Ohio Delays Primary, but Votes in Arizona, Florida and Illinois to Go on as Scheduled Tuesday

Ohio’s Dept. of Health defies judge who tried to force primary to happen

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Tuesday’s round of presidential primaries in Arizona, Florida and Illinois are all scheduled to take place as planned amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but on Monday night Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that all polls in his state will be closed.

DeWine had attempted to delay his state’s primary election to June 2 earlier in the day, but his request was denied by a state judge, who among other things claimed he saw no medical reason to protect voters from the disease. Hours later, DeWine countered with an order signed by Ohio Dept. of Health Amy Acton that closed polls and postponed the state’s primary, citing health risks to polling workers.

Earlier in the day, Franklin County Judge Richard Frye rejected DeWine’s attempt to delay the primary on grounds that he didn’t see any “medical evidence” that it would be safer for citizens to vote in June, according to Politico. “To the contrary, it’s my understanding from the briefings we’ve seen in the national media that it may be months before we get to a point of stability or a peak of the virus and its transmission rates,” Frye said.

Acton disagreed; in her order she cited a “high probability of widespread exposure to covid-19 with a significant risk of substantial harm to a large number of people in the general population,” as well a numerous guidelines from the CDC. That position was upheld on Tuesday by a unanimous ruling of the Ohio Supreme Court.

But as for Arizona, Florida and Illinois, officials for all three of those states reaffirmed on Monday that their primaries would still occur on Tuesday. The Arizona secretary of state’s office encouraged voters to cast ballots by mail or drop off their vote-by-mail ballots at the designated locations before polls closed on Tuesday. Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker said that in-person voting would still take place but that polling locations at nursing homes could be relocated to protect the safety of those residents, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that the elections “can be done in a way where you’re not going to have crowds,” according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, other states with primaries later in the month — Georgia, Louisiana and Kentucky — have all delayed their primaries. Georgia officials announced over the weekend that the state’s March 24 primary would be postponed to May 19. Louisiana’s primary has also been moved back from April 4 to June 20, while Kentucky’s primary will be pushed from May 19 to June 23.