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Briefing: Changes to elections due to COVID-19

Organizer: Ballotpedia

State and local governments have made many changes to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These include entire delays to election dates, expansion of absentee/by-mail voting, and adjusted candidate filing requirements. Ballotpedia's staff of elections experts will walk through the key changes that have been made so far, describe changes on the horizon for the general elections, and summarize some of the most important debates around the actions taken.

Location: Webinar

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Coronavirus halts ballot measure progress across the country

Presidential election years are usually the prime time for getting small-d democracy initiatives on the ballot, but the coronavirus pandemic is posing a crippling threat to many campaigns.

Social distancing pressures plus stay-at-home orders in all but a handful of states are making it nearly impossible to secure the tens of thousands of signatures needed to get initiatives on the November ballot. And because no state allows an alternate way of showing broad grassroots support — such as electronic signatures — many campaigns have halted operations.

Others are clinging to hope. Groups promoting six different ballot measures in Arizona filed lawsuits in federal and state court last week asking for permission to gather e-signatures at least during the public emergency, which has resulted in a statewide stay-at-home order through at least the end of the month.

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A federal judge ruled a law signed last year by Gov. Kristi Noem violates the free speech rights of those who gather signatures in favor of ballot measures.

South Dakota's ballot petition circulator rules held unconstitutional

South Dakota's new regulation of people who circulate petitions for ballot initiatives is unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled.

The decision, if it withstands a potential appeal, would be a boon for advocates of direct democracy, which relies on small armies of people gathering signatures to put proposed changes to state laws before the entire electorate. Twenty-six states allow such citizen-led ballot measures.

A law signed by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem last year requires petition circulators to register with the secretary of state and provide personal information including home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. But those "extensive and burdensome" disclosure requirements discriminate against those advocating for ballot measures in violation of the First Amendment because the same rules didn't apply to people actively opposing the measures, U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann ruled last week.

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Ballotpedia Insights—One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Facts in American Democracy

Organizer: Ballotpedia

For this call, we are doing a deep dive into "One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Facts in American Democracy." With us, we'll have authors Morgan Marietta and David Barker. The topic is something we talk about frequently among the Ballotpedia staff. Employing several years of original survey data and experiments, Marietta and Barker reach a number of enlightening and provocative conclusions: dueling fact perceptions are not so much a product of hyper-partisanship or media propaganda as they are of simple value differences and deepening distrust of authorities.

Location: Webinar

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