Louisiana is the first state to postpone its 2020 primary over the coronavirus outbreak, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said Friday.
The state’s April 4 primary will be moved to June 20, and its May 9 general election will be held on July 25, Ardoin said at a press conference.
“Today I have certified that a state of emergency exists, and requested that the governor issue an executive order postponing the elections this spring,” he said.
The decision, he continued, “has been made out of an absolute abundance of caution for Louisiana’s voters, voting officials and the general public as a whole.”
Over half of the state’s Election Day commissioners are age 65 and over, he noted, adding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that people in that age group are more vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. As of Friday, there are 33 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana, up from 19 the day before.
Moving the entire state onto absentee ballots was not a viable option this close to the election, Ardoin said, even with the state’s past experience moving elections because of hurricanes.
A spokesperson for Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) told The Advocate that state officials think early April “could potentially be the height” of the outbreak in Louisiana. Moving the election is an “extraordinary measure but one we feel is prudent,” she said.
Officials in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio ― all of which are holding primaries on March 17, this coming Tuesday ― said later on Friday that they do not plan to delay their elections.
“Americans have participated in elections during challenging times in the past,” the secretaries of state said in a joint statement, “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.”
Following the Louisiana news, Wyoming Democrats announced on Friday that they are suspending the in-person portion of their April 4 caucuses and only accepting votes by mail or via ballot drop-off on March 28 and April 4.
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