Ohio Just Postponed Its Primary Election Because Of COVID-19

Social distancing made its way to the polls

Election day in Ohio will have to wait — for now.

The state's primary election has been postponed from its scheduled date of Tuesday (March 17) in an effort to protect residents from the threat of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, which is a droplet vector virus and is highly contagious. Experts have advised that people practice social distancing while the virus continues its spread, but doing so — and maintaining at least 6 feet's distance from another person — can be almost impossible at polling places.

As the Columbus Dispatch reports, the decision to postpone the state's election came after a candidate, and later the state itself, filed petitions to delay. The Ohio State Supreme Court delayed the first petition, made by a common pleas judge candidate in Woods County, per Cleveland 19. Another judge blocked Republican Governor Mike DeWine's request to delay the election, but Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton stepped in at the last minute, citing a health emergency.

“To conduct an election at this time would force poll workers and voters to face an unacceptable risk of contracting COVID-19," she said in her order, per the Dispatch. She said the delay was necessary in order "to avoid the imminent threat with a high probability of widespread exposure to COVID-19 with a significant risk of substantial harm to a large number of the people in the general population, including the elderly and people with weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions.”

Three other states — Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana — have also delayed their upcoming statewide elections, per the New York Times. 

Elections in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois are still scheduled to count ballots today, but the seams are already showing. One poll worker in Illinois's 44th ward, 33rd precinct, created a thread to display the lack of safety measures provided to poll workers, as well as a lack of voting materials.

In Arizona, a judge blocked an order to mail ballots to all residents, the Associated Press reported. Maricopa County also closed 78 polling places after residents expressed fear that vulnerable people would be put at risk.

You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Not everyone has the option to stay at home, but if you can, you should! Social distancing is the new normal, and we’re here to help.