Reuters: Coronavirus-spurred changes to Ohio’s primary raise concerns about November
Reuters: Coronavirus-spurred changes to Ohio's primary raise concerns about November
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ohio will hold its primary election on Tuesday, a virtually all-mail contest that could serve as a test case for voting in the coronavirus era.
Citing public health concerns, the state’s legislature moved back the date of the primary, originally slated for March 17, to April 28 and sharply curtailed in-person voting.
It’s a glimpse of what the presidential contest might look like in November if COVID-19 remains a threat. But some voters, election officials and voting-rights watchdogs are already alarmed: Ohio’s system has been overwhelmed by the crush of requests for absentee ballots, a situation that could disenfranchise potentially tens of thousands of voters. …
The national political stakes are relatively low on Tuesday. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is expected to cruise to an easy win in Ohio after Bernie Sanders, his only remaining rival, dropped out of the race earlier this month. Republican President Donald Trump is his party’s presumptive nominee.
Still, Ohio’s primary has revealed structural gaps in the state’s ability to run an all-mail election in November if the country is hit with a second wave of the deadly coronavirus this fall, as many health experts fear.
“We are extremely fortunate that this is the primary election,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of the Ohio branch of Common Cause, a nonpartisan watchdog group. “If this were happening in November—and you can imagine the tsunami coming at boards of elections in November—they just couldn’t manage.”