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 May 12, 2020.
State stay-at-home orders
- Forty-three states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Eight of those orders were set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 had announced end dates.
- As of May 12, 16 governors have ended their state’s stay-at-home orders. Twelve of those states have Republican governors and four have Democratic governors. Of the 27 states where governors have not ended their state’s stay-at-home orders, seven have Republican governors and 20 have Democratic governors.
The 1918 influenza pandemic
The 1918 midterm elections occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic, one of the most severe in history. Each day, 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 November 1, 1918, the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin published an article titled, “Draft And ‘Flu’ Hit Election Systems.” The article discussed how the draft for World War I and the influenza pandemic would affect election systems ahead of the midterm elections.
“The draft and influenza epidemic have combined to turn the election system of the city topsy-turvy.
Next Tuesday, to a degree unprecedented, the 1,349 polling places will be manned by judges, inspectors and clerks unfamiliar with election details.
Within the last week more than 300 changes of judges of election have been made by Common Pleas Court No. 4, designated by the Board of Judges as this year’s Election Court.”
- House Democrats unveiled a $3 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
- To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 70 lawsuits, spanning 32 states, relating to governmental actions undertaken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 19 of those lawsuits.
- Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 53 lawsuits, spanning 25 states, dealing with the administration of elections in light of the pandemic. Orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 19 of those lawsuits.
- Twenty states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
- Fourteen states have modified candidate filing requirements.
- Twenty-seven states have made modifications to voting procedures.
- Political parties in 18 states have adjusted party events on a statewide basis.
- Connecticut – Gov. Ned Lamont (D) issued an executive order reducing petition signature requirements for all candidates by 30 percent. He also extended the filing deadlines for major-party and unaffiliated candidates by two days, to June 11 and August 7, respectively.
Ballot measure changes
- Ballotpedia tracked 20 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
- Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures.
- At least 11 lawsuits were filed seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines.
- At least one initiative campaign is reporting it has enough signatures but is delaying signature submission so its measure appears on the ballot in 2022 instead of 2020.
- Forty-eight states have closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Those states account for 99.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country. The two states to not close schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year are Montana and Wyoming.
- All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.
- Pennsylvania – State Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera said in a Senate committee hearing that he expected students to return to school in the fall. Rivera said his agency would work with the state’s health department to give districts a range of options to choose from in order to meet social distancing guidelines.
- Twenty governors or state agencies have issued an executive order placing restrictions on out of-state travelers.
State court changes
- Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
- Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
- Alaska – The Alaska Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings through June 1. Jury trials were suspended through July 6.
- Florida – Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T. Canady issued a memo to chief judges in both the Florida District Court of Appeals and the state’s Circuit Courts outlining best practices to help courts navigate new remote procedures. Best practices include ensuring technology is sufficient to allow courts to preside over and resolve matters effectively and accounting for ADA requirements and web content accessibility standards.
- Georgia – The Georgia Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials through June 12.
- Utah – The Utah Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials until further notice. The court further directed that all hearings, with an exception for urgent matters, should be conducted “on the papers,” per the order, or remotely.
Prison inmate responses
- Nineteen states have released inmates at the state level.
- Thirteen states have released inmates on the local level.
- Twelve states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
- Two states have prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
- Four states have temporarily released certain populations of inmates.
- North Dakota – The North Dakota Parole Board granted parole to 120 inmates in the month of March related to the coronavirus pandemic. In the month of April, more than 100 inmates were granted parole, though there is no official statement as to whether these releases were due to the pandemic.
- Virginia – As of May 7, the Virginia Department of Corrections released 130 inmates and approved the early release of an additional 100 inmates due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
- Forty one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.
- Pennsylvania – Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced that he was allocating $10 million in federal relief funds to assist residents who have lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic. The “COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program” would provide rental assistance to nearly 3,000 families in the city.
State legislative responses
- To date, 1,054 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
- Of these, 107 significant bills have been enacted into law, about 10 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
- Twenty-four state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Ten of those have since reconvened.
- Nineteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
- Five state legislatures are in regular session.
- Two state legislatures are in special session.
- South Carolina – The legislature reconvened on May 12 to consider budget issues and future session dates.
Read more: Multistate agreements to reopen after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020
- Student Loan Multistate Agreement – Last week, nine states reached an agreement with more than a dozen private student loan organizations to provide relief to private student loan borrowers. The agreement covers residents in the following states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. New York secured its own agreement separately.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
Federal politicians who self-quarantined for coronavirus
- Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced he would self-quarantine for 14 days after a member of his staff tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.