/Several states postponing elections, changing ways to vote amid coronavirus issues

Several states postponing elections, changing ways to vote amid coronavirus issues

WASHINGTON – With coronavirus spreading across the United States, several states have already altered their primary contests in response to growing concerns.

The 2020 primary election has been underway for more than a month, and three more states vote Tuesday. Arizona, Florida and Illinois have not canceled or pushed back their primaries. A fourth state, Ohio, was set to vote in March, but has since requested to push back their in-person voting date. 

Other states hosting contests in the coming weeks are also delaying.

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Here are some of the changes that have happened for upcoming primary contests:

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that she will sign an executive order to postpone the state’s April 28 primary to June 2. 

She said in a tweet that the state’s Board of Elections requested to postpone the primary until June and that the “election take place primarily by mail ballot.”

“I am following the advice of the Board of Elections, and will sign an executive order to do this,” Raimondo said in the tweet.

Hawaii

There will no longer be in-person voting for Hawaii’s April 4 party-run primary, the Hawaii Democratic Party announced Friday.

Although officials expected most Democrats in the state would vote by mail, in-person voting was set for 21 sites, where voters could also register to join the party that day. Two rounds of ballots have been mailed to voters. A third round of ballots will now be sent to everyone who newly registers or joins the Democratic party by April 4.

Kate Stanley, the interim chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said in a statement that results of the election won’t come until lat May due to the new round of ballots.

“While we regret the need to cancel the walk-in voting locations, health and safety comes first during this challenging time,” she said. “This third round of mail ballots will accommodate those who were planning to vote on election day by giving them the opportunity to vote by mail. However, we encourage everyone with a ballot now to mail it back as soon as possible in case there are further disruptions,” she said.

Indiana

Indiana has moved back their primary from May 5 to June 2, state officials announced Friday.

Governor Eric Holcomb made the announcement, joined by Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Party Chair John Zody, according to the Indianapolis Star.

As a result of the changes, all dates corresponding with the primary election will be moved by 28 days to reflect the new date of the primary.

For example, military and overseas ballots are required to mailed 45 days prior to the primary election, so they’ll move 45 days prior to June 2, according to the Star.

Connecticut

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill announced that the state’s presidential primary election is being postponed.

The election was going to be held on April 28, but is now moved to June 2.

“My most important concerns are allowing every Connecticut voter to make their voice heard in the selection of the presidential candidates, and ensuring that they are able to cast their ballots as safely as possible,” Merrill said in a statement on Twitter.

Merrill added that she consulted with Gov. Ned Lamont, as well as local election officials, the bipartisan leadership in the state legislature and officials in other states ahead of her announcement.

Maryland

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a proclamation to move the state’s April 28 primary to June 2.

At a press conference, Hogan said that state election officials raised concerns about the primary to him last week and even considered conducting the entire election by mail. However, officials did not believe they had enough time to make that work.

“I have two main priorities – keeping Marylanders safe and protecting their constitutional right to vote,” Hogan said at a press conference in Annapolis. 

More:When are the 2020 presidential election primaries?

Kentucky

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is delaying the state’s primary by 35 days after a request from the Kentucky secretary of state.

The primary was set for May 19, but has been pushed back to June 23.

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams put in a request to the governor to delay the state’s presidential primary. Adams made the announcement on Twitter, saying he hand delivered the letter to Gov. Andy Beshear.

Less than 15 minutes later, Beshar posted a video statement on Twitter saying that he and governor both agree to the delay. 

“Postponing the primary was not an easy decision, but the Republican secretary of state and the Democratic governor agreed, and so do the county clerks of both parties,” Adams said in a video statement posted on Twitter. “My hope is that this delay will allow us to have a normal election.”

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s presidential primary will be delayed due to coronavirus.

Puerto Rico Democratic Party chairman Charles Rodriguez requested the island’s Legislative Assembly postpone the presidential primary.

The Puerto Rico Senate approved the bill. The House of Representatives now needs to pass it and it must be signed by the island’s governor, Wanda Vazquez, who has indicated she will sign the bill as soon as it reaches her desk.

“The amendment to the Presidential Primary Act is a necessary step to preserve public health in the face of the global pandemic,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “Postponing the primary will also ensure a larger turnout for many Puerto Ricans to express their support for a permanent union with the U.S. and the need for the territory to assert itself, with real decision-making power, as part of the democratic processes of the nation.”

The primary, which was set for March 29, will now be on April 26.

Georgia

Georgia’s March 24 presidential primaries have been moved to May.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement that in-person early voting is being halted and the election will be moved to May 19. In-person early voting began on March 2.

Raffensperger said his “highest priority is the health of our poll workers, their families and the community at large.” 

“Given these circumstances, I believe it is necessary and prudent to suspend in-person voting in the presidential primary, and the local elections associated with them,” he said in the statement.

Louisiana

Louisiana postponed their presidential primary from April 4 to June 20.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order after Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin requested the delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, Edwards described the step as “necessary to protect the health and safety of the people of Louisiana from the risk of COVID-19.”

More:Ohio governor requests postponing in-person voting until June due to coronavirus

Ardoin during a press conference Friday said that there are provisions in place that say that in “declared states of emergency and to protect the integrity of the electoral process” then primaries or early voting can be delayed.

“Today I have certified that the state of emergency exists and requested that the government issue an executive order postponing the elections this spring,” he said.

Wyoming

The Wyoming Democratic Party has moved to a mail-in only caucus.

As a result, the April 4 caucuses have been extended to April 17, the deadline for mailed ballots to be received by the party.

All Democrats in the state registered by March 10 have had ballots already sent to them. Voters who registered between March 11 to 20, which was the last day to register for the caucus, will have ballots sent to them by mail. The party said that if a ballot was lost, destroyed, or is otherwise unusable, a new ballot can be requested on the party’s website until March 31.

“The COVID-19 virus has created uncertain times, and adapting to those times means adapting our caucus,” the party said in a statement on Facebook. “As more states move to shelter-in-place status, we recognize the possibility that Wyoming could follow suit, and are proactively preparing for that possibility by shifting to a 100% mail in caucus.”

Previously, Wyoming Democratic Party Chairman Joe Barbuto said in a statement that the in-person portion of the state’s caucus and were evaluating drop-off locations for some ballots.

Contributing: Associated Press