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 June 1, 2020.
State stay-at-home orders
- As of June 1, stay-at-home orders have ended in 35 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 17 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Of the eight states with active stay-at-home orders, seven have Democratic governors and one has a Republican governor.
- Delaware – The state’s stay-at-home order expired May 31. The order first took effect on March 24.
- Michigan – On June 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced that the state’s stay-at-home order was lifted effective immediately. Whitmer said groups of 100 or less would be allowed to gather outdoors. The order was previously scheduled to expire on June 12. Whitmer also announced that retailers would be able to reopen June 4, with bars and restaurants following on June 8.
- New Hampshire – On May 29, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) extended the state’s stay-at-home order through June 15.
- New Mexico – Secretary of the New Mexico Health Department Kathyleen M. Kunkle issued a new public health order that extended the state’s stay-at-home order through June 30, and allowed some businesses to reopen. While the order loosens some restrictions, it stresses that “all New Mexicans should be staying in their homes for all but the most essential activities and services.”
- Washington – The state’s stay-at-home order expired on May 31.
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 Deseret Evening News published an article titled, “Social Gatherings Forbidden For Present.” The article was about the ban on social gatherings put in place due to the influenza epidemic, and mentioned how the ban might affect the upcoming midterm elections.
“Fearing that the influenza closing order might interfere with the election Nov. 5, County Clerk Thomas Homer has written to Dr, T.B.Beatty, state health commissioner, suggesting the use of tents for polling places. The clerk calls attention to the fact that ventilation is often poor in the polling places and that the assembling of crowds in such quarters might be serious. Other voters might be kept away from the polls by fear of contracting the disease, he points out.”
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 97 lawsuits, spanning 34 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 90 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 38 of those lawsuits.
- Taylor v. Charleston Southern University – On May 28, Charleston Southern University student Jessica Taylor filed a class-action lawsuit in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas (South Carolina) against the university. Taylor’s complaint alleges that the university, which closed its campus effective March 18, “has not delivered the educational services, facilities, access, and opportunities that Plaintiff and the putative class contracted and paid for.” The complaint seeks “refunds of the amounts Plaintiff and putative class members are owed, prorated to the amount of time that remained in the Spring semester when classes moved online and campus services ceased being provided.”
- 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 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.
- Nevada – U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du extended the state’s signature submission deadline for 2020 initiated constitutional amendments from June 24 to August five in a case brought by Fair Maps Nevada, the campaign behind an independent redistricting commission initiative. Judge Du did not grant the petitioners’ request to use electronic signatures citing concerns of fraud and legal precedent on courts changing election rules.
- California – The San Francisco Community Housing Act Committee announced that it was suspending the campaign to get its local housing initiative on the November 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.
- Arizona – The Department of Education released its 36-page “Roadmap for Reopening Schools.” The document covers four different scenarios: in-person instruction from the beginning of the year, some students distance learning and some students learning in-person at the start of the year, all students distance learning at the start of the year, and intermittent distance learning throughout the year as dictated by local conditions.
- Georgia – The departments of education and public health released a 10-page guidance document for the state’s school districts on reopening. The guidance is not legally binding because the state’s 180 school districts operate independently. Several reopening options presented in the guidance include alternating days and a model that allows for older students to distance learn while younger students receive in-person instruction.
- Oklahoma – The state Board of Education voted 5-2 to allow any instruction on Saturdays to count towards the minimum requirement of 180 days for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she did not expect schools to use Saturday school unless necessary, but that the added flexibility would help school districts across the state.
- Of the 21 executive orders issued by governors or state agencies placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors, at least nine have been rescinded.
- Alaska – On May 29, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) announced he was extending the 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers and residents returning to the state through June 5. According to Dunleavy, travelers who can prove they tested negative for COVID-19 before coming to Alaska can bypass the 14-day quarantine requirement. Dunleavy asked travelers to get tested at least 72 hours before arriving in the state.
- Delaware – Gov. John Carney (D) lifted the 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers June 1.
- Montana – As part of Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan, the 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers was lifted June 1.
State court changes
- Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
- Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
- Alaska – The Alaska Supreme Court released statewide coronavirus visitor health precautions which apply to all visitors entering court facilities. Precautions include screening and social distancing measures.
- Delaware – The Delaware Supreme Court issued the its Reopening Committee’s interim report, and plans for the state’s Justice of the Peace Courts for both criminal and civil locations to help courts in the state plan to resume operations.
- Hawaii – The Hawaii Supreme Court extended its suspension of jury trials through June 30.
- New Mexico – The New Mexico Supreme Court announced that civil and jury trials may recommence between June 15 and July 15.
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 Colorado Department of Corrections announced on May 29 that 290 inmates have been released following a March 25 order from Gov. Jared Polis (D) which authorized the DOC to release people within 180 days of their parole eligibility date.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
- Forty-one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.
- Colorado – On May 29, Gov. Jared Polis (D) extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through June 15.
- North Carolina – On May 30, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued a new moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in the state through June 20. Previously, North Carolina’s Supreme Court suspended eviction proceedings in the state through June 1. After Cooper’s order, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued an order on May 30 staying evictions through June 20.
State legislative responses
- To date, 1,683 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
- Of these, 142 significant bills have been enacted into law, 8.4 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
- Sixteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Eleven 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.
- Rhode Island: The Rhode Island legislature extended its suspension through June 5.
- Tennessee: The Tennessee legislature resumed its session effective June 1.