Maryland becomes fifth state to delay primary over coronavirus

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Tuesday that his state will be postponing its primaries due to the coronavirus outbreak, becoming the fifth state to do so as cases across the United States tick upward.

Originally scheduled April 28, the polls will not open until June 2.

“It would endanger public health to allow thousands of people to assemble,” Hogan said Tuesday. Experts agree that aggressive social distancing measures are essential to slowing down the spread of the virus and mitigating its strain on the nation’s health care system, which is struggling to provide basic testing.

On Monday, President Donald Trump said that gatherings should be limited to groups of 10 or fewer people ― guidance which clearly conflicts with traditional voting setups.

Louisiana, Georgia and Kentucky all previously announced that they are pushing their primaries back. Ohio, where a primary election was scheduled Tuesday, secured a last-minute delay from the state’s supreme court in the hours before voters expected to show up to the polls. Ohio may reschedule to June 2 as well.

The three other states scheduled to hold elections Tuesday ― Arizona, Florida and Illinois ― did so with some difficulty in certain locations. In and around Chicago, reports have been emerging of sites lacking necessary equipment and staff.

Other states, including New York, are weighing whether to delay their primaries or instate protective measures for voters, such as providing ballots by mail.

Mail-in ballots will be used in the one election Maryland is still set to hold on April 28: A special election to fill the seat vacated last year by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D). Hogan said it was “imperative” that the election be held so “that the people of the 7th Congressional District have a voice in the House of Representatives.”

Globally, COVID-19 infections are nearing 200,000, with approximately 5,200 cases in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins data as of Tuesday afternoon.