Coronavirus and the 2020 Primary Election

Due to the current Coronavirus crisis, Ohio’s primary election was postponed from its original date of Tuesday, March 17. The new primary election date, set by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, is expected to be Tuesday, June 2. For now, voters can continue casting mail-in ballots or cast a ballot in person on the new election day. In a press conference on March 16, Governor Mike DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton agreed that Ohioans should not have to choose between their right to vote and their health.

While Ohioans did not vote this past Tuesday, voters in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois did. In the democratic primaries, Vice President Joe Biden won 61.9% of votes in Florida, 59.1% of votes in Illinois, and 43.6% of votes in Arizona. Senator Bernie Sanders won 22.8% of votes in Florida, 36% of votes in Illinois, and 31.7% of votes in Arizona. As of March 19, Biden has 1,181 delegates and Sanders has 885 delegates. Candidates need 1,991 delegates to secure the democratic nomination.

Democratic candidates who have recently dropped out include Senator Elizabeth Warren with 72 delegates, Mayor Mike Bloomberg with 61 delegates, Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 26 delegates, Senator Amy Klobuchar with 7 delegates, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard with 2 delegates. Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Gabbard all endorsed Biden upon ending their presidential bids.

Of the states and territories that have voted so far, Biden has won South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington, Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. Sanders has won New Hampshire, Nevada, California, Colorado, Utah, Vermont, North Dakota, and the Northern Mariana Islands. President Donald Trump has secured 1,330 delegates in the republican primaries, surpassing the 1,276 needed to win the nomination.

Many have questioned whether or not Ohio’s Executive Branch had the authority to move the election date to June 2. Ohio lawmakers are set to resume session next week to discuss a variety of coronavirus related issues, including the primary election.  The Senate has session scheduled for Wednesday, March 25 and an if-needed session set for Thursday, March 26. The House will also convene next week, with session scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, Wednesday, March 25, and Thursday, March 26.

Many legislators have voiced their concerns regarding the status of Ohio’s primary election and intend to provide more clarity around the issue in the upcoming weeks.

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