States that have postponed primaries due to coronavirus outbreak

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The spreading coronavirus outbreak has shut down more and more of American life — including schools, sporting events, bars, and now even elections.

Multiple states have either announced they are postponing their presidential primary elections due to concerns about the novel coronavirus or made clear they are considering it.

In an interview after the most recent presidential debate -- which was held in a closed-off studio rather than in a hall with a live audience -- presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders hinted that it could be worth moving primary elections to protect against the coronavirus.



"I would hope that governors listen to the public health experts and what they are saying is … we don’t want gatherings of more than 50 people,” Sanders said. “I’m thinking about some of the elderly people sitting behind the desks, registering people and doing all that stuff. Does that make sense? I’m not sure it does."

Here are the states that are putting off their presidential primary elections:


Louisiana became the first state to postpone a primary or caucus on March 13, with Gov. John Bel Edwards signing an executive order to move the April 4 election to late June.

"Today I have certified that a state of emergency exists and requested that the governor issue an executive order postponing the elections this spring. We have requested postponing the April 4 primary election until June 20 and postponing the May 9 general election until July 25," Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said.


Christina Stephens, a spokeswoman for Edwards, said the move was to prevent further person-to-person transmission of the virus in Louisiana.

"We are experiencing community spread of coronavirus in Louisiana and the governor is taking decisive action to slow its progress," she said.


Georgia also moved its elections from March 24 to May 19 on March 14 after Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency.


"Events are moving rapidly and my highest priority is protecting the health of our poll workers, their families, and the community at large," said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine asked a judge on March 16 to allow his state to postpone its election, originally scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, to June 2.

"We cannot conduct this election tomorrow,” he stressed in an announcement.

After the judge ruled that the election would have to go forward, DeWine announced that he would prevent polls from opening anyway, with his state health director closing down polls "as a health emergency."


DeWine said that the state's in-person voting would not conform with CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and vowed to find a way to hold a "free and fair" election without putting voters' health at risk.

"During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus," DeWine said in a statement. "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 Ohio Supreme Court, in a ruling without an opinion Tuesday morning, denied a last-second effort to force the state to move ahead with the Tuesday elections, giving further legitimacy to DeWine's 11th-hour maneuver.

Officials in the other three states that had elections scheduled for March 17 -- Arizona, Florida and Illinois -- still went forward with their plans.


On recommendation from Kentucky Secretary of State Michael G. Adams, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear pushed back that state's primary from May 19 to June 23.

"I never would have imagined sitting here discussing this with you, but these are unprecedented times," Adams said in a video posted to Twitter. "And we Kentuckians are having to change the way we do things on all fronts. Kentucky law allows the secretary of state and the governor to jointly act to change the time of an election due to a state of emergency."

He continued: "Postponing the primary was not an easy decision, but the Republican secretary of state and Democratic governor agree, and so do county clerks of both parties, and they are our frontline election administrators. My hope is that this delay will allow us to have a normal election. Even if not, this delay will allow me, the state board of elections and our county clerks time to assess what changes we must make to ensure a successful primary election. There could be more changes, but this was a first step to buy is time and keep our citizens as safe as possible. We'll get through this."

Kentucky was originally slated to have one of the latest primaries of any state, with only five states and Washington, D.C., voting after it. This move by Kentucky throws into question almost the entire 2020 primary calendar, especially after President Trump's comments that the coronavirus pandemic could last until July or August in the United States.


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced in a March 17 press conference that he is postponing Maryland's April 28 primary election to June 2, making Maryland the sixth state or territory to put off its presidential primaries amid coronavirus fears.

"I have two main priorities: keeping Marylanders safe and protecting their constitutional right to vote," Hogan said. "Yesterday we announced that gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited statewide, and it would endanger public health to allow thousands of people to assemble in places like schools and senior centers which are already closed under the state of emergency."

Hogan also mentioned the 7th Congressional District seat which was vacated by the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. Hogan said he has instructed the state board of elections to hold the April 28 special election -- in what is a heavily blue district -- by mail. Democratic nominee Kweisi Mfume, who held the 7th Congressional District seat before Cummings, is widely expected to win that election, retaking a seat he held in the 1990's.

Hogan said it is important that Maryland have a representative from the 7th District, which is centered around Baltimore, in Congress.


Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced March 19 that his state would move its primary, previously scheduled for April 28, 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," Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill said in a statement on the election change.

She said that moving the primary was "a recognition of the severity and the nature of this crisis and, along with my request to temporarily remove restrictive absentee ballot language from the statute, will allow the maximum number of Connecticut voters to participate in the electoral process, even if they wish to avoid gathering in a polling place."

Maryland was also scheduled for April 28 and moved its primary to June 2.


Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced March 20 that it would move its presidential primary, which was scheduled for May 5, to June 2, falling in line with a number of other states hoping the coronavirus threat will at least partially subside by that date.

"This wasn't a step taken lightly -- and it's all centered around making sure Hoosiers can still exercise their right to vote during this coronavirus pandemic," a statement from the Indiana Republican State Committee said. "It was a joint decision made by Governor Holcomb, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer and the Indiana Democrats."

Indiana officials recommended to the state election commission that all Indiana voters be able to use mail-in ballots to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread at polls.

Indiana was the seventh state do delay its Democratic presidential primary and the eighth major jurisdiction to do so, counting Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico

Though it is not a state, Puerto Rico holds primaries for both parties.

The Puerto Rico Republican primary already took place on March 8, but the Puerto Rico Democratic Party requested that the government delay its Democratic primary, which was scheduled for March 29.

"This is an unpredictable day-by-day situation that requires constant monitoring of the progress of the disease. Our intention is to keep all options open to ensure the citizen's right to vote," party Chairman Charles Rodriguez said in a statement.

The Spanish-language news site El Nuevo Dia reported that on March 16 the Puerto Rico Senate approved a resolution that postpones the territory's Democratic primary to April 26 and gives the president of its elections commission the power to move the primary even further if he decides it is still not safe to hold an election.


Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves postponed the state's 2nd Congressional District's Republican runoff election between Thomas Carey and Brian Flowers. They are fighting to take on incumbent Democrat Bennie Thompson in November.

The runoff was originally scheduled for March 31, and will now take place on June 23.

"We face an unprecedented health crisis. Conducting an election during this outbreak would force poll workers and voters to place themselves in unnecessary risk," Reeves said in a statement.



Alabama held its presidential primary elections on Super Tuesday, so it was able to have its say on the presidential nominees before the coronavirus became a full-blown crisis.

But Gov. Kay Ivey was forced to delay the state's March 31 primary runoff elections to July 14. That runoff includes the battle for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination between former Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump-endorsed former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Fox News' Paul Steinhauser, Ellison Barber, Melissa Leon, Nick Givas, Lee Ross and The Associated Press contributed to this report.