2020 Democratic Primary Election: Voting Postponed in 5 States Because of Virus

The Latest: Maryland is postponing its primary to June 2, from April 28.

As the coronavirus outbreak upends the presidential campaign, we’re keeping tabs on postponements and cancellations in the election calendar and on major changes for voting.

Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland and Ohio have postponed or moved to postpone their presidential primary elections. In Ohio, officials declared a public health emergency just hours before polls were set to open on Tuesday.

The other three states scheduled to vote on Tuesday — Arizona, Florida and Illinois — are holding their elections as planned.

In New York, officials are considering whether the presidential primary election should be delayed. Wyoming is suspending in-person caucuses and asking voters to mail or drop off ballots. Other states are weighing similar options or adding extra precautions for voters.

None of the presidential candidates currently have scheduled events in public. Sunday night’s debate was held without an on-site audience to avoid the possible spread of the virus.

Here’s a running update of major changes in an election transformed. You can also track our full election calendar.

Ohio’s governor on Monday night said he and top state heath officials would ignore a court ruling and postpone Ohio’s presidential primary by declaring a public health emergency because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The governor, Mike DeWine, said that the state’s health director, Dr. Amy Acton, had issued the order based on concerns that the coronavirus outbreak placed both voters and poll workers in potential danger.

His announcement came just hours after Judge Richard A. Frye of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas rejected the state’s request to push back voting to June 2.

“During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus,” Mr. DeWine said on Twitter.

He added: “While the polls will be closed tomorrow, Secretary of State Frank LaRose will seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity.”

Arizona still plans to hold its primary election on Tuesday, Adrian Fontes, the Maricopa County recorder, said Monday afternoon.

The Arizona secretary of state’s office has recommended that voters who have not yet sent in vote-by-mail ballots drop them off at designated locations or at any polling place before polls close on Tuesday. Many voting locations also allow curbside voting.

Maricopa County, the state’s largest and home to Phoenix, relocated and consolidated roughly 80 polling locations. It will allow voters to select from any of the remaining 151 locations across the county.

More information is available at the secretary of state’s website arizona.vote.

The Florida secretary of state announced Monday afternoon that the primary election would still be held on Tuesday.

“Florida is proceeding with tomorrow’s scheduled election,” said Laurel Lee, the secretary of state. She added that more than two million ballots had already been cast through early in-person voting and by mail. “We are fortunate to have numerous options in Florida to cast our ballots safely and securely.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis added his commitment to holding the elections. “The fact of the matter is these things can be done in a way where you’re not going to have crowds,” he said.

The secretary of state’s office has more information here and a polling place finder here.

Illinois is proceeding with its primary election on Tuesday. It is keeping many early voting sites open on Tuesday to reduce crowding at regular precincts.

Illinois officials have also been pushing early voting for the past two weeks to reduce Election Day crowds, and Matt Dietrich, a spokesman for the state elections board, said it would “undoubtedly set new records for early and mail voting for a primary election.”

“Much of the voting for this election has already been done,” Mr. Dietrich said. “Also, at this point, there is no date in the foreseeable future when we can expect greater safety with any certainty.”

The Illinois State Board of Elections website is here, though it was loading slowly on Tuesday morning.

Georgia officials announced that the state’s presidential primary, scheduled for March 24, would be delayed until May 19 in an effort to protect the public from possible coronavirus exposure.

The decision was announced by Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state.

“Events are moving rapidly and my highest priority is the health of our poll workers, their families and the community at large,” Mr. Raffensperger said. “Given these circumstances, I believe it is necessary and prudent to suspend in-person voting in the presidential primary, and the local elections associated with them.”

A special election for Queens borough president in New York City had also been scheduled for March 24, but Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that the election is canceled.

“In a democratic society, the canceling of an election is such a rarity,” Mr. de Blasio said. “It should be avoided at all costs. But in this case with the nature of this crisis, I’ve come to the decision that it’s necessary.”

The mayor said there were no immediate plans for a future date for the borough president election, but details for “potential options” would be “provided soon.”

Citing the national state of emergency, the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico announced it would be asking the legislature to postpone the primary to April 26.

“This is an unpredictable day-by-day situation that requires constant monitoring of the progress of the disease. Our intention is to keep all options open to ensure the citizen’s right to vote,” said Charles Rodriguez, the state party chairman, in a statement.

Mr. Rodriguez also said that the party could postpone the primary further if the coronavirus outbreak still threatens the vote in late April as well.

Louisiana postponed its April 4 primary for more than two months, rescheduling to June 20, the first state to adjust its election calendar in response to the coronavirus.

“Today I have certified that a state of emergency exists and requested that the governor issue an executive order postponing the elections this spring,” Louisiana’s secretary of state, R. Kyle Ardoin, said at a news conference. “I want to thank the governor and his staff for working with us in a bipartisan manner to accomplish this mission.”

The Democratic National Committee said in a statement that it would “continue to work with every state party as they adjust their delegate selection plans around coronavirus,” but that by moving its primary to June 20, which is past the June 9 deadline set by the D.N.C., Louisiana could face “a penalty that would include a state losing at least half of its delegates.”

The announcement from Louisiana was followed by one from Wyoming, which suspended the in-person portion of its Democratic caucuses, scheduled for April 4. Residents will be able to either vote by mail or drop off their ballots at a county polling location. The vote by mail deadline in Wyoming is March 20, and the pickup and drop-off of ballots will be held on March 28 and April 4 at county polling locations.

In Alaska, the state Democratic Party is encouraging voters to vote by mail, and the deadline is March 24. The state has no plans to cancel in-person voting on April 4, but officials said they would reassess on a daily basis whether to postpone the state’s presidential primary.

Hawaii has taken a similar position, but the state Democratic Party said that a large majority of the Democratic voters in its state votes by mail. The party said it had already mailed out about 57,000 ballots and would be sending out another 15,000 to voters.

In-person voting in Hawaii is limited on April 4, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. local time, as per state rules.

“Because the vast majority of our party members are voting by mail, we do not expect a large turnout at these locations,” said Kate Stanley, the interim chair of the state party. “At this time we intend to go forward with the walk-in voting sites as they will not be large gatherings.”

The Wisconsin secretary of state says the primary will still be held on April 7 but has made two changes to voting in response to the coronavirus.

Voters in nursing homes and care centers will automatically be sent absentee ballots. And municipal clerks have been given the option of relocating polling places currently slated to be in nursing homes and other care centers where public health is a concern.

Citing concerns about coronavirus transmission, the Wisconsin Democratic Party said it was encouraging everyone to vote early or absentee. Wisconsin voters may request an absentee ballot for any reason. Here’s the link.

Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill of Connecticut said voting would go on as scheduled but also urged Gov. Ned Lamont to issue an emergency order permitting those concerned about going to the polls to obtain absentee ballots.

Under current law, concerns about disease contagion at a polling place is not a reason for voting absentee in Connecticut.

“Through surprise October snowstorms, November hurricanes, to the threat of a global pandemic — voting in Connecticut must go on,” Ms. Merrill said in a statement issued by her office. “In order to ensure that Connecticut voters are able to cast a ballot on April 28, absentee ballots must be available for voters who want to follow public health advice and avoid polling places.”

The governor was reviewing the request, a spokesman said.

Anthony Albence, Delaware’s state election commissioner, said there was no provision in state law for postponing an election, but urged voters to apply for absentee ballots, which permits people who are “sick or disabled” to vote absentee.

“If we have an application that is complete and the voter specifies one of the reasons, we will certainly honor them,” Mr. Albence said.

This page provides information about applying for a Delaware absentee ballot.

“We’re making preparations to have sufficient materials in the polling places for cleaning, keeping the locations clean,” Mr. Albence said. “We will review that with our poll workers and try to ensure that we have best practices to clean the voting equipment.”

Gov. Larry Hogan announced that the presidential primary election, originally scheduled for April 28, will instead be held on June 2.

Elections officials are discussing moving the presidential primary election from April 28 to June 23, the date of another scheduled statewide primary, in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has also modified election procedures to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

In an executive order, he lowered the signature requirements for ballot access for congressional and state legislative and judicial races, meaning that door-to-door canvassing for signatures will probably be more limited.

“Public health experts have been clear that one of the most common ways to communicate Covid-19 is through direct person to person contact, and we are doing everything in our immediate power to reduce unnecessary interactions,” Mr. Cuomo said.

The Pennsylvania secretary of state has reminded voters of the state’s mail-in ballot option, which permits any voter to request a ballot.

The secretary’s office is also engaged in what officials called “comprehensive discussions” about possible options for the April primary election with the governor’s office, the legislature, individual counties and the Department of Health.

“Our focus is on best ways to protect the integrity of the election while safeguarding public health,” said Wanda Murren, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania’s Department of State.

Voters who would like to vote by mail may request a ballot through the state website.

Officials in Rhode Island are encouraging voters to cast ballots by mail.

In a statement, the Rhode Island Board of Elections said it was working on plans to sanitize polling places using guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but reminded voters that voting by mail was “easy and secure.”

To vote by mail, Rhode Island voters can visit the Board of Canvassers in their City or Town Hall, or complete an application on the Board of Elections website.

Kentucky’s secretary of state, Michael G. Adams, announced the state would delay its primary election to June 23 in a video on Twitter.

“Postponing the primary was not an easy decision, but the Republican secretary of state and Democratic governor agreed, and so do county clerks from both parties,” Mr. Adams said. “My hope is that this delay will allow us to have a normal election. Even if not, this delay will allow me, the State Board of Elections and our county clerks time to assess what changes we must make to ensure a successful primary election.”

States rescheduling their primaries past a June 9 deadline set by the Democratic National Committee risk losing half of their delegates to the convention.

Reporting was contributed by Matt Stevens, Maggie Astor, Shane Goldmacher and Patricia Mazzei.

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