Governor says polls are public health threat, health director orders them closed

Order comes from Health Director Dr. Amy Acton
Posted at 3:09 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 10:01:47-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Hours after a Franklin County judge denied Gov. Mike DeWine's lawsuit to move the primary election to June 2, DeWine announced on Monday night that Health Director Dr. Amy Acton has ordered the polls closed as a public health emergency.

He released the following statement:

"During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at a 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."

DeWine announced earlier on Monday that he would file a lawsuit to move Ohio's primary election day to ensure the safety of Ohio voters in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Later in the day, the judge denied DeWine's lawsuit and said the election must go on.

DeWine said this afternoon that he does not want Ohio voters who are at-risk for COVID-19 to have to make the choice between their constitutional right and their health.

"It is therefore my recommendation, after talking with the secretary of state, talking with the attorney general, talking with the lieutenant governor, that voting be extended to June 2," DeWine said. "That no in-person voting occur today, that in-person voting happen on June 2." He also recommended extending absentee voting by mail until June 2.

"It is, I believe, the right thing to do," DeWine said.

DeWine issued several new orders Monday in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. His order will close fitness centers, gyms, bowling alleys, recreation centers, movie theaters, indoor water parks, and indoor trampoline parks. This order will take effect at close of business Monday.

In addition, in order to conform the CDC guidelines, DeWine adjusted Ohio's mass gathering ban from 100 people at a gathering to 50.