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 29, 2020.
State stay-at-home orders
- As of May 29, stay-at-home orders have ended in 30 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 12 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Of the 13 states with active stay-at-home orders, one has a Republican governor and 12 have Democratic governors.
- New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended New York’s stay-at-home order until June 27. It will only apply to regions that have not met the state’s criteria to enter Phase One of reopening. New York City is the only region that has not advanced to the first phase, but Cuomo announced the city was on track to begin reopening starting June 8.
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 28, 1918, The Denver Post published an article titled, “New Flu Cases Here Few But Death Rate Still Is Running High.” The article discussed how the ban on gatherings could affect the upcoming midterm elections.
“With records for the last twenty-four hours incomplete, nine deaths attributable to Spanish influenza had been reported Monday morning, indicating that the mortality as a result of the plague continues to run high. The part reports showed only ten new cases. While few doctors send in records over Sunday, the great drop in new cases recorded, presents a hopeful aspect to the critical situation…No date for lifting the closing ban is anticipated by health officers. Whether the ‘opening’ will come before the election of Tuesday, Nov. 5, has raised an unusual and interesting question.”
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 95 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 34 of those lawsuits.
- Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 87 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 35 of those lawsuits.
- Twenty states 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 19 states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
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 13 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.
- 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.
- Arizona – Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced that schools would reopen in the fall and that the state would release guidelines to schools on June 1.
- 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.
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.
- Colorado – The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a class-action lawsuit against Gov. Jared Polis (D) and the Colorado Department of Corrections seeking an emergency order that would release inmates who are vulnerable to coronavirus.
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, 1,645 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
- Of these, 136 significant bills have been enacted into law, about 8 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.