Ohio gov on postponing presidential primary: 'We didn't want to put Ohioans at risk'

Ohio Gov. Mark DeWine defended his decision to postpone in-person voting in his state's primary election Tuesday in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus, telling Fox News he didn't want residents to choose between their health and their civic duty.

"We didn't want to put Ohioans at risk. We have 35,000 poll workers that it takes to put on an election," Dewine said on "Your World with Neil Cavuto" Tuesday. "Some are older, more at-risk individuals. So this is a disease or this is a, a virus that sometimes people can't tell they have it. And so they can be a spreader without even knowing that. So having our poll workers work for 13 straight hours there just made no sense."

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"It's also a risk to all those people who are voting. So the CDC came up with the regulations the day before yesterday that said no more than 50 people in a room," DeWine added. "We couldn't even, you know, we certainly cannot conduct an election that way."

The Ohio Supreme Court declined an 11th-hour request to force the state to move forward with Tuesday's primary.

DeWine expressed concern for voters who are elderly or dealing with health issues and promised that Ohioans will get their opportunity to vote.

"We didn't want to really challenge our voters, particularly our voters who have a medical problem or our voters who are over 65 to choose between exercising their constitutional right and their health. That just doesn't make sense," DeWine said. "We can have absentee balloting go on for an extended period of time. Everybody will have the opportunity to vote that wants to. And that's that's really what we should do."

Cavuto asked if Florida,  Arizona and Illinois are making a mistake by continuing to hold their elections Tuesday. DeWine declined to criticize those states but emphasized the severity of the coronavirus' impact.

"What we've learned is if you don't intervene early in this, you're going to end up like Italy is today. And that's just very, very tragic. We had a whole meeting today, a discussion about our hospitals getting ready for this," DeWine said. "And, you know, we're going to run out of equipment. We're going to run out of personal protection gear for the doctors unless we slow this down and it can't be this curve that goes straight up like they have had in Italy."

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"We've got to sort of, you know, shut it down a little bit, spread it out, or we're going to be in the same position Italy is and we don't want to be there," DeWine added.

Fox News' Tyler Olson contributed to this report.