Maryland is postponing its previously scheduled April 28 primary election to June 2 over the growing Chinese coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday.
“I have two main priorities — keeping Marylanders safe and protecting their constitutional right to vote,” Hogan said at a news conference.
The state elections board will have until April 3 to “propose a voting plan that will protect the public,” according to the Baltimore Sun. While elections will be postponed on a statewide level, the special election for the seat of late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) will proceed via a vote-by-mail system for that district, specifically.
Hogan said that the option could not be implemented in a timely manner for the entire state ahead of the April 28 election but added that it is imperative that constituents in the 7th Congressional District “have a voice in the House of Representatives and that Maryland has a full delegation representing our state in Congress.”
“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,” Hogan said.
Hogan has taken drastic action in an attempt to curb the coronavirus pandemic, announcing the closure of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, theaters, and spas across the state. He has also ordered a ban on gatherings of 50 people or more.
“Planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed until after termination of the state of emergency and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency has been rescinded,” Maryland’s government website reads:
Today I announced additional unprecedented actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Maryland.
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 17, 2020
Additionally, Hogan directed the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to “work with providers to reopen closed hospital facilities across the state and take other measures necessary to immediately increase our capacity by an additional 6,000 beds.”
There are at least 60 confirmed cases of the virus in the state.