Primaries Move Forward In At Least Three Of Four States Tuesday Despite COVID-19

Warren, MI - MARCH 10: James Beavis, 33, uses hand sanitizer that the polling place provided after casting his ballot at Warren Woods Baptist Church on March 10, 2020 in Warren, Michigan. Michigan is one of six state... Warren, MI - MARCH 10: James Beavis, 33, uses hand sanitizer that the polling place provided after casting his ballot at Warren Woods Baptist Church on March 10, 2020 in Warren, Michigan. Michigan is one of six states voting in the presidential primary today. (Photo by Elaine Cromie/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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March 16, 2020 6:21 p.m.
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In-person voting is set to occur mostly as usual tomorrow in all but one of the four Democratic presidential primary states scheduled to hold its nominating contest — despite public health officials who warn gathering at polling places poses a risk of spreading COVID-19.

Florida, Illinois and Arizona are set to weigh in on the Democratic presidential nominee tomorrow, as well as on other offices, though the Trump administration announced Monday that it was discouraging all gatherings with more than 10 people — which describes many polling places. In Ohio, the fourth state scheduled to vote tomorrow, it remains an open question whether in-person voting will continue as planned.

The state’s governor, Mike DeWine, recommended Monday that the in-person vote be postponed until June 2. But, ultimately, that decision will be made by a judge, not the governor’s office.

In Florida, election officials showed no signs of turning back.

“We are moving forward with our election tomorrow,” Mark Ard, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of State, told TPM Monday.

Even in elderly Broward County, which has been hard hit by COVID-19 cases, voting will move forward.

“We are aware that all Broward County schools and most municipal offices will be closed for the week,” an automated away message from the country’s election office acknowledged. “The election, however, will take place as scheduled.”

Several polling locations around the state — as in other states with COVID-19 cases — were changed to steer voters away from senior residential facilities. Elsewhere, some polling stations have balked at hosting the vote, forcing election officials to pick new sites.

Arizona and Illinois similarly planned to keep Election Day on Tuesday, at least as of Monday afternoon, though with several changes.

In Arizona’s largest county, Maricopa, the number of polling locations was decreased to 151, from 229 locations previously, due in part to a shortage of polling workers and cleaning supplies.

Discussing the change three days ago, the county’s election day director, Scott Jarrett, stopped midway through announcing the news of reduced polling locations.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” he said, before walking off. Several unnamed supervisors told the Associated Press that Jarrett had been working without sleep to prepare for the election.

Illinois has benefited from a wave of early and remote voters this year, with Chicago smashing records for vote-by-mail applications and early voting.

Still, in-person voting will take place as planned, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

“We have to have our elections continue, in my opinion. This is the right thing to do,” Pritzker said at a press conference, the Sun Times reported. “Our democracy needs to go on. If we cancel these elections, when would you have an election?”

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