local measures++ 139
Local measures approved 83
Local measures defeated 49
Local measures too close to call 7
**At the time of publication, analysis for the state court races had not been completed. Those figures will be included in next week's edition of the Ballot Box Weekly. The total races analyzed refers to state legislative, school board, state executive and congressional races.
++These reflect the 139 local measures tracked by Ballotpedia writers in six states. It is not a comprehensive total.

Election highlights

It's always election season somewhere. Here are some snippets of election news across the various Lucy Burns Institute project areas.


See also: State legislative election results, 2013

Arkansas State Senate District 21 held a special runoff election yesterday. Sen. Paul Bookout (D) resigned on August 21, 2013, after he was fined $8,000 by the Arkansas Ethics Commission for spending campaign funds on personal items. A special election was called for January 14, 2014.[15] The runoff election will be to determine both the Democratic and Republican candidates. The Democratic runoff pitted Steve Rockwell against Radius Baker while Dan Sullivan and John Cooper squared off in the Republican runoff. Both races are separated by less than 100 votes and are too close to call.[16]

See also: 2013 school board election results

201 school board general elections were held across the country on November 5.[11] States covered by Ballotpedia staff included California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Major issues included financial policies and changing education standards, including the implementation of new federal Common Core standards in some states.

The number of seats up in different states included:

  • California: 114 seats
  • Colorado: 51 seats
  • Connecticut: 35 seats
  • Massachusetts: 40 seats
  • Ohio: 54 seats
  • Pennsylvania: 60 seats
  • Texas: 32 seats
  • Virginia: 28 seats
  • Washington: 78 seats

Now that the results have come in, here are some areas of note

  • A total of 376 incumbents sought re-election and 302 were successful for an 80.3 percent re-election rate.
  • Districts in New York and South Carolina had 100 percent re-election rates though these districts had relatively few seats in our coverage.
  • School districts in Washington had the most incumbents (53) seeking re-election on November 5, 2013 with an 88.6 percent re-election rate.
  • School districts in New Jersey were least likely to return incumbents to office with a 55.1 percent re-election rate.
  • Candidates in the Denver Public Schools elections raised $595,118.21 prior to November 1, the largest amount among school board elections covered by Ballotpedia.[17]
  • Voters in the Bridgeport Public Schools election chose three Democratic candidates who ran in opposition to current Superintendent Paul Vallas and Mayor Bill Finch. A slate including Andre Baker, Jr., Dave Hennessey and Howard Gardner won a September primary against three candidates endorsed by Finch and the local party committee. Baker, Hennessey and Gardner opposed Finch's efforts in 2011 to seek a state takeover of the district and the reforms pursued by Vallas. This slate is joined on the board by Republicans Joe Larcheveque and Steve Best, who were concerned with continued Democratic dominance over district policy.[18]
  • Jeni Rice won election to the Yakima Board of Directors over incumbent Graciela Villanueva despite withdrawing from the race in September. Rice announced her withdrawal from the race nearly two months before Election Day to pursue a job opportunity. The withdrawal took place after the deadline to remove names from the ballot and Rice won election by a 25 percent margin. Villanueva alleged that voters mistook the member-elect with current member Martha Rice. Jeni Rice has stated she will accept the position despite not running an active campaign.[19]

There are no remaining school board elections in the largest 1,000 school districts in 2013. Next year, Ballotpedia staff will be covering elections in 616 school districts for a total of 1,982 seats.

Incumbent results by state
State Total seats Incumbents seeking re-election Incumbents elected Success rate
California 116 48 40 83.3%
Colorado 58 22 17 77.2%
Connecticut 35 19 14 73.7%
Georgia 9 4 3 75.0%
Massachusetts 43 38 33 86.8%
Minnesota 31 19 15 78.9%
Mississippi 2 - - -
New Hampshire 14 12 11 91.6%
New Jersey 36 29 16 55.1%
New York 3 1 1 100.0%
North Carolina 12 11 8 72.7%
Ohio 58 41 32 78.0%
Pennsylvania 68 40 32 80.0%
South Carolina 10 5 5 100.0%
Texas 32 14 10 71.4%
Virginia 28 20 18 90.0%
Washington 78 53 47 88.6%
Total 633 376 302 80.3%

See also: Judgepedia's Election Central

Louisiana is holding general election runoffs on Saturday, November 16. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the result in the primary, the top-two vote getters advance to the election runoff. Of the 26 judicial seats covered by Judgepedia staff, only five were not decided in the initial primary. The five races are:

See also: Special elections to the 113th United States Congress (2013-2014)

Louisiana will hold a special election for its 5th Congressional District.

Rodney Alexander (R) was appointed Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs and thus resigned his congressional seat. Louisiana's 5th Congressional District leans heavily Republican -- Alexander won election in 2012 and 2010 with more than 77 percent of the vote. Two Republicans -- Neil Riser and Vance McAllister -- will be on the ballot when voters go to the polls. The two candidates advanced easily past the primary on October 19, 2013. Riser led the primary with 32 percent of the vote. Riser is currently a member of the Louisiana State Senate while McAllister has never held elected office.

See also: 2013 ballot measure election results, Ballotpedia:Analysis of the 2013 ballot measures and The Tuesday Count: A recap of 2013, a glance at 2014

Ballotpedia staff compiled analysis of the 2013 ballot measures.

  • Historically, elections on odd-numbered years see approximately 45 measures on average. Going back to 1989, the average number of measures on the ballot in an odd-numbered year is slightly more than 43, with about 9 states featuring ballot measures. With only 31 statewide measures on the ballot in 6 states, 2013 had less than half the average number of measures on the ballot.
  • A total of $48,487,923.00 was contributed to ballot measures in 2013, according to official reports filed as of November 5, 2013.
  • In 2013, a grand total of 133 initiatives were filed with intent to circulate for signature gathering. Of those 133 initiatives, only 3 made it on the ballot. Thus only .023 percent of proposed initiatives were certified.
  • In total, 2011 featured 22 legislative referrals, while 2013 featured 23. 2013 had one more referral on the ballot than 2011.

So far, there are 47 ballot measures certified for 2014.

See also


  1., "Gig Harbor's Nathan Schlicher Will Replace Derek Kilmer in State Legislature," August 19, 2013
  2., "State candidates in lot order," accessed August 5, 2013
  3., "Democrats lose state Senate seat as Schlicher concedes," November 7, 2013
  4. NYS Board of Elections State Supreme Court Election Unofficial Returns Nov. 5, 2013
  5. WJLA "Mark Obenshain would win Virginia attorney general seat if vote ends in tie," November 12, 2013
  6. Time, "With 163 Vote Attorney General Victory, Virginia Democrats Sweep State," November 13, 2013
  7. Richmond Times Dispatch, "Obenshain, Herring too close to call in AG race," November 6, 2013
  8. Washington Post, "History suggests Herring would have a shot in Va. recount,” November 6, 2013
  9. Virginia State Board of Elections, " Virginia Recounts and Contests – the Basics," accessed November 6, 2013
  10. Texas Secretary of State, "Important 2014 Primary Election Dates," accessed November 13, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 These figures refer only to the elections that are covered by Ballotpedia and Judgepedia staff. They may not be comprehensive. If you would like to send details about an election not covered, contact us
  12. Richmond Times Dispatch, "Herring now holds lead in AG race," November 12, 2013
  13., Measure to Ban Abortions in Late-Term Abortion Capital Gets Enough Signatures," July 24, 2013
  14. ABQ Journal, "Abortion bill is likely to be on city’s ballot," July 26, 2013
  15., "Arkansas lawmaker steps down from Senate seat," August 20, 2013
  16. Star-Telegram, "Rockwell, Cooper lead tight races in Ark. primary," November 12, 2013 (dead link)
  17. Colorado TRACER, "Candidate and Candidate Committee Detail," accessed October 29, 2013
  18. Connecticut Post, "School board results all about the mayor," September 12, 2013
  19. Yakima Herald, "School board candidate who withdrew from race says she plans to serve," November 7, 2013