Our City Online

Features

Update: Polls Are Closed Today After Order From Director of Health

Walker Evans Walker Evans Update: Polls Are Closed Today After Order From Director of Health
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Update (3/17 9:45am) — This post has been updated multiple times to include the most current information as this story continues to develop.

Polling locations are closed today for in-person primary voting after the state issued a public health order late last night signed by Dr. Amy Acton, the state’s Director of Health.

“To avoid an imminent threat with high probability of widespread exposure to COVID-19 with 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, I hereby order all polling locations in the State of Ohio closed on March 17, 2020,” states the order. “This Order shall take effect immediately and remain in full force and effect until the State of Emergency declared by the Governor no longer exists, or the Director of the Ohio Department of Health rescinds or modifies the Order.”

While leaders of the Ohio Democratic Party initially supported yesterday’s move to delay the primary elections, they issued a statement today concerned that our Republican-controlled state government should not be allowed to fully decide how the new process will move forward.

“Yesterday’s postponement does not create unchecked authority with the governor or secretary of state to run a new election,” stated Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “In fact, the dangerous precedent of postponing an election requires an immediate return to the approach provided by Ohio law.”

The statement from Pepper advocates that the primary election should conclude before June 2nd, a vote-by-mail process should be expanded, and absentee ballots should be made widely available. Several other stipulations were outlined to make voting widely accessible and not a discriminatory process in any way.

“This primary election must move forward, and Ohio Democratic legislative leaders and Ohio Democrats must be part of the negotiations over how that happens,” he added.

This is a developing story and will continue to be updated with new information as it becomes available.

Previous details from earlier article:


Ohio Governor Mike DeWine filed a restraining order yesterday to delay the voting process by nearly three months, but a Franklin County judge later denied that order.

Despite that ruling, DeWine issued a joint press statement last night — along with the Ohio Secretary of State — proclaiming that the primary election will not take place as planned on Tuesday, March 17th.

“The only thing more important than a free and fair election is the health and safety of Ohioans,” stated the joint release. “The Ohio Department of Health and the CDC have advised against anyone gathering in groups larger than 50 people, which will occur if the election goes forward.”

“Additionally, Ohioans over the age of 65 and those with certain health conditions have been advised to limit their nonessential contact with others, affecting their ability to vote or serve as poll workers,” the release continues. “Logistically, under these extraordinary circumstances, it simply isn’t possible to hold an election tomorrow that will be considered legitimate by Ohioans. They mustn’t be forced to choose between their health and exercising their constitutional rights.”

Multiple volunteer poll workers shared with Columbus Underground the mixed messages they have received tonight about what is happening on Election Day.

“My husband is a poll worker and the Franklin County Board of Elections has sent him emails and texts as late as 7:37 pm tonight saying the polls will be closed – do not report for duty,” stated one commenter.

“I still have yet to receive word from the board of elections on whether I’m working tomorrow or not,” stated another at 9:05pm.

Update (3/16 7:30pm) — This post has been updated multiple times to include the most current information as this story continues to develop.

During a press briefing held earlier today by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, plans were announced to halt the in-person voting process for Ohio’s primary, scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 17th.

Those plans appear to not be moving forward though. According to a report from WOSU, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye denied the temporary restraining order.

This is a developing story and will continue to be updated with new information as it becomes available.

Previous details from earlier article:


Voting is expected to take place tomorrow as originally planned, although many locations have relocated and voters are advised to double check their voting locations in advance.

“It is my recommendation that we postpone in-person voting until June 2, 2020,” stated DeWine on Twitter.

Additionally, DeWine is asking for absentee voting allowance to be extended through June 2nd so that voters have time to participate in the process.

“We should not force them to make this choice — a choice between their health and their constitutional rights and duties as American citizens,” stated DeWine during today’s briefing.

The Governor of Ohio does not have the executive authority to immediately shut down the primary election voting process, and will need to file a lawsuit to begin that process.

The move is the latest action taken to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the State of Ohio, which now has 50 confirmed cases as of 3pm today.

Based on a response from the Ohio Democratic Party, the changes appear to have bipartisan support.

“Dr. Amy Acton and Gov. Mike DeWine shared their conclusion with me that the risk to voters, 35,000 poll workers, volunteers and the broader public through additional spread was too great to conduct in-person voting tomorrow,” stated Chairman David Pepper in a release issued this afternoon. “In deference to their expertise on this critical health crisis, I support that decision regarding in-person voting tomorrow.”

For more info, visit columbus.gov/publichealth/ and coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Additional News & Updates:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags:

features categories

KEEP LOCAL JOURNALISM HEALTHY.

Local journalism is more important than ever. Please take a moment to read a bit about our mission and consider financially supporting our cause.

CLICK HERE