TagCoronavirus

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

Arizona campaign finance initiative campaign suspends signature gathering

Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, co-chair of the campaign Outlaw Dirty Money, announced that the campaign was suspending signature gathering efforts for its ballot initiative due to the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign needs to gather at least 356,467 signatures by the July 2 deadline.

The ballot initiative would add language to the Arizona Constitution providing people with a right to know the identity of the original source of an aggregate contribution of $5,000 or more used for campaign media spending.

Goddard called on the Arizona State Legislature to allow for signatures to be gathered online. He noted that the legislature had authorized candidates to collect petitions online. Goddard stated, “We’ve got a situation here where they treat themselves royally with access to electronic signatures. But they don’t let anybody else have it. I think that’s fundamentally unfair and perhaps illegal.”

Outlaw Dirty Money was the third ballot initiative campaign to suspend signature gathering in Arizona. The Arizonans for Fair Elections campaign stopped gathering signatures for its ballot initiative to make several changes to the state’s voting and campaign finance policies, including automatic voter registration and decreasing contribution limits. Anabel Maldonado, campaign manager of Arizonans for Fair Elections, said, “In order to keep from risking the health of our circulators and Arizona residents, we suspended both paid and volunteer signature collection late last Tuesday [March 17]. … Our teams are on standby, just in case. Additionally, we are working with our partners to figure out what is the safest way we can organize digitally to help identify our supporters.”

The campaign behind a ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage for nurses, technicians, and other medical staff considered direct care hospital workers also suspended signature gathering on March 15.

Ballotpedia is tracking how changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At least 13 statewide ballot initiative campaigns have suspended or abandoned signature gathering. Three states and D.C. have canceled board meetings, closed offices, delayed petition deadlines, or otherwise changed their procedures or policies on ballot measures.

Sixteen states of the 26 with a process for statewide citizen-initiated measures have signature deadlines between the end of April and early August. This makes the next several months an important time period for the circulation of 2020 initiative and referendum signature petitions.

Additional reading:


Filing period for congressional races to end in six states

The major party filing period for congressional races will end in six states over the next week. These include:
• New Jersey and South Carolina: March 30
• Missouri and South Dakota: March 31
• New York and Tennessee: April 2

All six states will hold U.S. House elections for each of their congressional districts. In addition, New Jersey, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee will hold elections for one seat each in the U.S. Senate.

These filing deadlines have so far not been moved in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Ballotpedia is tracking changes to election dates and procedures.

The general election in each state is scheduled for November 3, 2020. The primaries in New Jersey and South Dakota are scheduled for June 2. The remaining primaries are scheduled as follows:
• South Carolina: June 9
• New York: June 23
• Missouri: August 4
• Tennessee: August 6

These filing deadlines are the 26th through the 31st to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on April 6 in Arizona.

Entering the 2020 election year, the U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party. Only 33 out of 100 Senate seats are up for regular election, and two are up for special election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. The U.S. House has 232 Democrats, 197 Republicans, five vacancies, and one independent. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

Additional reading:
United States House of Representatives elections, 2020
United States Senate elections, 2020
Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020
Ballotpedia’s Elections Analysis Hub, 2020



Arizona Supreme Court suspends certain time requirements in response to COVID-19

The Administrative Office of the Arizona Supreme Court issued a directive on Tuesday, March 24th, extending time limits for court-related deadlines.

Administrative Director of the Courts David K. Byers issued Administrative Directive No. 2020-03 as a response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Chief Justice Robert Brutinel gave Byers the authority to suspend or alter time limits and court-related deadlines through Administrative Order No. 2020-45, which delegated such power to the administrative director of the courts during a health emergency.

The time limits and deadlines that have been extended include:
  • The suspension of the six-hour live program requirement in the Arizona Code of Judicial Administration.
  • The timeframe for new limited jurisdiction judges to complete New Judge Orientation.
  • The timeframe in which judges are supposed to attend programs both in and out of state.
  • The timeframe for probation officers to complete the Probation Officer Certification Academy and Institute for Intensive Probation Supervision.
  • The timeframe in which chief probation officers and directors of the juvenile court are supposed to attend programs both in and out of state.
  • The timeframe in which judges are to complete the specialized dependency-training program approved by the Committee on Judicial Education and Training.

The court also extended deadlines for the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program and the Legal Document Preparers continuing education requirements.

This is the latest in a string of responses by the Arizona state government to the coronavirus. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) declared a state of emergency in Arizona on March 11, 2020. As of March 20, 2020, Gov. Ducey had ordered all schools closed until April 10, 2020. While courts remain open, they are to avoid in-person proceedings to the greatest possible extent and have rescheduled all petit juries. As of March 24, 2020, the Arizona State Legislature had suspended its session until April 13, 2020.

Additional reading:


Initiative to eliminate property taxes in North Dakota approved for signature gathering

An initiative to amend the North Dakota Constitution to eliminate property taxes was approved for signature gathering on March 25. The initiative was filed by North Dakota Republican Representative Rick Becker. To qualify for the November ballot, 26,904 valid signatures are due before midnight on July 6, 2020.

Becker, who estimated that North Dakota collects about $950 million a year in property taxes, said property taxes could be eliminated and revenues could be replaced by other tax revenue sources including oil and natural gas tax revenue.

The measure would prohibit property taxes in the state except for those designed to pay for bonded indebtedness incurred before December 2, 2020. The measure would limit the debt of a political subdivision (such as counties, cities, and towns) to 2.5% of the value of real property in the subdivision. Incorporated cities could raise the debt limit to 4% through a two-thirds supermajority vote and school districts could raise the debt limit to 5% through a simple majority vote. Cities could become indebted by an additional 2% for water and sewer projects. A political subdivision could not issue general obligation bonds to be paid back through property taxes after December 2, 2020.

In 2012, North Dakota voters defeated a measure to eliminate property taxes by a vote of 77% against and 23% in favor.

Three other citizen initiatives have been approved for signature gathering in North Dakota. One measure would amend the constitution to prohibit the state legislature from submitting a constitutional amendment to the voters that (1) would alter citizens’ direct democracy (initiative and referendum) powers or (2) is considered a duplicate of a constitutional amendment that was approved by the voters in the last seven years. The other two measures would legalize marijuana; one would do so in the state constitution, and the other would do so in state statute.

To qualify the statutory marijuana measure for the ballot, 13,452 valid signatures are required by July 6. David Owen, chairman of Legalize ND, sponsors of the initiative, said, “Since we are a volunteer (organization), we primarily get our signatures at big events. When there aren’t any major events, you have a large problem. St. Patrick’s Day getting canceled, that probably cost us between 1,000 and 1,500 signatures. If we stay shut down [due to Coronavirus] until July, no, we’re not going to make it. If we get going again after Easter, maybe.”

While candidates for state office may send copies of their nominating petitions through fax and email for supporters to sign, ballot measure petition circulators in North Dakota must sign statements affirming that they personally witnessed each petition signing.

Two constitutional amendments are set to appear on the November ballot in North Dakota, both of which were referred to the ballot by the state legislature during the 2019 session. One of the measures would require citizen-initiated constitutional amendments to be either passed by the legislature or passed twice by voters. The other measure makes changes to the membership and terms of the state’s Board of Higher Education.

Between 1996 and 2018, an average of six measures appeared on the ballot in North Dakota during even-numbered election years, 56% of which were approved.

Additional reading:


Oregon Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative suspends in-person signature gathering

Yes on IP 44, which is sponsoring the Oregon Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative, suspended in-person signature gathering on March 26. The campaign announced on March 5 that they had collected 125,000 signatures but still needed 8,000 more signatures to meet their raw signature goal. A total of 112,020 valid signatures are required to qualify for the ballot by the submission deadline on July 2. The sponsors requested that supporters download the petition to sign and mail into the campaign.

In an email to supporters, the campaign said, “It has been part of our campaign strategy all along to move to digital signature gathering at some point. COVID just accelerated that transition. … We want to make sure we have more than enough valid signatures so that there’s absolutely no question as to whether or not we’ll be on the ballot.”

Ballotpedia is tracking how changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At least 13 statewide ballot initiative campaigns have suspended or abandoned signature gathering. Three states and D.C. have canceled board meetings, closed offices, delayed petition deadlines, or otherwise changed their procedures or policies on ballot measures.

Sixteen states of the 26 with a process for statewide citizen-initiated measures have signature deadlines between the end of April and early August. This makes the next several months an important time period for the circulation of 2020 initiative and referendum signature petitions.

Additional reading:


Maryland governor issues stay-at-home order

On March 30, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued an executive order closing nonessential businesses and requiring individuals to remain in their homes except for essential activities.

Hogan’s order took effect immediately and will remain in place until the state’s declared state of emergency is over. The order defines essential activities as trips for supplies or medical care, caring for family members, and outdoor exercise. Knowing and willful violation of the order is a misdemeanor offense and convictions may result in up to one year imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Twenty-five states have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. Six of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 19 announced end dates.

Although the names of the orders—shelter-in-place, stay-at-home, stay home, stay safe—vary from state to state, they include at least two common elements: the closure of nonessential businesses and requesting all residents to stay home except for essential trips.

Additional Reading:
States with shelter in place and stay at home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020



New York postpones presidential primary, special elections to June 23, 2020

On March 28, 2020, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) issued Executive Order No. 202.12, postponing the state’s presidential preference primary to June 23, 2020. New York’s primary election for congressional, state, and local offices had already been scheduled to take place on June 23, 2020. The presidential preference primary was originally scheduled for April 28, 2020.

Cuomo also postponed five special elections to June 23 from April 28:
• 27th Congressional District
• State Senate District 50
• State Assembly District 12
• State Assembly District 31
• State Assembly District 136

To date, 21 states and one territory have implemented changes to their election dates in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

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



Trump signs third coronavirus relief package

President Donald Trump signed the coronavirus aid relief and economic security act — or CARES Act — March 27, following the U.S. House approving the legislation earlier that day by a voice vote. The U.S. Senate voted 96-0 to pass the package March 25.
The $2 trillion package is the third bill signed in response to the coronavirus outbreak. It includes funds for assisting large and small businesses, state and local government programs, and aid in the form of individual payments.


Daily coronavirus update: March 27, 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 27, 2020.
Federal responses
  • President Donald Trump (R) signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. The U.S. House approved the relief package earlier in the day by a voice vote. The legislation includes $2 trillion in relief funds, and a $1,200 payment to individuals making less than $75,000 per year.
  • Trump announced that he would use the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to produce ventilators.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  • Fifteen states and one territory changed state-level primary or general election dates. Six states changed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Six states adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  • Twelve states implemented changes to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in nine states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  • Montana – Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive authorizing counties to conduct upcoming elections entirely by mail.
  • Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed HB 197 into law, rescheduling the state’s primary election for April 28.
  • Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill into law postponing the state’s primary election to June 2. It was originally scheduled for April 28.
  • Utah – Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed an executive order authorizing candidates and/or their campaigns to send petition sheets to voters electronically. The order also authorized voters to return signed petition sheets electronically or by mail.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 14 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Three states changed ballot measure procedures.
Details:
  • Arizona – The campaign for an initiative to establish a right to know the original source of campaign media spending suspended its signature drive. At least two other previously active Arizona initiative petition drives have suspended signature gathering as well: one concerning voting and campaign finance policies, and one to enact hospital worker minimum wage and insurance regulations.
  • Oklahoma – The Oklahoma Secretary of State officially paused the signature gathering window for initiative petitions until the governor lifts the state’s emergency declaration.
  • Oregon –  The campaign for an initiative to decriminalize drugs and establish an addiction treatment program suspended in-person signature gathering efforts.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  • To date, 261 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Thirty-one significant bills have been enacted into law, about 12 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
Overview to date:
  • Twenty-three state legislatures suspended their sessions. Two of those (New York and Vermont) have since reopened.
  • Thirteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  • Seven state legislatures are in regular session. One state (Arkansas) is in a special session.
  • One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.
Details:
  • Arkansas – Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) issued a proclamation convening a special session of the state legislature to begin March 26 and continuing indefinitely.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
Details:
  • Wyoming – Effective March 23, the Wyoming Supreme Court suspended in-person proceedings through at least April 10, except in certain specified instances. The court encouraged judges to use video or telephone when possible, and to reschedule civil trials and criminal trials “subject to the requirement that defendants be provided speedy trials as required by law.”
  • Idaho  – The Idaho Supreme Court ordered only emergency hearings and proceedings be conducted, suspended civil trials, and delayed criminal trials at least 30 days from their original start date.
  • Kentucky – The Kentucky Supreme Court extended their original order limiting in-person court proceedings through April 24.
  • Michigan – In a joint statement by Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and the Executive Director of the Michigan Sheriff’s Association, judges, law enforcement, and prosecutors are encouraged to coordinate the expanded use of appearance citations and summons, when appropriate and legally permissible, rather than custodial arrests and arrest warrants to proactively reduce the risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Maine – The Maine Supreme Court has suspended all grand and petit jury proceedings for the months of April and May.
  • Mississippi – The Mississippi Supreme Court ordered the suspension of a criminal procedure rule that prohibited the use of interactive equipment for probation violation hearings and felony sentencing.
State stay-at-home orders
Overview to date:
  • So far, 23 states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Five of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 18 announced end dates.
Details:
  • Oklahoma – Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) issued a safer at home order, effective March 25 to April 15. Schools were already closed through the end of the academic year so they were not impacted by this order.
School closures
Overview to date:
  • Forty-seven states ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 47 states served 49.6 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 98% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
  • Five states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Virginia.
Details:
  • Alabama – Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced that schools statewide would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were scheduled to reopen on April 6.
  • New Mexico – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced that schools would be closed for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were scheduled to reopen on April 6.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
Federal officials who tested positive for coronavirus
  • Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
Federal officials who self-quarantined for coronavirus
  • Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL)
  • Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D-TX)
Federal officials who tested negative for coronavirus
  • Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA)
State officials who tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-GA)
  • State Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-MI)
  • State Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-GA)
State officials who self-quarantined for coronavirus
  • All 56 members of the Georgia State Senate.


Daily coronavirus update: March 26, 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 26, 2020.
Federal responses
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House would move to approve the third coronavirus relief package on Friday. The U.S. Senate passed the legislation by a 96-0 vote on Wednesday night. The legislation includes $1,200 in direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 annually.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  • Fourteen states and one territory changed state-level primary or general election dates. Six states changed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Five states adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  • Eleven states implemented changes to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in nine states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  • The Indiana Election Commission authorized the temporary suspension of the state’s statutory absentee voting eligibility requirements, allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the June 2 primary election.
  • On Wednesday, Ohio lawmakers unanimously approved legislation extending mail-in voting in the state’s primary election to April 28 and canceling in-person voting entirely. The governor indicated he intends to sign the bill into law. Ohio’s primary was originally scheduled for March 17.
  • Also on Wednesday, Pennsylvania lawmakers unanimously approved a bill postponing the state’s primary election, originally scheduled for April 28, to June 2. The governor said he intends to sign the bill.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  • Ballotpedia tracked 10 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Three states changed ballot measure procedures.
Details:
  • Oregon – Henry Wessinger, who filed an initiative petition on behalf of State of Safety Action, announced that the campaign would not circulate its initiative petition targeting the 2020 ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic. The initiative would have provided regulations regarding firearms and firearm storage.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  • To date, 253 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Twenty-nine significant bills have been enacted into law, about 11 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. For a complete list of enacted legislation, see here.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  • Twenty-three state legislatures suspended their sessions.
  • Two states (Maine and Maryland) adjourned early.
  • Four states implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  • The Connecticut State Legislature extended its suspension, originally set to expire at the end of this month, to April 13.
  • The Minnesota State Legislature reconvened its session on March 26. The session was previously suspended through April 14.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirty-three states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
  • One state had no change to their court schedule.
Details:
  • The Maryland Court of Appeals extended its previous March 13 order restricting in-person proceedings and jury trials through May 1.
  • The Tennessee Supreme Court extended its original March 14 order through April 30. They further ordered local presiding judges to develop a written plan to address issues regarding the incarceration of nonviolent offenders to reduce the jail population by March 30.
  • The Vermont Supreme Court extended restrictions for public access to court proceedings.
State shutdowns
Overview to date:
  • So far, 22 of the 50 states issued statewide shutdown orders. Six of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 16 announced end dates.
Details:
  • Colorado – Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued a stay-at-home order, effective from March 26 to April 11. This does not affect the statewide school closure, which lasts through April 17.
  • Minnesota – Gov. Tim Walz (D) issued a stay-at-home order, effective from March 27 to April 10. The statewide school closure, initially scheduled to end March 27, was extended.
  • New Hampshire – Gov. Chris Sununu (R) issued a stay-at-home order, effective from March 27 to May 4. The statewide school closure, initially scheduled to end April 3, was extended.
School closures
Overview to date
  • 46 of 50 states ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 46 states served 48.7 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 96.2% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
Details:
  • Georgia – Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 31, was extended through April 24.
  • Massachusetts – Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end April 6, was extended through May 4.
  • Minnesota – Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 27, was extended through May 1.
  • New Hampshire – Gov. Chris Sununu (R) issued a stay-at-home order, extending the statewide school closure through May 1. Prior to the order, schools were scheduled to reopen on April 6.
  • The Oklahoma Department of Education announced that schools would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. It became the third state to close schools for the rest of the year.
  • West Virginia – Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that all schools would remain closed through April 20. The school closure was initially announced to be indefinite.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
Federal officials who self-quarantined for coronavirus
  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
  • Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
  • Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
State officials who tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Rep. Michael Day (D-MA)
  • State Rep. Clinton Calabrese (D-NJ)
  • State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-GA)
State officials who self-quarantined for coronavirus
  • State Sen. William Ligon (R-GA)
  • State Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-GA)
  • State Sen. Frank Ginn (R-GA)
  • State Sen. Carden Summers (R-GA)
Local officials who self-quarantined for coronavirus
  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn (D-CA)