Despite coronavirus, Ohio primary election is still on for Tuesday

For former vice president Joe Biden, St. Patrick’s Day primaries in Ohio and three other states is a chance to continue his march to the Democratic Party nomination while for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Tuesday is a chance to revive his campaign.

Cedarville University political scientist Mark Caleb Smith said Ohio is Biden’s to lose.

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“Barring some major shake-up in the race, it is hard to see Bernie making up the necessary ground to overtake Biden. While March 10 did not seal the nomination technically, the results will probably deflate the Sanders campaign,” Smith said. “My guess is that Biden will begin to limit his public appearances, not only in Ohio but elsewhere. His campaign can use the Coronavirus as a defensible excuse, but reducing media access will only help Biden at this point. Ohio may fall off the radar politically for a little while given how the governor’s office is reacting to the medical situation — which is the right thing to do.”

Both Biden and Sanders heeded advice from public health officials and canceled rallies that had been planned for March 10 in Cleveland, and the two are scheduled to debate on Sunday without a live audience, due to coronavirus concerns. The debate was moved from Phoenix to Washington, D.C. due to virus concerns. Biden has changed some of his events in other states to “virtual,” a campaign spokesman said.

Despite various cancellations due to coronavirus, Ohio’s primary election is still on.

Voters may cast early ballots in person at the county boards of elections 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday. Absentee ballots sent back by mail must be post-marked by Monday. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose ordered all county boards of elections to have curbside drop off of absentee ballots on Tuesday, Election Day, at the board offices — not the polling places.

Polls are open Tuesday for in-person voting from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Any voter in line by 7:30 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

LaRose has said that polling places will be given supplies such as hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes to keep the voting equipment clean. Still, election officials are urging voters — especially senior citizens and those with health issues — to consider voting early.

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The Ohio Democratic Party allocates its 136 delegates in proportion to the number of votes each candidate receives, with only candidates who receive at least 15% of the vote eligible for delegates. An additional 17 delegates are Ohio’s five Democrats elected to Congress and party leaders.

In addition to Ohio, Arizona, Florida and Illinois are also holding Democratic primaries on Tuesday.

A national poll by Quinnipiac University released Monday found that 54 percent of Democrats or independents who lean Democrat say they would like to see Biden win the nomination while 35 percent favor Sanders.

The poll also found that in head-to-head match-ups against President Trump, Biden leads 52-41 while Sanders leads 49-42.

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As of Tuesday, 336,531 absentee ballots had been requested by mail or in person and 194,522 votes had been cast early. Early voting is trending heavier among Democrats than Republicans, which makes sense given the Dems have had a contentious presidential primary while President Donald Trump is unopposed in the Ohio GOP primary.

In addition to the presidential primary, voters will decide 482 local issues and questions across 83 counties; legislative seats; county offices and more.

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