Louisiana Becomes First State to Delay Primary over Coronavirus

Medics prepare a tent during a media event at a drive-through coronavirus testing checkpoint in Munich, Germany, March 11, 2020. (Andreas Gebert/Reuters)

Louisiana announced Friday that it will postpone its presidential primary, originally scheduled for April 4, for two months over coronavirus, making it the first state to alter its election over the outbreak.

The decision was made jointly by Republican secretary of state Kyle Ardoin and Democratic governor John Bel Edwards, who said they would use a provision of state law that allows them to move any election in an emergency.

“This decision has been made out of an absolute abundance of caution for Louisiana’s voters, voting officials and the general public as a whole,” Ardoin said. The new date for the primary is set for June 20.

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“Our poll workers are by large elderly, over the age of 70 and we think it is unsafe for them to be monitoring the election. We don’t think we would have enough poll workers . . . and we think we should be discouraging people from congregating in that way,” Christina Stephens, an Edwards spokeswoman, added.

The alteration runs afoul of the Democratic National Committee’s current rules, which require that states hold their nominating contests by June or face delegate penalties. But a DNC spokesperson told Politico that the Committee will “work with every state party as they adjust their delegate selection plans around coronavirus.”

Other states have been resistant to changing their elections, with Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio all set to host primaries on Tuesday.

“I want to make clear the election will proceed forward on Tuesday,” Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said on Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control recently issued protocols for election officials, encouraging mail-in voting and early voting to help “minimize direct contact with other people and reduce crowd size at polling stations.”

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