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The move will make the state the first in the nation to delay elections as a result of the outbreak.
Louisiana will become the first state in the nation to postpone its presidential primary elections in response to the coronavirus outbreak, state officials announced Friday.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin on Friday announced the plan to delay the elections by two months, pushing them from April 4 to June 20. Authorities are concerned that holding elections will provide an opportunity for further community spread of the outbreak, particularly among poll workers.
Gov. John Bel Edwards will sign the executive order shifting the date of the election on Friday afternoon, a spokeswoman said.
“The Governor and the Secretary of State began this discussion of delaying the primary several days ago out of concern for the aging population of poll workers and a desire to prevent the spread of illness,” spokeswoman Christina Stephens said in a statement. “We are experiencing community spread of coronavirus in Louisiana and the Governor is taking decisive action to slow its progress.”
Several other states are slated to hold primaries before Louisiana’s original date. Voters in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio are set to go to the polls on Tuesday. The Columbus Dispatch this week reported that election officials in Ohio were scrambling to replace workers who had dropped out because of concerns about Covid-19.
Along with the presidential primary contests, some of Louisiana’s parishes were holding local primary elections that day. The state will, therefore, also have to push back general elections from May 9 to July 25.
"While hurricanes, floods and tornadoes are at the forefront of all Louisianians' minds, the threat we face from the COV-19 virus is an unprecedented threat and unlike any we have faced," Ardoin said at a news conference held Friday.
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Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.