Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine wants the state to delay Tuesday’s presidential primary until June 2nd in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Columbus Dispatch reports. DeWine said the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on avoiding large gatherings would make it impossible to hold the election as scheduled.
“It is clear that tomorrow’s in-person voting does not conform and cannot conform with these CDC guidelines,” DeWine said at his daily press briefing. He also said the state does not want to force its vulnerable populations, who are most susceptible to the virus, to have to choose between their health and voting.
“We should not force them to make this choice, the choice between their health and their Constitutional rights and their duties as American citizens,” DeWine added. “Further, we should not be in the situation where the votes of these individuals, who are conflicted, are suppressed.”
I believe when we look back on this, we’ll be happy we did this. The votes that have already been cast will still be counted – and this recommendation would allow others to vote in the future. #COVID19 #COVID19OhioReady
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 16, 2020
DeWine does not have the authority to order the primary date to be changed except in the case of an invasion. He said a suit will be filed in Franklin County seeking to delay the election, and he added that he hoped the judge would side with plaintiffs. Ohio’s secretary of state said he was instructing the state attorney general to not contest the lawsuit, the Wall Street Journal reported. Ohio has 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far.
Ohio is one of four states — along with Arizona, Florida, and Illinois — scheduled to hold primaries on March 17th. Georgia has delayed its primary until May 19th, and Louisiana delayed its primary until June 20th.