Polls closed for March 17 election

The election is off for Tuesday March 17.

The effort to postpone the election due to health concerns started in a March 16 afternoon press conference with Governor Mike DeWine.

“We can’t tell people it’s in their best interest to stay home and at the same time tell people to go vote,” DeWine said.

Following up on the announcement, two Franklin County voters filed a lawsuit Monday evening seeking to delay the election over risking their health. Shortly after 7 p.m., Franklin County Judge Richard Frye denied the effort to postpone the election in his ruling. So, for a little while, the election was back on for March 17.

Just three hours later, DeWine’s Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton issued an order closing all polling locations on March 17. Governor DeWine issued this statement: “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. As such, Health Director Dr. Amy Acton will order the polls closed as a health emergency. While the polls will be closed tomorrow, Secretary of State Frank LaRose will seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity.”

This was followed by a challenge from a Wood County candidate on the closing of the polls. In the early hours of March 17, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on the challenge. Three of the seven judges recused themselves, leaving four to vote in the 4-0 decision to uphold the effort to close the polls on March 17.

All votes cast via absentee or early voting as of March 16 will be counted, and those who have not yet voted are able to request an absentee ballot online or in person at your county board of elections until May 26, 2020. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by June 1, 2020 or be returned in person to your county board of elections by June 2, 2020 to be counted. As of now, in-person voting will take place between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on June 2, 2020. The directive also states no new voter registrations will be accepted. The February 18, 2020 deadline to register to vote in the primary remains in effect.

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