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 28, 2020.
State stay-at-home orders
- As of May 28, stay-at-home orders have ended in 29 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 11 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Of the 14 states with active stay-at-home orders, one has a Republican governor and 13 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 25, 1918, The St. Paul Daily News published an article titled, “Flu Halts Meetings Of Dry Campaigners.” The article discussed how the influenza pandemic had caused the cancellation of Prohibition meetings in the state of Minnesota.
“The Prohibition meeting scheduled for the Auditorium tonight with former Gov. J.F. Hanly, Indiana, as the principal speaker, has been canceled on account of the influenza epidemic.
All dry meetings throughout Minnesota also have been called off. Mr. Hanly was to speak at a number of these. Another Auditorium meeting canceled was scheduled for Sunday with C.N. Howard, New York, as speaker.”
- The federal government will continue funding the deployment of more than 40,000 National Guard troops aiding in coronavirus relief efforts across the country. The deployment, which was set to end on June 24, will continue through the middle of August.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 90 lawsuits, spanning 33 states, relating to governmental actions undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 33 of those lawsuits.
- Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 84 lawsuits, spanning 32 states, dealing with the administration of elections in light of the pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 33 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.
- Montana – The Montana Supreme Court voted 5-2 to halt a lower court order that had extended the absentee ballot receipt deadline for the June 2 primary election to June 8.
- Texas – The Texas Supreme Court ruled that a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19 does not qualify as a disability under the state’s election laws and cannot be used as an excuse for voting absentee. This ruling overturned two lower court rulings.
Ballot measure changes
- Ballotpedia has tracked 22 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
- Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures.
- At least 12 lawsuits were filed in ten different states 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.
- Arkansas – Arkansas True Grass said it was ending its petition drive to qualify a recreational marijuana initiative for the 2020 ballot due to coronavirus concerns and would instead focus on qualifying the measure for the 2022 ballot.
- 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.
- Of the 20 executive orders issued by governors or state agencies placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors, at least five have been rescinded.
State court changes
- Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
- Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
- Texas – The suspension of jury trials was extended to August 1.
- Tennessee – The suspension of in-person court proceedings was extended to July 3.
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.
- Massachusetts – The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts asking a judge to require the Bureau of Prisons to reduce the population center of Federal Medical Center Devens. This is the second time the group has filed this request; a previous petition was denied on May 8.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
- Forty-one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.
- Iowa – The moratorium on evictions and foreclosures enacted by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) on March 22 expired today, May 28.
State legislative responses
- To date, 1,599 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
- Of these, 136 significant bills have been enacted into law, about 8.5 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 positive for coronavirus
- Pennsylvania House of Representatives member Andrew Lewis (R), who represents District 105, announced that he tested positive for coronavirus.