UPDATED: States shuffle dates for primary elections

March 30, 2020

Keith Goble

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States around the country continue to reschedule presidential and state primary elections amid ongoing concerns about the coronavirus crisis.

Voters in nearly half of all states already have cast presidential primary and/or state primary ballots. The remaining states, however, have yet to hold their own elections to help decide who will appear on November ballots.

As concern about COVID-19 was ramping up in much of the U.S., Arizona, Florida and Illinois decided to move forward with their scheduled mid-March primaries. On the other hand, Ohio opted to delay its primary.

There has not been a state or presidential primary since March 17.

Arizona

In Arizona, vote centers were used to allow voters to cast ballots for the presidential primary. A judge issued an order in the days leading up to the election barring ballots sent by mail to all voters.

State officials opted to move forward with the election despite health concerns.

“We have no guarantee that there will be a safer time to hold this election in the near future,” Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said in a released statement. “Our democracy has risen to challenges in the past, and it must continue to do so.”

Florida and Illinois also moved forward without making changes to Election Day rules or procedures.

Ohio

Gov. Mark DeWine announced the day before the state’s scheduled election that polls would be closed.

The state’s Department of Health issued the order closing polling locations.

“To conduct an election at this time would force poll workers and voters to face an unacceptable risk of contracting COVID-19,” Health Director Amy Acton wrote.

The governor acted in recent days to sign into law a bill rescheduling the state’s primary election for April 28.

Primary elections around the country

State officials in Kentucky and Maryland have announced primaries scheduled for May 19 and April 28 would be pushed back to June 23 and June 2, respectively. Likewise, the Pennsylvania primaries have been moved from April 28 to June 2. The Indiana state and presidential primaries set for May 5 are rescheduled for June 2.

The Democratic Party of Wyoming canceled its in-person presidential caucuses scheduled for April 4. Instead, party officials extended the deadline for mail-in ballots to April 17.

Georgia’s presidential primary set for March 24 has been pushed back to May 19. Similarly, Louisiana has postponed its presidential primary from April 4 to June 20.

Alabama has acted to postpone its primary runoff election scheduled for March 31. The new date is July 14. Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island delayed their April 28 presidential primaries until June 2.

The Hawaii presidential primary is moved back from April 4 to May 22. All voting will be via mail-in ballots.

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster has postponed all local elections for the next two months. The Palmetto State held its presidential primary in February.

Similarly, Missouri has postponed all municipal elections scheduled for April 7 to June 2.

New York’s presidential primary was rescheduled from April 28 to June 23 – the same date as the state primary.

In Texas, the runoff primary set for May 26 has been moved to July 14. Additionally, Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a proclamation permitting local governments to suspend elections scheduled for May 2 until Nov. 3.

“I strongly encourage local election officials to take advantage of these waivers and postpone their elections until November,” Abbot stated.

Across the state line in Oklahoma, the state election board has given local governments authority to reschedule elections set for April 7 for another date.

“We are in unchartered waters here, so I am hopeful we have found a sensible solution that is consistent with the spirit of the law and avoids bureaucratic overreach by state election officials,” stated Secretary Paul Ziriax.

Alaska has the next presidential primary scheduled on April 4. The next state primaries are scheduled for May 12 in Nebraska and West Virginia.

Absentee voting an option?

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports there are 33 states with no-excuse absentee voting. Many of these states are encouraging voters to request absentee ballots.

Click here to see if your state offers absentee voting that requires an excuse.

Registering to vote

Truckers who are registered to vote should make the effort to cast their ballots. Although primary elections typically don’t receive the same attention as the fall election, they can be just as important, if not more.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.