(PoliticalLookout.com) – The election calendar is trucking along, even as a large part of daily life in the United States is being affected dramatically by the coronavirus outbreak.
Georgia and Louisiana, two states that were supposed to hold their primaries this week, have postponed their primary elections for the time being to combat the spread of the virus in their locations.
Other locations are planning ahead.
Officials from the Democratic Party in Puerto Rico said they were planning to request a postponement of the primary election in the territory from March 29 to April 26. Even New York officials said they were considering delaying their primary — which doesn’t happen until April 28 — all the way to June 23.
And while other states are weighing their options, which include everything from delaying their election day to moving to mail-in ballots only, four states are trucking ahead as planned.
As of now, Illinois, Florida, Arizona and Ohio are moving ahead as scheduled to hold their primaries on Tuesday, March 17. Those four states issued a joint statement Friday saying they had confidence they could still hold the primaries safely. On Saturday, they confirmed those plans again.
That has drawn questions from plenty of people, including Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, who addressed the situation during a CNN debate Sunday night. Responding to a question from the debate’s moderator, Anderson Cooper, Sanders said:
“Look, you know, elections, dates are very important. We don’t want to be getting in the habit of messing around with them.”
“I would hope governors listen to the public health experts, and what they are saying is, you just indicated, we don’t want gatherings of more than 50 people. I’m thinking about some of the elderly people sitting behind the desks, registering people, all that stuff. It does not make a lot of sense. I’m not sure that it does.”
Things may have changed a bit Sunday night, following the CDC’s recommendation to cancel all events and gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks at least. Despite that, Matt Deitrich, a spokesman from the secretary of state’s office in Illinois still said “as of now, we are still on for Tuesday.”
“We’ve now had 38 days of early voting, and hundreds of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots have been issued,” he said. “We continue to encourage voters to help mitigate Election Day traffic by early voting on Monday … Voters are urge to maintain proper distance between themselves and other voters.”
States and territories that had their primaries scheduled for this week were in a difficult predicament. With the coronavirus outbreak and warnings seemingly coming on so swiftly, it was more challenging for them to find an alternative date or means of conducting the election fairly than, say, it will be for New York and other states.
Still, it seems a little careless that these four states aren’t instituting extra measures to combat the spread of the virus, other than to remind people to keep their distance.