The governor of Ohio on Monday called for Tuesday’s presidential primary to be delayed until June in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ohio is one of four states set to vote on Tuesday. The others are Illinois, Florida and Arizona. Last week, the secretaries of state of all four states issued a joint statement saying the primary could be held safely.
But on Monday afternoon, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said that there is no way to hold the election on Tuesday while abiding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on avoiding large gatherings.
“It is clear that tomorrow’s in-person voting does not conform and cannot conform with these CDC guidelines,” DeWine said, adding that holding the election would discriminate against the most vulnerable populations. “We should not force them to make this choice, the choice between their health and their Constitutional rights and their duties as American citizens. Further, we should not be in the situation where the votes of these individuals, who are conflicted, are suppressed.”
DeWine urged that in-person voting be delayed to June 2, with absentee voting occurring between now and then.
The governor does not have the power to delay an election, except in the case of an invasion. Instead, DeWine said that a suit would be filed in Franklin County, Ohio, seeking the delay of the election. DeWine said he hoped that the judge would agree with the plaintiffs to postpone the vote.
Georgia previously delayed its March 24 primary to May 19. Louisiana has delayed its April 4 primary to June 20.
In response to Louisiana’s decision last week, the Joe Biden campaign argued that elections could still be held safely.
“If voters are feeling healthy, not exhibiting symptoms, and don’t believe they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, please vote on Tuesday,” Biden’s spokeswoman, Kate Bedingfield, said in a statement. “If voters are members of an at-risk population, exhibiting symptoms, or have been exposed to a diagnosed case of COVID-19, we encourage them to explore absentee ballots and vote by mail options.”