Ohio Secretary of State defends postponement of primary election

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)- The Ohio Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Tuesday afternoon asking a judge to set a new primary election date for April 28. This would be in place of Governor Mike DeWine’s recommendation of June 2.

The governor defends his last minute decision to delay Ohio’s primary election. 

“We are entering a more difficult time and we’re going to have more and more of our citizens who become ill,” he said Tuesday.

The governor said 35,000 poll workers and even more voters were expected at voting locations and having that many people in one place could have been a disaster amid the spread of COVID-19.

“Many times we do not, individuals who have this don’t know they have it yet and so a person in all good conscience could be going to vote and they could be spreading. Conversely we could have poll workers that had the virus and did not know that,” DeWine explained.

The move could be costly. Secretary of State Frank LaRose didn’t have exact numbers for how much it could cost for a new election.

“There’s polling places that had already been rented. They have to contract with these folks to use their facilities and payment for training new poll workers,” LaRose said.

Now LaRose has three months to organize new locations, poll workers and voter education strategies.

“It’s unprecedented times and difficult times. The Ohio law only contemplates delaying an election for the purpose of a foreign invasion by an enemy power. That’s something that was put in place in the 1960’s,” LaRose said.

LaRose said he supports the governor and state health director’s guidance. 

“There’s no way to conduct an election when Ohioans over 65 are told they should not leave their homes and then would be forced to make a decision between their constitutional rights and their safety,” LaRose said.

President Donald Tump is asked about DeWine’s decision to delay during his daily briefing. 

President Trump said, “If he called he off, I could understand that because he’s definitely someone who knows what he’s doing.”

The President applauding the precautions in place in Ohio.

Ohio House speaker sent a memo to members of the House today saying in part, “The date of Ohio’s primary election is set by state law and, as the Secretary of State has acknowledged the legal authority to change the date rests with the Ohio General Assembly- not the courts via executive fiat.”

Speaker Larry Householder added he wanted to hold a session to “legally” change the primary election day. 

“Whether there’s litigation or further action by the legislature, whatever else, I think that time will show that Governor DeWine took the right action,” LaRose said.

Meanwhile the Governor continues to defend his decision as well. 

“We need to allow those citizens who become ill to be able to have the opportunity at some point to vote,” said DeWine.

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