Politics2020 Election


3 States Proceed With Primary Elections Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is throwing a wrench in the presidential primaries.
Posted at 9:33 AM, Mar 17, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is throwing a wrench in the presidential primaries. 

"We should not force them to make this choice — a choice between their health and their constitutional rights."

The day before the Ohio primary, Gov. Mike DeWine recommended pushing it back to June 2. A flurry of last-minute court cases aimed to make the delay official. Ultimately, Ohio's health director ordered the polls to close, citing a public health emergency. 

"This is in the best interests of all Ohioans and in the safety of Ohioans. And my heart goes out to those many elections officials that have worked hard to make this happen and to those candidates and their families who have worked hard," said Frank LaRose, Ohio secretary of state.

Arizona, Florida and Illinois are proceeding with their primaries as scheduled.

"Precinct-based voting, where voters go to the polls and cast a ballot, is unlike the gatherings our health professionals have advised Floridians to avoid. It is quick. It is community-based. And both voters and election workers can be protected by following the guidance that we have received from our health care professionals," said Laurel Lee, Florida's secretary of state.

All three states did move some polling locations away from nursing homes or senior care facilities to help protect the elderly, who are more at risk. 

In Florida, the state's Democratic Party has been trying to help the primary run as smoothly as possible. The party identified over 126,000 people who hadn't voted early and are impacted by a polling location change. Staff and volunteers started calling and texting those voters to make sure they are aware. 

Illinois' election board sent out guidelines for polling locations, which include providing hand sanitizer and frequently disinfecting shared surfaces like doorknobs, tables and voting machines. 

And voters in Arizona's most populous county now have the option to vote at a regional voting center instead of their assigned precinct. Maricopa County officials decided to close some polling locations to make sure each was adequately stocked with cleaning supplies. 

In Arizona, there's only a Democratic primary on Tuesday. In Florida and Illinois, both Democrats and Republicans are set to vote.