TagCoronavirus

Ballotpedia stories covering coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020.

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


Trump signs coronavirus relief bill into law

President Donald Trump (R) signed into law a coronavirus relief bill in the evening of March 18, 2020. The bill had been passed in the U.S. Senate earlier in the day by a margin of 90–8. The law provides funding for paid sick leave, free coronavirus testing, expanded unemployment insurance, and food assistance programs.



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



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