Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is proposing that his state postpone in-person voting for the presidential primary scheduled for Tuesday, putting it off until June in a precaution over the spread of the coronavirus.
As USA Today reported, DeWine said at a press conference on Monday that he does not want voters to risk their health by going to voting locations. Health officials have called on people to self-isolate, asking them to remain in their homes as much as possible in an effort to slow the virus’ spread.
“We should not force them to make this choice between their health and their constitutional rights, and their duties of American citizens,” the governor said.
DeWine said he plans to file a lawsuit in Franklin County, asking a court to put a hold on the voting. As governor, he does not have unilateral power to postpone things but said he wanted the rights of voters to be preserved. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said he would direct the state attorney not to contest the lawsuit and will be submitting their own recommendation to the court to postpone voting.
The USA Today report noted that DeWine consulted leaders of the state Republican and Democratic parties before announcing the decision.
Ohio was set to vote on Tuesday, along with Illinois, Florida, and Arizona.
DeWine has earned praise for the actions he has taken in Ohio to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The state has undertaken a number of measures, including ordering all bars and restaurants to close on Sunday at 9 p.m. A number of other states have since followed suit, including neighboring Illinois and New York, which announced on Monday that bars and restaurants, as well as theaters, would be closed indefinitely.
The state of Louisiana had already postponed its own presidential primary, originally set for April 4.
The idea of postponing all primaries was raised during Sunday’s Democratic debate, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders responding to a question from moderator Anderson Cooper by appearing to support the idea.
“I would hope that governors listen to the public health experts and what they are saying is … we don’t want gatherings of more than 50 people,” Sanders said about the contests scheduled for Tuesday, via Fox News. “I’m thinking about some of the elderly people sitting behind the desks, registering people and doing all that stuff. Does that make sense? I’m not sure it does.”
Sanders is facing a growing deficit in pledged delegates in the race, with former Vice President Joe Biden taking control of the Democratic primary after a string of major victories on Super Tuesday.