The Ohio Union will be closed Tuesday — it would have been open exclusively for voting in Ohio’s primary election, had polling places not been ordered closed.
Hours after Judge Richard Frye denied a request to extend absentee voting and delay in-person voting until June 2, Gov. Mike DeWine announced in a tweet that Department of Health Director Amy Acton will order all polling places to close Tuesday, citing a health emergency due to COVID-19.
The Ohio Union would have only remained open for polling and was otherwise closed, university spokesperson Dave Isaacs said previously in an email.
While polls are closed, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose will seek a court remedy to achieve the goal of the original lawsuit, brought on by citizens unable to vote due to health concerns around exposure to the virus, DeWine said.
“During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus,” DeWine said.
In a press conference Monday, DeWine announced the state would not contest the lawsuit, which comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended limiting gatherings to less than 50 people to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He also announced that fitness centers, recreation centers, bowling alleys, movie theaters, indoor water parks and indoor trampoline parks would close indefinitely at the end of business Monday.
Ohio State fitness centers closed at the end of the day Monday in compliance with the order, according to the university’s website.
DeWine said in the afternoon press conference that because he cannot postpone an election unless an invasion of the state occurs, the lawsuit was the only way to protect both the health and voting rights of Ohioans from COVID-19.
“It is clear that tomorrow’s in-person voting does not conform and cannot conform with these CDC guidelines. We cannot conduct this election tomorrow,” DeWine said.
At the time of publication, there are 50 confirmed cases of COVID-10 in Ohio and 333 people who are or were under health supervision, according to the Ohio Department of Health website. Acton announced Monday that the youngest patient with COVID-19 is 14 years old.
The recommendation to extend the election comes after DeWine announced at several press conferences that it would go on as scheduled and encouraged early voting. DeWine said he and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted received messages from citizens — many of whom were older or immunocompromised — expressing concern at potential exposure to the virus while in lines at polling locations.
“Ultimately, it is not fair to force them to have to pick their health or their constitutional rights,” Husted said.
Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced Friday that their April 4 presidential and municipal primary is postponed to June 20 and their May 9 general election to June 25.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger announced Sunday that the state’s March 24 presidential primary elections will be postponed to May 19 — the same day as the rest of the state’s primary elections — due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Suspending in-person voting is a serious matter, and we have tried to do everything we could to avoid that,” LaRose said.
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This story, originally titled “Voting unlikely at the Union, gyms to close,” was updated at 8:28 p.m. and 11:25 p.m.