Political News

Ohio secretary of state: 'It was simply untenable' to tell Ohioans go to the polls amid coronavirus

Posted March 17, 2020 9:10 a.m. EDT
Updated March 17, 2020 10:15 a.m. EDT

— Ohio's chief elections officer said the state's decision to close the polls on Tuesday came after health experts' guidance on coronavirus "changed dramatically" and poll locations would have more than the recommended number of people gathered if the state went forward with the election.

"It was simply untenable for us to continue telling Ohioans go to the polls. So the governor made a difficult but ultimately the right decision," Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day" Tuesday.

Visit CNN's Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

Due to the coronaviurs pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday recommended no gatherings with 50 people or more for the next eight weeks, and the White House on Monday advised all Americans to avoid groups of more than 10. Ohioans over 65 were advised to remain in their homes unless it's absolutely necessary to leave.

"Under those circumstances, there was no way that in good conscience we could order an election -- and certainly not a legitimate election -- given that we were telling a large portion of the population that they should not come to the polls," LaRose said.

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced late Monday night that polls will be closed in the state on Tuesday as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The order came from the Ohio Health Director, who ordered the polls closed on Tuesday "to "avoid the imminent threat with a high probability of widespread exposure to COVID-19."

Listen to the CNN Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction podcast with chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta here.

LaRose on Monday issued a directive to all counties saying that the presidential primary would be postponed until June 2.

Asked what he'd do if the virus hasn't tapered by June, LaRose told CNN, "That's a bridge we'll have to cross when we get to it."

"Hopefully the decisive action that the governor's taken here in Ohio, that the President's taken, that really all Americans are endeavoring to undertake now, will help us get to a point where this insidious enemy that we face right now is defeated by June 2. That's certainly the hope that we all have," he said.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.