Louisiana Now 1st State To Delay Presidential Primary Because of Coronavirus

The secretary of state says the April 4 primary will now take place on June 20.

Louisiana is the first state to announce they’re delaying their presidential primary because of  coronavirus, amid increasing demands by officials across the U.S. to avoid large public gatherings. The primary election, originally scheduled for April 4, will now be delayed until June 20.

A spokesperson for Gov. John Bel Edwards, Christina Stephens, said it’s an “extraordinary measure but one we feel is prudent,” according to local news outlet The Advocate. Stephens noted that Louisiana’s “poll workers are by and large elderly, over the age of 70, and we think it is unsafe for them to be monitoring the election. We don’t think we would have enough poll workers...and we think we should be discouraging people from congregating in that way.”

According to state health officials, as tracked by local news outlets, Louisiana has 33 presumptive cases of coronavirus as of March 12. Local doctors say they’re having difficulty getting tests for all of their patients who are exhibiting symptoms or may have been in contact with other confirmed cases, a situation echoed nationwide, so those numbers are likely to go up.

Lawmakers and voters are increasingly concerned about the impacts of the pandemic on the 2020 presidential election, both during the ongoing primary process and for the November election. Election security experts are urging officials to make contingency plans now, and lawmakers are using the opportunity to advocate for more states moving to a vote-by-mail system, which wouldn’t be affected by such a global health emergency. Washington state recently held its primary with a vote-by-mail process, something they had already in place.

The next state primaries are set to be on Tuesday, March 17, in Florida, Illinois and Ohio, after the territory of Northern Marianas holds their convention on March 14. After that, on March 24, Georgia will hold its primary. We’ll update as we hear from officials on what contingency plans are.