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Ohio Democratic Party sues over delay of primary election

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Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 19:46:31-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Tuesday over Secretary of State Frank LaRose's decision to set a new state primary election date.

It said in its filing Tuesday that power rests only with the Legislature. But politicians on both sides of the aisle are expressing frustration after the primary was postponed because of coronavirus concerns.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced the decision late Monday after a judge ruled against his request that in-person voting be delayed to avoid crowding at polling places.

"Yesterday’s actions did not create unchecked authority with the governor or secretary of state to run a new election," said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper in a news release. "So authority for a new election must come from the legislature or from a court. Today’s action seeks that court order, preserving the primary while also proposing a more workable window for the election to take place, along with multiple opportunities and a reasonable amount of time for voters to vote."

On Tuesday evening, DeWine and LaRose issued a joint statement saying the actions taken to close the polls by Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton "saved Ohio lives."

"By preventing Ohioans from going to polling locations, we averted a situation which would have gone against the most recent scientific evidence available and could have dangerously advanced the spread of coronavirus across Ohio," the statement read. "It is abundantly clear that it would have been impossible to carry out a fair, accessible, and safe election today. As we move forward, it is vitally important that Ohioans have a significant period of time to cast mail-in absentee ballots and an opportunity to vote in-person, as was provided in the directive issued last night by the Secretary of State."