TagElection policy

Federal appeals court rejects claim that Georgia requirement that voters pay postage for absentee/mail-in ballots amounts to a poll tax

On Aug. 27, 2021, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit unanimously affirmed a lower court’s decision finding that a Georgia law requiring voters to pay the price of postage for returning absentee/mail-in ballots does not constitute an illegal poll tax. The plaintiffs had argued that requiring absentee/mail-in voters to pay the price of postage amounted to levying a poll tax, violating the Fourteenth and Twenty-Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The defendants (state and local election officials) moved to dismiss. A U.S. District Court granted the motion to dismiss, citing “[t]he fact that any registered voter may vote in Georgia on election day without purchasing a stamp, and without undertaking any ‘extra steps’ besides showing up at the voting precinct and complying with generally applicable election regulations.” The plaintiffs then appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.

The Eleventh Circuit panel—comprising Judges Elizabeth Branch (a Donald Trump (R) appointee), Britt Grant (another Trump appointee), and Edward Carnes (a George H.W. Bush (R) appointee)—unanimously affirmed the lower court’s ruling. Branch, writing for the court, said, “While voting often involves incidental costs like transportation, parking, child care, taking time off work, and—for those who choose to vote absentee by mail—the cost of a postage stamp, those incidental costs do not mean that Georgia has imposed an unconstitutional poll tax or fee on its voters.”

In response to the ruling, Sean Young, legal director for the Georgia affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (which was involved in the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs), said, “We are disappointed in the outcome. The ACLU of Georgia will continue to protect the sacred fundamental right to vote.” Regarding the possibility of an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, Young said, “All legal options remain on the table.”

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0.8% of absentee/mail-in ballots rejected in 2020

In the 2020 general election, voters cast 70.6 million absentee/mail-in ballots, and election officials rejected 0.8% of them, according to data released by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The number of absentee/mail-in ballots cast in 2020 marked a 111% increase over 2016. And by comparison, absentee mail-in ballot rejection rates in 2018 and 2016 were 1.4% and 1.0%, respectively.

Absentee/mail-in ballot rejection rates decreased in 34 states between the 2016 and 2020 elections, increased in 12 states and Washington, D.C., and remained unchanged in two states.

New Mexico had the largest increase in its absentee/mail-in ballot rejection rate, with the state rejecting 0.2% of absentee/mail-in ballots in 2016 compared to 5.0% in 2020, a 4.8 percentage point increase. No other state had an increase larger than one percentage point.

Georgia saw the largest decrease in its rejection rate. In 2016, the state rejected 6.4% of absentee/mail-in ballots, decreasing to 0.4% in 2020. However, the EAC commented in its report that figures for Georgia may not necessarily include all rejected ballots. Kentucky had the second-largest decrease, dropping from 5.6% in 2016 to 0.5% in 2020.

Election officials may reject absentee/mail-in ballots for a number of reasons, ranging from a missed deadline to the use of an incorrect return envelope. The exact criteria for rejecting a ballot varies from state to state.

The most common reason for a rejected ballot in 2020 was when the signature on the ballot did not match the signature on file. According to the EAC, 32.8% of all rejected ballots were discarded for this reason. A non-matching signature was also the most common reason for rejection in 2016, accounting for 27.5% of rejections that year.

The EAC publishes its biennial Election Administration and Voting Survey in the odd year after every federal election. The EAC compiles its report based on information submitted to it by state election officials.



Reviewing government responses to the coronavirus pandemic from one year ago this week

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened June 22-26, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, June 22, 2020

  • Federal government responses:
    • President Donald Trump (R) signed a proclamation restricting the issuance of some visas that permit immigrants to work in the United States, citing economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Visas affected included L-1s, H-1Bs, H-4s, H-2Bs, and J-1s. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that travelers arriving in their states from states with a high infection rate must quarantine for 14 days. The infection rate was based on a seven-day rolling average of the number of infections per 100,000 residents. At the time, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah met that threshold.
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced that beginning August 1, out-of-state travelers could avoid a 14-day quarantine requirement if they presented a recent negative COVID-19 test.
  • Election changes:
    • The Tennessee Supreme Court declined to stay a lower court order that had extended absentee voting eligibility to all voters during the pandemic.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Health and Human Services ended support for 13 federally-managed testing sites and encouraged states to take them over. The sites were spread across five states.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed HF2486 into law, barring the secretary of state from mailing absentee ballot request forms to all voters without approval from the state legislature. The legislation also barred county officials from decreasing the number of polling places by more than 35 percent during an election.
    • A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit declined to stay a lower court order barring Alabama election officials from enforcing witness and photo ID requirements for select voters casting absentee ballots in the July 14 runoff elections.
  • Mask requirements:
    • A statewide mask mandate requiring individuals to wear face coverings in public took effect in Nevada. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued the order June 24.

Friday, June 26, 2020 

  • Election changes:
    • The United States Supreme Court declined to reinstate a district court order that had expanded absentee voting eligibility in Texas. An appeals court stayed the district court’s order, a decision that was allowed to stand as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene.
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed SB4 into law, authorizing county clerks to mail absentee ballot applications automatically to registered, mailable voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued a mandate requiring people to wear a face covering in indoor and outdoor public spaces. The order did not require masks outdoors if six feet of space could be maintained between people. Children under two were exempt from the mandate. 

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery



COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened June 15-19, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, June 15, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • New Hampshire’s statewide stay-at-home order expired on June 15. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) issued Emergency Order #17 on March 26. The order directed individuals in the state to stay at home unless performing essential activities and placed restrictions on non-essential businesses.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Arkansas Secretary of Health Nathaniel Smith allowed the 14-day travel quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers coming from coronavirus hot spot areas—including New York and New Jersey—to expire. 
  • Election changes:
    • United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama Judge Abdul Kallon issued a preliminary injunction barring election officials from enforcing witness and photo ID requirements for select voters casting absentee ballots in the July 14 runoff elections.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • The Hawaii State Department of Health announced that inter-island travelers would no longer need to follow a 14-day quarantine. However, all passengers and crew would need to fill out a travel and health form before boarding.
  • Election changes:
    • As the result of a lawsuit settlement, the absentee ballot postmark deadline in Minnesota was extended to August 11 in the August 11 primary election, while the receipt deadline for absentee ballots was extended to August 13. The witness requirement for absentee ballots was suspended.
    • Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) signed SB 863 and HB2238 into law, requiring local election officials to deliver vote-by-mail applications for the Nov. 3 general election to all voters who cast ballots in the 2018 general election, the 2019 consolidated election, or the 2020 primary election.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf announced that the U.S. would keep restrictions limiting non-essential travel to or from Mexico and Canada in place through July 21.
    • In a joint press release, the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review announced that Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) hearings and in-person document services would likely resume on July 20. Under MPP, individuals seeking asylum were told to wait in Mexico until their immigration court appointment.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment updated its list of states with widespread community transmission to include Alabama, Arizona, and Arkansas. Kansas residents who had traveled to those states were required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Election changes:
    • The Wisconsin Election Commission voted unanimously to send absentee/mail-in ballot applications automatically to most registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a report for nonessential businesses planning on reopening, titled “Guidance on Returning to Work.” The guidance includes recommendations for a three-phased reopening strategy.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB860 into law, requiring county election officials to mail absentee/mail-in ballots to all registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election. On May 8, 2020, Newsom had issued an executive order to the same effect.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Newsom signed an executive order requiring individuals to wear face coverings when outside the home. California was the ninth state to enact a statewide mask requirement. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) approved Multnomah County’s application to reopen, effectively lifting the state’s stay-at-home order. Multnomah, which includes Portland, was the last county subject to Brown’s original stay-at-home order, Executive Order No. 20-12.  
  • Election changes:
    • Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D) signed H7901 into law, reducing petition signature requirements for both primary and general election congressional candidates in 2020 by half.
    • The Maryland State Board of Elections and the Green Party of Maryland reached a settlement in Maryland Green Party v. Hogan. Under the terms of the settlement, the petition signature requirement for obtaining party status for the Green and Libertarian parties was reduced from 10,000 to 5,000 signatures.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Internal Revenue Service released guidance for individuals participating in retirement plans that describes how they can take advantage of provisions in the CARES Act that related to retirement plans.
    • The Department of Defense (DoD) lifted travel restrictions on additional installations in 46 states and eight host nations, allowing military and civilian personnel to travel to those locations.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, June 8-12, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened June 8-12, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, June 8, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced that out-of-state visitors from New Hampshire and Vermont no longer had to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
    • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) eased the quarantine requirement on out-of-state travelers from counties across New England with similar COVID-19 caseloads to Vermont. The Agency of Commerce and Community began releasing a weekly map identifying quarantine and non-quarantine counties based on COVID-19 case rates. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ended the state’s stay-at-home order. Murphy first issued the order on March 21. 
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Defense announced that it was lifting travel restrictions on installations in 38 states, Washington D.C., and five countries (Bahrain, Belgium, Germany, the U.K., and Japan). Service members could travel between those areas without needing permission. Travel restrictions remained in place in 12 states.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced he was extending the quarantine requirement for out-of-state and returning travelers through July 31. He first issued the two-week quarantine requirement on March 17.
  • Election changes:
    • Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed HB167 into law, extending the deadline by which a ballot-qualified party must notify the state of its presidential nominee from August 18 to August 25.

Friday, June 12, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed HB1169 into law, reducing the witness signature requirement on completed absentee ballots from two to one.
    • California Judge Perry Parker, of the Sutter County Superior Court, issued a temporary restraining order suspending Executive Order N-67-20, which had authorized counties to consolidate polling places in the November 3 general election, provided they offer three days of early voting.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery



New York Legislature refers two voting policy constitutional amendments to November ballot

Voters in New York will decide constitutional amendments at the election on November 2, 2021, to authorize no-excuse absentee voting and same-day voter registration. Currently, the state constitution requires voters to be absent from their county of residence, ill, or physically disabled to vote with an absentee ballot. It also requires that persons must register to vote at least ten days before an election, thus prohibiting same-day voter registration.

To refer constitutional amendments to the ballot, the New York State Legislature must approve them by a simple majority vote in each chamber during two successive legislative sessions with an election for state legislators in between. Both of the constitutional amendments were previously approved in 2019. On January 11, 2021, the state Senate voted 50 to 13 to pass the no-excuse absentee voting amendment. Democrats, along with seven Republicans, voted in favor of the proposal. Thirteen Republicans voted against the proposal. On January 12, the Senate voted 42 to 20 to pass the same-day voter registration amendment. Democrats supported the proposal, and Republicans opposed the proposal. On May 11, 2021, the state Assembly voted to pass both constitutional amendments, sending them to the ballot for voter consideration.

As of April 2021, 20 states and D.C. allow for same-day voter registration, including neighboring Connecticut and Vermont. New York is one of 16 states that require an excuse to receive an absentee ballot. Thirty-four states and D.C. provide for no-excuse absentee voting (or provide every voter with a mail-in ballot), meaning any voter can apply to receive an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, absentee voting was temporarily extended in New York to any voter ‘unable to appear personally at the polling place of the election district in which they are a qualified voter because there is a risk of contracting or spreading a disease causing illness to the voter or to other members of the public.’  

Since 1995, an average of 1.5 constitutional amendments appeared on odd-year ballots in New York. As of May 12, four constitutional amendments had been approved for the November election. In addition to the two voting policy amendments, voters will also decide an amendment to make changes to the redistricting process in New York and an amendment to create a state constitutional right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment.

An additional two constitutional amendments could appear on the ballot, bringing the total up to six measures. These two amendments would increase the NYC Civil Court’s jurisdiction from civil cases involving $25,000 to $50,000 and remove the wartime service requirement for veterans to receive civil service credits.

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Here’s how Virginia Republicans will select their statewide nominees on May 8

Republicans in Virginia will be meeting on Saturday to pick their statewide nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. The Republican Party of Virginia chose to hold an unassembled convention rather than a primary, meaning delegates, voters who registered to participate in the convention, will decide the nominees.

Conventions in Virginia typically take place with delegates meeting at a single location, but due to coronavirus restrictions, the party developed a new set of rules for 2021. Here’s a breakdown:

• The convention is taking place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on May 8, 2021.

• Delegates will meet at 39 different locations across the state. Each delegate represents a voting unit and may only vote at the polling place assigned to his or her given voting unit.

• There are 125 voting units. These units mainly correspond with each of the state’s 95 counties and 38 independent cities.

• Over 53,000 delegates registered to participate in the convention, a record number.

Delegate votes are weighted. The state party allocated a set number of votes to each voting unit, which will, in turn, be divided among the delegates assigned to that voting unit. For example, if the party allocated 100 votes to a unit and 100 delegates participate, each delegate would have one vote. If 200 delegates participate in that voting unit, each would have half a vote.

• The convention will use ranked-choice voting, an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots rather than voting for just one candidate. If one candidate wins a majority of voters’ first-preference votes, they win outright. Otherwise, the bottom-placing candidate is eliminated and their votes are distributed among their voters’ next choices. The process is repeated until one candidate wins a majority.

• This is the Republican Party of Virginia’s second election using ranked-choice voting. The party previously used the system to select its chairman in 2020. This will be the first time the state party uses the system in a candidate election.

All ballots will be counted by hand. After the convention, the ballots will be delivered to a central location and counting will begin on Sunday. Party chairman Rich Anderson (R) said they are prepared to count until the following Thursday, but he expects counting to be finished by the following Tuesday.

Republicans last won a statewide race in Virginia in 2009, when Bob McDonnell (R) was elected governor. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats won control of both the state House and Senate.

To learn more about the 2021 convention process in Virginia, click here: https://ballotpedia.org/Virginia_gubernatorial_election,_2021_(May_8_Republican_convention)#Conventions_in_Virginia_.282021.29

Learn more about the races up for election on Saturday using the links below:



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, May 3-8, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout that spring, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened May 3-8, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Sunday, May 3, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. She issued the order on March 30 and extended it through May 3 on April 15. 
    • Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. He issued the order on April 6 and extended it through May 3 on April 16. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. The order first took effect on April 2 and was set to expire on April 30. On April 29, DeSantis extended the order to May 4 to coincide with the planned economic reopening of the state.
    • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. McMaster first implemented the order on April 6.
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home to expire. Justice replaced the state’s stay-at-home order with a safer-at-home order that encouraged people to stay home unless engaged in essential activities but did not require them to do so. Justice issued the stay-at-home order on March 24.
  • Travel restrictions
    • The Virginia Department of Health recommended that visitors or residents self-quarantine for 14 days if they had traveled internationally, on a cruise ship or river boat, or to an area of the U.S. with high rates of community spread.
  • School closures:
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that schools would remain closed to in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. The order applied to public and private schools. Private schools were required to remain closed through June 30.
  • Election changes:
    • The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a requirement that absentee ballots be notarized, finding that the requirement did not qualify as an exception under a state law establishing that statements signed and dated under the penalty of perjury carry the force of an affidavit.
    • Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D) announced that all eligible voters in the Aug. 11 statewide primary and Nov. 3 general election would automatically receive absentee/mail-in ballot applications.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Supreme Court heard arguments for the first time by conference call.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

  • School closures:
    • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that K-12 public schools would remain closed to in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 20.
  • Election changes:
    • Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) issued an executive order waiving the petition requirement for candidates who cannot afford to pay the filing fees associated with the offices being sought.
    • Judge Norman Moon, of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, approved a settlement between the parties in League of Women Voters of Virginia v. Virginia State Board of Elections. As a result, the witness requirement for absentee voting in the June 23 primary was suspended.
    • Judge Analisa Torres, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordered the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate the June 23 Democratic presidential preference primary, which the board had previously canceled.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. Stitt first issued the order on April 1. 
  • Travel restrictions
    • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) lifted an April 4 order that restricted hotels and short-term rentals to essential workers. The order was enacted to discourage recreational travel into Arkansas.
  • Mask requirements:
    • A Massachusetts order requiring individuals to wear masks in public places where social distancing is not possible took effect. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) issued the order May 1. Massachusetts was the 12th state to issue a statewide mask mandate.  

Thursday, May 7, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) ended a requirement that out-of-state travelers quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) allowed the stay-at-home order to expire. She first implemented the order on March 28 and extended it through May 8 on April 7. 
  • Travel restrictions
    • The quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors to North Dakota expired. International visitors were still required to self-quarantine for 14 days. 
  • Election changes:
    • California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed an executive order directing county election officials to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters in the Nov. 3 general election.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.



Early voting begins in special Congressional election in Texas

On April 19, early voting began in a special election to fill the seat representing Texas’ 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House. The special election will fill the vacancy left by Ronald Wright (R), who died from complications related to COVID-19. The election will take place on May 1, with a runoff taking place later in the month if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.

With 23 candidates running in the special election, the Texas Tribune said the race was likely to head to a mid-summer runoff between the top two vote-getters. The Tribune identified seven prominent candidates in the race—three Democrats and four Republicans. Those candidates are: Jana Lynne Sanchez (D), Lydia Bean (D), Shawn Lassiter (D), Susan Wright (R), Jake Ellzey (R), Brian Harrison (R), Sery Kim (R).

Each of the Republican candidates has campaigned on the issues of firearm policy, immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border, business growth through deregulation, and abortion. They can be distinguished by the endorsements they have received.

Susan Wright, the widow of Ronald Wright, was endorsed by five members of Congress, the state party executive committee, and the mayor of Forth Worth.

Kim, a former official with the Small Business Association, received the endorsement of two Korean-American Republican members of Congress, and is Korean-American herself. Those were rescinded in early April following comments she made about immigration from China, however.

Harrison, the chief of staff to former Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, has touted endorsements from more than 100 members of the Trump administration, including Azar, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Administrator of the Small Business Administration Linda McMahon. Ellzey, a 20-year Navy veteran, received endorsements from former Gov. Rick Perry, the Texas Farm Bureau, and the War Veterans Fund.

Each of the three Democrats has emphasized what they call working class economic issues, education, and expanding affordable medical care as key parts of their platform.

Bean, a former teacher, received endorsements from the county and state AFL-CIO and the local branch of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Lassiter, also a teacher, was endorsed by two local school board members, a former state board of education member, the 314 Action Fund, and the Voter Protection Project. Sanchez, a communications consultant, was endorsed by state Rep. Michelle Beckley, two Arlington City Council members, and the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

In the 2020 general election, Wright defeated Stephen Daniel (D) 53-44, while Trump carried the district 51-48. Wright won re-election in 2018 with 53 percent of the vote and in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, April 13-17, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened April 13-17, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, April 13, 2020:

  • Travel restrictions
    • The Pennsylvania Department of Health recommended that out-of-state travelers, especially those from areas with high rates of infection or community spread, self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • School closures:
    • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Supreme Court of the United States announced it would hear 13 cases by teleconference in May. The court announced it would broadcast live audio of the proceedings to the public for the first time in history.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

  • School closures:
    • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 17.
    • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
  • Election changes:
    • Judge Bradley B. Cavedo, of Virginia’s 13th Judicial Circuit, extended the deadline for the Republican Party of Virginia to select its nominee for the 7th Congressional District election to July 28, 2020.
    • Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) issued Proclamation Number 46 JBE2020, postponing the state’s presidential preference primary election to July 11, 2020.
    • The Democratic Party of Indiana announced that it would cancel its in-person state convention, which had been scheduled to take place on June 13, 2020. Instead, the party opted to conduct convention business virtually and by mail.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Trump announced that the U.S. was suspending funding to the World Health Organization pending a review of the group’s actions in response to the coronavirus.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) issued an order requiring out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days. The restriction was included in Little’s extension of the stay-at-home order that went into effect March 25 and was set to expire on April 15. The travel restriction exempted essential workers. 
  • School closures:
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) recommended that schools close for the remainder of the academic year. Schools in the state were previously ordered closed from March 20 through April 24.
  • Election changes:
    • Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, announced that the party would conduct its state convention, scheduled to take place on June 20, 2020, remotely on that day.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

  • School closures:
    • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that schools would be closed until at least May 15. Before the announcement, schools had been under an indefinite closure since March 18.
    • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 15, extending the statewide school closure.
    • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 23.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The White House released the Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, offering guidance to state and local officials on a three-phase approach to reopening their economies.

Friday, April 17, 2020

  • School closures:
    • The Hawaii Department of Education closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
    • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
    • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
    • Maryland Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon extended the statewide school closure from April 24 through May 15.
    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 4.
  • Election changes:
    • The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an order extending the candidate filing deadlines for district and county races to May 5, 2020, and June 2, 2020, respectively. The high court reduced candidate petition signatures requirements to 50 percent of their statutory requirements. The court also authorized candidates to collect petition signatures electronically.
    • Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) issued an executive order postponing the state’s presidential preference primary to August 11, 2020.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccine masks and mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.