mike dewine
Ohio Governor calls for primary election to be delayed
03:03 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Maryland will postpone its presidential primary from April 28 to June 2 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s governor announced Tuesday.

“Free and fair elections are the very foundation of American democracy and while there are many valid reasons for unease and uncertainty right now, ensuring that the voices of Maryland citizens are heard shouldn’t be one of them,” Gov. Larry Hogan said at a news conference.

The special election to fill the congressional seat of late Rep. Elijah Cummings on April 28 will be held via vote-by-mail ballots only.

Maryland declared a state of emergency over coronavirus earlier this month and on Sunday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that no gatherings with 50 people or more take place for the next eight weeks.

Hogan, a Republican, said holding an election “would put Marylanders at risk, especially the poll workers and election judges, most of whom are retirees and in the most vulnerable population.”

The governor is issuing a proclamation to move the primary date and is directing the Maryland State Board of Elections to develop a “comprehensive plan” by April 3 to conduct the primary election “in a way that protects public health and preserves the integrity of the democratic process of our state.”

Hogan said he was informed by the state board of elections that it could not move to a vote-by-mail system for the whole state in time for April 28, but that it could do so for the special general election for the 7th Congressional District, which has been vacant since Cummings died last year.

“We didn’t want to have people without representation for that long in that district,” Hogan said, adding that

Democratic nominee Kweisi Mfume, a former congressman and past president of the NAACP, will face off against Republican Kimberly Klacik in the April special election, the winner of which will fill Cummings’ seat through January 2021.

Maryland joins a handful of states that have postponed their primaries as the coronavirus has spread across the US and the number of cases has grown.

“I have two main priorities, keeping Marylanders safe and protecting their constitutional right to vote,” Hogan said.

This story has been updated.