Defying a judge’s ruling, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose say the March 17 primary election will not go forward.
DeWine sent a news release at 10:10 p.m. March 16, citing a "health emergency" as the reason.
Here's his statement:
"During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at a unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus. 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 Department of Health later issued an order by director Dr. Amy Acton, which reads, in part:
"I, Amy Acton, MD, MPH, Director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), pursuant to the authority granted to me in R.C. 3701.13 to 'make special orders … for preventing the spread of contagious or infectious disease' order the polling locations in the State of Ohio closed on March 17, 2020.
"I make this Order to avoid the imminent threat with a high probability of widespread exposure to COVID-19 with a significant risk of substantial harm to a large number of people in the general population, including the elderly and people with weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions. Further, it is clear from history and experience that [a] large number of people gather at polling locations which increases the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
"To conduct an election at this time would force poll workers and voters to face an unacceptable risk of contracting COVID-19."
Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued the following directive to all county boards of elections (excerpt):
"I issue this Directive in response to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's and Ohio Director of Health Dr. Amy Acton's order closing polling places on March 17, 2020. Their difficult but necessary decision will protect the health and well-being of Ohioans.
"The March 17, 2020 Primary Election is suspended until June 2, 2020. This Directive sets forth additional details."
Read the directive.
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