ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — As the coronavirus spreads worldwide, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan postponed the state’s April 28 primary to June 2 on Tuesday, but said the state is moving forward with a vote-by-mail special general election April 28 to fill the congressional seat left vacant by the death of Elijah Cummings.
Maryland is the latest state to postpone primary elections amid the global pandemic, following Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Ohio.
The Republican governor said his two main priorities are keeping Marylanders safe and protecting their constitutional right to vote. Hogan said Maryland has confirmed 57 cases of the coronavirus, a 54% increase from the day before.
“It would endanger public health to allow thousands of people to assembly in places like schools and senior centers which are already closed under the state of emergency, and it would put Marylanders at risk, especially the poll workers and election judges, most of whom are retirees and in the most vulnerable population,” Hogan said at a news conference.
Meanwhile, Hogan also announced other actions. He said the state is ceasing vehicle emission inspection programs and preparing them to become drive-thru virus testing centers across the state.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Most people recover, but some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can suffer severe illness, including pneumonia, which can lead to death.
The congressional district Cummings represented includes a significant portion of Baltimore as well as Baltimore and Howard counties. He died in October. In February, Democrat Kweisi Mfume and Republican Kimberly Klacik won special primary elections.
Hogan said a mail-in vote for the entire state could not be done, “but we didn’t want to have people without representation for that long in that district.”
“We’re going to encourage people to vote absentee as much as possible,” Hogan said.
Any voter in Maryland can cast their ballot by mail.
Hogan made the announcements at a news conference at the governor’s residence. Blocks away, the U.S. Naval Academy was scheduled to close to the general public at 5 p.m. Tuesday as a precaution. No cases of the cornonavirus have been reported at the school, the academy said.
Hogan also announced reductions in service for MARC trains, local buses and light rail service.
The governor also noted discussions to postpone the Preakness Stakes horse race, the second leg of the Triple Crown, to sometime in September, after the announcement that the Kentucky Derby has been postponed to Labor Day weekend.
Hogan said he has sent a letter to President Donald Trump to request extending the deadline for federal Real ID compliance.
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