Ohio's primary election - understanding the postponement

Posted Mar. 17, 2020 by

As of late Monday, the Ohio primary election has been POSTPONED because of a "health emergency." The order was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court early Tuesday.

The ever-changing story began during a press conference yesterday with Ohio's Governor, Lt. Governor, and Director of the Ohio Dept. of Health (ODH), when the Ohio Secretary of State (SOS) announced that Ohio's in-person voting would more than likely be postponed until June because of the growing COVID-19 health crisis. Because the SOS does not have the legal authority to cancel or postpone an election, the issue was put in the hands of the court to postpone in-person voting and rescheduled to a later date.

Following this press conference, Governor Mike DeWine filed the lawsuit asking that in-person voting for the Ohio primary be postponed for March 17 and rescheduled for June 2. DeWine said that he did not want Ohio voters who are at-risk for COVID-19 to have to "make the choice between their constitutional right and their health." Ohioans age 65 and older were of particular concern given a recommendation by the ODH for individuals of that age to self-quarantine in their homes. A Franklin County Common Pleas judge, however, denied the postponement

This, then set the confusion in motion, with poll workers and voters unsure of how to proceed. As a result, the Director of Health issued a Health Emergency closing the polls late Monday after the judge's rejection. Early this morning the Ohio Supreme Court allowed the delay and overruled a last-minute challenge.  At this point, the Ohio primary in-person voting will be held June 2, with an extension of voting by mail across the state.