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Maryland becomes fifth state to delay primaries due to coronavirus

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that the state would delay its elections scheduled for April 28 until June 2 amid the coronavirus pandemic. The state is now the fifth to delay primary elections, following Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Ohio.

According to the State Board of Elections, early voting for the primary will now run May 21-28. Voters will also be able to vote absentee. The new deadline to request an absentee ballot for the primary by mail is May 26, or May 29 for those who wish to receive the ballot electronically. Returned ballots must then be postmarked on or before June 2.

In a press conference Tuesday, Hogan, a Republican, said he had two main priorities, keeping Maryland's people safe and "protecting their constitutional right to vote."

"I am issuing a proclamation to postpone the April 28th primary to June 2nd just as a number of other states have done and as other governors are expected to do later today or in the days ahead," said Hogan. "I am directing the 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 in our state."

The Maryland State Board of Elections called the move critical delivering safe elections and said it would immediately begin implementing requirements set by Hogan.

"Following public health guidelines will position Maryland's election workforce to deliver the safest and most secure primary election possible," the Board of Elections said in a statement.

Last week, Georgia, which was slated to hold its primary March 24, and Louisiana, which was set to hold its election April 4, both announced the elections would be delayed. Kentucky followed suit on Monday. Late Monday night, Ohio also postponed its presidential primary until June 2, just hours before polls were expected to open.

During his press conference, Hogan said he expects more announcements from states who are postponing their primaries in the days ahead.

The governor said the special election for Maryland's 7th Congressional District scheduled for April 28 will go forward.  

The state will implement a vote-by-mail process for this election. The election is to fill the seat of Congressman , who died in October.

The State Board of Elections said absentee ballots would be sent to all voters eligible to vote in the special election and that ballots will be mailed out starting later this month.

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