UPDATE: Ohio has postponed its primaries until June 2, 2020, as of 11 .p.m. March 16.
As increasingly drastic measures are put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, four big states are going ahead with their primary elections on March 17.
Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio are all in varying states of emergency, but the polls will remain open. A total of 577 Democrat delegates and 328 Republican delegates are to be pledged.
“Polling locations see people from a nearby community coming into and out of the building for a short duration,” states a press release issued by the four states on March 13.
“Further, guidance from voting machine manufacturers on how best to sanitize machines, guidance from CDC on best practices for hand washing, and guidance from our respective state health officials is being provided to every polling location.”
Some polling sites in all states may be closed or have changed location due to the coronavirus. Officials are encouraging voters to check their polling location on their local supervisor of elections’ website.
Poll workers have been instructed to take extra precautions during voting, such as frequently cleaning well-used surfaces and even pens and doorknobs. Polling locations should have extra hand sanitizer available, as well as alcohol wipes.
Ohio’s schools will close at the end of day March 16 and remain closed through April 3, although the closure doesn’t apply to daycare centers and home-based child care providers.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a director’s order on March 15 that all bars and restaurants must close to in-house patrons, effective at 9 p.m. Only carry-out and drive-through patronage is allowed, and no end date was given.
The Ohio Health Department said March 15 there are 37 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. A further 361 are waiting for test results, while 140 have tested negative.
Ohio has 136 Democrat delegates and 82 Republican delegates to pledge.
In Arizona, the primary will be for the Democrat candidate only and will pledge 67 delegates.
The Arizona GOP announced in September 2019 that the state will opt out of a Republican primary and pledged all 57 delegates to President Donald Trump.
“Arizonans are excited and energized to send President Trump back to the White House for four more years,” Arizona GOP Chair Dr. Kelli Ward said at the time.
Arizona schools are closed beginning March 16 through March 27, and Gov. Doug Ducey declared an emergency on March 11.
The Arizona Department of Health Services has reported 12 cases of COVID-19 in the state as of March 15.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency on March 1, but has allowed for schools and businesses to remain open.
Florida has 219 Democrat delegates and 122 Republican delegates to pledge.
So far, Florida Health has recorded 136 cases of coronavirus and four deaths. Almost 700 people have tested negative for COVID-19, while a further 514 have test results pending.
Illinois has 155 Democrat delegates and 67 Republican delegates to pledge.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation on March 9 in response to the coronavirus. He told “Meet the Press” on March 15 that he’s “looking hard” at closing bars and restaurants.
“COVID-19 is spreading because even healthy people can be walking around, giving it to other people. So we need to go on lockdown,” he said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 93 cases of coronavirus as of March 15. A further 932 have tested negative.
As of March 16, Democrat frontrunner Joe Biden has 880 delegates—1,111 short of the 1,991 needed for the nomination. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has 729 delegates, and the remaining candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has two.
Trump has a total of 1,081 delegates out of a required 1,276 needed for the Republican nomination. It is expected he’ll officially clinch the nomination by the end of voting on March 17. Republican challenger Bill Weld has one delegate, while Roque De La Fuente has zero.