COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Ohio’s chief elections official tells FOX 8 that the primary election that was canceled for Tuesday will be held on June 2, and that vote-by-mail will continue until then.
That timetable will still have to be approved in the courts – and Ohio’s democrats are not happy by the way the decisions played out since yesterday.
“We are following the guidance of our public health experts (in postponing the election),” says Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
He says that, up until yesterday, that guidance was that in-person voting could continue Tuesday without a health risk to voters or poll workers.
Then, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that not more then 50 people congregate in a room.
That helped change the thinking about holding the election, but what unfolded from there was unprecedented.
Governor Mike DeWine said he didn’t have the power to postpone an election scheduled by the Legislature.
So he, and Secretary of State LaRose, went to court seeking to have the election delayed.
But a Columbus judge ruled that allowing a governor to change an election set by a legislature would just be wrong.
Early in the morning, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the election could be postponed.
But by that time, Dr. Amy Acton, the state’s health director who works for Governor DeWine, had ordered the polls to stay closed as a health emergency because of the potential threat of spreading the coronavirus at polling places.
The Ohio Democratic Party questioned the decision to postpone, and Cleveland Representative Marica Fudge, a Democrat, blasted it.
In a statement, Rep. Fudge said in part:
“We are all concerned with the spread of coronavirus as are the governors in the states holding elections today as their laws dictate. Gov. DeWine’s decision to close the polls creates, rather then prevents, barriers to the ballot box, Clearly, he no longer respects the rule of law.”
“I think she’s just dead wrong that,” Secretary of State LaRose said.
He said making voters choose between coming to the polls and their health would have been a mistake – especially the elderly after Gov. DeWine advised those 65 and over to stay home unless absolutely necessary.
“You would be disenfranchising twenty percent of Ohioans (if you held the election today),” LaRose said.
The Secretary of State’s plan now is to keep vote-in mail open until June 2, and hold the election that day.
Democrats say they want the election held sooner, and want to be a part of the process.
This will, again, likely be decided in the courts.