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Ohio Ignores Judge’s Ruling, Shuts Down Polls To Protect People
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Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine announced on Monday night that he and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton were ignoring a judge’s ruling and postponing Ohio’s presidential primary on Tuesday due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“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 wrote on Twitter. “As such, @DrAmyActon will order the polls closed as a health emergency. While the polls will be closed tomorrow, Secretary of State @FrankLaRose will seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity.”

DeWine’s announcement came shortly after “Judge Richard A. Frye of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas rejected the state’s request to push back voting to June 2,” The New York Times reported. “Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the governor, said Mr. LaRose would seek through the courts to have another date set for in-person voting in Ohio.”

Acton issued a Director’s Order on Monday night that stated: “To conduct an election at this time would force poll workers and voters to face an unacceptable risk of contracting COVID-19. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death, is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is a new strain of coronavirus that had not been previously identified in humans and can easily spread from person to person.”

Acton then documented the progression of the coronavirus in a nearly 2-page long timeline before concluding, “Accordingly, to avoid an imminent threat with a high probability of widespread exposure to COVID-19 with a significantly risk of substantial harm to a large number of people in the general population, including the elderly and people with weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions, I hereby ORDER all polling locations in the State of Ohio closed on March 17, 2020. This Order shall take effect immediately and remain in full force until the State of Emergency declared by the Governor no longer exists, or the Director of the Ohio Department of Health rescinds or modifies this Order.”

“Early Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court denied a legal challenge to the state delaying the primary. A candidate in Wood County had filed the action Monday alleging the delay of the primary violated election laws,” The Columbus Dispatch.  “Only four justices participated in the ruling, which was issued without an opinion. After the court ordered the state to respond by 1:30 a.m., with the state quickly filing a motion to dismiss, the justices cast their votes shortly before 4 a.m. Justices Judith French and Sharon Kennedy, who are seeking re-election this year, and Justice Patrick DeWine, the governor’s son, recused themselves from participating.”

This report has been updated to include additional information.

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