Ohio governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, said on Monday he would seek to ban in-person voting for the state’s Tuesday, March 7 Democratic primary, and to extend voting until June 2.
“It is clear that tomorrows in person voting does not conform and cannot conform with these CDC guidelines,” DeWine told reporters. “We cannot conduct this election tomorrow.”
The governor emphasized that coming out to vote could be potentially dangerous for certain groups, including people over the age of 65.
“We should not force them to make this choice, the choice between their health and their constitutional rights and duties as American citizens,” DeWine said.
DeWine added that he does not have the authority to unilaterally forbid voting in person, but will file a lawsuit on Monday afternoon in an attempt to force the issue. The governor has already imposed closures on gyms, movie theaters and other public areas, and has restricted restaurants to take-out services only, similar to measures taken by other states.
Arizona, Florida, and Illinois are also scheduled to hold Democratic primaries on Tuesday. It is unclear if those states will try to mandate voting by mail.
If DeWine’s proposal is adopted, it is also unclear if it would affect the outcome of the Democratic primary. Former vice president Joe Biden is leading Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in Ohio polls 58-35 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics.