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New York outpacing all states in advancing election legislation

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Through Friday, legislators in New York have passed 24 election-related bills out of at least one chamber of the Legislature, more than all other state legislatures combined.

The legislation in New York covers a range of election-related topics including absentee ballot drop-boxes, maintenance of voter rolls, and oversight of election officials, workers, and volunteers.

All 24 bills originated in the Senate. New York lawmakers considered more than 500 election-related bills and enacted 70 across 2022 and 2023 legislative sessions.

Wisconsin and West Virginia have advanced three each; Washington two; and there’s been one each in California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio and South Carolina.

In New Jersey, Assembly Bill 3690 passed both chambers of the state’s Legislature in 2023 and Gov. Phil Murphy signed it Jan. 4. The new law permits 17-year-old voters to vote in primaries if they will turn 18 by the time of the general election. It will take effect on Jan. 1, 2026.

Separately, Senate Bill 4209 passed both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature on Jan. 8. The bill would eliminate certain permissible election dates for school budget elections.

In Louisiana, House Bill 17 passed both chambers of the Legislature on Friday and was sent to Gov. Jeff Landry for signature on the same day. The legislation makes significant changes to Louisiana’s unique primary system and creates closed primaries for elections for Congress and several state offices, including for the state’s Supreme Court. Votes on the bill largely followed party lines in the Legislature, with Republicans mostly supporting and Democrats mostly opposing the proposed change. Landry is expected to sign the legislation, which will take effect in 2026.

Through Friday, 38 state legislatures are in regular session including 15 Democratic trifecta states, 17 Republican trifecta states, and six states with divided government. Early in the year, variations in legislative calendars between states may contribute to unusually large discrepancies in activity.

In 2023, Republican trifecta states enacted 207 election-related bills compared to 124 for Democratic trifecta states, and 48 for states with divided government.

To date, the most common topics for bills that have advanced from at least one chamber in Democratic trifecta states are election workers and volunteers and election officials, with four bills each. In Republican states, two bills related to election dates have advanced while there are no other topics for which more than one bill has advanced.

In Wisconsin, the only divided government state to advance legislation, the focus of approved legislation has been on absentee/mail-in ballot administration and voter list maintenance.

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