CategoryState

Coronavirus daily update: March 19, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for March 19, 2020.

Federal responses
  1. Last night, President Donald Trump signed H.R. 6201, the second coronavirus relief bill. It passed the Senate earlier in the afternoon by a 90-8 vote and passed the House on Monday by a 363-40 vote. Lawmakers are expecting to work out another bill in the coming days that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said should include direct payments to individuals.
  2. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Steven Daines (R-Mont.), and Angus King (I-Maine) filed legislation seeking to delay the federal tax filing deadline for 90 days to align with the move made on March 17 by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to delay the payment of taxes 90 days. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) sent Mnuchin a letter requesting the same.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  1. Nine states changed primary or municipal election dates.
  2. One state (New York) adjusted its candidate filing requirements.
  3. Three states have either implemented or attempted to implement changes to its voting procedures.
  4. Political parties in six states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  1. Connecticut – Governor Ned Lamont (D) announced the postponement of the state’s presidential preference primary to June 2.
  2. Minnesota – The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party voted to conduct all local and district-level caucuses online. The Republican Party voted to conduct local conventions online.
  3. Missouri – The Missouri GOP voted to cancel its county caucuses.
State legislative changes
Overview to date:
  1. Sixteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions.
  2. Two states (Maine and Maryland) have adjourned early.
  3. Four states have implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  1. Mississippi – The Mississippi State Legislature suspended its session, effective March 18, through April 1.
  2. New Hampshire – The New Hampshire General Court announced it would extend the suspension of its session through April 10. The suspension was originally set to end on March 20.
State court changes
  1. Arizona – The Arizona Supreme Court updated its order from March 16 to recommend that all proceedings be avoided to the greatest extent possible until further notice. The court also ordered new petit juries scheduled from March 18 to April 17 be rescheduled.
  2. Kansas – The Kansas Supreme Court issued an order that suspended all jury trials and restricted courts to emergency operations.
  3. Washington – The Washington Supreme Court suspended all criminal and civil jury trials until after April 24.
School closures
Overview to date
  1. Forty-three of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 43 states served 41.2 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 81.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States. California accounts for 6.3 million of the 9.4 million students in a state without statewide closures.
Details:
  1. Texas – Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed an executive order closing schools statewide from March 20 until April 3. Texas was the 42nd state to order statewide closures. It served 5.4 million public school students during the ’16-’17 school year.
  2. Indiana – Governor Eric Holcombe (R) signed an executive order closing schools statewide until May 1. Previously, Holcombe granted schools a 20-day waiver that allowed school districts to close on days of their choosing. Indiana was the 43rd state to order statewide closures. It served 1 million public school students during the ’16-’17 school year.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians

Utah – U.S. Representative Ben McAdams (D) announced on March 18 that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Florida
  1. U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R) announced on March 18 that he tested positive for coronavirus.
  2. U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D) announced on March 19 that she was entering a self-quarantine after contact with another member of the U.S. House who later tested positive for coronavirus.
  3. U.S. Representative Stephanie Murphy (D) announced on March 18 that she was entering a self-quarantine after learning another member of Congress tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D) announced on March 18 that he was entering a self-quarantine after learning he had been in contact with a family friend who tested positive for coronavirus.
Georgia
  1. State Senator Brandon Beach (R) announced on March 18 that he tested positive for coronavirus.
  2. U.S. Representative Drew Ferguson (R) announced on March 18 that he was entering a self-quarantine after learning he had been in contact with a member of Congress who tested positive for coronavirus.
  3. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) announced a self-quarantine on March 18 after learning Brandon Beach tested positive for coronavirus. He recommended Georgia lawmakers enter a quarantine until March 30.
  4. State Senators Renee Unterman (R) and Randy Robertson (R) also decided to self-quarantine.

Kansas – Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple (D) announced on March 18 that he, along with City Council members Brandon Johnson, Becky Tuttle, and James Clendenin, would enter self-quarantine due to possible exposure from a conference they attended in Washington D.C.

Louisiana – U.S. Representative Steve Scalise (R) announced on March 18 that he was entering a self-quarantine for two weeks after learning U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart tested positive for coronavirus.

Missouri – U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (R) announced on March 18 that she was entering a self-quarantine after a colleague tested positive for coronavirus.

New York – U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D) announced on March 18 that she was entering a self-quarantine after learning she had been in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

Oklahoma – U.S. Representative Kendra Horn (D) announced on March 19 that she was entering a self-quarantine after contact with another member of the U.S. House who later tested positive for coronavirus.

Read more:
  1. Political responses to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  2. Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  3. Federal, state, and local government policy changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  4. Political incumbents, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  5. Changes to state legislative sessions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  6. School closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  7. State court closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  8. Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020


Filing deadline passes for state executive, legislative offices in Maine, Colorado, and Utah

The filing deadline to run for elected office passed this week in Maine, Colorado, and Utah. Maine’s filing deadline was March 16, Colorado’s was March 17, and Utah’s was March 19.

In Maine, prospective candidates could file for the following state offices:
  • State Senate (35 seats)
  • State House (151 seats)
In Colorado, prospective candidates could file for the following state offices:
  • State Board of Education (3 seats)
  • State Board of Regents (3 seats)
  • State Senate (18 seats)
  • State House (65 seats)
In Utah, prospective candidates could file for the following state offices:
  • State Senate (15 seats)
  • State House (75 seats)
  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Attorney General
  • Auditor
  • Treasurer
  • State Board of Education (8 seats)

Maine, Colorado, and Utah’s statewide filing deadlines are the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 26, 2020, in Virginia.

Maine and Colorado have Democratic state government trifectas, while Utah has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading:


March 17 primary narrows Illinois candidate field for general election

Illinois held a primary on March 17, 2020, and the state-level elections on the ballot included the state Senate, state House, state supreme court, and state appellate court. The general election is November 3, 2020. The filing deadline passed on December 2, 2019.

Twenty of the 59 Illinois State Senate seats are up for regular election in 2020. Three Democratic primaries and nine Republican primaries for those seats were canceled after no candidates filed. Of the 17 Democratic primaries that were on the ballot, six were contested races and 11 were uncontested races with only one candidate. Of the 11 Republican primaries that were on the ballot, two were contested races and nine were uncontested races with only one candidate. All 14 Democratic state Senate incumbents who ran for re-election advanced to the general election. No Republican state Senate incumbents ran for re-election in 2020.

Illinois also held a special primary for the District 11 seat in the state Senate on March 17. Democrat Celina Villanueva, who was appointed to the seat in January 2020, was the only candidate to file and advanced to the November 3 special general election.

All 118 seats in the Illinois House of Representatives are up for election in 2020. Sixteen Democratic primaries and 56 Republican primaries for those seats were canceled after no candidates filed. Of the 102 Democratic primaries that were on the ballot, 22 had contested races. The other 80 were uncontested races with only one candidate. Of the 62 Republican primaries that were on the ballot, eight had contested races. The other 54 were uncontested races with only one candidate. Nine state House incumbents—three Democrats and six Republicans—did not run for re-election in 2020. Of the 109 incumbents who ran for re-election, 107 advanced to the general election. Democratic incumbents Yehiel Kalish and Yoni Pizer lost their primaries. Both had been appointed to their positions, meaning this was their first election.

Two Illinois Supreme Court seats were on the primary ballot on March 17. The Republican primary for the 1st District race was canceled after no candidates filed. Incumbent P. Scott Neville advanced from the Democratic primary, defeating six opponents. In the Republican primary for the 5th District race, David K. Overstreet defeated John B. Barberis Jr. for a place on the general election ballot. He will face Judy Cates, who advanced from the Democratic primary after running uncontested.

The Illinois Appellate Court also held primaries on March 17 for three seats. The Republican primaries for the 1st Division and 3rd Division seats on the 1st District Appellate Court were canceled as no candidates filed. The results of the Democratic primaries for those seats were pending as of March 19, 2020. In the Republican primary for the 5th District Appellate Court, Mark M. Boie defeated Katherine Ruocco. He will face Sarah Smith, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the November 3 general election.

Ballotpedia also covered primaries in Cook County on March 17. The offices up for election included clerk of the circuit court, county state’s attorney, county board of review commissioner, county water reclamation district board member, circuit court judgeships, and subcircuit court judgeships.

Illinois has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Democrats have a 40-19 majority in the state Senate and a 73-44 majority in the state House. Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker was first elected to office in 2018.

Additional reading:


Stitt appoints Hixon to Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) appointed Stacie Hixon on March 10 to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. Hixon, a Tulsa-area attorney, replaces former judge Jerry Goodman, who retired in August 2019.

At the time of her appointment, Hixon was a partner at the Tulsa law firm Steadley & Neal. Goodman had served on the court since 1994 and would have been up for a retention election in 2020.

The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals is an intermediate state appellate court composed of 12 judges in four divisions. Of the current judges on the court, six were nominated by a Democratic governor and six were nominated by a Republican governor.

Additional reading:


Ohio Democratic Party sues Ohio Secretary of State over primary election postponement

On March 17, 2020, the Democratic Party of Ohio and Kiara Sanders, a registered voter in Franklin County, filed suit against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) in the state supreme court, alleging that LaRose was “patently and unambiguously without jurisdiction and legal authority to suspend, move, or set the date of Ohio’s 2020 presidential primary election.” They argued instead that the legal authority to set the date of the primary election rested with the state legislature.

The plaintiffs asked the court to do the following:
• Bar the secretary of state from setting a date for the 2020 primary election
• Order election administrators to accept and process absentee voting applications until 12:00 p.m. on April 25, 2020
• Order election administrators to direct local boards of elections to accept and count all valid absentee ballots postmarked on or before April 28, 2020, and received on or before May 8, 2020
• Order election administrators to accept and count all valid absentee ballots delivered personally by a voter or his or her family member on or before April 28, 2020
• Order the secretary of state to provide for prepaid postage for all absentee ballots and applications

Earlier this week, LaRose ordered the postponement of the primary from March 17, 2020, to June 2, 2020, after Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton ordered the closure all polls on March 17 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

This lawsuit is the latest in a series of actions surrounding the postponement of Ohio’s primary. On March 16 (before LaRose moved the state’s primary date) a group of private citizens filed suit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas at the request of Governor Mike DeWine (R)seeking a postponement of the state’s primary election.

Judge Richard Frye declined to postpone the primary. Frye said, “There are too many factors to balance in this unchartered territory to say that we ought to take this away from the legislature and elected statewide officials, and throw it to a common pleas court judge in Columbus 12 hours before the election.”

In a joint press release issued shortly after 9:00 p.m., DeWine and LaRose said, “Logistically, under these extraordinary circumstances, it simply isn’t possible to hold an election tomorrow that will be considered legitimate by Ohioans. They mustn’t be forced to choose between their health and exercising their constitutional rights.” Shortly after 10:00 p.m., DeWine announced that polls would be closed on March 17 by Acton’s order.

In response to this announcement, a candidate for office in Wood County, Ohio, filed suit in the state supreme court, alleging that the postponement violated state election laws. Shortly before 4:00 a.m., the court rejected this argument, allowing the postponement to stand.

LaRose then issued a directive to election administrators postponing in-person voting to June 2, 2020. The absentee ballot application deadline was extended to May 26, and the postmark deadline was extended to June 1. The voter registration deadline, originally February 18, was left unchanged. All ballots already cast, either by mail or in person, would be counted as usual.



Coronavirus daily update: March 18, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary for March 18, 2020.

Federal responses
• The Senate passed the coronavirus relief bill sent by the House earlier this week.
• The U.S.-Canada border is closed to nonessential travel.

Election changes
• Alabama – Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced that the state would postpone its primary runoff election, originally scheduled for March 31, 2020, to July 14.
• Missouri – Governor Mike Parson (R) ordered the postponement of all municipal elections originally scheduled for April 7, 2020, to June 2.
• Ohio – On March 17, the Democratic Party of Ohio sued Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) over his postponement of in-person voting in the primary to June 2.

State legislative changes
• California – Session suspended until April 13.
• Hawaii – Session suspended indefinitely effective March 17.
• Iowa – Session suspended for at least 30 days.
• Louisiana – Session adjourned until March 31.
• Maine – Session adjourned effective March 16.
• Maryland – Session adjourned effective March 18.
• Minnesota – Legislative activity conducted remotely through April 14.
• Nebraska – Session suspended effective March 17.
• New York – Session suspended until at least March 18.
• Pennsylvania – Lawmakers voted to allow remote voting on legislative actions.

School closures
• Nationwide – Forty states have ordered statewide closures of public schools. The schools impacted by these closures served 33.9 million students as of the 2016-17 school year (most recent available data), accounting for 67 percent of the 50.6 million public school students nationwide.
• Kansas – Governor Laura Kelly (D) closed all schools in the state from March 23 through May 31.
• Wisconsin – Governor Tony Evers (D) announced that the statewide closure, originally ordered to end April 5, would instead last indefinitely.

Judicial changes
• Arkansas – The Supreme Court of Arkansas suspended in-person proceedings in all appellate, circuit, and district courts.
• Connecticut – The Judicial Branch announced it would curtail courthouse operations. One courthouse in each of the 13 judicial districts will remain open for priority court business.
• Massachusetts – All courts will be closed to the public from March 18 until at least April 6.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians
• Colorado – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R) and U.S. Representative Jason Crow (D) both announced they entered a self-quarantine after contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
• Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David Wecht announced a self-quarantine on March 17 after one of his children tested positive for coronavirus.

Additional Reading:
Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
Changes to state legislative sessions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
School closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
State Court closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
Political incumbents, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020



Chandler voters approve Proposition 426

Proposition 426 amended the city’s charter to say that primary, regular, and special elections may be held on election dates authorized by state law. Before the election, the city charter said the municipal primary election shall be held on the 10th Tuesday before the general election. According to election night results, 92% of voters were in favor of the charter amendment.
This change was proposed to make the city charter comply with state law after SB 1154 (2019) was passed moving the state’s primary election to the 1st Tuesday of August before the general election.


So far, Florida residents are set to vote on six constitutional amendments

The Florida Legislature referred two constitutional amendments to the ballot during its 2020 legislative session, which ended on March 13. Five other proposed constitutional amendments had passed one chamber of the state legislature but were not approved in the other chamber before the session adjourned. Also on the Florida 2020 ballot are four citizen-initiated constitutional amendments.

The two amendments referred by the legislature concern property taxes.

House Joint Resolution 877, sponsored by Rep. Sam Killebrew (R-41), would allow a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran. The state House approved the amendment 115-0 with five not voting on March 4, 2020. The state Senate passed the measure unanimously on March 5, 2020.

House Joint Resolution 369, sponsored by Rep. Rick Roth (R-85), would increase the period during which a person may transfer “Save Our Homes” benefits (limitations on homestead property tax assessments) to a new homestead property from two years to three years. The state House approved the amendment unanimously with two Democratic representatives not voting on March 9, 2020. The state Senate approved the amendment unanimously on March 11, 2020. The tax assessment limitations, referred to as Save Our Homes benefits, were established through Amendment 10, a citizen initiative, in 1992. Amendment 10 modified Article VII of the Florida Constitution to limit homestead property valuations to a maximum of 3% annually.

Summaries of the four citizen-initiated amendments on the ballot are as follows:

  • Amendment 1: adds language to state constitution saying that only U.S. citizens can vote in federal, state, local, or school elections
    Amendment 2: increases minimum wage to $15 by 2026
    Amendment 3: establishes a top-two open primary system for state office primary elections
    Amendment 4: requires voter-approved constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at a second general election

A total of 91 measures appeared on the Florida ballot between 1996 and 2018, 75.82% of which were approved and 24.18% were defeated. From 1996 to 2018, an average of between seven and eight measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years in Florida.

 



New Jersey, Texas schedule upcoming state legislative special elections

Two new state legislative special elections have been added to our list. The special elections are for the District 25 seat in the New Jersey State Senate and the District 25 seat in the New Jersey General Assembly on November 3, 2020. The primary is on June 2, and the filing deadline is on March 30.

A new state legislative special election has been added to our list. The special election is for the District 14 seat in the Texas State Senate on July 14, 2020. There is no primary, and the filing deadline is on May 13.



Georgia is second state to postpone presidential primaries amid coronavirus concerns

On March 14, Georgia postponed its presidential primary elections by eight weeks due to concerns regarding the coronavirus outbreak. The state rescheduled its presidential primaries from March 24 to coincide with the May 19 statewide primaries. The postponement also applies to any special elections in the state originally scheduled to take place on March 24.

Early voting for the presidential primary began on March 2. All early voting ballots already cast for president—in-person or absentee—will be counted in the newly scheduled May 19 presidential primary.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement on March 14, “In light of the public health emergency posted by COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in-person voting presents increased risk to voters and poll workers.” He stated that the average age of poll workers in Georgia is over 70.

Georgia was the second state to postpone its presidential primaries due to coronavirus concerns following Louisiana, which postponed its presidential primaries from April 4 to June 20. Four states—Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio—have presidential primaries scheduled to take place on March 17.

Additional reading:
Coronavirus outbreak, 2020
Presidential elections in Georgia, 2020



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