After Ohio ‘Chaos’ DNC Urges Remaining Primary States to Rethink Methods

March 18, 2020 by Dan McCue
Polling stations throughout Ohio were shut down as Gov. Mike DeWine called for the state's primaries to be pushed back to June on March 17, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. Poll workers remained mostly absent at polling stations, with only a written note left for those unaware of the cancellations. (Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON – The head of the Democratic party asked the remaining primary states on Tuesday to embrace alternatives like voting by mail during the coronavirus crisis, rather than entertain last-minute cancellations of the vote that would only bread “more chaos and confusion.”

The statement from Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez was a pointed response to Ohio’s decision to cancel its primary late Monday night, just hours before polls were to open Tuesday morning.

“As our country deals with the uncertainty of COVID-19, it is critical that states provide clarity and not confusion, which could lead to disenfranchising voters,” Perez said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and state election and health officials, canceled the Democratic primary in Ohio, saying they felt there was no way to fully protect citizens’ health and safety as they exercised their right to vote.

Perez said there are a number of steps states can take to ensure voters’ voices are heard event in the midst of health crisis, the simplest tool being voting by mail.

He notes it is “already in use in a number of states and should be made available to all registered voters.”

Perez goes on to advise that states using vote-by-mail should proactively mail ballots to registered voters, where feasible, and should count all ballots as long as they are postmarked by the date of the primary.

“Additional tools include no-excuse absentee voting, whereby a voter can either drop a ballot off at convenient locations or drop it in the mail. And, where in-person voting can still take place under public health guidelines, states should expand days and hours of early voting to reduce lines,” he said.

“Eligible voters deserve certainty, safety, and accessibility. That’s why states that have not yet held primary elections should focus on implementing the aforementioned measures to make it easier and safer for voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote, instead of moving primaries to later in the cycle when timing around the virus remains unpredictable,” he added.

Perez said the DNC will continue to work with state parties around their delegate selection plans, specifically allowing flexibility around how states elect their delegates to the national convention once those delegates are allocated based on their primary or caucus results.

“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and we must do everything we can to protect and expand that right instead of bringing our democratic process to a halt,” he said.

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