Louisiana became the first state to announce that it will postpone its presidential primaries that had been scheduled to take place next month over concerns about coronavirus.
The nominating contests will now take place June 20 instead of April 4, a spokesman for the Louisiana secretary of state told CNBC. Municipal elections will be held July 25.
Next month's Louisiana Primary has been postponed, according to WAFB-TV, the CBS affiliate in Baton Rouge. @Louisiana_sos Kyle Ardoin is set to speak at 11:30 to discuss the COVID-19 impact on elections in the state https://t.co/OKURaZ07of— Brad Cesak (@bradcesak) March 13, 2020
The state law says the governor, through an executive order declaring a state of emergency, can suspend or delay elections "only upon the certification of the secretary of state that a state of emergency exists."
The new coronavirus, or COVID-19, has already caused officials to cancel major sporting events and other large public gatherings, and Gov. John Bel Edwards has warned of further disruptions to daily life as the state seeks to stem the number of people needing hospitalization for the virus.
As of Friday morning, the state had tested 94 people with 33 "presumptive" positive results for the coronavirus. (The Advocate)
Christina Stephens, a spokeswoman for Gov. John Bel Edwards, called the decision an "extraordinary measure but one we feel is prudent."
"We’re one of the few states that is supposed to have an election in early April, which we think could potentially be the height of some of this in Louisiana," Stephens said. "Our poll workers are by large elderly, over the age of 70 and we think it is unsafe for them to be monitoring the election. We don’t think we would have enough poll workers...and we think we should be discouraging people from congregating in that way."