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 5, 2020.
State stay-at-home orders
As of June 5, stay-at-home orders have ended in 36 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 18 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order).
Of the seven states with active stay-at-home orders, six have Democratic governors and one has a Republican governor. They are (with expiration date):
- New Hampshire (June 15, Republican governor)
- New York (June 27, Democratic governor)
- New Mexico (June 30, Democratic governor)
- California (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
- Kentucky (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
- New Jersey (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
- Oregon (no set expiration date, Democratic governor)
Here’s when each stay-at-home order expired.
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 20, 1918, the Seattle Daily Times published an article titled, “Influenza Damper Stifles Politics.” The article discussed that with meetings prohibited, candidates needed to reach individual people.
“The campaign that Chairman Sam Walker of the Republican state committee’s planning does not call for any public meetings. With the ban on such gatherings still on, Chairman Walker believes that there is little prospect it will be lifted before election day, November 5, a little more than two weeks distant. So Walker will work out a new scheme to reach the voters.”
- The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it would resume committal services in all but two VA national cemeteries on June 9.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 102 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 95 lawsuits, spanning 33 states, dealing with the administration of elections in light of the pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 43 of those lawsuits.
- Twenty states have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
- Sixteen states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
- Twenty-nine states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
- Political parties in 19 states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
- Guam – The Democratic caucuses for Guam were postponed to June 6, 2020.
- Puerto Rico – On June 5, the Republican Party of Puerto Rico conducted an electronic referendum among the party executive committee and other party leaders as the determining event in its presidential nominating process.
- Tennessee – The Chancery Court for Tennessee’s Twentieth Judicial District ruled that Tennessee’s absentee voting law, which limits eligibility to those meeting certain criteria, “during the unique circumstances of the pandemic, constitutes an unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution.” The court ordered the state to extend absentee voting eligibility to all Tennessee voters during the course of the pandemic.
Ballot measure changes
- Ballotpedia has tracked 23 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.
- 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.
- To date, twenty-one states issued at least one executive order restricting interstate travel. Of the 21 executive orders issued by governors or state agencies placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors, at least nine have been rescinded.
- Vermont – Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that the quarantine requirement will be lifted for out-of-state travelers from counties across New England with similar COVID-19 caseloads to Vermont starting June 8. The Agency of Commerce and Community said it would release a map June 8 at 5 p.m. identifying quarantine and non-quarantine counties. Additionally, Vermont residents will be allowed to travel to the non-quarantine counties and return home without quarantining for 14 days.
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’s Pandemic Continuity of Operations Working Group released a pandemic recovery resources guide for courts, which addressed more than 200 questions and topics related to operations such as facilities and jury management.
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.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
- Forty-one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level..
- Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) launched “COVID-19 Iowa Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program,” a new rental and mortgage assistance program through the Iowa Finance Authority for residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
State legislative responses
- To date, 1,803 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
- Of these, 144 significant bills have been enacted into law, approximately 8 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. Twelve of those have since reconvened.
- Twenty-eight legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
- Five state legislatures are in regular session. One (Kansas) is in special session.