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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

DeWine: Ohio Department of Health will order polls closed Tuesday as health emergency

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton will order the polls to be closed on Tuesday as a health emergency.
A voter fills out his ballot, taking advantage of early voting, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Steubenville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WBNS/AP) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton will order the polls to be closed on Tuesday as a health emergency.

"During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus," DeWine said in a statement.

DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Monday afternoon hoped to push in-person voting back to June 2 over coronavirus concerns.

DeWine said he didn't want older voters to face the choice of staying home, as recommended, or going out to vote.

"We should not force them to make this choice, the choice between their health and their constitutional rights and their duties as American citizens," DeWine said.

Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Frye rejected the request late Monday where he said postponing the primary would set a “terrible precedent."

"There are too many factors to balance in this uncharted territory to say that we ought to take it away from the Legislature and elected statewide officials, and throw it to a common pleas court judge in Columbus with 12 hours to go before the election," Frye said from the bench.

With the polls closed on Tuesday, DeWine said LaRose will work a solution to ensure voters will get their opportunity to cast their ballots.

Gov. DeWine's full statement:

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