The Corner

Elections

Coronavirus Interrupts the Democratic Presidential Primary Elections

A poll worker sanitizes a voting screen at a polling station on Super Tuesday in Los Angeles, Calif., March 3, 2020. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

As unthinkable as it seems, the coronavirus is on course to suspend and postpone the Democratic presidential primary — at least in part.

Moments ago, Governor Mike DeWine pointed out a glaring contradiction in the expectations of the public: “It is my recommendation that we postpone in-person voting until June 2, 2020.

We cannot tell people to stay inside, but also tell them to go out and vote. I’m making this recommendation because we must also look out for our poll workers.” Ohio’s presidential primary is scheduled for tomorrow, and DeWine himself does not have the authority to postpone state election. It’s not yet clear if a state court will order the localities to postpone the primary election.

A lot of poll workers are getting up there in years, and that’s precisely the demographic that health officials want to keep self-quarantined or away from large groups of strangers. Having those workers interacting with lots of people at polling places all day is the opposite of “social distancing.”

Louisiana and Georgia already postponed their primaries, and New York is considering that move as well.

The scale of the response continues to grow. San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties in California announced a “shelter in place” order for all residents, directing everyone to stay in their homes for the next three weeks. “The order falls just short of a full lockdown, which would forbid people from leaving their homes without explicit permission, and it wasn’t immediately clear how, or to what degree, it would be enforced.”

In New Jersey, “all non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses must cease daily operations from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.” The Garden State is one of the last states to vote in the primary, on June 2.

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