Politics

Coronavirus is disrupting the 2020 election. Here's a list of all the primaries that have been postponed

Key Points
  • Several 2020 presidential primaries have been delayed in response to the coronavirus outbreak that has roiled markets and infected thousands of people across the U.S.
  • The delays are among the hardships faced by former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders as they compete amid an uncertain political landscape for the chance to take on President Donald Trump in November.
A man casts his vote during the Florida primary election in Miami, Florida, on March 17, 2020.
Eva Marie uzcategui | AFP | Getty Images

As the coronavirus spreads rapidly across the U.S., measures to contain the deadly pathogen are playing unprecedented havoc with the 2020 election and disrupting the process of selecting the Democratic nominee. 

Several states and territories have postponed their 2020 presidential primaries in response to the coronavirus outbreak that has roiled markets and prompted several governors to impose statewide lockdowns. 

The delays are among the hardships faced by former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders as they compete amid an uncertain political landscape for the chance to take on President Donald Trump in November.

Both candidates, the last Democratic contenders in a race that at one point saw more than two dozen, have stopped holding in-person events, instead opting to reach voters digitally. 

The most recent Democratic debate between the two men, held on March 15, was moved to Washington from Las Vegas and was conducted without a live audience. 

Biden, with a commanding lead in pledged delegates, appears poised to win the contest. Sanders has yet to drop out of the race, though he has said he is considering his options.

To get ahead of the outbreak, state and local officials are taking drastic steps, in some cases shutting most retail and asking residents to stay home. "Social distancing" has become the norm, as people are asked to keep at least six feet apart to decrease the risk of transmitting the virus.

The fear that in-person voting could spread the virus has prompted state officials and election commissioners to consider alternatives for conducting their presidential primaries. 

Here are the states that have so far postponed their primary election dates:

Puerto Rico

Though not a U.S. state, Puerto Rico has voting power in the presidential primary. The territory has decided to postpone its Democratic presidential primary indefinitely.

Originally, Puerto Rico had postponed its Democratic primary from March 29 to April 26. Gov. Wanda Vazquez Garced signed a bill into law on March 22 to postpone the primary.

Puerto Rico has 51 delegates. 

Ohio

Officials in Ohio set April 28 as the new date for the state's presidential primary after originally eyeing June 2.

Gov. Mike DeWine was originally blocked by the courts from postponing the primary on March 17, the original date. But right before the primary, the state's health department intervened, issuing an order at the last minute to close the polls due to health concerns brought on by the outbreak.

The decision to reschedule the primary is now pending approval from the courts.

Ohio has 136 delegates.

Georgia

The state was supposed to hold its primary election on March 24 but has postponed it to May 19, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Democratic Committee told CNBC. 

The decision came shortly after Gov. Brian Kemp said he was declaring a public health state of emergency in response to the growing number of coronavirus cases in the state. 

Georgia has 105 delegates.

Connecticut

Connecticut will move its 2020 primary to June 2 from the originally planned April 28, Gov. Ned Lamont announced

"In coordination with other states and our Secretary of the State, and in an effort to carry out Democracy while keeping public health a top priority, I have decided to move our presidential primary to June 2nd," Lamont tweeted.

Connecticut has 60 delegates.

Delaware

The state has postponed its primary to June 2, Gov. John Carney announced. It was originally planned for April 28. 

"We moved Delaware's presidential primary to June 2, 2020," Carney tweeted. "Delawareans have a basic, fundamental right to vote. Today's order will preserve that right."

Delaware has 21 delegates. 

Indiana

Indiana will have its 2020 primary on June 2, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced. It was originally planned for May 5.

"My view on that fast-approaching primary election is it needed to be pushed back in order to again ensure the safety of our county employees, the poll workers, and the voters themselves," Holcomb said in a briefing.

The state has 82 delegates.

Maryland

The state is postponing its primary to June 2, Gov. Larry Hogan announced. The original date was April 28. 

"I have two main priorities: keeping Marylanders safe and protecting their constitutional right to vote," Hogan said at a press conference announcing the postponement. Hogan said he didn't want to "put Marylanders at risk, especially the poll workers and the election judges, most of whom are retirees and in the most vulnerable population."

Maryland has 96 delegates.

Pennsylvania 

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania voted to postpone the state's primary from April 28 to June 2.

Both chambers of the Republican-controlled state legislature voted in favor of postponing the primary, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill.

The state has 186 delegates.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island moved its 2020 primary to June 2 from the originally planned April 28, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced.

The Rhode Island Board of Elections voted to postpone the state's primary from April 28 to June 2, the board's deputy director of elections, Miguel Nunez, told CNBC. But the decision had been "pending the governor signing an emergency order," Nunez said.

"I am following the advice of the Board of Elections, and will sign an executive order to do this," Raimondo said in a tweet.

Rhode Island has 26 delegates.

West Virginia

West Virginia postponed its primary to June 9 from the originally planned May 12. 

The state was unlikely to postpone its primary, Mike Queen, deputy chief of staff and communications director for the secretary of state's office, said to CNBC. The state was urging its 1.2 million voters to fill out absentee ballots, but had taken precautions for anyone planning to vote in person.

West Virginia has 28 delegates.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said in a release that in-person voting is suspended until June 9. The original voting date was April 7. 

"As municipalities are consolidating polling locations, and absent legislative or court action, I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing," Evers said in a release from his office. "The bottom line is that I have an obligation to keep people safe, and that's why I signed this executive order."

He called for a special legislative session just days before the state's original primary date to cancel the in-person portion of voting. He said the state aims to shift to an all-mail voting system for the primary with a deadline of May 26 to get ballots in. But the effort got shut down. 

Wisconsin has 84 delegates.

Louisiana

Louisiana was the first state to postpone its presidential primary, rescheduling it to June 20 from the originally planned April 4. 

"We want to protect the health and safety of all Louisianans by doing our part to prevent the spread of this highly infectious disease," Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin told reporters. 

The state has 54 delegates.

Kentucky

The state will move its nominating contest to June 23 from the originally planned May 19, Secretary of State Michael Adams announced. He said he made the decision with Gov. Andy Beshear during what he called "unprecedented times."

"My hope is that this delay will allow us to have a normal election," Adams said in a video posted to Twitter. 

Kentucky has 54 delegates.

New York

New York will move its presidential primary from April 28 to June 23, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced. 

"I don't think it's wise to be bringing a lot of people to one location to vote, a lot of people touching one doorknob, a lot of people touching one pen," Cuomo said in a press conference. "So we are going to delay that."

New York has 274 delegates.

Other state actions

Other states have adjusted their election schedules as the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country, paralyzing normal activity.

Wyoming canceled the in-person portion of its Democratic caucus, which was scheduled for April 4, encouraging mail-in votes instead and also urging voters to pick up and drop off individual ballots.

Alaska, whose primary is scheduled for the same date, also canceled the in-person voting portion, replacing it with "a more extensive vote-by-mail process," the Alaska Democratic Party Executive Committee said in a release.

Kansas canceled the in-person portion of its May 2 primary, the Kansas Democratic Party announced in a release on March 30, opting instead for mail-in ballots for all the state's voters.

"Over ten percent of the polling locations originally secured as in-person sites have independently cancelled their contract with the KDP due to safety concerns about in-person voting and the novel coronavirus," the release said. "The KDP recognizes that this is a significant change to the electoral process but remains confident that the mail-in ballot process will ensure all Kansas Democrats have the ability to make their voices heard during this important election."

Nebraska is "unlikely" to postpone its May 12 primary, Cindi Allen, assistant secretary of state, told CNBC. 

The Democratic National Convention, which was set for July, has been delayed until August as the coronavirus continues to spread.

"In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention," said DNC Convention Committee CEO Joe Solmonese in a press release.

The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to dozens of countries, with more than 387,382 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 16,767 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 46,450 cases in the United States and at least 595 deaths, according to the latest tallies. e