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Brittony Maag

Brittony Maag is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org

U.S. Supreme Court to hear four hours of oral argument the week of October 12

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020–2021 term begins its second week on October 12, with the court scheduled to hear four hours of oral argument throughout the week. Consistent with the court’s policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all arguments will be made via teleconference with live audio provided.

On October 13, the court will hear two hours of oral argument: one hour in United States v. Briggs (Consolidated with United States v. Collins) and one hour in City of Chicago, Illinois v. Fulton. Briggs originated from the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and was originally scheduled for argument on March 23, 2020. Fulton originated from the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and was originally scheduled for argument on April 20, 2020. The court delayed arguments in both cases due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On October 14, the court will hear an additional two hours of oral argument: one hour in Torres v. Madrid and one hour in Pereida v. Barr. Torres originated from the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and Pereida originated from the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Both cases were originally scheduled for argument on March 30, 2020, but were delayed.

These four hours of oral argument will conclude the court’s October sitting. The November sitting begins on November 2 when the court hears oral argument in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club and Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board.

As of October 7, 2020, the court agreed to hear 35 cases during its 2020–2021 term. Of those, 12 were originally scheduled for the 2019–2020 term but were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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U.S. Supreme Court begins 2020 term on October 5

The U.S. Supreme Court begins its 2020–2021 term on Monday, October 5, after being in recess since July. The court announced it would hear oral arguments via teleconference and would provide live audio of the arguments for its October sitting following the same format that was used during its May sitting in the 2019-2020 term. It made the decision in accordance with public health guidance in response to COVID-19.

During its October sitting, the court will hear 10 hours of oral argument in 12 cases between October 5 and October 14. The cases were originally scheduled for the court’s 2019-2020 term but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

October 5, 2020

  • Carney v. Adams
  • Texas v. New Mexico

October 6, 2020

  • Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association
  • FNU Tanzin v. Tanvir

October 7, 2020

  • Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc.
  • Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court (Consolidated with Ford Motor Company v. Bandemer)

October 13, 2020

  • United States v. Briggs (Consolidated with United States v. Collins)
  • City of Chicago, Illinois v. Fulton

October 14, 2020

  • Torres v. Madrid
  • Pereida v. Barr

The court’s yearly term begins on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October the following year. The court generally releases the majority of its decisions in mid-June.

Additional reading:
Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court cases, October term 2019-2020



Ballotpedia to cover general elections in all five permanently-inhabited U.S. Territories

In 2020, Ballotpedia is covering the general elections in all five permanently-inhabited U.S. territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. The general election in each territory is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Candidates are running in elections for the following federal and territory-level offices:
• American Samoa: delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, governor, lieutenant governor, and American Samoa House of Representatives. Members of the American Samoa Senate are selected by village leaders and therefore do not appear on the general election ballot.
• Guam: delegate to the U.S. House, public auditor, consolidated commission on utilities, education board, and Guam legislature
 Northern Mariana Islands: delegate to the U.S. House, supreme court, superior court, board of education, municipal council, Northern Mariana Islands Senate, and Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives
• Puerto Rico: resident commissioner in the U.S. House, Governor, Puerto Rico Senate, and Puerto Rico House of Representatives
 U.S. Virgin Islands: delegate to the U.S. House, board of education, board of elections, and legislature of the Virgin Islands

Territorial delegates to the U.S. House have many of the same powers as state congressional representatives. They can serve on committees, speak on the House floor, and introduce bills. However, they cannot vote on legislation.

Additional Reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/American_Samoa_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Guam_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Northern_Mariana_Islands_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Puerto_Rico_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/U.S._Virgin_Islands_elections,_2020



Delaware holds congressional primaries

Delaware held its statewide primary election on September 15. Races for two congressional seats were on the ballot—one for a U.S. Senate seat and one for Delaware’s at-large U.S. House seat. Both incumbents filed for re-election and won their respective primaries, advancing to the general election on November 3.

In the race for Delaware’s Class II Senate seat, incumbent Chris Coons (D) advanced from the Democratic primary over challenger Jessica Scarane with 73% of the vote, according to unofficial results. Republican Lauren Witzke won the Republican primary, beating James DeMartino with 57% of the vote.

Incumbent Lisa Blunt Rochester was unopposed in the Democratic primary for Delaware’s at-large U.S. House seat. The primary was canceled and Rochester advanced automatically to the general election. In the Republican primary, Lee Murphy secured 74% of the vote to advance to the general over Matthew Morris.

Delaware’s primary was the 49th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next and last congressional primary is on November 3 in Louisiana.

Additional reading:


New Hampshire, Rhode Island hold congressional primaries on September 8

On September 8, New Hampshire and Rhode Island held statewide primaries. A total of six congressional seats—two U.S. Senate seats and four U.S. House seats—were on the ballot. All six incumbents filed for re-election and won their respective primaries. The primary winners advanced to the general election on November 3.

New Hampshire

Incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D) won the Democratic primary for her Class II Senate seat, advancing over two challengers with 94% of the vote. Bryant Messner won the Republican primary for the seat. With 98% of precincts reporting, he secured over 50% of the vote to the second-place finisher’s 42%.

In New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, incumbent Chris Pappas advanced unopposed from the Democratic primary. He will face Republican Matt Mowers in the general election after Mowers won the Republican primary with 59% of the vote. In the 2nd District, incumbent Annie Kuster (D) secured 93% of the vote to win the Democratic primary. With 98% of precincts reporting, Steve Negron advanced from the four-candidate Republican primary with 48% of the vote.

Rhode Island

In the race for Rhode Island’s Class II Senate seat, both incumbent Jack Reed (D) and Republican challenger Allen Waters advanced from their respective primaries unopposed.

Incumbent Rep. David Ciciline (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District seat. No Republican filed in the race, so Ciciline won’t face major-party opposition in the general election. Two independent challengers will be on the ballot. In the 2nd District, incumbent Jim Langevin (D) earned 66% of the vote to advance from the Democratic primary. Republican Robert Lancia won the two-candidate Republican primary with 73% of the vote.

These primaries were the 47th and 48th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The 49th primary will be held on September 15 in Delaware.

Additional reading


Recall fails against select board member in Reading, Massachusetts

On September 1, a recall election was held for Reading Select Board Member Vanessa Alvarado in Massachusetts. Unofficial results showed that the recall election was unsuccessful, with 5,641 votes against the recall to 3,831 votes in favor of the recall. Results will become official after they are certified by town officials.

The recall effort against Alvarado began in February 2020 and was based on allegations that Alvarado impeded the hiring of a new police chief in her role as board chair. Alvarado denied the allegations, arguing that she was trying to provide open, public discussion about the police chief’s appointment and did nothing to violate the town charter.

Petitioners were required to obtain 2,000 signatures from Reading’s registered voters in order to put the recall on the ballot. In March 2020, Reading’s board of registrars certified 2,239 signatures.

Because the recall election was unsuccessful, Alvarado will retain her position on the Reading Select Board. She is serving the final year of her three-year term and is eligible to run for re-election in April 2021.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading


Recall petition filed against Seattle City Councilwoman Sawant

On August 18, a formal recall petition was filed with the King County Elections Office against Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant. Sawant was first elected to the council to represent District 3 in 2013, when she defeated then-incumbent Richard Conlin by 3,151 votes. She won re-election to the seat in 2019.

The recall petition was filed by District 3 resident Ernest “Ernie” Lou on behalf of the Recall City of Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant Committee. The Washington Constitution requires that recall petitioners establish grounds for a recall, specifically that the targeted public official has engaged in the “commission of some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office, or who has violated his oath of office.” Lou’s petition alleges six specific grounds against Kshama, including: relinquishing the authority of her office; misusing city resources; misusing her official position; using her council position to encourage rally protestors to illegally occupy city property; using her position to lead a march to the Seattle mayor’s private residence; and creating a criminal toxic environment around the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) Zone. At the time of publication, Sawant had not responded to the allegations.

The King County Elections Office must turn over the petition to the King County Prosecuting Attorney Office for review. A judge will then decide if the allegations meet the constitutional standard for a recall. If at least one of the allegations is deemed to meet the standard, the petition will move to the signature-gathering phase, and petitioners will be required to collect signatures from over 10,700 registered voters, equal to 25% of the total votes cast in the last District 3 election.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:


Three states to hold congressional primaries on August 18

On August 18, Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming are holding statewide primaries. Between these three states, 31 congressional seats are up for election, and three of those seats are open, meaning the incumbent did not run for re-election.

Alaska has one U.S. Senate seat and one at-large U.S. House seat up for election. Incumbent Sen. Daniel Sullivan (R) is running for re-election to his Class II Senate seat and is uncontested in the August 18 Republican primary. Four candidates are on the ballot in the Democratic and Independence Parties primary for the seat; the winner will advance to the November general election. Incumbent Rep. Don Young (R) is running for re-election to Alaska’s at-large House seat, and he will face two challengers in the Republican primary. Three candidates are running in the Democratic and Independence Parties primary for the seat.

Florida does not have a U.S. Senate seat up for election in 2020. All 27 of the state’s U.S. House seats are up for election, and 25 of the 27 congressional incumbents filed for re-election. District 3 Rep. Ted Yoho (R) and District 19 Rep. Francis Rooney (R) are the two incumbents who did not file to run. Three Democrats and 10 Republicans are on the primary ballot for Yoho’s District 3 seat, and two Democrats and nine Republicans are on the primary ballot for Rooney’s District 19 seat.

Wyoming is holding elections for one U.S. Senate seat and one at-large U.S. House seat. A field of six Democrats and 10 Republicans are competing in the August 18 primaries for retiring incumbent Mike Enzi’s (R) open Class II Senate seat. The winner of each primary will advance to the November general election. Incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney (R) faces one challenger in the Republican primary for Wyoming’s at-large House seat. Three candidates are on the ballot in the Democratic primary to advance to the general election.

These primaries are the 43rd through the 45th primaries to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide primary will be held on September 1 in Massachusetts.

Further reading:


Five states hold congressional primaries on August 4

On August 4, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington held statewide primaries. A total of 48 congressional seats—45 U.S. House seats and 3 U.S. Senate seats—were on the ballot. In the races for those 48 seats, 41 incumbents advanced to the general election, two incumbents lost to challengers, and five incumbents did not run for re-election.

Arizona

Appointed incumbent Martha McSally (R) won the Republican primary in the special election for former U.S. Senator John McCain’s seat. She will face Democrat Mark Kelly in the November general election. Write-in votes, including those in the Libertarian primary for U.S. Senate, have not been counted as of the time of publication. In the races for Arizona’s nine U.S. House seats, all nine incumbents—five Democrats and four Republicans—were successful in their primary bids and advanced to face challengers on November 3.

Kansas

Sen. Pat Roberts (R) did not file for re-election, leaving his Class II Senate seat open. Democrat Barbara Bollier won the Democratic primary for the seat, while current congressional Rep. Roger Marshall defeated a field of 11 Republican candidates to advance to the general election. In Kansas’ four U.S. House districts, two of the three incumbents who filed for re-election—District 3 Rep. Sharice Davids (D) and District 4 Rep. Ron Estes—advanced unopposed from their primaries. District 2 incumbent Rep. Steve Watkins lost the Republican primary to challenger Jacob LaTurner. Rep. Marshall’s District 1 House seat was open due to his run for Senate.

Michigan

In the race for Michigan’s Class II Senate seat, incumbent Sen. Gary Peters (D) ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. He will face Republican John James—who also advanced unopposed from the Republican primary—in the November general election. In the races for Michigan’s 14 U.S. House seats, all 12 incumbents who filed for re-election won their primaries. Two incumbents—District 10 Rep. Paul Mitchell (R) and District 3 Rep. Justin Amash (L)—did not run for re-election.

Missouri

Missouri does not have a U.S. Senate seat up for election in 2020. All eight of Missouri’s U.S. House seats are up for election, and all eight incumbents filed for re-election. Of those, seven advanced from their primaries. District 1 Rep. William Lacy Clay lost the Democratic primary to challenger Cori Bush.

Washington

Washington holds top-two primaries in which all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. No Senate seat is up for election in Washington in 2020. In Washington’s 10 U.S. House district races, nine incumbents ran for re-election and all advanced to the general election. District 10 Rep. Denny Heck (D) is running for Washington lieutenant governor, leaving his seat open. In the District 2, 7, 8, 9, and 10 races, the second-place finisher who will advance to the November general election remains uncalled as of publication.

These primaries were the 32nd through the 36th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The 37th primary was held on August 6 in Tennessee.

Additional reading:


Five states to hold congressional primaries on August 4

On August 4, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington are holding statewide primaries. Between these five states, 48 congressional seats—45 U.S. House seats and three U.S. Senate seats—are up for election.

Arizona is holding a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by former Sen. John McCain’s (R) death on August 25, 2018. Martha McSally (R) is the current appointed incumbent, and she is running in the August 4 Republican primary. The winner of the November 3 general election will take office on January 3, 2021, and serve the remaining two years of McCain’s term. Arizona is also holding primary elections for all nine of its U.S. House seats on August 4.

Both Kansas and Michigan are holding congressional primaries for Senate and House seats. In Kansas, elections are being held for the state’s Class II Senate seat currently held by Pat Roberts (R) and all four of the state’s U.S. House seats. Michigan is holding elections for the Class II Senate seat held by Gary Peters (D) and all 14 of its House seats.

Neither Missouri nor Washington has a Senate seat up for election in 2020. Missouri is holding elections for its eight House seats, and Washington is holding elections for its 10 House seats.

The 45 House seats up for election on August 4 represent 10.3% of the 435 total seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, all of which are up for election in 2020. The three Senate seats up for election that day equal 3% of the Senate’s 100 total seats and approximately 8.6% of the 35 Senate seats up for election this year (33 are up for regular election; two are up for special election).

Candidates in all five states are competing to advance to their respective states’ general elections scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Additional links:


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