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The Ballotpedia News Update provides a list of the latest news articles on Ballotpedia about elections, politicians and candidates at all levels of government, state policies, ballot measures and more. Use the tabs to navigate to specific weekly reports or news archives. Read more about Ballotpedia's areas of coverage here.


What's on your ballot? - April 28, 2015

By Ballotpedia staff

Ballotpedia Elections Badge-2015.png
Elections on
April 28, 2015
New Hampshire
Washington, D.C.

For a few select individuals, Tuesday's elections bring with them high stakes, as Republicans attempt to maintain their district majority and a son hopes to follow in his influential father's footsteps. Elections on April 28, 2015, will include a state legislative special election in New Hampshire and a pair of city council special elections in Washington, D.C.

In New Hampshire's Rockingham 13 District, either Carol Croteau (D) or Dennis Green (R) will be elected to a four-member district currently represented by three Republican legislators. The former incumbent, Ann M. Howe (R), resigned in March citing increased demands in her personal and professional life.[1]

Citizens in Washington, D.C., will elect two new council members to represent Districts 4 and 8. Fourteen candidates will face off to claim the District 4 seat formerly held by Mayor Muriel Bowser prior to her election in November 2014. The District 8 seat is also up for election following Marion Barry's death in November 2014. Sixteen candidates, including Barry's son, will fight for the chance to succeed a man who had been involved in city politics since the 1970s, including serving as the second and fourth mayor of D.C.[2]

Note: Click on the links below for more details about each race and election results.

State Legislative Tracker: Washington to convene special session

Edited by Jackie Beran

This week’s tracker includes a look at a former state representative's conviction in Illinois, a failed amendment in Tennessee and an upcoming special session in Washington.

School board incumbents score another term in 81% of races

Supreme Court to hear same-sex marriage case: Obergefell v. Hodges

By Kelly Coyle

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in four same-sex marriage cases from Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky under the consolidated title Obergefell v. Hodges on April 28, 2015.

This potentially historic case picks up where the 2013 case United States v. Windsor left off. In United States v. Windsor, the court ruled that part of H.R.3396 - the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional but did not address the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. On April 28, the justices will consider whether the Fourteenth Amendment protects the right of same-sex couples to marry in Obergefell v. Hodges. Fred Sainz, vice president of communications at the Human Rights Campaign, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization in America, said, "If the Supreme Court decides in favor of full marriage equality, it will be the largest conferral of rights on LGBT people in the history of our country."[3]

The Supreme Court limited the arguments to the following questions:
  • "Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?"
  • "Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?"[4]

Michael Klarman, a Harvard Law professor and author of Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage, argued that "[t]he Supreme Court will likely rule that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be admitted to the institution of marriage. In so doing, the Court will have given – as it usually does – the majority of Americans the Constitution that they want. The ruling will be widely hailed as the Brown v. Board of Education of the gay rights movement. Yet, as with Brown, the Court will be reflecting public opinion more than it shaped it. Also as with Brown, the Court will be rendering a decision that would have been nearly inconceivable only a couple of decades before it happened."[5]

Klarman's assertion that the Supreme Court will give "the majority of Americans the Constitution that they want" if they rule in favor of the couples reflects recent public opinion polls about same-sex marriage. Polls conducted by USA Today and The Washington Post with ABC News in April 2015 indicate that six in 10 Americans support same-sex marriage.[6][7] The court is likely to issue a ruling in June 2015.

Baraka-backed "Children First Team" dominates Newark's school election

By Margaret Koenig

School Board badge.png

Any lingering doubts about Mayor Ras Baraka's influence on the Newark Public Schools Advisory Board were swept away on Tuesday night as his slate of preferred candidates, the Children First Team (CFT), won one of the last two seats not already held by slate members. Returning candidate Crystal Fonseca and newcomer Dashay Carter won election to the board for the first time while incumbent Marques-Aquil Lewis won his third consecutive term on the board—his second as part of Baraka's CFT.

The CFT candidates faced five other challengers in the election. With eight candidates seeking the three seats up for election, 2015's election was slightly below the district's average of 2.92 candidates filing per seat up for election from 2011 to 2014.

Meanwhile, Passaic Public Schools, the only other district among New Jersey's largest to hold its election in April instead of November in 2015, saw three incumbents retain their seats by defeating a sole returning challenger. Additionally, Passaic voters chose to maintain the current tax levy of $16.8 million, which had been in place for six years.[8]

Incumbents Byron Bustos, Salim Patel and Ronald Van Rensalier won their third consecutive slate campaign together, but they faced a seasoned candidate who had previously challenged all three of them. Rene L. Griggs ran for the board in five prior elections, most recently on April 23, 2014. She faced Bustos, Patel and Van Rensalier in her 2009 campaign, when she placed sixth out of the eight candidates running for the three at-large positions in that election.[8]

Griggs' supporters stated on Tuesday night they may challenge this year's results due to "a late surge in vote totaling that proved decisive" in her defeat. As of the unofficial numbers reported on election night, Griggs was separated from the third-highest vote recipient, Bustos, by more than 400 votes.[8]

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015