Judge refuses to reschedule Ohio primary amid coronavirus fears

Judge refuses to reschedule Ohio primary amid coronavirus fears

A Franklin County judge declined to reschedule the Ohio primary set for Tuesday despite a plea from the governor to delay voting as the state deals with a coronavirus outbreak.

Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Frye said in his Monday ruling that it would be a “terrible precedent” for a judge to change the date and rules 12 hours before the election takes place, the Columbus Dispatch reported

The judge’s decision comes hours after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Secretary of State Frank LaRose called for the election to be delayed as the nation deals with the coronavirus outbreak. The governor’s office filed a suit in Franklin County.

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"We cannot conduct this election tomorrow, the in-person voting for 13 hours tomorrow, and conform to these guidelines," DeWine said. "We should not force them to make this choice, the choice between their health and their constitutional rights and duties."

DeWine is not able to delay the primary to June 2 on his own except in the case of an invasion, so he filed the suit in Franklin County. LaRose also announced after the lawsuit's filing that he would instruct Attorney General Dave Yost (R) not to challenge the suit.

Shortly after the judge's ruling, however, DeWine announced that Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, would order that all polls remain closed and LaRose would then seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options to Ohio residents. 

Health officials have warned that older people and those with underlying health conditions should avoid public places to avoid the spread of coronavirus. COVID-19 is more likely to cause serious illness or death in those demographics. 

 

Ohio was one of four states planning on holding its election Tuesday, along with Arizona, Florida and Illinois. Several states, including Louisiana, Georgia and Kentucky, have postponed their elections amid the outbreak.

The governor Buckeye state previously announced Sunday that it would close all restaurants and bars as the number of cases in the country skyrocketed. 

The Ohio Department of Health has confirmed 50 cases in the state and 14 hospitalizations. State officials have predicted that there are more than 100,000 cases in the state.