Election 2020

So It Begins: Louisiana Becomes First State to Postpone an Election Over Coronavirus

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards holds his hands in prayer during the invocation at the opening of the annual state legislative session in Baton Rouge, La., Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, pool)

On Friday, Louisiana became the first state to postpone an election due to the coronavirus. The state’s presidential nominating contests have been delayed by more than two months.

“We want to protect the health and safety of all Louisianans by doing our part to prevent the spread of this highly infectious disease,” Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican, told reporters at a press conference, CNBC News reported.

The state’s Republican and Democratic presidential primaries will take place on June 20, more than two months after the original date of April 4. Louisiana will allocate 54 pledged delegates in the Democratic race, delegates likely to go to the current frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Both Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-USSR), his last viable challenger, have suspended campaign rallies due to the coronavirus. Even so, they are set to debate in person in Washington on Sunday — with no live audience.

It remains unclear whether the other states voting next month, including New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, will also postpone elections. However, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio — which have primaries scheduled for Tuesday, have moved forward with their election events as planned.

“The election is still on in Illinois,” Matt Dietrich, a spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections, told CNBC.

Georgia, which holds its primary on March 24, may join Louisiana in suspending the primary. A spokesperson for Georgia’s secretary of state told CNBC, “we want to make sure this gets done right” and “we share a lot of the same concerns Louisiana has.”

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver predicted more postponements.

Silver also warned that states need to prepare for the threat of coronavirus in the November election as well.

Eventually, postponing elections over coronavirus will not be feasible—it would not go over well if Trump were to suspend the November election over the virus.

There have been at least 1,629 cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. Major sports leagues have postponed or canceled championships, including the NCAA’s March Madness.

President Trump is expected to declare a national emergency on Friday.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.