Welcome to the Wednesday, October 21, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on Barrett nomination
- The arguments for and against lockdown/stay-at-home orders and restrictions on religious services
- Explore Kansas elections
- Explore Washington elections
Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on Barrett nomination
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow—Oct. 22—on the nomination of federal appeals court justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. The committee held public hearings from Oct. 12 through Oct. 15 and will vote on whether to advance Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate.
There are 22 members of the committee—12 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is the chairman and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is the ranking member. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the full Senate would begin to consider Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 23 and has scheduled a vote on her confirmation for Oct. 26.
Barrett is President Trump’s (R) third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. He appointed Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy opened by Antonin Scalia’s death in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy opened by Anthony Kennedy’s retirement in 2018.
Our coverage of the committee proceedings includes a brief summary of each day’s proceedings, links to the statements made by committee members during the hearings, and transcripts of the testimonies from panels of witnesses in support of and opposed to Barrett’s confirmation.
Click the link below to review what happened or catch up on anything you may have missed.
The arguments for and against lockdown/stay-at-home orders and restrictions on religious services
As part of our ongoing coverage in Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, Ballotpedia published a series of articles capturing the regular themes in support of and opposition to policy responses to the coronavirus.
We identified topic areas—such as mask requirements or testing—and gathered and curated articles and commentary from public officials, think tanks, journalists, scientists, economists, and others. We then organized that commentary into broad, thematic summaries of the arguments.
The arguments identified in favor of lockdown/stay-at-home orders include:
- The orders are necessary,
- The orders are better for the economy long-term,
- The orders are legal, and
- The orders are limited.
The arguments identified opposing lockdown/stay-at-home orders include:
- The orders are unnecessary,
- The orders are worse than the coronavirus pandemic itself,
- The orders are illegal, and
- The orders go too far.
You can explore these arguments in more detail by clicking here.
Restrictions on religious services
The arguments identified in favor of restrictions on religious services include:
- Public safety priorities take precedence over religious interests,
- In-person religious gatherings are not essential services, and
- Religious gathering restrictions do not discriminate against faiths.
The arguments identified against restrictions on religious services include:
- Religious service restrictions violate the First Amendment and religious freedom,
- Religious services are essential, and
- COVID-19 religious restrictions are unfair to some faiths.
You can explore these arguments in more detail by clicking here.
We also encourage you to share the debates happening in your local community by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Explore Kansas elections
Today’s election previews feature Kansas and Washington. Here are the states we’ve highlighted so far, along with a map below summarizing where we are in the series:
On the ballot in Kansas
At the federal level, Kansas voters will elect six presidential electors, one U.S. Senator, and four U.S. Representatives. Five out of 10 seats are up for election on the state board of education. Both chambers of the state legislature are on the ballot, with all 40 seats up in the state Senate and all 125 state House districts. One seat on the state supreme court and five seats on the state court of appeals are up for retention. Ballotpedia is also tracking local elections in Sedgwick County.
- In 2016, Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 57% to 36% in Kansas. Lyndon B. Johnson was the last Democrat to win Kansas in 1964.
- Both of Kansas’ U.S. Senators—Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts—are Republicans.
- Republicans represent three of Kansas’ U.S. House districts and Democrats represent one.
- Kansas’ governor is a Democrat. Its attorney general and secretary of state are Republicans, meaning it is one of 14 states with divided triplex control. It has held this status since the 2018 election of Gov. Laura Kelly (D).
- Republicans have a 29-11 majority in the state Senate and an 84-41 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Democrat, Kansas is one of 14 states without a trifecta. Republicans lost a trifecta after Kelly (D) was elected governor in 2018.
There are two battleground races in Kansas this year:
- U.S. Senate: Barbara Bollier (D), Roger Marshall (R), and Jason Buckley (L) are running in the general election; Roberts is not seeking re-election. In 2014, no Democratic candidate ran and Roberts defeated independent Greg Orman 53% to 43%.
- Kansas State Board of Education: Kansas is holding elections for the five even-numbered districts of the state board of education, including two contested races. In the open-seat race in District 2, Melanie Haas (D) faces Benjamin Hodge (R) as Steve Roberts (R) did not run for re-election. In District 8, incumbent Kathy Busch (R) is opposed by Betty Arnold (D). In July, the Board received attention for its 5-5 vote that vetoed the governor’s executive order to postpone school reopenings in the state until September 9. Roberts voted to veto the order and Busch voted to uphold it. Leading up to the 2020 election, Republicans had an 8-2 majority on the board.
- There are no statewide ballot measures in Kansas in 2020.
- Witnesses or notaries are not required to sign absentee/mail-in ballots in Kansas.
- Voters can return their absentee/mail-in ballots by mail or in person. If returned in person, ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. If returned by mail, ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 6. Click here to check the status of your ballot.
- In 2018, absentee/mail-in ballots represented 15.9% of all ballots cast in Kansas.
- Kansas law does not specify when election administrators can begin counting absentee/mail-in ballots, only that “final tabulation shall not be completed until Election Day.”
- Kansas requires all voters to present photo identification at the polls. For more information about Kansas’ voter ID requirements, click here.
- Early voting began on Oct. 14 and closes on Nov. 2.
- In Kansas, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. Kansas is split between the Central and Mountain time zones.
Explore Washington elections
On the ballot in Washington
At the federal level, Washington voters will elect 12 presidential electors and 10 U.S. Representatives. Nine state executive offices are up for election: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, commissioner of public lands, commissioner of insurance, treasurer, and auditor. Both chambers of the state legislature are on the ballot, with 25 out of 49 seats up for election in the state Senate and all 98 state House districts. One state Senate seat is also up for special election. Four seats on the state supreme court and seven seats on the state court of appeals are up for election. Voters will also decide on six statewide ballot measures.
- In 2016, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 53% to 37% in Washington. Ronald Reagan was the last Republican to win the state in a presidential election in 1984.
- Five of Washington’s 39 counties are Pivot Counties, accounting for 4.8% of the state’s population. Pivot Counties voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.
- Both of Washington’s Senators—Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell—are Democrats.
- Democrats represent seven of the state’s U.S. House districts and Republicans represent three.
- Washington’s governor and attorney general are Democrats, while its secretary of state is a Republican, meaning it is one of 14 states without a state government triplex. Washington last had a Republican triplex, which was broken when Democrats took the governorship, in the 1984 elections.
- Democrats have a 29-20 majority in the state Senate and a 57-41 majority in the state House. Because the governor is also a Democrat, Washington is one of 15 states with a Democratic trifecta. Democrats gained a trifecta when they won a majority in the state Senate in a special election in 2017.
Ballotpedia has identified one battleground race in Washington this year:
- Secretary of State: Incumbent Kim Wyman (R) and Gael Tarleton (D) are running for secretary of state. Wyman was first elected in 2012 and won re-election 55% to 45% in 2016. No Democrat has won the office since 1960.
- Washington voters will decide two binding statewide measures and four non-binding, advisory votes on Nov. 3.
- Opponents of a comprehensive sexual health education bill (Senate Bill 5395) collected signatures to place the bill on the ballot as Referendum 90 for voter approval or rejection. Referendum 90 is one of four statewide veto referendums in the country this year.
- Washington conducts its elections predominantly by mail.
- Witnesses or notaries are not required to sign mail-in ballot return documents in Washington.
- Voters can return their ballots in person or by mail. If returned in person, ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. If returned by mail, ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3. Click here to check the status of your ballot.
- In the 2018 general election, mail-in ballots represented 97.8% of all ballots cast in Washington.
- Washington law allows election administrators to count mail-in ballots after polls close.
- Washington does not generally require voters to present identification at the polls.
- In-person early voting at vote centers begins on Oct. 16 and ends on Nov. 2.
- In Washington, opening hours for vote centers vary between localities. Vote centers close at 8 p.m. on Election Day. Washington is in the Pacific time zone.