Politics

Ohio governor orders primary polls to be closed due to 'unacceptable health risk' of coronavirus

Key Points
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the state's primary polls will be ordered close due to the "unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus," amid an "unprecedented public health crisis."
  • DeWine's announcement comes after a judge rejected a lawsuit that sought to postpone the state's primaries.
  • Ohio was one of the four states scheduled to hold presidential primaries on Tuesday, with polls scheduled to open at 6:30 a.m. ET.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said late Monday the state's primary polls will closed 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," the Republican governor said in a statement.

DeWine said Amy Acton, director of the state's health department, will order the polls closed as a health emergency. He also said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose will pursue voting options through the courts.

Ohio was one of the four states scheduled to hold presidential primaries on Tuesday. Illinois, another state expected to vote Tuesday, said in an earlier Monday statement that it was "proceeding with plans for tomorrow's primary as scheduled."

DeWine's announcement came after a judge rejected a lawsuit that sought to postpone the state's primaries to June 2.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Franklin County Judge Richard Frye said such a delay, 12 hours before voting was scheduled to begin, would set a "terrible precedent." Ohio polls had been scheduled to open at 6:30 a.m. ET Tuesday.

Earlier, DeWine said that although he lacked the legal authority to suspend the election, he made the recommendation in light of guidance from public health officials. Over the weekend, the CDC had advised people to reschedule events with 50 or more people.

On Sunday, DeWine ordered bars and restaurants in Ohio to close their doors to in-house customers. He said, however, restaurants would still be able to continue their takeout and delivery options.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, the Ohio Department of Health has reported 50 cases in the state. Nationwide, there have been at least 4,600 cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

— CNBC's Tucker Higgins contributed to this report.