On March 17th Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Arizona were all scheduled to vote in their Primary Elections. Three of those states went to the polls on Tuesday but Ohio did not. In all three of the states, Joe Biden won the majority of delegates for the Democratic nominee for President.
A lot of Ohio voters are confused about what has happened (and what potentially will happen) in regards to the Ohio Primary. On the eve of the election, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that he would bring forward a case that would change the official election date to June 2nd. Almost immediately social media blew up with people announcing that Tuesday’s election was postponed. However, this was not officially the case. Gov. DeWine’s case went before the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. Judge Richard Frye did not rule in favor of closing down the polls. The Judge expressed fear in setting a precedent where the judicial branch had the power to close down elections and create future dates for the election.
Following the judge’s ruling, director of the Ohio Department of Health, Amy Action announced she would be closing all in person voting on Tuesday March 17th. It is unclear whether or not Action had the authority to issue such an order. While she does have a tremendous amount of power and authority during this pandemic, it is likely that her decision will be tried in court after the effects of this COVID-19 outbreak have calmed. What is clear is that this is unprecedented territory as a State public health official closed the polls just hours before voters were set to vote.
Some have fear that there will not be any in person voting in Ohio. The state legislature is set to reconvene this upcoming week. During their sessions they are expected to vote on legislation that will help the people of Ohio during this time as well as setting a new election date. People from both sides of the aisle have expressed a willingness for there to be no in-person voting. Lawmakers argued that the Ohio Sec. of States decision to reschedule the election is a decision that could only be made by the legislative branch. The Ohio Democratic Party brought forward a case that argues the same thing. Rather than voting in person on June 2nd, many propose voting would occur via absentee ballots until a set date. Whether in state voting will occur and when it would occur should be determined within the next week by the State Legislature.
In the meantime, confirmed cases of COVID-19 are accumulating in the Buckeye state as nearly everything aside from some stores are shut down. Gov. DeWine and the state of Ohio are leading the nation’s Coronavirus response. With the virus causing widespread panic and illness, campaigning has been modified as candidates are not holding rallies or large events of any sorts. How this global threat will affect candidates on the ballot will be interesting to observe.