As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for May 13, 2020.
State stay-at-home orders
- Forty-three states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Eight of those orders were set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 had announced end dates.
- As of May 13, 17 governors have ended their state’s stay-at-home orders. Thirteen of those states have Republican governors and four have Democratic governors. Of the 26 states where governors have not ended their state’s stay-at-home orders, six have Republican governors and 20 have Democratic governors.
The 1918 influenza pandemic
The 1918 midterm elections occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic, one of the most severe in history. Each day, we’ll look back at a story from the 1918 elections to see how America met the challenges of holding elections during a national health emergency.
On October 18, 1918, the Newark Evening News published an article titled, “Sole Concern, Says Edge, Loan and Influenza.” The article discussed New Jersey Gov. Walter Evans Edge’s campaign plans for the upcoming 1918 midterm election.
“Announcement by the Democratic State Committee of plans to bring to New Jersey some of the ‘Big Guns’ of the party, such as Secretary Baker, Carter Glass, J. Ham Lewis and possibly even President Wilson, prompted Governor Edge to say when asked of his own plans that the only campaigns he is now interested in are those to put over the Fourth Liberty Loan and to suppress the epidemic of influenza. When these things have been accomplished the Governor said he would have the time to devote to the less important political campaign in which he is one of the chief figures in New Jersey.”
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 71 lawsuits, spanning 32 states, relating to governmental actions undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 19 of those lawsuits.
- Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 53 lawsuits, spanning 25 states, dealing with the administration of elections in light of the pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 19 of those lawsuits.
- Twenty states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
- Fourteen states have modified candidate filing requirements.
- Twenty-seven states have made modifications to voting procedures.
- Political parties in 18 states have adjusted party events on a statewide basis.
- Texas – Early voting in the July 14 runoff elections will begin on June 29.
- Virginia – The Republican Congressional Committee of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District postponed its convention, originally scheduled for April 25, to June 13.
Ballot measure changes
- Ballotpedia has tracked 20 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
- Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures.
- At least 11 lawsuits were filed seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. Rulings or settlements have been issued for six.
- At least one initiative campaign is reporting it has enough signatures but is delaying signature submission so its measure appears on the ballot in 2022 instead of 2020.
- Arizona – The Arizona Supreme Court rejected a request made by four Arizona ballot initiative campaigns for electronic signatures. The campaigns asked the Arizona Supreme Court to allow the campaigns to gather signatures through E-Qual, which is the state’s online signature collection platform used by candidates. The Arizona Supreme Court did not provide an explanation for its ruling.
- Forty-eight states have closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Those states account for 99.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country. The two states to not close schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year are Montana and Wyoming.
- All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.
- Maryland – The Maryland Department of Education released a 54-page guide for the state’s 24 school systems to transition from remote to in-person learning. Some of the criteria included in the plan include mandatory masks, daily temperature checks, enhanced cleaning procedures, and social distancing protocols.
- Twenty governors or state agencies have issued an executive order placing restrictions on out-of-state travelers.
State court changes
- Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
- Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
- California – California’s Judicial Council created the “Pandemic Continuity of Operations Working Group”, to assist courts in developing plans for resuming services interrupted by the coronavirus.
Prison inmate responses
- Twenty states have released inmates at the state level.
- Thirteen states have released inmates on the local level.
- Eleven states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
- Two states have prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
- Four states have temporarily released certain populations of inmates.
- Connecticut – U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shea for the District of Connecticut issued an order directing prison officials at the federal prison in Danbury to identify inmates with health conditions that make them vulnerable to the coronavirus and to provide a list to the court in about 13 days. The order follows a class-action lawsuit filed by nearly 1,000 inmates. Judge Shea did not rule on the inmate’s request for the mass transfer of inmates to either home confinement or other institutions, or the appointment of a special master to enforce measures, such as social distancing, in the institution. He did, however, order an expedited hearing schedule for questions.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
- Forty one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.
State legislative responses
- To date, 1,141 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
- Of these, 108 significant bills have been enacted into law, about 9 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
- Twenty-four state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Ten of those have since reconvened.
- Nineteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
- Five state legislatures are in regular session.
- Two state legislatures are in special session.
Georgia – Georgia’s state legislature is now expected to reconvene on June 11.