Author

Cory Eucalitto

Cory Eucalitto is a managing editor at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Coronavirus weekly update: October 16 – October 22, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our October 16 edition.

  • Election changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Travel restrictions
  • Ballot measure changes
  • 1918 story
  • Federal responses
  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • State legislation
  • State courts

For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Thirty-nine states have modified their voting procedures. 
    • Four states have made voting procedure modifications since Oct. 15.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Oct. 15.

Details:

  • Michigan: On Oct. 16, a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a lower court order that had extended Michigan’s receipt deadline for absentee/mail-in ballots. The appellate panel reinstated the original receipt deadline — 8 p.m. on Election Day.
  • North Carolina
    • On Oct. 19, the North Carolina State Board of Elections directed counties to accept absentee/mail-in ballots received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12 and postmarked on or before Election Day. The state board of elections also issued new guidance on how voters can resolve problems with their absentee/mail-in ballots.
    • On Oct. 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit declined to block the extension of North Carolina’s absentee/mail-in ballot return and receipt deadlines.
  • Pennsylvania: On Oct. 19, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order extending the receipt deadline for mail-in ballots to Nov. 6 for ballots postmarked on or before Election Day.
  • Tennessee: On Oct. 19, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously upheld a district court decision that temporarily suspended a Tennessee law requiring first-time voters to vote in person.

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Washington, D.C., has a district-ordered school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Seven states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., N.M., Ore., W.V.) have state-ordered regional school closures, require closures for certain grade levels, or allow hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,366,079 students (18.51% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla.*, Iowa, Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
    • *Note: Three counties in South Florida are not at the same phase of reopening as the rest of the state and the emergency order to reopen schools does not affect them. 
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Details:

  • Hawaii – The Department of Health issued updated guidance for school reopenings. The changes could allow blended learning or full-time, in-person instruction on every island in the state, based on the last two weeks of data. The state also said it would consider schools’ and districts’ abilities to implement mitigation measures before it would allow reopenings.

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,172 lawsuits, across all 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 377 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Oct. 15, we have added 138 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 15 court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately followed another 399 lawsuits, across all 50 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 270 of those lawsuits.

Here are two lawsuits that have either garnered significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • Linthicum v. Brown: On Oct. 16, three Oregon state lawmakers and a local businessman filed suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court against Gov. Kate Brown (D), alleging the governor’s stay-at-home orders and business closures exceeded her authority. The plaintiffs – state Reps. Werner Reschke (R) and Mike Nearman (R), state Sen. Dennis Linthicum (R), and Washington County businessman Neil Ruggles – argue Brown “has arrogated unto herself legislative powers of sweeping scope to reorder social life and destroy the livelihoods of residents across the state, which powers are reserved exclusively for the Legislative Assembly by the Oregon Constitution.” The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction blocking Brown’s state-of-emergency declaration and any rules emanating from it, as well as a judgment settling their state constitutional claims. Charles Boyle, a representative for Brown, said, “The governor is focused on implementing measures to keep Oregonians healthy and safe, based on the advice of doctors and health experts and what the data shows will limit the spread of Covid-19.”
  • The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo: On Oct. 16, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York declined to block Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) COVID-19 gathering-size restrictions on places of worship. The lawsuit stems from a policy that imposes regional capacity restrictions on nonessential businesses and gatherings. In higher-risk “red” and “orange zones,” in-person gatherings are limited to the lesser of 10 people or 25% of capacity and the lesser of 25 people or 33% of capacity, respectively. In its complaint, the Diocese of Brooklyn alleged Cuomo’s order “plainly and unconstitutionally targets religious practice.” In his ruling, Garaufis, a Bill Clinton (D) appointee, found that the “public interest analysis, and accordingly the balance of the equities, cuts in favor of the State, which is trying to contain a deadly and highly contagious disease.” In a statement, the Diocese said it “is extremely disappointed” by the ruling and would “continue to advocate for places of worship to be classified as essential, for there is nothing more necessary today than a community of believers, united in prayer, asking the Lord to end this pandemic.” Caitlin Girouard, Cuomo’s press secretary, said, “We will let the decision speak for itself.” The Diocese has filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 25 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
  • Since Oct. 15, three states have modified their travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • Connecticut, New Jersey, New York – October 20, 2020: Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) added Arizona and Maryland to the tri-state self-quarantine list. The governors advised against traveling between their three states, but agreed not to mandate self-quarantines for travel between Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. New Jersey also removed Delaware from its quarantine list.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 19 lawsuits were filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. 
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in at least 18 cases. 
  • Ballotpedia tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering. 
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action. 
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, 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 Nov. 5, The Spokesman-Review reported on measures taken to reduce the spread of influenza at polling stations. 

Inspectors at the polling places in today’s election have been asked by the city health office to guard carefully against overcrowding.

“Where possible place the polling booths on the outside,” said Dr. Anderson. “Where the booths are on the inside. No more should be admitted to the room than there are booths. In this way congestion may be avoided and the danger minimized. I would further suggest to ventilate the room at least once every hour. Voters should go to the polls early to avoid overcrowding later. No crowds to receive election return will be permitted either in the open air or indoors.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Oct. 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance changing the definition of close contact for an individual infected with coronavirus. Under previous guidelines, a close contact was defined as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case. The new guidance defines a close contact as someone who was within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of Oct. 22, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with active stay-at-home orders.

Details:

  • New Mexico – Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel extended the state’s stay-at-home order through Nov. 13.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Seventeen states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Oct. 15, one state has announced an end date to the state’s eviction moratorium and one state has extended a moratorium.
  • Twenty-six states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • Illinois – On Oct. 16, Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended the statewide moratorium on evictions an additional 30 days.
  • Massachusetts – On Oct. 17, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) allowed the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to expire. 

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Twenty-five members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • One-hundred and three state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty-one state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 23 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Oct. 15, one candidate for state treasurer, one congressional candidate, three state representatives, and one lieutenant governor have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Details:

  • On Oct. 13, Texas state Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R), who represents District 1, announced he had tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Oct. 14, Stacy Garrity (R), a candidate for Pennsylvania Treasurer, announced she had tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Oct. 16, Illinois state Rep. David Welter (R), who represents District 75, announced he had tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Oct. 16, Utah congressional candidate Blake Moore (R) announced he had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • On Oct. 19, South Dakota state Rep. Steven Haugaard (R), who represents District 10, announced he had spent the last two weeks battling COVID-19. 
  • On Oct. 21, Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R) announced he had tested positive for COVID-19.

State legislation

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,495 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 63 additional bills since Oct. 15.
  • Of these, 495 significant bills have been enacted into law, 14% of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. 
    • We have tracked 14 additional significant bills since Oct. 15 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.)

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide
    • Since Oct. 15, one court extended restrictions on jury trials, while one court has announced that trials in some courts can resume.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • Massachusetts – On Oct. 19, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Cary announced that jury trials would begin no earlier than Nov. 9. The first phase of jury trials had been previously scheduled to begin no earlier than Oct. 23.  
  • North Carolina – On Oct. 15, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order extending and modifying emergency directives issued in response to the coronavirus and announced that jury trials can resume in some districts with approved Jury Trial Resumption Plans.

Learn more

Click here to learn more.



Coronavirus weekly update: October 9 – October 15, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on October 8:

  • Election changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Travel restrictions
  • Ballot measure changes
  • 1918 story
  • Federal responses
  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • State legislation
  • State courts

For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Thirty-nine states have made modifications to their voting procedures. 
    • Ten states have made voting procedure modifications since Oct. 8.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Oct. 8.

Updates:

  • Alabama: On Oct. 14, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed a district court order suspending Alabama’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in voters with underlying medical conditions. The panel also reversed the lower court’s order waiving photo identification requirements for voters 65 and older.
  • Alaska: On Oct. 12, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s order suspending the state’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Arizona: On Oct.13, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court’s order that had extended the state’s voter registration deadline. The Ninth Circuit set Oct. 15 as the new registration deadline.
  • Indiana: On Oct. 13, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit blocked a lower court’s order that had extended the state’s return deadlines for absentee/mail-in ballots. As a result, the original receipt deadline (noon on Nov. 3) was reinstated.
  • Missouri: On Oct. 9, Judge Brian C. Wimes of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri issued an order requiring Missouri election authorities to accept mail-in ballots returned in person. However, on Oct. 10, Wimes suspended his order pending appeal, leaving the requirement that mail-in ballots be returned by mail in place.
  • North Carolina: On Oct. 14, Judge William Osteen of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ordered election officials to enforce the state’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots. Osteen allowed other ballot curing provisions, and the absentee/mail-in ballot receipt deadline (Nov. 12 for ballots postmarked on or before Election Day), to stand.
  • Ohio: On Oct. 9, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned a district court’s order directing Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) to allow counties to install absentee/mail-in ballot drop boxes at locations other than election board offices. As a result, LaRose’s initial order limiting drop boxes to one site per county was reinstated.
  • Texas: On Oct. 12, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously upheld Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) order restricting the number of absentee/mail-in ballot return locations to one per county.
  • Virginia: On Oct. 14, Judge John A. Gibney of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered that Virginia’s voter registration deadline be extended from Oct. 13 to Oct. 15 after the state’s voter registration system went offline for several hours on Oct. 13 when a fiber cable was accidentally cut.
  • Wisconsin: On Oct. 8, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit voted 2-1 to block a lower court order that had extended registration and absentee/mail-in ballot return deadlines in Wisconsin.

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Washington, D.C., has a district-ordered school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Seven states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., N.M., Ore., W.V.) have state-ordered regional school closures, require closures for certain grade levels, or allow hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,366,079 students (18.51% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla.*, Iowa, Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
    • *Note: Three counties in South Florida are not at the same phase of reopening as the rest of the state and the emergency order to reopen schools does not affect them. 
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,034 lawsuits, in all 50 states. dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 362 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Oct. 8, we have added two lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional two court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 397 lawsuits, in all 50 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 265 of those lawsuits.

Here are three lawsuits that have either garnered significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • A.M. v. Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Inc.: On Oct. 1, Judge Susan Paradise Baxter of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit four student-athletes filed against the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) claiming the group would not allow them to participate in a golf tournament. The plaintiffs alleged that eight days before the tournament, the PIAA “arbitrarily and capriciously reduced the number of qualifiers.” The students argued that “the reduction of numbers has no quantifiable relationship on the spread of Covid-19 as it relates to outdoor activities such as golf.” Plaintiffs sought a court order requiring the PIAA to allow them to participate in the tournament. Baxter denied that request, writing: “It is not the court’s job to decide the better course, but to ensure the one taken was not arbitrary and capricious, or for a wrongful purpose. Although the decision was a painful one for the plaintiffs, it was done with a rational basis and passes muster under the law.” Baxter was appointed to the court by President Donald Trump (R).
  • Georgia Association of Educators v. Kemp: On Oct. 8, the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), the state’s largest teachers’ union, sued Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and other state officials in Fulton County Superior Court. The GAE is seeking a court order that would require the state to issue statewide school reopening plans that are “reasonably calculated to ensure that schools operate safely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and consistent with the guidelines issued by recognized public health authorities such as the CDC.” The GAE alleges that Kemp’s delegation of reopening protocols to local districts constitutes a failure to provide an adequate public education as required under the Georgia Constitution. Georgia State Superintendent Richard Woods, who is a defendant in the case, said, “Unlike several states, Georgia schools retain the authority to remain fully virtual instead of being required to offer in-person instruction.”
  • Turturro Law, P.C. v. Cuomo: On Oct. 8, New York officials closed a Brooklyn law firm after an increase in Covid-19 infection rates near its office. The law firm sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The firm, which is in an area deemed a “red-zone” under the state’s “cluster action initiative,” alleges there is “no scientific or other rational basis” for classifying certain parts of the state in this manner. The suit “seeks recovery for deprivations sustained by Plaintiff, and for violations committed by Defendants while acting under color of state law against Plaintiff’s rights and privileges guaranteed by” the U.S. Constitution. In a statement, Richard Azzopardi, a representative for Gov. Cuomo, said, “We’re focused on breaking this cluster and saving lives. Being unhappy is better than being sick or dead.” The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 25 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Oct. 8, four states have modified their travel restrictions.

Details:

  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On Oct. 13, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio had been added to the tristate quarantine list. The list includes 38 states and territories.
  • Ohio – On Wednesday, Oct. 14, the Department of Health updated its travel advisory to include travelers from Indiana. The advisory asks visitors from states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or higher to self-quarantine for two weeks. The list currently includes South Dakota, Idaho, Wisconsin, Iowa, Wyoming, Kansas, Nevada, and Indiana. 

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 19 lawsuits were filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. 
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in at least 18 cases. 
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering. 
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action. 
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, 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 Oct. 20, the Albany Knickerbocker Press reported on the effect the influenza pandemic was having on politics in New York.

The most peculiar and perhaps the most incisive political campaign New York state has ever seen will begin throughout the state today. Hampered by bans on public meetings, forced by the spreading influenza, by an apparent lack of interest in politics, because of the greater interest in the doings of American troops in France, political leaders today will start campaigns upon which hinge the control of the state administration, of the legislature and the political complexion of New York’s delegation in congress, as well as scores of local contests for office.

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  •  On Oct. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an emergency order granting the U.S. Department of Commerce’s request to pause a lower court decision that required the census to continue through Oct. 31 while the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit looks at the case. The order was unsigned, with the exception of a dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of Oct. 15, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with active stay-at-home orders.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Eighteen states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Oct. 8, one state has announced an end date to the state’s eviction moratorium and one state has extended a moratorium.
  • Twenty-five states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • Washington – On Oct. 8, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that he would extend the state’s moratorium on evictions through Dec. 31. The moratorium was set to expire on Oct. 15.
  • Nevada – On Oct. 15, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) allowed the statewide moratorium on evictions to expire.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Twenty-five members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Ninety-six state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 23 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Oct. 8, two members of Congress tested positive for coronavirus, one governor entered self-quarantine, one governor tested negative, and one state representative tested negative. President Donald Trump tested negative for the coronavirus.

Details:

  • On Oct. 11, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced he and his family would self-quarantine after a member of his security detail tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 9, Connecticut state Rep. Joe Polletta (R) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 12, White House physician Sean Conley announced that President Donald Trump (R) had tested negative for the coronavirus over several days.
  • On Oct. 8, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after someone in his office tested positive.
  • On Oct. 12, Rep. Mike Bost (R-ILL) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • On Oct. 14,  Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. 

State legislation

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,432 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 80 additional bills since Oct. 8.
  • Of these, 481 significant bills have been enacted into law, 14 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. 
    • We have tracked 23 additional significant bills since Oct. 8 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.)

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide
    • Since Oct. 8, one court ended restrictions on jury trials.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • Georgia – On Oct. 10, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton issued an order extending the statewide judicial emergency and allowing jury trials to resume immediately. The judicial emergency was set to expire on Nov. 9. 

Learn more

Click here to learn more.



Coronavirus weekly update: October 2 – October 8, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on Oct. 1:

  • Election changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Travel restrictions
  • Ballot measure changes
  • 1918 story
  • Federal responses
  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • State legislation
  • State courts


For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.
Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Thirty-nine states have made modifications to their voting procedures. 
    • Seven states have made voting procedure modifications since Oct. 1.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Oct. 1.

Details:

  • Arizona
    • On Oct. 6, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court’s order that would have allowed Arizona voters up to five days to provide missing signatures for absentee/mail-in ballots.
    • On Oct. 5, Judge Steven Logan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ordered the state’s voter registration deadline be extended to 5 p.m. on Oct. 23.
  • Florida: On Oct. 6, Secretary of State Laurel Lee (R) announced the state’s voter registration would be extended to 7 p.m. on Oct. 6.
  • Georgia: On Oct. 2, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reinstated Georgia’s Nov. 3 receipt deadlines for absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Iowa: On Oct. 6, the Iowa Supreme Court blocked a state court’s order that had allowed county election officials to send pre-filled absentee/mail-in ballot request forms to voters.
  • Ohio: On Oct. 2, a three-judge panel of the Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) could direct counties to offer multiple drop-box locations for returning absentee/mail-in ballots. The panel stopped short of requiring LaRose to do so, overturning a lower court decision to that effect.
  • South Carolina: On Oct. 5, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated South Carolina’s witness signature requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Texas: On Oct. 1, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an order limiting the number of return locations for absentee/mail-in ballots to one per county.

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Washington, D.C., has a district-ordered school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Seven states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.C., N.M., Ore., W.V.) have state-ordered regional school closures, require closures for certain grade levels, or allow hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,366,079 students (18.51% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla.*, Iowa, Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
    • *Note: Three counties in South Florida are not at the same phase of reopening as the rest of the state and the emergency order to reopen schools does not affect them. 
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Details:

  • Oregon – The Oregon Department of Education announced the state would disregard positivity rate data from September in determining whether school districts could reopen. The announcement meant school districts could reopen for in-person instruction if their counties met the state’s case count criteria until October positivity data was available.

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,032 lawsuits, across all states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 360 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Oct. 1, we have added 19 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional eight court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately followed another 262 lawsuits, in 45 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 188 of those lawsuits.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 25 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Oct. 1, three states have modified their travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On Oct. 6, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that New Mexico had been added to the tristate quarantine list. 
  • Hawaii – On Oct. 7, Gov. David Ige (D) said that a pre-test program would launch for out-of-state travelers Oct. 15. This will allow visitors to avoid the 14-day quarantine if they can present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Travelers who test positive or whose results are pending will still need to quarantine.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 19 lawsuits were filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. 
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in 18 cases. 
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering. 
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action. 
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, 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 Nov. 4, 1918, the Chicago Herald and Examiner reported on the removal of restrictions on outdoor sports in Chicago. 

Outdoor sports in Chicago will resume the even tenor of their way today, when the restrictions that were placed on athletes three weeks ago because of the influenza epidemic will be withdrawn by the health department. The lifting of the ban comes just in time to give college football fans an opportunity to watch the Maroons and Michigan play for the first time in thirteen years, but high school and semipro gridiron teams also will resume their schedules immediately.

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Oct. 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would return control of supplies of Remdesivir to Gilead Sciences, the biopharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug. Previously, HHS had distributed the drug to states and territories, but a representative for the agency said demand has fallen. Gilead will sell the drug to hospitals. Remdesivir was granted an emergency use authorization (EAU) from the Food and Drug Administration in May.
  • On Oct. 3, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the U.S. Senate will not return to session until Oct. 19 after Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)  tested positive between Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 for the coronavirus. McConnell said Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will still begin Oct. 12.
  • On Oct. 3, the Federal Bureau of Prisons allowed non-contact social visits to resume at federal prison facilities. Each facility must create a plan for inmate visitations, which included physical distancing and physical barriers.
  • On Oct. 6, the Department of Homeland Security published “Homeland Threat Assessment.” The report covers threats from state and non-state actors, including how the coronavirus pandemic has affected U.S. national security and benefitted foreign rivals.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of Oct. 8, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with an active stay-at-home order.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Nineteen states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Oct. 1, no states have announced changes to statewide eviction moratoriums.
  • Twenty-four states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Twenty-three members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Ninety-five state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 23 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Details:

Positive tests:

  • On Oct. 1, Hope Hicks, an assistant and counselor to President Donald Trump (R), announced she had tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • On Oct. 2, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19. Trump checked into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 2 and returned to the White House Oct. 5.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel announced she had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) announced on Twitter he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Kellyanne Conway, a former counselor to President Trump, announced on Twitter she had tested positive for coronavirus.
  •  On Oct. 2, Bill Stepien, President Trump’s campaign manager, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • On Oct. 2, Ohio state Rep. Joe Miller (D), who represents District 56, announced on Twitter he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) office announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, Virginia Beach City Councilmember John D. Moss announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, the Arizona House Democrats caucus announced state Rep. Lorenzo Sierra (D) had been admitted to the hospital due to complications related to coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 6, California state Sen. Salud Carbajal (D) announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 6, Stephen Miller, a senior policy advisor to President Trump, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Negative tests:

  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after flying on Air Force One with President Trump.
  • On Oct. 2, Minnesota state Rep. Kurt Daudt (R), who represents District 31A, announced he had tested negative for coronavirus before meeting with President Trump ahead of a planned rally.
  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after flying on Air Force One with President Trump.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced she and her husband tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he had tested negative for coronavirus. Jordan had accompanied President Trump on Air Force One earlier in the week to the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • On Oct. 2, White House spokesman Judd Deere announced U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett tested negative for the coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) announced he had received a negative test result.
  • On Oct. 2, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus. He previously announced that he had tested negative on March 15.
  • On Oct. 2, Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Allen (R), who represents District 97, announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 2, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Speaker of the House, announced she had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On October 2, Minnesota state Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after flying on Air Force One with President Trump.
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Id.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 3, Pennsylvania state Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D), who represents District 157, announced she would self-quarantine after state Rep. Paul Schemel (R) tested positive for coronavirus on Oct. 1. 
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 3, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mi.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus after two senators with whom he worked tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 4, Biden’s campaign announced he tested negative for coronavirus for the third time since Oct. 2.
  • On Oct. 4, a Justice Department spokesperson said U.S. Attorney General William Barr was self-quarantining and had tested negative for COVID-19 four times since Oct. 2.
  • Eric Trump, the son of President Trump, announced he and his wife Lara had tested negative for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 5, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced she had tested negative for coronavirus after a custodial staff member of her residence tested positive. She said she would self-quarantine until she could receive another test.
  • On Oct. 5, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced he had tested negative for coronavirus.

Self-quarantined:

  • On Oct. 2, Jason Lewis (R), a U.S. Senate candidate to represent Minnesota, announced that he would self-quarantine after flying on Air Force One with President Trump. Lewis said he would seek a coronavirus test.
  • On Oct. 3, Wisconsin state Rep. Jim Ott (R), who represents District 23, announced he was self-quarantining after attending an event with Sen. Ron Johnson (R), who later tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 7, six of the seven members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff entered into self-quarantine after an admiral in the Coast Guard tested positive for coronavirus.​​​​​​

State legislation

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,352 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 77 additional bills since Oct. 1.
  • Of these, 458 significant bills have been enacted into law, 14 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. 
    • We have tracked 20 additional significant bills since Oct. 1 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.)

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide
    • Since Oct. 1, one court ended restrictions on jury trials.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • Wisconsin – On Oct. 1, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reissued a ban on in-person proceedings whenever a circuit or municipal court reverses any part of its operational plan in response to the coronavirus. Circuit and municipal courts were previously permitted to reopen if the chief judge in each administration district approved the plan.
  • Delaware –  On Oct. 5, Delaware courts advanced into a modified Phase 3 of reopening, allowing jury trials to resume. Phase 3 also allows courts to operate at 75% capacity and increases the number of people allowed in a courtroom to 50.
  • Georgia – On Oct. 5, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton announced that he would jury trials to resume on October 10.

Learn more

Click here to learn more.



Coronavirus weekly update: September 25 – October 1, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on Sept. 24:

  • Election changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Travel restrictions
  • Ballot measure changes
  • 1918 story
  • Federal responses
  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • State legislation
  • State courts

Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Thirty-nine states have made modifications to their voting procedures. 
    • Six states have made voting procedure modifications since Sept. 24.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Sept. 24.

Details:

  • Alabama: On Sept. 30, Judge Abdul Kallon of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama issued a ruling that made a number of modifications to Alabama’s voting laws, including waiving the absentee/mail-in ballot witness/notary requirement for voters with underlying medical conditions. 
  • Indiana: On Sept. 29, Judge Sarah Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued an order extending the postmark and receipt deadline for absentee/mail-in ballots in Indiana to Nov. 3 and Nov. 13, respectively.
  • Iowa: On Sept. 25, Iowa legislators approved Secretary of State Paul Pate’s R(R) emergency request authorizing counties to begin processing absentee/mail-in ballots on Oct. 31, the Saturday before Election Day.
  • South Carolina: On Sept. 25, the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an earlier ruling and removed the state’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Texas: On Sept. 30, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocked a lower court’s order that had reinstated Texas’ straight-ticket ballot device, pending further proceedings. 
  • Wisconsin: On Sept. 29, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a district court decision extending voter registration and absentee/mail-in ballot return deadlines in Wisconsin.

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Overview:

In March and April, 48 states closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those states accounted for 99.4% of the nation’s 50.6 million public school students. Montana and Wyoming did not require in-person instruction to close for the year. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Washington, D.C., has a district-ordered school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Five states (Calif., Hawaii, N.M., Ore., W.V.) have a state-ordered regional school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 7,679,753 students (15.18% of students nationwide)
  • Two states (Del., Va.) are open for hybrid or remote instruction only
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 1,686,326 students (3.33% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,013 lawsuits, across all 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 352 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Sept. 24, we have added 22 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 20 court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 251 lawsuits, in 47 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 176 of those lawsuits.

Here are three lawsuits that have either garnered significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • Case v. Ivey: On Sept. 24, seven Alabama residents represented by former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) sued Gov. Kay Ivey (R) and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris in U.S. district court. Plaintiffs allege the executive orders Ivey and Harris have issued are unconstitutional. The plaintiffs said the “Orders, Proclamations, and Mandates of both Governor Ivey and State Health Officer Harris” have been enforced as law and “violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Plaintiffs allege the limits on gathering size and social distancing orders “unlawfully and in direct contradiction to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment … effectively prohibited worship services.” A representative for Ivey said, “The governor is pleased with our state’s progress in terms of COVID-19 and reminds everyone to keep at it.” Although the suit was originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, it was later moved to the Middle District. A judge has not yet been assigned.
  • Ike’s Korner Grille v. South Carolina: On Sept. 20, a Spartanburg County restaurant sued the state of South Carolina and Gov. Henry McMaster (R), alleging McMaster’s COVID-19 executive orders “are not authorized by the laws of South Carolina and violate the South Carolina Constitution.” Ike’s Korner Grille has received multiple notices for violating mandatory safety measures. The Grille’s owners allege the orders pose “the threat of lasting and permanent harm” to its “business and personal liberty by the restrictive micro-managing of operations.” Plaintiffs also allege McMaster’s orders exceed the statutory time-limit for a state of emergency and unconstitutionally “usurp the legislative power of the General Assembly.” A representative from McMaster’s office said, “[The] governor is confident in the constitutionality of the targeted, deliberate and limited measures that have been put in place to help stop the spread of the virus.” The case is pending in the Spartanburg County Court of Common Pleas.
  • Newman v. Evers: On Sept. 17, a Wisconsin poll worker who was fired for refusing to wear a mask sued his local city clerk and Gov. Tony Evers (D) in the La Crosse County Circuit Court. Poll worker Nicholas Newman asks the court to declare Evers’ Executive Order No. 82 and Emergency Order No. 1 unlawful. The orders declared a public health emergency and mandated masks statewide, respectively. Newman alleges Evers’ mask mandate exceeds “his statutory and constitutional power, and is therefore unlawful, void and unenforceable.” Newman also says the order exempts him from wearing a face covering because he “is an individual who has trouble breathing” and “also has a medical condition which makes it dangerous for him to wear a mask for an extended period of time.” A representative for Evers said, “that masks can save lives, and Gov. Evers continues to ask everyone to do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask.” The case has been assigned to Judge Ramona A. Gonzalez.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 25 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Sept. 24three states have modified their travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On Sept. 22, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) that Colorado had been added to the tristate quarantine list. Arizona and Virginia were removed from the list. 

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 19 lawsuits were filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. 
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in 18 cases. 
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering. 
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action.
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, 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 Nov. 5, 1918, the Oakland Tribune reported on the shortage of poll workers in Alameda County due to the influenza pandemic.

Oakland and virtually all of Alameda County is handling today’s selection under difficulties. Many of those selected as election booth officials have been made ill by Spanish influenza and substitutes have been difficult to obtain by reason of fear of the epidemic. 

All of the polling places are open, however, although many of them are being run shorthanded. It is the purpose of County Clerk Gross to fill the vacancies by drafting persons who come to work at the polls for candidates or from those who come to vote.

Early morning voting was very light, according to the reports that have been received by the county clerk. It is believed, however, that the pleasant weather will have much to do with getting out a vote somewhere near normal.

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.​​​​

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Sept. 28, the National Park Service (NPS) announced the Washington Monument would reopen October 1. Visitors must get tickets online, and masks will be required inside the monument.
  • On Sept. 28, President Donald Trump (R) announced the federal government would send the first batch of a planned 100 million rapid coronavirus tests developed by Abbott Laboratories to states this week. The first shipment was expected to total 6.5 million tests. The tests would be distributed to states based on population.
  • On Sept. 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it was extending a ban on cruise ships with a carrying capacity of more than 250 people through Oct. 31. The no-sail order prohibits passenger operations on cruise ships in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction. 

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of Oct. 1, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with an active stay-at-home order.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Nineteen states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Sept. 24, one state ended an eviction moratorium. Three states extended moratoriums on evictions.
  • Twenty-four states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • New York – On Sept. 28, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the statewide moratorium on residential evictions through Jan. 1, 2021.
  • Oregon – On Sept. 28, Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an order extending the statewide moratorium on residential evictions through Dec. 31. The new order, which goes into effect Sept. 30, does not cover commercial evictions.
  • Connecticut – On Sept. 30, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced he would extend the statewide moratorium on evictions through Jan. 1. The moratorium was set to expire on Oct. 1.
  • Florida – The statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expired on Oct. 1, after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that he would not extend it.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Thirteen members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Eighty-nine state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Seventy-eight state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 22 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 27 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Sept. 24, one governor and three state representatives have tested positive for coronavirus. One governor has self-quarantined.

Details:

  • On Sept. 24, South Carolina state Rep. Katrina Shealy (R), who represents District 23, announced she had tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Sept. 25, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Sept. 29, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced he would self-quarantine for 14 days after a member of his staff tested positive for COVID-19. Pritzker self-quarantined on May 11 after a member of his staff tested positive for the virus.
  • On Sept. 29, Michigan state Rep. Beau LaFave (R), who represents District 108, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • On Oct. 1, Pennsylvania state Rep. Paul Schemel (R), who represents District 90, announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

State legislation

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,275 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 66 additional bills since Sept. 24.
  • Of these, 438 significant bills have been enacted into law, 13% of the total introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. 
    • We have tracked 12 additional significant bills since Sept. 24 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.)

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide
    • Since Sept. 24, two courts have extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • Virginia – On Sept. 29, the Virginia Supreme Court issued an order extending the statewide judicial emergency through Oct. 11. The order continues requirements like face coverings in courthouses. Courts are still encouraged to conduct as much business as possible remotely, and jury trials remain prohibited in all but 10 jurisdictions.
  • Alaska –  On Sept. 26, Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger issued an order extending a ban on felony jury trials through the end of the year, but allowing for misdemeanor jury trials to resume in November.

Learn more

Click here to learn more.



Comparing state legislative fundraising from 2018 to 2020

The value of money in state-level politics extends beyond purchasing power. Campaign cash allows candidates to promote their message and turn out their voters, but perhaps more importantly, it may represent momentum. While having the biggest campaign account is no guarantee of success at the polls, studies conducted by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Campaign Finance Institute found a strong correlation.

As part of Ballotpedia’s partnership with Transparency USA, we took a closer look at how the two major political party candidates for state legislatures in nine states—Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin—performed with fundraising in a cycle-vs-cycle comparison from 2018 to 2020.

Semiannual reports in each state during the 2020 election cycle show the following:

• Arizona: Republican candidates for the Arizona State Legislature had raised $5.4 million, while Democrats had raised $4.2 million. Similarly, Republican candidates had raised on average $51,490, while Democrats had raised on average $48,450.
• Florida: Republican candidates for the Florida State Legislature had raised $20.6 million, while Democrats had raised $9.8 million. Similarly, Republican candidates had raised on average $108,513.51, while Democrats had raised on average $37,424.07.
• Michigan: Democratic candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives had raised $5.3 million, while Republicans had raised $4.8 million.
• Minnesota: Democratic candidates for the Minnesota State Legislature had raised $2.8 million, while Republicans had raised $1.9 million. Similarly, Democrats had raised on average $11,874, while Republicans had raised on average $8,577.
• North Carolina: Republican candidates for the General Assembly of North Carolina had raised $13.6 million, while Democrats had raised $12.4 million. Similarly, Republicans had raised on average $68,376, while Democrats had raised on average $59,545.
• Ohio: Republican candidates for the Ohio General Assembly had raised $14.9 million, while Democrats had raised $4.4 million. Similarly, Republicans had raised on average $101,326, while Democrats had raised on average $34,807.
• Pennsylvania: Democratic candidates for the Pennsylvania General Assembly had raised $22.8 million, while Republicans had raised $14.4 million. Similarly, Democrats had raised on average $86,702, while Republicans had raised on average $64,587.
• Texas: Republican candidates for the Texas State Legislature had raised $28.3 million, while Democrats had raised $24.9 million. Similarly, Republicans had raised on average $152,953, while Democrats had raised on average $119,046.
• Wisconsin: Democrats had raised $3.3 million, and Republicans had raised $3.2 million. On average, Democrats had raised $20,547, while Republicans had raised on average $21,640.

The direct comparison between fundraising data from 2018 and 2020 is limited by at least two factors. First, the same seats and offices were not necessarily up for election in both years. For example, Michigan held elections for both chambers (the state Senate and House of Representatives) in 2018, but only for the state House in 2020. Second, additional offices on the ballot in a year might affect the amount of money raised in state legislative elections. For example, among the states studied, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin all held gubernatorial elections alongside their state legislative elections in 2018 but not 2020.

For overviews on all nine states, including comparisons to 2018 fundraising, click the link below:

 



Coronavirus Weekly Update: September 24, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on Sept. 17:

  • Election changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Travel restrictions
  • Ballot measure changes
  • 1918 story
  • Federal responses
  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • State legislation
  • State legislative sessions
  • State courts

For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.

Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Thirty-eight states have made modifications to their voting procedures for the general election. 
    • Six states have made voting procedure modifications since Sept. 17.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Sept. 17.

Details:

  • Michigan: On Sept. 18, Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Michigan Court of Claims issued a ruling extending Michigan’s absentee/mail-in ballot receipt deadline to Nov. 17 for ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 2. Stephens also authorized voters to allow anyone of their choosing to return their ballots between 5:01 p.m. on Oct. 30 and the close of polls on Nov. 3.
  • Mississippi: On Sept. 18, the Mississippi State Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that had extended absentee/mail-in voting eligibility to individuals with “pre-existing conditions that cause COVID-19 to present a greater risk of severe illness or death.”
  • New York: On Sept. 18, the League of Women Voters reached a settlement agreement with New York election officials over ballot curing provisions for the general election.
  • Pennsylvania: On Sept. 17, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued rulings that extended the mail-in ballot receipt deadline to Nov. 6 and authorized the use of drop boxes for returning mail-in ballots in the general election.
  • South Carolina: On Sept. 18, Judge J. Michelle Childs of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina issued a preliminary injunction barring election officials from enforcing South Carolina’s witness requirement for absentee/mail-in ballots in the general election.
  • Wisconsin: On Sept. 21, Judge William M. Conley of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin issued an order extending the absentee/mail-in ballot receipt deadline in Wisconsin to Nov. 9 for ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3. Conley immediately stayed his ruling, giving defendants seven days to file an emergency appeal of the order. 

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

In March and April, 48 states closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those states accounted for 99.4% of the nation’s 50.6 million public school students. Montana and Wyoming did not require in-person instruction to close for the year. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Washington, D.C., has a district-ordered school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Five states (Calif., Hawaii, N.M., Ore., W.V.) have a state-ordered regional school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 7,679,753 students (15.18% of students nationwide)
  • Two states (Del., Va.) are open for hybrid or remote instruction only
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 1,686,326 students (3.33% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Details:

  • Maryland – On Sept. 22, Karen Salmon, the Maryland Superintendent of Schools, approved in-person reopening plans for every school district in the state. 
  • Vermont – On Sept. 22, Vermont Education Secretary Dan French announced schools would advance to step 3 of reopening, which allows for inter-scholastic competitions, on Sept. 26. Step 3 also permits schools to use common areas like gyms and small groups of students. 

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 991 lawsuits, in all 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 332 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Sept. 17, we have added 57 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional eight court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 237 lawsuits, in 47 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 166 of those lawsuits.

Here are three lawsuits that have either garnered significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • Barry v. University of Washington: On Sept. 16, a University of Washington (UW) student filed a class-action lawsuit seeking tuition reimbursement for campus closures. In the complaint, filed in King County Superior Court, UW graduate student Alexander Barry alleges that “[d]espite sending students home, transitioning to online instruction, and closing its campuses, the University of Washington continued to charge for tuition … as if nothing changed, continuing to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students.” The suit alleges the university’s “failure to provide in-person instruction and shutdown of campus facilities amounts to a material breach of the contract.” The complaint alleges that contract law, constitutional guarantees, and “good conscience require that the University of Washington return a portion of the monies paid in tuition and fees.” In a statement, UW representative Victor Balta said university officials “understand and share the frustration and disappointment that students and their families are experiencing as we navigate the unprecedented limitations presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” but declined to comment directly on the pending litigation. The judge assigned to the case has yet to be announced.
  • Eden LLC v. Justice: On Sept. 17, a joint group of businesses and the parents of public school children filed suit against West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. Plaintiffs are challenging what they call his “never-ending executive orders mandating restrictions of constitutionally protected activities.” The plaintiffs allege Justice’s COVID-19 orders violate the U.S. Constitution’s Takings Clause, violating guarantees of substantive due process, procedural due process, equal protection, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression. The plaintiffs allege Justice’s “actions in classifying business as ‘non-essential’ are arbitrary and irrational,” as is his “blanket closure of private or public schools.” Neither Justice nor his office has commented. The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.
  • Miller v. Himes: On Sept. 10, a group of parents filed suit in the Putnam County Court of Common Pleas challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s mask mandate for schools. The mandate requires public and private students in kindergarten through 12th grade to wear facial coverings while on campus, with some exceptions. The parents allege the order infringes on their religious beliefs, and those of their children, as well as their constitutional right to raise their children as they see fit. The plaintiffs also allege mask-wearing has become politicized, making the mandate an unconstitutional form of compelled speech. Lastly, the parents allege the mandate “destroys basic expressive communication, deletes peoples’ sense of self,” and violates their privacy rights “in violation of traditional common law as well as Ohio tort law.” Lance Himes, interim director of the Ohio Department of Health, has not commented. The case is assigned to Judge Keith Schierloh.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 25 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Sept. 17, six states have modified their travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • Maine – On Sept. 23, Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced that Massachusetts travelers entering Maine would no longer be required to test negative or quarantine for 14 days. Other exempt states include New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Travelers from all other states must present a negative COVID-19 test or self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Maine. 
  • New Mexico – On Sept. 23,  Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) added Colorado, Oregon, and Rhode Island to the list of high-risk states. Travelers from high-risk states must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New Mexico. Michigan and Hawaii were moved from high-risk to low-risk, exempting travelers from those states from the quarantine requirement.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On Sept. 22, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Wyoming had been added to the tristate quarantine list, which includes 33 states plus Guam and Puerto Rico. 
  • Massachusetts – On Sept. 19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health removed Wyoming from its list of low-risk states. Travelers from Wyoming must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Massachusetts.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 20 lawsuits were filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. 
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in 18 cases. 
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering. 
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action. 
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

Details:

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, 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 Nov. 2, 1918, the Deseret Evening News previewed Utah’s general election, which took place under the pall of the influenza pandemic.

After the most unusual campaign in the history of Utah politics—owing chiefly to the influenza quarantine—the general election will take place next Tuesday, Nov. 5. Three justices of the state supreme court, two congressmen, a judge of the district court, state senators, state representatives, and full county ticket will be chosen.

The Australian ballot system will be used. A list of nominations has been prepared by county clerks throughout the state, and voters have been asked to make themselves familiar with the names of the candidates so that voting may be expedited. To vote a straight ticket, a cross should be placed in the circle at the top of the column on the ballot which will be provided. This circle is placed under the official party emblem. Three parties are represented, the Democratic, Republican, and Socialist.

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Sept. 22, Adm. Brett Giroir, the Assistant Secretary for Health and testing czar on the White House coronavirus task force, confirmed that the Trump administration has sent more than 250,000 rapid coronavirus tests to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as part of an effort to prevent outbreaks in high-risk communities.
  • On Sept. 21, the U.S. Department of Defense announced travel restrictions had been lifted on 51% of U.S. military installations around the world.
  • On Sept. 18, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced on Twitter that the Department of Homeland Security would extend its prohibition on nonessential travel with Canada and Mexico through Oct. 21.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of Sept. 17, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with an active stay-at-home order.

Details:

  • New Mexico Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel extended the state’s stay-at-home order through Oct. 16.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Sept. 17, one state has extended a moratorium on evictions.
  • Twenty-three states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the statewide moratorium on commercial evictions and foreclosures through Oct. 20.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Thirteen members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Eighty-five state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Seventy-eight state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 22 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 27 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Sept. 17, one governor, one state representative, and one candidate for state representative have tested positive for coronavirus.

Details:

  • Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) announced on Sept. 23 he and his wife had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Illinois state Rep. Sam Yingling (D), who represents District 62, announced on Sept. 21 he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Fred Hawkins (R), a candidate for Florida’s House of Representatives District 42, announced on Sept. 22 he had tested positive for coronavirus. 

State legislation

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,209 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 63 additional bills since Sept. 17.
  • Of these, 426 significant bills have been enacted into law, 13 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. 
    • We have tracked six additional significant bills since Sept. 17 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.)

State legislative session changes

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Four state legislatures have suspended their sessions. All four of those have since reconvened. 
  • Forty-one legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  • Four state legislatures are in regular session. 
  • One state legislature is in special session. 

Details:

  • We have tracked no legislative session changes since Sept. 17.

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide
    • Since Sept. 10, two courts have relaxed restrictions on in-person proceedings.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • South Carolina – On Sept. 21, state courts were allowed to resume normal scheduling and in-person hearings.
  • New Jersey – On Sept. 21, courts in the state were allowed to resume jury trials.

Learn more

Click here to learn more.



Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday, September 18, at the age of 87. Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton and confirmed to the court in 1993. She was the second woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court.

She served on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1980 to 1993. She began her legal career in academia, teaching at Rutgers University Law School and Columbia Law School, in addition to directing the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives the president the authority to nominate Supreme Court justices, and they are appointed with the advice and consent of the United States Senate.

The average vacancy length on the Supreme Court since 1962—when defined as the length of time elapsed between a Justice’s departure date and the swearing-in of their successor—is 88 days. Four of these vacancies lasted for only a few hours each; the successor was sworn in the same day the retiring Justice officially left office. The longest vacancy under this definition was 422 days, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

 



Coronavirus weekly update: September 11 – September 17, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on Sept. 10:

  • Election changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Travel restrictions
  • Ballot measure changes
  • 1918 story
  • Federal responses
  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • State legislation
  • State legislative sessions
  • State courts

For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Thirty-eight states have made modifications to their general election voting procedures. 
    • Six new states have made voting procedure modifications since Sept. 10.
  • Twenty states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Sept. 10.

Details:

  • Arizona: On Sept. 10, Judge Douglas Rayes of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ordered Arizona election officials to give voters until 5:00 p.m. on the fifth business day after an election to sign their vote-by-mail ballot envelopes if they failed to sign at the time they submitted the ballots.
  • Louisiana: On Sept. 16, Chief Judge Shelly Deckert Dick of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana ordered Louisiana election officials to make available to voters in the Nov. 3 general election the same COVID-19 absentee ballot application used in the state’s summer elections. This application offered COVID-19-specific reasons for requesting an absentee ballot.
  • Ohio
    • On Sept. 15, Judge Richard Frye of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas ruled that secretary of State Frank LaRose’s (R) order directing counties to provide no more than one absentee/mail-in ballot drop box per county “lacked a legitimate basis in evidence” and was “unreasonable and unlawful.” Frye, however, stopped short of rescinding the order. A representative for LaRose said the order remained in force. On Sept. 16, Frye ordered LaRose to stop directing counties to provide no more than one absentee/mail-in ballot drop box per county. However, Frye immediately suspended his order anticipating LaRose would appeal. The limit remains in effect pending appeal. 
    • On Sept. 11, Judge Stephen L. McIntosh of Ohio’s Franklin County Court of Common Pleas blocked LaRose from rejecting absentee ballot applications submitted via fax or email.
  • Pennsylvania: On Sept. 14, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh dropped a lawsuit against the state over mail-in ballots. The group withdrew their suit when election officials issued guidance preventing counties from rejecting mail-in ballots solely because of possible mismatches between the signature on the return envelope and the signature on the voter’s registration record.
  • Rhode Island: On Sept. 11, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) announced her office would send absentee/mail-in ballot applications to all active registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • South Carolina: On Sept. 16, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed H5305 into law, extending absentee voting eligibility to all qualified electors in the Nov. 3 general election. The legislation also established Oct. 5 as the start date for in-person absentee voting (i.e., early voting).

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Overview:

In March and April, 48 states closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those states accounted for 99.4% of the nation’s 50.6 million public school students. Montana and Wyoming did not require in-person instruction for the year. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Washington, D.C., has a district-ordered school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 85,850 students (0.17% of students nationwide)
  • Five states (Calif., Hawaii, N.M., Ore., W.V.) have a state-ordered regional school closure
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 7,679,753 students (15.18% of students nationwide)
  • Two states (Del., Va.) are open for hybrid or remote instruction only
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 1,686,326 students (3.33% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
  • Thirty-nine states have reopenings that vary by school or district
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 31,955,012 students (63.17% of students nationwide)

Details:

  • Rhode Island – In-person K-12 classes were allowed to resume statewide on Sept. 14. Cumberland and Warwick school districts are starting the school year fully remotely. Most school districts resumed with a hybrid schedule.
  • West Virginia – On Sept. 15, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced he was adding a new color—gold—to the color-coding system that determines how schools can reopen. Counties with between 10 and 14.9 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people will be classified as gold. While in-person learning is allowed in gold counties, there are limits on gatherings and sports travel. 

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 934 lawsuits, across all 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 324 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Sept. 10, we have added 40 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional five court orders and/or settlements. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 234 lawsuits, in 47 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 155 of those lawsuits.

Here are three lawsuits that have either garnered significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • County of Butler v. Wolf: On Sept. 14, Judge William Stickman IV of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania struck down some of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) COVID-19 orders. The suit was brought on behalf of various Pennsylvania counties, businesses, and elected officials. It challenged Wolf’s restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings, the continued closure of “non-life-sustaining” businesses, and prolonged stay-at-home orders. Writing that the “liberties protected by the Constitution are not fair-weather freedoms,” Stickman, an appointee of President Donald Trump (R), ruled that the “Constitution cannot accept the concept of a ‘new normal’ where the basic liberties of the people can be subordinated to open-ended emergency mitigation measures.” In his order, Stickman found: 
    • “(1) that the congregate gathering limits … violate the right of assembly enshrined in the First Amendment;” 
    • “(2) that the stay-at-home and business closure components of defendants’ orders violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; 
    • “and (3) that the business closure components of defendants’ orders violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” 
    • Stickman limited remedy to the plaintiff individuals and businesses, dismissing the counties for lacking standing to sue. Thomas E. Breth, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “You can’t tell 13 million Pennsylvanians that they have to stay home. That’s not America. It never was. That order was horrible.” 
    • Lyndsay Kensinger, Wolf’s press secretary, said Wolf would seek to block the decision while seeking an appeal, adding that the “ruling does not impact any of the other mitigation orders currently in place including … mandatory telework, mandatory mask order, worker safety order, and the building safety order.”
  • Illinois Republican Party v. Pritzker: On Sept. 3, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit refused the Illinois Republican Party’s request to block Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) COVID-19 restrictions on the size of political gatherings. In its appeal, the state party claimed Pritzker’s orders unconstitutionally imposed a content-based limitation on speech because it allowed religious gatherings to exceed the 50-person limit. The state party also alleged Pritzker had selectively enforced his restrictions on political gatherings when he permitted, supported, and participated in a Black Lives Matter protest. The Seventh Circuit panel disagreed, finding that precedent “does not compel the Governor to treat all gatherings alike.” The panel further concluded that “free exercise of religion enjoys express constitutional protection, and the Governor was entitled to carve out some room for religion, even while he declined to do so for other activities.” Finally, the court emphasized that re-subjecting religious gatherings to the mandatory cap would “leave the Republicans no better off than they are today.” U.S. Circuit Chief Judge Diane Wood, an appointee of President Bill Clinton (D), and Judges Amy St. Eve and Amy Coney Barrett, appointees of President Donald Trump (R), sat on the panel and were unanimous in their decision. Daniel Suhr, counsel for the Republican Party, said, “We are disappointed in the decision, respectfully disagree with it, and are considering our options.” Pritzker has not yet made a statement.
  • Renneberg v. Abbott: On Sept. 8, two families filed suit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in the Travis County District Court challenging COVID-19 visitation restrictions for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The plaintiffs, who have been unable to visit their family members in care facilities, argue that Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) are violating their constitutional and statutory rights “by prohibiting essential family visitors, damaging the health of residents in these facilities, and costing precious time to the residents and their families.” Citing the Texas Human Resources Code, which guarantees an elderly individual “a private place for receiving visitors,” with limited exceptions, plaintiffs argue that officials are “impeding this right and … suspending this portion of the law without authority.” The plaintiffs are asking for the court to “issue a temporary and permanent injunction allowing for safe and limited family visits for essential family caregivers.” Abbott’s office has not commented on the lawsuit, and HHSC has declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 25 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Sept. 10, five states have modified their travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • Connecticut, New Jersey, New York – On Sept. 15, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Puerto Rico had been re-added to the joint travel advisory, while California, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, and Ohio had been removed.
  • Pennsylvania – On Sept. 13, Pennsylvania removed California and Texas from its travel advisory and added Illinois.
  • Massachusetts – On Sept. 12, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health removed Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia from the list of low-risk states. The state had designated Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, and Colorado low risk at the end of August. Travelers from low-risk states are exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 19 lawsuits were filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. 
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in 18 cases, with appeals and motions for stays pending in some.
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering. 
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action. 
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, 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 Nov. 8, 1918, the Oakland Tribune reported on an unexpectedly large number of general election votes cast in the midst of a pandemic.

In spite of the influenza epidemic and all the predictions, the general election vote came within 2789 votes of the primary total. The figure of the primary is 77,148 and for the general election, 74,359.

The big vote is attributed to the fact that the election, robbed of the appearance of being bitterly fought by reason of the orders prohibiting meetings, was nevertheless one of the most stubbornly contested elections of recent years. Letter writing, advertising, and telephoning took the place of speech-making.

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.​​​​​​

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Sept. 16, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) released the Trump Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategy. It includes guidance for working with states, tribes, territories, and local public health programs and a plan for distributing a vaccine as soon as one receives Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • On Sept. 15, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) announced the House would remain in session until lawmakers come to an agreement on another coronavirus stimulus bill.
  • On Sept. 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed a requirement that international travelers from countries like China, Iran, and the United Kingdom deplane at one of 15 designated airports and undergo enhanced health screening. The new strategy for international travelers to the U.S., based on evidence that individuals can be asymptomatic, relies on education, illness response, and developing a testing framework with other countries.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of Sept. 17, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with an active stay-at-home order.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Sept. 10, one state has extended a moratorium on evictions.
  • Twenty-three states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • Illinois – Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended the statewide moratorium on evictions through Oct. 22. It was scheduled to expire on Sept. 19.  

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Thirteen members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Eighty-five state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Seventy-eight state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 22 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 27 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Sept. 13, two lieutenant governors, one state senator, and one state Supreme Court justice have tested positive for coronavirus. One state senator self-quarantined. 

Details:

  • Ohio state Sen. Bob Peterson (R), who represents District 17, announced on Sept. 14 he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Ohio state Sen. Larry Obhof (R), who represents District 22, announced on Sept. 14 he was self-quarantining at home after interacting with Sen. Bob Peterson, who later tested positive for coronavirus.
  • South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette (R) announced on Sept. 14 she had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush announced on Sept. 13 she had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Hawaii Lt. Gov. Joshua Green (D) announced on Sept. 11 he had tested positive for coronavirus.

State legislation

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,146 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 57 additional bills since Sept. 10.
  • Of these, 420 significant bills have been enacted into law, 13 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. 
    • We have tracked 11 additional significant bills since Sept. 10 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.)

State legislative session changes

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Four state legislatures have suspended their sessions. All four of those have since reconvened. 
  • Forty-one legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  • Four state legislatures are in regular session. 
  • One state legislature is in special session. 

Details:

  • We have tracked no legislative session changes since Sept. 10.

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide
    • Since Sept. 10, one court has extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials. One state court permitted jury trials to resume.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • North Carolina –  On Sept. 15, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order extending and modifying emergency directives issued in response to the coronavirus for the next 30 days. The directives include a ban on jury trials, among other restrictions on in-person proceedings.
  • Iowa – On Sept. 14, jury trials resumed in Iowa after several pilot trials received positive feedback from participating jurors and judges.

Learn more

Click here to learn more.



Coronavirus weekly update: September 4 – September 10, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on Sept. 3:

  • Election changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Travel restrictions
  • Ballot measure changes
  • 1918 story
  • Federal responses
  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • State legislation
  • State legislative sessions
  • State courts


For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.
Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Twenty states have postponed state-level primary or special elections. 
    • No states have postponed elections since Sept. 3.
  • Nineteen states have modified their candidate filing requirements. 
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Sept. 3.
  • Forty states have made modifications to their voting procedures. 
    • Two states have made voting procedure modifications since Sept. 3.
  • Political parties in 19 states have made modifications to party events on a statewide basis.
    • No state parties have made modifications to party events since Sept. 3.

Details:

  • Tennessee: On Sept. 9, Judge Eli Richardson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee temporarily suspended a Tennessee law requiring first-time voters to show identification at an election office before voting.
  • Virginia: On Sept. 4, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed into law legislation providing for the use of drop-boxes to return absentee/mail-in ballots. The legislation also provided for prepaid return postage.

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Overview:

In March and April, 48 states closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those states accounted for 99.4% of the nation’s 50.6 million public school students. Montana and Wyoming did not end in-person instruction for the year. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Four states (N.M., R.I., Vt., W.V.) have a state-ordered school closure
  • Two states (Calif., Hawaii) have a state-ordered regional school closure
  • Three states (Del., N.C., Va.) are open for hybrid or remote instruction only
  • Five states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, Mo., Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
  • Thirty-six states have reopenings that vary by school or district

Details:

  • Connecticut – On Sept. 8, several of the state’s largest school districts reopened to in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. Schools were allowed to reopen beginning Aug. 31, but many districts delayed their start until after Labor Day.
  • Maryland – On Sept. 8, public schools were allowed to reopen virtually. How long virtual instruction will last varies by district.

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 894 lawsuits, spanning all 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 319 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Sept. 3, we have added 15 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked one additional court order and/or settlement. 
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 227 lawsuits, in 46 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 143 of those lawsuits.

Here are two recent lawsuits that have either garnered significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • Brown v. Azar: On Sept. 8, a landlord filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) nationwide eviction moratorium. The moratorium temporarily halts residential evictions for most renters in order “to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.” Plaintiff Rick Brown alleges the CDC moratorium “would abrogate the right to access the courts, violate limits on the Supremacy Clause, implicate the nondelegation doctrine, and traduce anti-commandeering principles.” Brown says the CDC unconstitutionally “displaces inherent state authority over residential evictions” and “impermissibly commandeers state courts and state officers” to enforce the emergency moratorium. The CDC has not commented publicly on the lawsuit, which has been assigned to Judge J.P. Boulee, an appointee of President Donald Trump (R).
  • Parker v. Wolf: On Sept. 3, two Pennsylvania couples filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Gov. Tom Wolf (D), challenging Wolf’s COVID-19 contact tracing program and mask mandate. Pennsylvania’s mask mandate, which requires that people wear face coverings in public when they are unable to maintain a distance of six feet from others, and the contact tracing program, were both implemented through executive action. In their complaint, the plaintiffs object to “Wolf’s unilateral exercise of power,” alleging he “has assumed the power to lord over the lives of Pennsylvanians like a king, mandating restrictions that deprive citizens, including plaintiffs, of their fundamental liberties.” The plaintiffs allege that Wolf’s actions violate their First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiffs also allege Wolf’s actions violate the Guarantee Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which requires the federal government to guarantee that the states maintain a republican form of government. Wolf’s office has not commented publicly on the lawsuit. The case is assigned to Chief Judge John E. Jones III, an appointee of President George W. Bush (R).

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 25 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Sept. 3, four states have modified their travel restrictions. 

Details:

  • New Mexico – On Sept. 3, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced that beginning Sept. 4, out-of-state travelers from states with a 5% positivity rate or greater or a new case rate greater than 80 per 1 million residents would be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Additionally, travelers from any state can avoid the quarantine requirement by presenting a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before or after entry into the state. Travelers waiting for a test result must still self-quarantine until the results come back.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On Sept. 8, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, and West Virginia had been added to the joint travel advisory list. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were removed from the list.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 19 lawsuits were filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines. 
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in 18 cases, with appeals and motions for stays pending in some.
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering. 
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action. 
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle
The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, 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 Oct. 20, 1918, The Columbus Evening Dispatch looked at how the influenza pandemic was hobbling political campaigns. 

Politics, both state and local, are the latest activities to be influenced by the influenza epidemic. State committees of both the major parties have cancelled practically all campaign speaking arrangements made for the next week and since the indications are that their action will be duplicated for the week following, the probabilities are that the political campaign of this fall, which was to reach maximum volume after the Liberty Loan campaign ended Saturday night, will be the most uneventful of the state’s history. 

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.​​​​

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Sept. 9, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) ended its coronavirus pandemic task force. An official for the agency, which has helped distribute aid used to combat the coronavirus pandemic in other countries, said other bureaus and divisions would assume the task force’s responsibilities.
  • Sept. 10 was the deadline for states to apply for additional unemployment insurance funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. President Donald Trump (R) authorized FEMA to use disaster relief funds to supplement state unemployment insurance programs. As of Sept. 10, every state but South Dakota had applied to the program. 

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of Sept. 10, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with an active stay-at-home order.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Sept. 3, one state ended a moratorium on evictions.
  • Twenty-three states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • Virginia – The Virginia Supreme Court declined to grant Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) request to extend the statewide moratorium on evictions, which expired Sept. 7. 

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Thirteen members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Eighty-one state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Seventy-seven state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 22 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 27 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Sept. 3, a state senator and representative from Kentucky tested positive for coronavirus.

Details:

  • Kentucky state Rep. Attica Scott (D), who represents District 41, announced on Sept. 6 she had tested positive for coronavirus. 
  • Kentucky state Sen. Gerald Neal, who represents District 33, announced on Sept. 8 he tested positive for coronavirus.

State legislation

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,089 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 24 additional bills since Sept. 3.
  • Of these, 409 significant bills have been enacted into law, 13 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. 
    • We have tracked four additional significant bills since Sept. 3 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.)

State legislative session changes

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Four state legislatures have suspended their sessions. All four of those have since reconvened. 
  • Forty-one legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
    • One legislature has adjourned since Sept. 3.   
  • Four state legislatures are in regular session. 
  • One state legislature is in special session. 

Details:

  • North Carolina – The North Carolina legislature adjourned on Sept. 3

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide
    • Since Sept. 3, one court has extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • New York – A limited number of jury trials were slated to begin in parts of the state on Wednesday, Sept. 9, as part of a pilot program. The program, which was announced by Janet DiFiore, the chief judge of the Court of Appeals in New York, calls for administrative and supervising judges to release daily reports on how the jury trials are going. 
  • Delaware – On Sept. 4, Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins Seitz Jr. extended the judicial emergency through Oct. 5, and announced that the judiciary would move into a modified Phase 3 of reopening on that date. Under the modified Phase 3 plan, the Delaware Supreme Court will permit jury trials to resume and allow courts to increase capacity from 50% to 75%.

Learn more

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Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 33 (September 2, 2020)

This week: Recapping Kansas’ state legislative primaries and looking ahead to New Hampshire

With Labor Day just around the corner and general election season in full swing, this will be the last regular edition of 2020’s Heart of the Primaries. Notable election results from the primaries in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Delaware will be featured in Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew. We hope you have enjoyed our reporting on 2020’s primaries as much as we have enjoyed bringing you this newsletter. Heart of the Primaries will return ahead of the 2022 midterms.

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On 2024:

“I don’t believe that a candidate who runs for the nomination, let’s say in 2024, is going to be able to go back to free trade, globalism, or interventionism … because …  the Republican Party has been changed and reoriented to a great degree by Donald Trump.

“So I think that’s what controls it. … [T]he Republicans today, many of them are … basically establishment Republicans, Conservative Inc., and all the rest of it and they may not believe what they are mouthing, but the fact that they are required to speak in a certain way and address these issues indicates a realization on their part that, intellectually, they have lost the battle for the party’s issues and the party’s identity. And frankly if someone came in and attempted to impose free trade and open borders on the Republican Party, he would not be nominated by the GOP.”

Pat Buchanan, Newsmax TV, Aug. 29, 2020

 

“Donald Trump took over the Republican Party, but it’s still discernibly the Republican Party. …

“There … are notable differences of substance. Trump’s party has reversed itself on trade and jettisoned concern over deficit spending. The party is much less hawkish than George W. Bush’s GOP and much more skeptical of immigration than Ronald Reagan’s. It doesn’t have the focus of the 2004 Republican convention on terrorism or the 2012 Republican convention on out-of-control entitlement spending.

“And yet there is a clear throughline between today’s Republican Party and the GOP of the past several decades. …

“Take Don Trump Jr.’s forceful speech, which by lineage and inclination should be most representative of the Trump GOP. …

“Trump Jr. argued that “Biden’s radical left-wing policies would stop our economic recovery cold,” in part by raising taxes.

“This contrast with Democrats is a GOP commonplace. …

“Trump Jr. underlined the importance of safety and security and hailed the police as American heroes.

“Again, back in 1984, Vice President Bush said, ‘President Reagan and I think it’s time that we worried less about the criminals and more about the victims of crime.’ …

“This perspective sheds some light on the future of a post-Trump GOP. In the main, it’s not likely to be radically different from the current Trump GOP. …

“If this week’s convention has again demonstrated Trump’s personal grip on the party, it also showed that the Republican Party as it has existed for decades isn’t going away.”

Rich Lowry, The National Review, Aug. 28, 2020

U.S. Congress

Previewing the U.S. Senate Republican primary in New Hampshire

Four candidates are running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire on Sept. 8. Don Bolduc and Bryant “Corky” Messner have led in media attention, endorsements, and campaign finance. 

The Concord Monitor’s Ethan DeWitt wrote:

“In Bolduc, voters can choose a career military servant, a brigadier general who rose through the ranks under a long line of presidents and now seeks change from the outside. In Messner they can pick an avowed capitalist, a Trump-endorsed corporate lawyer who built a Denver-based law firm and is running to stand up for small businesses.”

Bolduc received endorsements from the Senate Conservatives Fund, New Hampshire’s former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith (R), and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who said Bolduc “has the integrity, courage, and conviction to lead a positive strategy, and keep America safe.” Messner received endorsements from U.S. President Donald Trump (R), who said Messner was “Strong on jobs, crime, veterans, and the Second Amendment”, and the National Association for Gun Rights.

According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Messner has raised more than $4.4 million, including $3.9 million he loaned to his campaign. Bolduc had raised $889,000. The candidates have $2.5 million and $178,000 cash on hand, respectively.

Gerard Beloin and Andy Martin are also running in the primary.

Incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), first elected in 2008, is seeking re-election. In 2014, Shaheen defeated Scott Brown (R), 51.5-48.2%. New Hampshire most recently held a U.S. Senate election in 2016, when Maggie Hassan (D) defeated incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), 48-47.9%.

Previewing New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary

Five candidates are running in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary on Sept. 8. Matt Mayberry and Matt Mowers lead the field in noteworthy endorsements and fundraising.

Mayberry, a former Dover City Councilor and chairman of the N.H. Commission on Human Rights, received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R). Mowers worked as the executive director of the N.H. Republican State Committee and a senior White House advisor in the U.S. State Department. He received endorsements from U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Mowers has raised $693,000 and has $373,000 cash on hand. Mayberry has raised $173,000 and has $22,000 cash on hand.

Michael Callis, Jeff Denaro, and Kevin Rondeau are also running in the primary.

Denaro, Mayberry, and Mowers completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Read their full responses here. Each candidate is asked to provide three key messages, excerpts of which include:

  • Denaro: “Our National Debt at this time is 26.6 Trillion. I want to propose bills to lower our debt.”
  • Mayberry: “Matt Mayberry is a true New Hampshire Conservative. He believes in smaller government, lower taxes and more personal freedom.”
  • Mowers: “It’s time for a new generation of conservative leadership that will stand up for New Hampshire.”

The winner of the primary will face incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas (D), first elected in 2018 after defeating Eddie Edwards (R), 54-45%. Pappas’ victory made the 1st District one of 30 House Districts represented by a Democrat in 2020 that voted for Trump in 2016. During the presidential election, Trump received 48% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 47% in the 1st District.

State legislatures

Race recap: Kansas’ state legislative elections

Kansas’ state legislative primaries took place on Aug. 4. Over one-quarter of the Republican incumbents seeking re-election faced primary challenges this year, and roughly 40 percent of them lost to their challengers.

The Wichita Eagle’s Jonathan Shorman said these primary challenges illustrated a longstanding, intra-party ideological divide in the state’s legislature: “The influence of Kansas Republican moderates has waxed and waned. Gov. Sam Brownback [(R)] helped oust them in 2012. Voters then swept them back into office in 2016 to end his signature income tax cuts and stabilize the budget.” Shorman continued, “But with last week’s primary losses, their ranks have been depleted to levels not seen for years.”

Below are the results of Republican primaries that featured this ideological divide, according to local media sources like The Wichita Eagle, Shawnee Mission Post, and The Kansas City Star.

In the state Senate races listed below, all of the incumbents who lost primaries this year were first elected in 2016, the last time state Senate elections took place. Four of the 2020 incumbents—Skubal, Givens, Hardy, and Berger—all defeated Republican incumbents themselves in 2016.

The House last held elections in 2018. Of the four incumbents defeated below, Dirks was first elected in 2012 and Moore in 2018. Kessinger and Karleskint were both elected in 2016 after defeating Republican incumbents in their respective primaries.

Power players

“Making the change one outsider at a time.” – Conservative Outsider PAC website

Conservative Outsider PAC (COPAC) is a political action committee founded in 2020. Its current treasurer is Kate Teasdale, who works as a Republican political consultant. Notable contributions to COPAC during the 2020 election cycle include $315,000 from Club for Growth and $750,000 from Protect Freedom PAC.

COPAC has not made any direct campaign contributions during the current election cycle, but it has made independent expenditures in Republican primaries totaling $1,376,922. Most recently, it spent $385,000 on television ads opposing Bill Hagerty’s (R) bid for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee, bringing its total spending in opposition to Hagerty to $968,000. COPAC also spent $250,835 and $102,468 to oppose Dane Eagle’s (R) campaign in Florida’s 19th Congressional District and Tracey Mann’s campaign in Kansas’ 1st Congressional District. Both Hagerty and Mann won their primary elections, while Eagle lost his by a margin of .7 percentage points.