DeWine Says Closing Voting Locations Avoided 'Imminent Health Crisis'

Mar 17, 2020

Gov. Mike DeWine says the late night order to close voting locations for today's primary was to make it clear that in-person voting would be delayed. Now there are some legal questions that linger.

After a failed attempt to delay the primary through court action, DeWine announced a public health order to shut down polls, saying it was to avoid confusion among voters and poll workers.

"We did what we needed to do to protect the people of the state of Ohio. And so it was a decision that I fully support it was the right decision. Now our goal must be to allow people to vote and give them ample opportunity to vote," says DeWine

The Ohio House and Senate are discussing a possible return to the Statehouse to address legal questions.

Dan Tokaji, OSU constitutional law professor, laid out three potential legal questions the state faces after the actions taken the night before Ohio's primary.

Did Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton have the authority to close voting locations?

Does Secretary of State Frank LaRose have the authority to set a new primary election date?

Should the state reopen voter registration up to 30-days before the new election day?

Tokaji recognizes that DeWine and LaRose are in unchartered waters when it comes to making decisions during the coronavirus pandemic but he urges it's still important, "That public officials and courts continue to adhere to the law because at bottom that is one of the cornerstones of our democracy."

Tokaji adds that state officials could make a good case for why they had the legal authority to make their decisions.

The Ohio Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court as a preemptive strike to protect the primary extension, which the party believes to be on shaky legal ground.