By Alexis Preskar

Ohio’s March 17th election was called off and back on multiple times on Monday, March 16, finally culminating in a delay until June 2nd as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic   

The State had maintained that it was moving forward with the election until Monday afternoon, when Governor MIke DeWine stated he would seek to postpone the election.  Since GovDeWine does not have independent authority to postpone elections, two individuals over the age of 65 appeared as plaintiffs and argued that they should not be forced to choose between their health and their right to vote. While the Governor instructed the Ohio Attorney General not to oppose the lawsuit, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye did not accept the arguments. Primarily, Judge Frye found that it was up to the legislature to postpone the election and that doing so judicially just hours before polls were set to open would set a “terrible precedent.” That decision has already been appealed. 

After that decision came down, Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton issued an order closing all polls as a public health emergency. 

One candidate petitioned the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn the delayed election.  The Court denied that request at 4 a.m., with three justices recusing themselves (two are running for office and one is Gov. DeWine’s son). 

At least for now, the election is postponed until June 2, 2020. At this time, early in-person voting has ended and all future ballots must be sent via mail until election day. 

The State is expecting legal challenges to the decision, but it’s unclear what the result of those challenges will be. Follow KJK for up to date information on next steps for the election and other issues in light of COVID-19.