Today is primary day in Ohio (in addition to Florida, Arizona, and Illinois). Or is it? Voters in Ohio would be justified in being confused but the answer is that there will definitely not be any voting in that state today.
Yesterday Ohio governor Mike DeWine asked a judge to delay the election to June 2 with early voting to be allowed up until June 1 because of the pandemic but the judge refused. Later last night, DeWine ordered the closing of the polling places anyway creating a legal and constitutional controversy.
[S]hortly before 7 p.m. Monday evening, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard A. Frye, a Democrat, denied the request. He said he was uncomfortable making an 11th-hour decision to delay the election, especially since state officials couldn’t say June would be any safer, and since many voters had expected the election would be on Tuesday.
He sided with an argument made by a longtime GOP elections attorney representing Jason Stephens, a Republican appointed to the Ohio House of Representatives last year.
“There are too many factors to balance in this unchartered territory to say that we ought to take this away from the legislature and elected statewide officials, and throw it to a Common Pleas court judge in Columbus 12 hours before the election,” Frye said before issuing the ruling.
After it became clear what had happened, later in the evening, county elections boards told poll workers the election was actually back on. And then DeWine issued his order, citing the health emergency.
Early this morning the Ohio Supreme Court issued an emergency ruling allowing the postponement of the election and the polls are closed. The ruling was unanimous and in response to a lawsuit filed by a county judicial candidate before the recent flurry of activity but the judges did not explain their reasons for the decision
Meanwhile, to add to the confusion, the Democratic National Committee has said in a memo that states that postpone primaries may face penalties in terms of the number of delegates they are assigned.
A new memo from the Democratic National Committee panel that handles delegate selection for the presidential nomination warns that state parties that hastily change the “first determining step” of their own process could be subject to penalties – including a 50% reduction in delegates.
The memo also says the panel is looking at ways to adjust how delegates are selected in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The new DNC memo, obtained by the Guardian, was sent to members of the rules and bylaws committee on Wednesday night.
I expect to see plenty of lawsuits before and after the elections are held, whenever that may be.
What a mess.