Louisiana Postpones Democratic Primary Due to Coronavirus
Louisiana is postponing its presidential primaries, originally set for April 4, becoming the first state to take the step as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said Louisiana will now hold its presidential primaries on June 20, and will delay local municipal elections until July 25.
“We want to protect the health and safety of all Louisianans by doing our part to prevent the spread of this highly infectious disease,” Ardoin said during a news conference Friday morning.
“Safe and secure elections also mean safety to the people of Louisiana,” he added.
Louisiana’s decision is yet another reflection of the disruption the global pandemic is causing in the United States. In recent days, every major professional sports league has either pulled the plug on or postponed games, Broadway shows have temporarily closed, and scores of public events have been cancelled.
Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, all of which are scheduled to hold primaries next Tuesday, are currently moving forward with their elections as planned.
In a joint statement, officials in the four states said they are working closely with their respective health officials to ensure that our poll workers and voters can be confident that voting is safe.
The officials are Arizona Secretary of State Kathy Hobbs, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Ohio Secretary of State Frank La Rose, and Illinois Election Board Chairman Charles Scholz.
“Unlike concerts, sporting events or other mass gatherings where large groups of people travel long distances to congregate in a confined space for an extended period of time, polling locations see people from a nearby community coming into and out of the building for a short duration,” they said.
“Further, guidance from voting machine manufacturers on how best to sanitize machines, guidance from CDC on best practices for hand washing, and guidance from our respective state health officials is being provided to every polling location.”
They conclude: “Americans have participated in elections during challenging times in the past, and based on the best information we have from public health officials, we are confident that voters in our states can safely and securely cast their ballots in this election, and that otherwise healthy poll workers can and should carry out their patriotic duties on Tuesday.”
But it is unclear now whether any of the other states voting next month, including New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, will follow suit.
Some election officials are already encouraging more voters to cast absentee or mail-in ballots to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
As it is, concerns over the coronavirus have caused the 2020 presidential campaigns to come to a near standstill. Both former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have temporarily stopped appearing at large-scale, in-person rallies.
A one-on-one debate between Biden and Sanders will take place in Washington, D.C. on Sunday with no live audience. It was initially set to take place in Arizona with a crowd in attendance.
On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump canceled campaign events in Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin.
“Out of an abundance of caution from the coronavirus outbreak, the President has decided to cancel his upcoming events in Colorado and Nevada,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
The U.S. has at least 1,268 cases of coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19, and it has killed at least 33 people, according to Johns Hopkins University.
A total of 94 people had been tested for the virus in Louisiana as of Friday morning, with 33 presumptive positive results.
In response to Louisiana’s decision to postpone the primary, Biden campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said “our elections can be conducted safely in consultation with public health officials.”
“If voters are feeling healthy, not exhibiting symptoms, and don’t believe they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, please vote on Tuesday,” she said in a statement. “If voters are members of an at-risk population, exhibiting symptoms, or have been exposed to a diagnosed case of COVID-19, we encourage them to explore absentee ballots and vote by mail options.”
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