Politics

Coronavirus is disrupting the 2020 election. Here are the states that have adjusted their primaries

Share
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.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden became the last competitor and apparent nominee after Sen. Bernie Sanders announced he was dropping out of the race. 
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. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the last competitor and apparent nominee after Sen. Bernie Sanders announced he was dropping out of the race. 

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 elections. 

Here are the states and territories that have so far postponed their primary 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.  Officials also launched a public service announcement encouraging Ohio residents to vote by mail. 

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.

Ohio has 136 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."

Tweet

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.

Tweet

Rhode Island has 26 delegates.

Georgia

The state was supposed to hold its primary election on March 24 but has postponed twice. The election will now be held on June 9.

It was originally delayed to May 19, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Democratic Committee told CNBC in March. 

"I certainly realize that every difficulty will not be completely solved by the time in-person voting begins for the June 9 election, but elections must happen in less-than-ideal circumstances," Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. "This postponement allows us to provide additional protection and safety resources to county election officials, poll workers and voters."

Georgia has 105 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.

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. 

Tweet

Kentucky has 54 delegates.

New York

The New York State Board of Elections on Monday canceled its Democratic presidential primary, scheduled for June 23, after striking off Sen. Bernie Sanders' name from the ballot.

"I think it's time for us to recognize that the presidential contest is over," Commissioner Doug Kellner explained during a livestream announcing the decision.

Despite dropping out of the race, Sanders urged his followers to vote for him in the remaining primaries in order to pick up delegates and influence the party platform at the Democratic National Convention, which is slated for August.

Originally, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announce the state would move its presidential primary from April 28 to June 23 to ensure that people don't congregate in large crowds.

"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."

Cuomo also announced that all "New Yorkers will be able to vote absentee on the June 23rd primaries." 

Tweet

New York has 274 delegates.

New Jersey

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the state's primary will be moved from June 2 to July 7. 

"Our democracy cannot be a casualty of COVID-19," Murphy said in a tweet. "We want to ensure that every voter can vote without endangering their health or safety."

Tweet

The state has 126 delegates.

Louisiana

The state postponed its presidential primary twice, making the new voting date July 11. 

Louisiana was the first state to postpone its presidential primary, rescheduling it the first time 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.

Connecticut

Connecticut has moved its 2020 primary to Aug. 11, the second time its 2020 presidential nominating contest was delayed.

It was originally delayed 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.

Tweet

Connecticut has 60 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."

Hawaii canceled its in-person voting plans that were originally scheduled for April 4, replacing them with a mail-in system with a deadline of May 22. 

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 outbreak has spread to dozens of countries globally, with more than 3 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 208,131 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 972,900 cases in the United States and at least 55,118 deaths, according to the latest tallies.