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State Legislative Tracker: Voter ID debates heat up

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February 18, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week's tracker features a look at recent action on voter identification laws.

Weekly highlight

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As of today, 47 states have kicked off 2013 sessions. Voter identification laws have been a source of serious contention following the 2012 general election, with the debates centered mostly on an argument between fraudulent ballots and voter suppression. Here's an update on some states that are taking action:

  • Missouri: Republicans in the Missouri House of Representatives passed voter identification measures this week. The new laws include a photo identification requirement for voters, along with companion legislation to set up a framework for process and a constitutional amendment. Before it is signed into law, the package of legislation requires approval from the Missouri Senate and voters at the polls in 2014. Missouri currently requires some form of identification at the polls in order to vote, but is not standardized, so voters can bring items like utility bills or voter registration cards. Proponents of the legislation believe the current rules allow too much room for voter fraud, and are backing photo identification to make a difference.[1]
  • New Hampshire: 2012 was the first time that voters in New Hampshire were asked to present valid identification or sign an affidavit to swear their identity. While even some opponents of the law admit there is no evidence that any voters were turned away from the polls for a lack of identification, there is the possibility that people stayed home thinking they needed photo identification. The affidavit process is problematic, with the Secretary of State having to follow up with each individual voter. The voter identification law has a second phase set to go into effect this fall that would require poll workers to photograph anyone who refuses to present photo identification and attach the picture to their signed affidavit. Bills have been introduced to repeal the bill as a whole, while others focus on eliminating or pushing back the second phase of the law.[2]
  • Pennsylvania: A bitter legal battle over Pennsylvania's voter identification law will make it ineffective for the primary elections this May. The law, signed by Governor Tom Corbett last March, has faced stiff legal arguments ever since. It was blocked from taking effect last October when a judge determined the state did not make enough effort to provide photo identification for voters. The decision to not require photo identification for May's primary elections came Thursday from lawyers on both sides of the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law. The lawsuit trial is expected to begin in July.[3]
  • Virginia: Two new bills introduced by state legislators are now being considered in the Virginia State Legislature. The House Appropriations Committee approved Senator Mark Obenshain's bill requiring photo identification at the polls, allowing it to be debated on the floor. Meanwhile, Delegate Mark Cole's voter identification bill passed the Virginia Senate on Friday. Cole's bill would not require photo identification, but would no longer allow utility bills, paychecks, or social security cards as valid identification. Cole's measure passed the Senate by the narrowest of margins, with Lt. Governor Bill Bolling breaking the tied vote. Both bills have attached provisions requiring a year delay on the bill's enactment and appropriate funding by the legislature before going into effect.[4]

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of February 18, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently 46 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state, California, is meeting in special session concurrent with their regular session. Two states have yet to begin their 2013 sessions. Florida will get under way on March 5, while Louisiana will convene April 8.

The following states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions:[5]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, February 18, 2013
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,466 (47%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,814 (52%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 40
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 57
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 2
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 15
Total Special Sessions 1

There is one special session ongoing this week in California. No additional special sessions have been scheduled.


During his State of the State address on January 24, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for the Legislature to hold a special session concurrent with the regular session in order to bring the state in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act. The special session began January 28 and is expected to last for several months.[6][7]

In recess

As of today, February 11, 1 state's session is currently in recess:

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 138 out of 142 (97.2%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: ME (2), MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 42/43 (Maps ordered redrawn: TX)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 45/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, KY, TX)
**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)
See also: Status of redistricting maps after the 2010 census

While the great majority of states have completed their redistricting following the 2010 census, the issue still remains for a handful of states. Maine and Montana are not required to have their maps completed until 2014. Alaska, Kentucky and Texas, however, saw their maps rejected for legal reasons and will have to take up the drawing of maps once again.

Redistricting in Alaska

See also: Redistricting in Alaska

The Alaska Redistricting Board met on February 12 to address the recent order by the Alaska Supreme Court that the state's redistricting plan be redrawn for the 2014 elections. The court initially ruled that the redistricting board did not follow the process as was instructed by the court.[9] The board filed a motion to reconsider[10] but that motion was denied by court, with Chief Justice Dana Fabe and Senior Justice Warren Matthews dissenting. The board is unsure if it will appeal to the United States Supreme Court.[11]

Redistricting in Texas

See also: Redistricting in Texas

Texas's appeal to the United States Supreme Court is likely to be held until arguments in a similar case are heard. Both the Texas case and one brought by Shelby County, Alabama, challenge Section 5 of the Voters' Rights Act, which requires prior approval from the Department of Justice of any changes to voting laws and procedures for jurisdictions with a history of discrimination. It is likely the appeal would have an effect on the 2013-2014 term and not the current one.[12]

See also: State legislative elections, 2013

A total of 3 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 5, 2013.

The 3 chambers with elections in 2013 are in 2 states. They are:

Louisiana and Mississippi also typically hold elections in odd years. However, legislators are elected to 4-year terms in those states and those will not be up for election again until 2015.

40 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2013, and 180 of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 220 of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats are up for re-election on November 5, 2013.

Signature filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2013 state legislative elections

The state legislative filing deadlines are as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • April 1, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 4, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 100 voters in the legislative district. Candidates are required to disclose any criminal convictions.[13]

  • Virginia:
  • March 28, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 11, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 125 qualified voters in the legislative district. Major party candidates are required to submit a primary filing fee equal to 2% of the annual salary for the office sought in effect in the year in which the candidate files. In 2013, the primary filing fee is $352.80.[14]


The state primaries are as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • June 4, 2013
  • Virginia:
  • June 11, 2013
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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There is one special election taking place this week in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough District 31

Rep-elect Stacie Laughton (D), the state's first openly transgendered lawmaker, resigned her seat after it came out that she committed several felonies under the name of Barry Charles Laughton Jr.[15] A special election to fill the seat will take place on February 19, 2013. Candidates had until December 28, 2012 to file.[16]

Laughton attempted to run in the special election, but was disqualified on January 2, 2013. As this left one Democrat (Pam Brown) and one Republican (Elizabeth Van Twuyver) in the running, the general election was moved up from April 9 to February 19, the date originally set for the primary.[17][16]

General Election Candidates:
Republican Party Elizabeth Van Twuyver
Democratic Party Pam Brown

Recent results

February 12, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Kentucky House of Representatives District 52
Sara Beth Gregory (R) won election to the Kentucky State Senate in a special election in December 2012. A few weeks earlier she won re-election to the Kentucky House of Representatives on November 6, 2012. A special election was be held on February 12, 2013 to fill the vacant District 52 House seat, which Upchurch won.[18][19][20]

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Minnesota House of Representatives District 14A
Steve Gottwalt (R) resigned his District 14A House seat, which he won re-election to on November 6, 2012, on January 7, 2013. While three Republicans had initially filed, Tama Theis won the nod at a GOP convention and the other candidate dropped out. Thus, with only one candidate from each party, a primary did not take place.[21] Gottwalt resigned to take a job as director of state legislative policy for an imaging-scan provider firm.[22][23] The special election was held on February 12, which Tama Theis won.[24]

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Minnesota House of Representatives District 19A
Terry Morrow (D) announced that he would be resigning his seat, which he won re-election to on November 6, 2012, on January 7, 2013. A Democratic primary was held on January 29. While two Republicans were running, Allen Quist was chosen by a GOP convention and Jim Golgart suspended his campaign, leaving Quist without a primary opponent.[21][25][26] On the Democratic side, Clark Johnson was endorsed by the party convention, but due to the late timing of the convention, all four candidates were in the primary on January 29, which Johnson won.[27][28] The special election was held on February 12, which Johnson won.[29]

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • February 19: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough District 31
  • February 26: Alabama House of Representatives District 97
  • February 26: Mississippi State Senate District 28 (runoff)
  • March 2: Louisiana House of Representatives Districts 65 and 79
  • March 5: Georgia House of Representatives Districts 71 (runoff)
  • March 12: Alabama State Senate District 35 (runoff)
  • March 12: California State Senate Districts 32 and 40
  • March 12: Mississippi House of Representatives District 36
  • March 12: South Carolina House of Representatives District 17
  • March 16: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough 9

See also


  1. St. Louis Today, "Missouri House passes voter ID measures," February 15, 2013
  2. Eagle Tribune, "N.H. Voter ID Law under attack," February 16, 2013
  3. Huffington Post, "Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Sidelined For May Primary Elections Amid Ongoing Lawsuit," February 15, 2013
  4., "Lawmakers weigh two voter ID bills," February 15, 2013
  5. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed February 11, 2013
  6. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Jerry Brown calls for special session of Legislature on healthcare," January 24, 2013
  7. Sacramento Business Journal, " Healthcare reform special session starts," January 28, 2013
  8. State Scape, "Session schedules," accessed February 11, 2013
  9. Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska Redistricting Board to meet," February 5, 2013
  10. Alaska Public, "Redistricting Board Considering Options," February 12, 2013
  11. KTUU, "Alaska Supreme Court Stands by Decision in Redistricting Case," February 15, 2013
  12. My San Antonio, "Texas redistricting appeal likely on hold at Supreme Court," February 16, 2013
  13. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013 (dead link)
  14. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  15., " Special election requested to replace lawmaker," December 19, 2012
  16. 16.0 16.1 New Hampshire Secretary of State, " Special Election," accessed December 21, 2012
  17. Nashua Patch, "Laughton Told She's Not Eligible, Drops Out of Special Election," January 2, 2013. accessed January 2, 2013
  18., "Beshear sets Feb. 12 election for vacant House seat in southern Kentucky," January 7, 2013
  19. McCreary Record, "Upchurch runs to regain House seat," January 16, 2013
  20. Lexington Herald-Leader, "Monticello Republican wins special election for Kentucky House 52nd District seat," February 13, 2013
  21. 21.0 21.1 CBS Minnesota, "Dayton Sets February Special Elections For House," January 8, 2013
  22. SCTimes, "3 Republicans declare run for House 14A seat," January 7, 2013
  23. SC Times, "Independence candidate files for seat," January 15, 2013
  24. Politics in Minnesota, "Johnson, Theis win House special elections," February 13, 2013
  25. The Journal, "Mankato teacher, union leader to run for Morrow seat in House," December 27, 2012
  26. The Journal, "Clark Johnson, Jim Golgart enter 19A race," January 4, 2013
  27. Minnesota Post, "DFLers endorse candidates for special elections in House Districts 14A, 19A," January 21, 2013
  28. St. Peter Herald, "Johnson wins House District 19A special primary election," January 29, 2013
  29. Politics in Minnesota, "Johnson, Theis win House special elections," February 13, 2013