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Coronavirus concerns cause Connecticut to postpone presidential primary

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced he would postpone the state's presidential primary, which was scheduled for April 28, amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus, making the state the sixth to delay its 2020 primary. 

"In coordination with other states and our Secretary of the State, and in an effort to carry out Democracy while keeping public health a top priority, I have decided to move our presidential primary to June 2nd," Lamont first stated in a tweet. 

The move follows one earlier this week by Maryland, which also delayed its presidential primary from April 28 to June 2. Four other states have also delayed primaries, including Ohio, Louisiana, Georgia and Kentucky. 

"My most important concerns are allowing every Connecticut voter to make their voice heard in the selection of the presidential candidates, and ensuring that they are able to cast their ballots as safely as possible," Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill said on Twitter. "Moving the primary date is a good first step, and will give our local election officials more time to prepare. Changing an election date is not something we do lightly – it's a recognition of the severity & nature of this crisis, and more steps may be necessary to guarantee that every CT voter has an opportunity to cast their ballot."

Before the primary was delayed, Merrill had also called for absentee ballots for April 28 to be made available to anyone who wanted one to avoid polling places because of the threat of COVID-19 and had asked Lamont to issue an executive order eliminating restrictive language in the current law during the emergency. 

According to guidance from the governor's office, absentee ballots will now become available May 12. While the deadline to switch parties has passed, mail-in applications for new or unaffiliated voters to enroll for voting in the primary must be postmarked by May 28, and the in-person enrollment deadline is June 1. 

The Connecticut primary postponement runs up against the Democratic National Committee's recommendations. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Chairman Tom Perez called for measures including vote by mail. He argued that such measures would make it easier and safer for voters to exercise their rights and opposed pushing primaries to later in the cycle, when it's unclear whether the coronavirus will still be a threat. 

Four states including Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are still scheduled to hold primaries on April 28. On Tuesday, the Rhode Island Board of Elections voted to move primary from April 28 to June 2 as well. That order has been delivered to Governor Gina Raimondo's office, where it awaits approval.

"The Rhode Island primary is still more than a month away, and the Governor's top priority is protecting the immediate public health and safety of Rhode Islanders," said Press Secretary Josh Block in a statement. "She is open to the idea of moving the election date and will rely on guidance from public health and election officials to inform that decision."

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