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Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: September 23, 2020 Edition #102

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, where we track the status of reopening in all 50 states. Today we look at Indiana’s move into stage 5 of reopening, the return of in-class instruction in Florida’s largest school district, a featured story from the 1918 influenza pandemic, and more. Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 23, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that the Department of Health had released an order allowing self-serve food stations to reopen across the state on Sept. 24.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here.

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Health and Human Services Director Mark Ghaly announced Riverside, Alameda, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, and Solano counties could move from purple into the red phase of reopening. Ghaly also said El Dorado, Lassen, and Nevada counties could move into the orange phase, and Mariposa County could enter the yellow phase. The changes were effective Sept. 22.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): The Miami-Dade County Public Schools board voted Sept. 22 to return students to in-class instruction. Prekindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and students with special needs will return on Oct. 14. All others will return on Oct. 21. Families can opt for virtual learning. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the fourth largest district in the United States.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Sept. 23, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced that Indiana would enter the last stage of reopening, called Stage 5, on Sept. 26. Holcolmb said that the state would announce updated guidelines for Stage 5 on Thursday. Previously, Stage 5 allowed for most types of businesses to operate without restrictions, including restaurants, bars, malls, gyms, and amusement parks. When the state enters Stage 5, masks will still be required in public areas.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Jefferson Parish met state requirements to reopen bars starting Sept. 23.
  • Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) amended the state’s Standing Order to allow individuals to be tested for the coronavirus without a written order from a doctor.
  • Maryland (divided government): On Sept. 22, Karen Salmon, the Maryland Superintendent of Schools, announced that she had approved in-person reopening plans for every school district in Maryland.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): On Sept. 23, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that he would ease restrictions on restaurants beginning Sept. 28. On that day, the number of patrons allowed per table will increase from six to 10, and restaurants will be allowed to use bar seating for food service. Bars and nightclubs, however, will remain closed.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) added Colorado, Oregon, and Rhode Island to the list of high-risk states. She moved Michigan and Hawaii to the low-risk classification. Individuals arriving from high-risk states are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Sept. 23, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that stadiums and outdoor event venues can resume operation at 7% capacity on Oct. 2.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced the release of a new coronavirus exposure alert app that notifies users if they have been in contact with other users who later test positive for the virus.
  • Vermont (divided government): On Sept. 22, Vermont Education Secretary Dan French announced that 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.

Daily feature: The 1918 influenza pandemic

Every Wednesday, we feature a newspaper story written during the 1918 influenza pandemic that illustrates how the country contended with a national health emergency in the midst of an election year. To see more stories from 1918, click here.

On Nov. 5, 1918, the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune reported on a meeting by the local health board to consider lifting an order that prohibited public gatherings.

“Maine public interest relative to the influenza situation in Cincinnati is centered on the meeting of the Board of Health Wednesday and the action the board will take in the matter of lifting the ban on business, amusements, and public gatherings. The public health situation continues to improve, according to the Health Officer Peters, and it is predicted that Cincinnati will be practically free from the malady within a week or ten days.

Dr. Peters is preparing a statement on the influenza in Cincinnati from the time it first appeared to date and is compiling official reports from twenty large cities of the United States showing the ravages of the disease in those centers as compared with Cincinnati. This statement, together with a number of suggestions, will be given Wednesday to the members of the Board of Health and it will rest with that body to when the ban will be lifted.

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.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic. 

  • 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 and encroach on its 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.


Did COVID-19 affect the number of candidates who filed for election in 2020?

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, states have changed election dates, voting procedures, and candidate filing deadlines. We took a look at the potential effect these changes had on candidate filing ratios (the number of candidates who filed compared to the number of seats up for election).

We chose the date of comparison as March 13, 2020—the date the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to take a comprehensive approach to fight COVID-19. The data shows that the number of candidates who filed in 2020 and in 2018 is similar.

In 2020, 0.13 more candidates filed for election on or before March 13 than those who filed on or before the same date in 2018.

In 2020, 0.21 more candidates filed for election after March 13 than filed for election after March 13 in 2018.

In 2018, 2,294 candidates filed to run for the U.S. House. For this year’s elections, the number is 2,378. In both years, all 435 U.S. House seats were up for election.

The five states with the largest changes in candidate filing ratios—calculated by dividing the number of candidates who filed for election by the number of seats up for election—(positive or negative) from 2018 to 2020 are:

New Hampshire: -7.00
Utah: +6.25
Hawaii: +4.00
Idaho: -4.00
South Carolina: -3.15

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, 25 states have changed election dates at the state or local level and 40 states have made changes to voting procedures. Nineteen states have made changes to candidate filing deadlines.

Additional reading:



Weekly Presidential News Briefing: September 18, 2020

Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.


Candidates by the Numbers

The Cook Political Report updated its race ratings on September 17, 2020:

  • Arizona moved from Toss Up to Leans Democratic.

Notable Quotes of the Day“While debates are often seen as gamechangers, it’s often the period after the conventions are in the rearview mirror and before the debates when the political environment becomes clear.

Take a look at all the election cycles since 1972. Specifically, look at where the national polling averages stood 35 days before the election (i.e. the day of the first 2020 general debate). The polls have been surprisingly predictive.

There has just been about a 3 point difference between where the polling average stood 35 days before the election and the eventual result. To put that into context, there has been about a 2 point difference between the polling averages and the results on the final day of the election.”

Harry Enten, CNN


“[Trump’s approval rating] is rising, and at a fairly steady clip. He isn’t at the 46% threshold yet, and it’s likely he’ll level off in the next few weeks, but that isn’t a given.

This is, frankly, a much better position for Trump to be in than the two most recent presidents who lost their reelection bids. President George H.W. Bush’s job approval was consistently in the mid-to-high 30s post-Labor Day, while Jimmy Carter’s job approval was in the low 30s. Trump’s job approval isn’t good, but it is closer to that of recent presidents who have won than to recent presidents who have lost.

Finally, in this vein, one of the more perplexing features of 2020 is that Trump’s job approval has outpaced his vote share in head-to-head polls. Who are these people who approve of the job he is doing but don’t plan on voting for him? My guess is they are eventual Trump voters, who either won’t admit to themselves or to the pollster that they are going to vote for him. Perhaps Trump will lose a substantial number of people who approve of the job he is doing, but I’m not sure I’d bet on it.

Sean Trende, senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics


Week in Review

Biden on the campaign trail

  • On Monday, Joe Biden discussed climate change and the economy during an event in Delaware.
  • On Tuesday, Biden met with veterans in Tampa and attended a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee.
  • On Wednesday, Biden delivered remarks about the coronavirus pandemic in Delaware.
  • On Thursday, Biden participated in a town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
  • On Friday, Biden campaigned in northern Minnesota.
Trump on the campaign trail

  • On Sunday, Donald Trump held his first indoor rally in three months in Nevada.
  • On Monday, Trump traveled to California to speak with local and federal officials about the wildfires across the state.
  • On Tuesday, Trump traveled to Philadelphia to participate in an ABC News town hall.
  • On Wednesday, Trump remained in Washington, D.C.
  • On Thursday, Trump held a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin.
  • On Friday, Trump campaigned in northern Minnesota.

Adelson, Bloomberg plan to boost presidential candidates

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg committed at least $100 million to help Joe Biden’s campaign. The spending will primarily be focused on television and digital advertising.

On Thursday, the Democratic-aligned Priorities USA announced that it was using $5.4 million from Bloomberg to air ads focused on the coronavirus pandemic in 10 media markets in Florida.

CNBC reported that casino executive Sheldon Adelson is expected to contribute $20 million to $50 million to Preserve America, the Republican National Committee, and other Republican groups to support Donald Trump’s campaign.

Battleground ads focus on pandemic, healthcare, Black voters, and economy

The Joe Biden campaign began airing new ads in battleground states on Wednesday focused on healthcare and the Affordable Care Act. The campaign is spending $65 million on television, radio, and print advertising this week.

Other pro-Biden and anti-Trump ads released this week include:

  • Spanish-language ads in Florida about the economy, coronavirus pandemic, and the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria
  • Two new ads focused on manufacturing and union jobs in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania
  • A series of digital and television ads aimed at Black voters in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin

Donald Trump launched an ad buy of more than $10 million focused on the economy. The ads will run nationwide and in Arizona, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Other pro-Trump and anti-Biden ads released this week include:

  • An ad that highlights the Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization agreement signed this week set to air nationwide and in Florida and Philadelphia
  • A new $9.7 million ad campaign from CatholicVote attacking Biden for his position on abortion in Michigan and Pennsylvania

Jorgensen qualifies for the ballot in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The Jo Jorgensen campaign announced on Monday that it had met ballot access requirements in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Jorgensen is the fifth Libertarian candidate to reach this milestone following candidates in 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2016.

Hawkins, West battle for ballot access in the courts

An Idaho court ruled on Wednesday that Kanye West could remain on the ballot as an independent presidential candidate despite being registered to vote in Wyoming as a Republican.

A Wisconsin judge upheld a decision by the state elections commission to block West from the ballot because an aide submitted the paperwork after the 5 p.m. filing deadline.

Wisconsin and Pennsylvania judges ruled that Howie Hawkins would not appear on those state’s ballots.

Want more? Find the daily details here:


Campaign Ad Spotlight



Facebook Spending


Poll Spotlight



Candidates on the Issues


What we’re reading this week

Flashback: September 14-18, 2016

  • September 14, 2016: Gary Johnson qualified for the ballot in all 50 states.
  • September 15, 2016: Donald Trump shared the results of a medical physical written by Dr. Harold Bernsein.
  • September 16, 2016: The country’s largest law enforcement union, the National Fraternal Order of Police, endorsed Donald Trump.
  • September 17, 2016: Bernie Sanders campaigned at Kent State University in Ohio on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
  • September 18, 2016: The Morning Call profiled Donald Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania coal country.


Debate over federal aid to states in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus-related business closures and job losses reduced state income and sales tax revenues. State budget shortfalls resulting from lost tax revenue are projected to total between $41 billion and $110 billion in fiscal year 2020. In FY 2021, shortfalls are projected between $121 billion and $290 billion.

Between March and August 2020, Congress and President Donald Trump (R) appropriated funds to assist state and local governments with revenue shortfalls caused by decreased tax revenue twice.

Historical data shows:
• As of 2019, 30.7% of total state spending was derived from federal funds.
• The number of federal programs through which aid is appropriated—more than 1,300 as of May 2019—tripled between the 1980s and 2020.
• Between FY 2017 and FY 2019, total state spending increased at the fastest rate since the Great Recession.

Advocates for increased assistance for states have called on Congress and President Trump to appropriate additional federal funds to offset declines in tax revenue and budget shortfalls. A group of directors of seven nonpartisan governmental associations wrote, “If we want our nation’s health and economy to recover, state and local governments must be part of the solution.” The commentary criticized the HEALS Act introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for not providing state or local funding.

Opponents of increased assistance acknowledge that the economic consequences of COVID-19 are substantial, but say reckless state spending—enabled by increased federal aid over time—exacerbated the economic fallout from COVID-19. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “The president is not going to bail out Chicago and New York and other states that prior to the coronavirus were mismanaged.”



Washington Supreme Court to review county sheriff recall petition on November 5

The Washington Supreme Court agreed to review a petition seeking to recall Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff. Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram initially approved the recall petition on August 20, but Hatcher filed an appeal against that decision with the state supreme court. Hatcher’s appeal will be considered by the court on November 5, 2020.
 
The Benton County Sheriff’s Guild is leading the recall effort. They said Hatcher had performed his duties in an improper manner, committed illegal acts, and violated his oath of office. Hatcher said the guild was refusing to hold deputies accountable for their actions. He said the guild would not let him take disciplinary action against employees who committed wrongdoing.
 
If the appeal is rejected, recall supporters will be able to circulate petitions. Recall supporters must collect 14,000 signatures to get the recall on the ballot.
 
In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:
Recall campaigns in Washington
Political recall efforts, 2020
County official recalls



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.



Learn more about the arguments in the debate over school closures during the coronavirus pandemic

Discussions about policy responses to the coronavirus are happening at a fast pace. As part of our ongoing coverage Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, Ballotpedia has published a series of articles capturing the regular themes in support of and opposition to these policy responses.

Here’s how it works. First, we identify a topic area, (such as mask requirements or testing. Next, we gather and curate articles and commentary from public officials, think tanks, journalists, scientists, economists, and others. Finally, we organize that commentary into broad, thematic summaries of the arguments put forth.

We’ve identified the following arguments in favor of school closures:
  1. School closures are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
  2. Evidence from past pandemics supports the efficacy of school closures.
  3. Reopening Universities will increase COVID-19 spread
  4. Reopening schools puts people of color at higher risk.
  5. We should keep schools closed because COVID-19 outbreaks are inevitable.
We’ve identified the following arguments in opposition to school closures:
  1. School closures are ineffective in preventing the spread of the virus.
  2. School closures pose significant unintended consequences.
  3. School closures and reopening plans have disparate economic effects.
  4. School closures and distance learning exacerbate digital divide
  5. We need to reopen schools to protect the economy.
  6. School-aged children have reduced COVID-19 risk.
Additional reading


Checks and Balances: Department of Justice proposes modernization of Administrative Procedure Act

The Checks and Balances Letter delivers news and information from Ballotpedia’s Administrative State Project, including pivotal actions at the federal and state levels related to the separation of powers, due process and the rule of law.

This edition:In this month’s edition of Checks and Balances, we review a legal challenge to 2020 census changes; a proposal from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to modernize the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA); and agency rulemakings from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the DOJ that seek to limit the use of guidance documents.

At the state level, we examine a concurring opinion from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice expressing misgivings about judicial deference as well as procedural challenges to coronavirus response efforts.

We also highlight new scholarship proposing that internal administrative law changes, rather than judicial action, can narrow applications of Chevron deference as well as new findings from Ballotpedia’s survey of all 50 state constitutions and administrative procedure acts examining whether state administrative agencies can choose whether to follow formal adjudication procedures. As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 176 proposed rules and 267 final rules added to the Federal Register in August and OIRA’s regulatory review activity.



In Washington

Census changes face challenge 

  • What’s the story? A three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on September 10 blocked a Trump administration effort to exclude people who reside in the United States without legal permission from the census numbers used to allocate congressional representation. 20 states joined with cities and counties to file a lawsuit on July 24 arguing that the July 21 presidential memorandum “Excluding Illegal Aliens From the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census” violates the U.S. Constitution’s mandate to count “the whole number of persons in each State.” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) filed a similar lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on July 28, arguing that the memo also violates separation of powers principles and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
  • The U.S. Constitution requires the enumeration of all persons in each State. Congress delegates authority to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to carry out the census and determine which persons qualify as inhabitants for the purposes of congressional apportionment.
  • The Trump administration argues that the DOC in prior censuses has interpreted its delegated authority to exclude persons residing in the country without lawful permission. The memorandum states that excluding “illegal aliens from the apportionment base is more consonant with the principles of representative democracy underpinning our system of Government.”
  • Judges Richard C. Wesley, Peter W. Hall, and Jesse M. Furman held in a per curiam opinion that the Trump administration memorandum violates statutory requirements mandating that apportionment must be drawn from the number of residents living in each district, regardless of their legal status. The president’s supervisory authority of agency heads allow him to retain “some discretion in the conduct of the decennial census and resulting apportionment calculation,” wrote the judges in a per curiam opinion. “Nevertheless, where the authority of the President (or other members of the Executive Branch) to act is derived from statutes passed by Congress, the President must act in accordance with, and within the boundaries of, the authority that Congress has granted.”
  • The Trump administration will likely appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The California lawsuit was still pending as of September 11, 2020.
  • Want to go deeper?

DOJ urges Congress to modernize administrative procedures

  • What’s the story? The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on August 11 released a report recommending that Congress update and improve the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The DOJ argued that the APA framework fails to sufficiently manage modern regulation and falls short of promoting agency accountability, transparency, and public engagement.
  • Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told Reuters that the agency wants to work with Congress to revise the APA because the legislation “no longer reflects how the regulatory process actually works.”
  • The report, entitled “Modernizing the Administrative Procedure Act,” is based on proposals presented by regulatory professionals during the DOJ’s December 2019 summit on APA modernization. The report examines the development of administrative agencies over the 74 years since the passage of the APA, recommends legislative action to improve the APA, and considers takeaways from the Trump administration’s regulatory approach that could contribute to APA modernization, according to the DOJ.
  • Prior to 1946, no federal laws governed the general conduct of administrative agencies. The APA established uniform rulemaking procedures for federal agencies to propose and issue regulations, put forth procedures for issuing policy statements and licenses, and provide for judicial review of agency adjudications and other final decisions. The legislation remains largely unchanged today.
  • Want to go deeper?

Agencies move to rein in guidance practices

  • What’s the story? The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Justice (R) issued recent rulemakings aimed at implementing President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13891, which aims to prohibit federal administrative agencies from issuing binding rules through guidance documents. Agencies were required to comply with the order’s directives by June 27, 2020, but some agencies received extensions.
  • Noting that “the public often treats guidance from agencies as binding, even if it technically is not”, the final rule from the DOL, published on August 28, creates a searchable database of all agency guidance documents; requires that significant guidance documents (those with an economic impact of $100 million or more, among other factors) undergo a notice-and-comment review process prior to implementation; and allows the public to petition the DOL to amend or withdraw guidance documents.
  • The interim final rule from the DOJ, released on August 26, prohibits the agency from using guidance documents as substitutes for regulations; limits the agency’s ability to use guidance documents in civil and criminal enforcement actions; requires a notice-and-comment review process for significant guidance documents as well as approval by an agency official appointed by the president; mandates that all agency guidance documents be made available in a searchable database; and allows the public to petition the DOL to amend or withdraw guidance documents.
  • Want to go deeper?

In the states

Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice expresses misgivings about judicial deference

  • What’s the story? Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David N. Wecht on July 21 issued a concurring opinion in Crown Castle NG East LLC and Pennsylvania-CLE LLC v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission expressing what he called “deep and broad misgivings” about the court’s practice of deferring to state agency interpretations of statutes and regulations.
  • The case challenged the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) interpretation of a statute governing public utilities. The PUC argued that the court should defer to its statutory interpretation because of the subject matter’s highly technical nature. The court, however, refused to defer to the PUC’s interpretation because it found the statute in question to be clear and unambiguous.
  •  “A court does not defer to an administrative agency’s interpretation of the plain meaning of an unambiguous statute because statutory interpretation is a question of law for the court,” wrote Justice Sallie Updike Mundy in the opinion.
  • In a concurring opinion, Justice Wecht expressed uncertainty about the court’s deference practices. Wecht pointed to the lack of clarity surrounding the court’s approach to deference, arguing that the court’s deference doctrines aren’t clearly distinguishable and have been, in their words, “thrown together over time.”
  • Ballotpedia tracks state approaches to judicial deference as part of The Administrative State Project. Since 2008, Wisconsin, Florida, Mississippi, Arizona, and Michigan have taken executive, judicial, or legislative action to limit or prohibit judicial deference to state agencies.
  • Want to go deeper?

Coronavirus emergency powers challenged on procedural grounds to mixed results in state lawsuits 

  • What’s the story? The following lawsuits claim that state responses to the coronavirus pandemic in Arkansas and Alabama violated the Administrative Procedure Acts (APA) in their respective states:
    • Arkansas: A group of Republican lawmakers on September 3 filed suit against Arkansas Department of Health Director Dr. Jose claiming that the agency’s coronavirus-related health directives violated the state APA by not first receiving legislative approval. Moreover, the lawsuit claims that Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) emergency declaration—first issued in March and since extended—violates the state APA, which mandates that emergency rules may not be effective for more than 120 days and that successive emergency rules may not be adopted earlier than 30 days after the expiration of the previous rule. Hutchison disagreed with the lawsuit, arguing that the legislative review of emergency rules would delay the state’s public health response.
    • Alabama: An Alabama judge on August 11 dismissed a procedural challenge to Governor Kay Ivey’s (R) authority to issue a mask mandate, but failed to provide an explanation for his reasoning. The plaintiffs alleged that the Alabama Board of Health failed to meet statutory notice and administrative review requirements prior to the issuance of the mask mandate in violation of the state APA. In their motion to dismiss, state officials argued that Ivey incorporated the order into a gubernatorial proclamation under her own authority, granted by the Emergency Management Act. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Greg Griffin dismissed the case without comment. The plaintiffs plan to appeal the decision.
  • Ballotpedia provides the text of all 50 state APAs as part of The Administrative State Project. Click here for complete coverage.

Narrowing Chevron Deference through Administrative Law

New scholarship from law professor Christopher Walker argues that Chevron deference can be narrowed through internal changes to administrative law processes rather than judicial action. Walker focuses on the use of Chevron deference in the context of immigration policy, arguing that the application of Chevron to immigration questions is inappropriate since immigration policies are most often formulated through adjudication rather than rulemaking. Walker proposes that federal regulators should shift the formulation of immigration policy from adjudication to rulemaking in order to shore up Chevron’s theoretical foundations of agency expertise, deliberation, and political accountability.

“Indeed, on closer examination, the theoretical foundations for Chevron deference crumble in the immigration adjudication context. Chevron’s core rationale for congressional delegation and judicial deference—agency expertise—is particularly weak when it comes to immigration adjudication. Unlike in other regulatory contexts, the statutory ambiguities immigration adjudicators address seldom implicate scientific or other technical expertise. The second leading and related rationale— deliberative process—is even weaker here than in other adjudicative contexts. After all, immigration adjudication is on the fringe of the ‘new world of agency adjudication.’ It is not formal adjudication under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), lacking many of the signature procedural protections afforded in APA-governed formal adjudication. The third central rationale—political accountability—may at first blush seem compelling in immigration adjudication, due to the Attorney General’s final decision-making authority. Building on Hickman and Nielson’s framing, however, we argue that agency-head review is necessary yet insufficient for Chevron’s accountability theory. The theory should encompass a robust public engagement component, with public notice and an opportunity to be heard for those—beyond the parties in the adjudication itself—who would be affected by the agency’s statutory interpretation. Agency adjudication seldom provides that, and perhaps even less so when it comes to immigration adjudication.”

  • Want to go deeper?

Ballotpedia study shows that 46 states allow administrative agencies to choose whether to follow formal adjudication procedures

A Ballotpedia survey of all 50 state constitutions and administrative procedure acts (APAs) concluded that 46 state constitutions or APAs allow administrative agencies to choose whether to follow formal adjudication procedures in administrative hearings as of August 2020.

  • Forty-six states allow administrative agencies to choose whether to go through formal adjudication or use informal procedures
  • Four states, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, sometimes require agencies to use formal adjudication to resolve cases
  • No states require agencies to follow formal adjudication procedures in all cases

Ballotpedia examined provisions permitting state agencies to use informal adjudication here.


Regulatory tally

Federal Register

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s recent regulatory review activity includes:

  • Review of 64 significant regulatory actions. Between 2009-2016, the Obama administration reviewed an average of 53 significant regulatory actions each August.
  • Eight rules approved without changes; recommended changes to 51 proposed rules; five rules withdrawn.
  • As of September 2, 2020, OIRA’s website listed 120 regulatory actions under review.
  • Want to go deeper? 
  • Every month, Ballotpedia compiles information about regulatory reviews conducted by OIRA. To view this project, visit: Completed OIRA review of federal administrative agency rules

This Checks and Balances newsletter is part of Ballotpedia’s Administrative State Project, a nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that also features the latest data on federal regulatory activity, including a rolling page count of the Federal Register and the volume of rulemaking.

You can view an index of these pages here. View the pages and you will come away knowing the difference between the administrative state, the regulatory state, and the dark state—and so much more. New entries to our encyclopedia are added weekly.



Weekly Presidential News Briefing: September 11, 2020

Candidates by the Numbers

The Cook Political Report updated its race ratings on September 10, 2020:

  • Florida moved from Leans Democratic to Toss Up.
  • Nevada moved from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball also updated its race ratings on September 10, 2020:

  • Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District moved from Toss Up to Leans Democratic. Nebraska and Maine are the only states to appoint individual electors based on the popular vote statewide and in each congressional district.

Notable Quotes of the Day “One of the reasons Mr. Biden was able to wipe away Mr. Trump’s early cash edge was that he sharply contained costs with a minimalistic campaign during the pandemic’s worst months. Trump officials derisively dismissed it as his ‘basement’ strategy, but from that basement Mr. Biden fully embraced Zoom fund-raisers, with top donors asked to give as much as $720,000.

These virtual events typically took less than 90 minutes of the candidate’s time, could raise millions of dollars and cost almost nothing. Mr. Trump has almost entirely refused to hold such fund-raisers. Aides say he doesn’t like them.”

– Shane Goldmacher and Maggie HabermanThe New York Times


“I would say this about an October surprise. I mean, given this year, it’d be unlikely that there wouldn’t be a major turn of events between now and the election. But there will be no surprise that has to do with Trump. It’s just not possible. Everything that anybody could possibly think about him, good or bad, they already think. Like, when you think about a bell curve, he’s already at the tails. So, any surprise that happens will be a surprise around Biden-Harris.”

– Beth Hansen, former campaign manager for John Kasich


Week in Review

Biden, Trump respond to Woodward interview on coronavirus

In a recorded interview with journalist Bob Woodward from February 2020 released on Wednesday, Donald Trump discussed the dangers of the coronavirus. He said it was deadlier than the flu and a delicate issue because it was airborne. In another interview about the coronavirus from March 2020, Trump said, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Joe Biden addressed Trump’s comments during an event in Michigan, saying, “He had the information. He knew how dangerous it was. And while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people.”

Trump defended his comments in a Fox News interview on Wednesday. He said, “I’m the leader of the country, I can’t be jumping up and down and scaring people. I don’t want to scare people. I want people not to panic, and that’s exactly what I did.”

Trump, RNC raise $210 million in August, trail Biden and DNC’s fundraising total

Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $210 million in August, setting a record for the campaign. They trailed Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee’s fundraising total for the month by $154 million.

Biden and the DNC raised $365 million in August, bypassing Barack Obama’s record $193 million monthly total from September 2008.

Maine ballots will use ranked-choice voting for presidential election

On Tuesday, the Maine Supreme Court stayed a lower court’s decision regarding a veto referendum on ranked choice voting in the state, effectively putting its inclusion on the ballot on hold. As a result, Maine Secretary of State Matthw Dunlap said he would proceed with printing ballots that included ranked choice voting for the presidential race.

Trump releases list of potential Supreme Court nominees

Donald Trump released a list of 20 potential Supreme Court nominees on Wednesday. The list includes Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Josh Hawley (Mo.), and five current or former members of his administration.

Satellite groups release ads focused on military families, protests

The Democratic-aligned group American Bridge launched a $4 million television and radio ad campaign focused on military families and rural voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. The ad highlights negative comments Donald Trump allegedly made about dead U.S. soldiers.

The pro-Trump America First Action announced a $22 million ad buy in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio that will run until Election Day. The series of ads will focus on protests in Wisconsin and other states, Biden’s mental acuity, and calls to defund the police.

Where the candidates were this week

Joe Biden spoke at a virtual town hall inside the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and Congress Industrial Organizations headquarters in Harrisburg on Monday.

He discussed American manufacturing in Warren, Michigan, on Wednesday. Biden last visited the state in March.

On Friday, Biden commemorated September 11 at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He also attended a ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.

Donald Trump campaigned in Jupiter, Florida, on Tuesday, where he discussed conservation and environmental protection in the Everglades. He also held a rally in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on the same day.

On Thursday, Trump spoke at the MBS International Airport in Saginaw County, Michigan. He also traveled to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to commemorate September 11 at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Friday.

Trump is expected to campaign in Nevada over the weekend. He originally planned to hold rallies at airport hangars in Reno and Las Vegas, but the events were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Want more? Find the daily details here:


Facebook Spending


Poll Spotlight


Campaign Ad Spotlight


Candidates on the Issues


What we’re reading

Flashback: September 8-11, 2016

  • September 8, 2016: Donald Trump unveiled his education proposal, including designating $20 billion for federal school choice grants.
  • September 9, 2016: Mike Pence released a decade of his tax filings. In 2015, Pence and his wife had a reported adjusted gross income of $113,026.
  • September 10, 2016: TIME reported that Hillary Clinton said at a fundraiser, “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”
  • September 11, 2016: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both visited Ground Zero in New York City to commemorate September 11.


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%.

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