Elections

Judicial elections in 2000 and 2002 were far “nastier, noisier and costlier” than ever. Of the five states with hotly contested judicial elections in 2000 (Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi and Ohio), only Ohio and Mississippi were lively again in 2002. But contrary to long-standing tradition and law, judicial elections are becoming more like other elections.

This article traces the governorship in recent decades. It examines who the governors are, how they became governors and some of their recent political history. The author discusses the timing and costs of gubernatorial elections and changes in gubernatorial powers.
 

When it comes to voters’ reactions to initiatives and referenda on the ballot in 2002, “cautious” was the word of the day. Amidst concerns about war, terrorism and the economy, the voters once again defied party labeling and voted their conscience when it came to ballot measures. In a time of great uncertainty, voters picked through the list of statewide ballot measures and systematically made their feelings known, while at the same time not revealing whether their underlying principles lean more liberal or conservative. The great race to categorize the voters’ political beliefs will once again have to wait for another election day.

2002 was a major election year for legislatures, with over 85 percent of all seats up for election, resulting in more than 26 percent turnover among legislators in election states. The Republican Party netted more than 175 legislative seats across the country and wound up with more seats than the Democrats for the first time in 50 years. Republicans now hold control of 21 state legislatures, compared to 16 for the Democrats. Twelve legislatures are split between the two parties and Nebraska is nonpartisan.

When comparing the use of initiatives and referenda, one can argue that the initiative process has the greater impact on the day-to-day operations of state governments. Little debate surrounds the use of the referendum process because most of the issues that are placed on the ballot by state legislatures are there because the law requires a public vote. For this reason and because of the fact that great controversy surrounds the initiative process itself, this article will focus on the use of the statewide initiative process.

If Americans do not have faith in the election process, then it will be impossible for them to believe in the government that results from that process. This fundamental truth is why it is critical for state legislators and policymakers to examine current circumstances and make necessary changes to ensure the health and well being of the electoral process. This article examines the roles of state and local governments in election reform and recommends 12 minimum state-level reforms. The author examines challenges states will face in the future.

This article assesses the progress of the states in redrawing state legislative-district lines for the elections of 2002, now that the 2000 Census of Population data is in the hands of state legislatures. It describes emerging trends this decade and highlights the experience of several states in dealing with both old and new issues in redistricting. Whereas the redistricting round of the 1990s can be described as the round of racial and ethnic predominance, the 2000 round will be characterized as the rejuvenation of partisanship.

Chapter 6 of the 2002 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Chapter 5 of the 2000-2001 Book of the States contains the following tables:

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