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 27, 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 Eight of those orders were set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 had announced end dates.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 27, stay-at-home orders have ended in 28 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 10 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Of the 15 states with active stay-at-home orders, one has a Republican governor and 14 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 November 3, 1918, the Des Moines Register published an article titled, “Campaign Closes With Little Noise.” The article discussed how there seemed to be little interest in political campaigns ahead of the midterm elections.
“One of the most unusual political campaigns known at least to the present generation will terminate with the general election of Tuesday next. Until within ten days of the end political interest seems to the at the lowest possible ebb. Voters joked with each other on the street corner over the inability to name candidates for some of the most important offices. ‘Politics had adjourned’.
It was a smouldering fire, however. The sparks had not all been extinguished.”
- The Department of Defense released new details on the approach it will take to phase out global travel restrictions on military and civilian personnel. The restrictions, which placed limits on deployments, redeployments, and personnel movement within the United States and between counties, will be gradually lifted on a geographic basis.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 83 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 28 of those lawsuits.
- Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 69 lawsuits, spanning 27 states, dealing with the administration of elections in light of the pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 28 of those lawsuits.
- Twenty states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
- Sixteen states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
- Twenty-seven states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
- Political parties in 18 states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Ballot measure changes
- Ballotpedia has tracked 21 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
- Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures.
- At least 12 lawsuits were filed seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. Rulings or settlements have been issued for eight.
- At least two initiative campaigns reported they had enough signatures but are delaying signature submission so their measures appear on the ballot in 2022 instead of 2020.
- Michigan – The campaign Fair and Equal Michigan, which proposed the Michigan LGBTQ Nondiscrimination in State Civil Rights Law Initiative, filed a legal complaint in the Michigan Court of Claims. Fair and Equal Michigan argued that the initiative signature requirement should be decreased from 340,047 to 127,518 because the pandemic and related orders had the effect of limiting the campaign’s in-person signature drive to 45 days. In Michigan, campaigns have 180 days to collect signatures. The signature deadline for the 2020 ballot is May 27.
- 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.
- California – The Los Angeles County Office of Education released guidelines for reopening schools in the county. The 45-page guidelines include a class size of 16 students, one-way hallways, a staggered school day, and masks required for students.
- Of the 20 executive orders issued by governors or state agencies placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors, at least five have been rescinded.
- Delaware – Gov. John Carney (D) announced that he would end the requirement that out-of-state travelers self-quarantine for 14 days on June 1.
State court changes
- Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
- Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
- Massachusetts – Courthouses will remain closed to the public through July 1, and jury trials in criminal and civil cases will be delayed until at least September 8. Civil and criminal bench trials are postponed until July 1, unless the trial can be held remotely.
Prison inmate responses
- Twenty-one states have released inmates at the state level.
- Twelve 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.
- North Carolina – Attorneys for 11 inmates at the federal prison in Butner filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Eastern District Court of North Carolina asking that all inmates vulnerable to coronavirus be released within 24 hours. The American Civil Liberties Union is helping to represent the plaintiffs.
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, 1,516 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
- Of these, 133 significant bills have been enacted into law, about 9 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
- Sixteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Ten of those have since reconvened.
- Twenty-nine legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
- Five state legislatures are in regular session.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
State politicians who tested negative for coronavirus
- Illinois State Representative Edgar Gonzales Jr. (D), who represents District 21, tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
- Nebraska State Senator Mike Moser (R), who represents District 22, was hospitalized with a coronavirus infection.