COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton has order polls to be closed Tuesday, March 17 due to a " health emergency."
In a directive, Secretary of State Frank LaRose confirms the decision to close the polls ordering those involved to adhere to the following guidelines.
- All board of elections must post notices on their website, polling locations and social media sites that in-person voting has been suspended.
- The boards of elections are prohibited from processing any new voter registrations for the June 2, 2020 presidential primary election. The February 18, 2020 voter registration deadline remains the voter registration deadline.
- Boards of elections must remain open on March 17, 2020 to receive any absentee ballots at the boards of elections through 7:30 p.m.
- On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, boards of elections must conduct in-person voting at polling locations in their county.
LaRose tweeted a video message shortly after midnight stating that in-person voting will take place June 2.
DeWine announced his push for the order in a statement late Monday evening saying, " to conduct an election tomorrow would would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at a unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus," the statement read.
In the statement, he also indicated that Secretary of State, Frank LaRose will be taking legislative action to extend voting options.
Read the full statement below:
"During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at a unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus. As such, Health Director Dr. Amy Acton will order the polls closed as a health emergency. While the polls will be closed tomorrow, Secretary of State Frank LaRose will seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity."
The move comes after Gov. Mike DeWine previously issued a statement responding to Judge Richard Frye rejection of a lawsuit that would delay Ohio's primary election.
"They mustn’t be forced to choose between their health and exercising their constitutional rights," the statement read.
The statement was made in collaboration with Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
Read DeWine's full statement below:
"The only thing more important than a free and fair election is the health and safety of Ohioans. The Ohio Department of Health and the CDC have advised against anyone gathering in groups larger than 50 people, which will occur if the election goes forward. Additionally, Ohioans over 65 and those with certain health conditions have been advised to limit their nonessential contact with others, affecting their ability to vote or serve as poll workers. Logistically, under these extraordinary circumstances, it simply isn’t possible to hold an election tomorrow that will be considered legitimate by Ohioans. They mustn’t be forced to choose between their health and exercising their constitutional rights."
The Cuyahoag county Board of Election tweeted Monday evening that polling
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye rejected a lawsuit calling for a delay of Tuesday's primary in Ohio.
The election and in-person voting will go on as scheduled.
Citing concerns regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recommended that in-person voting for the Ohio Primary be delayed from Tuesday to June 2.
While DeWine can't issue an order to make the delay happen -- as he has done to close restaurants, gyms and movie theaters -- he said he will file a lawsuit in an effort to make it happen.
Also on Monday, DeWine said that restrictions on mass gatherings now apply to groups of more than 50 people. He also issued an order to indefinitely close gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, indoor water parks, movie theaters, and trampoline parks across the state.
On Sunday, DeWine issued an order restricting bars and restaurants to take out services. The order followed similar orders restricting mass gatherings and closing K-12 schools for three weeks beginning on Monday.
As of Monday, Ohio has found 50 positive cases of the coronavirus, 14 of which have required hospitalizations.
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