Ohio Voting Polls To Close Tuesday

Managing Editor

There were rumors that Ohio's primary was postponed, then word came out that a judge denied a motion from the governor of Ohio, now the state's health director stepped in to close the polls.

Health Director Dr. Amy Acton has ordered the polls in the state of Ohio to be closed as a health emergency ahead of Tuesday's primary, announced by Gov. Mike DeWine late Monday night. 

"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," DeWine said in a statement

Acton's order is the conclusion of a long day regarding the status of Tuesday's primary.

In Monday’s press conference, DeWine ordered more businesses close at the end of the business day as well as proposing the postponement of the primary.

DeWine ordered the closing of gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters and trampoline parks across the state until further notice. This took effect at the close of business.

In addition, a lawsuit was filed to postpone the election until June 2. In the meantime, voters would still be able to request absentee ballots. That decision was up to Ohio Judge Richard Frye. So far, Auglaize County has received 1,347 absentee ballots.

“Tomorrow’s in-person voting cannot conform to these CDC guidelines,” DeWine added in the press conference.

The governor and secretary of state had supported the lawsuit by voters seeking a delay, in the hope that the outbreak subsides by then. Frye ruled against the motion Monday night because he didn't want to rewrite the law, The Columbus Dispatch reported. 

DeWine reiterated that people 65 and older should not leave their homes, as well as those who are medically at-risk. DeWine added those guidelines include women who are pregnant.

“My recommendation, after talking with the secretary of state talking with the lieutenant governor, that voting day extended until June 2,” DeWine said. “People will not have to choose between their constitutional rights and I believe when we look back on this, we'll be happy we did this. The votes that have already been cast will still be counted - and this recommendation would allow others to vote in the future.”

DeWine said he does not have the power to order the change, but some affected voters will file a lawsuit asking a judge to order it given the danger they would face if they had to go to the polls. 

“We should not force them to make that choice,” DeWine said. "Absentee balloting would continue during the interim."

Georgia already postponed next week's primary, and Louisiana has postponed its scheduled April 4 primary. Florida, Illinois and Arizona's governors' offices said they were pushing forward with Tuesday's voting, even though they are losing polling sites and workers.

Officials in the states have said they are making preparations to ensure the safety of voters, even as concerns mounted that there will not be enough poll workers in some precincts and voters will be confused after polling places in nursing homes were moved to other locations.

Elsewhere, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana have postponed their scheduled primaries.