National: Intensifying coronavirus fears rattle voters and elections officials in advance of Tuesday primaries | Amy Gardner and Elise Viebeck/The Washington Post

Voters, campaigns and election officials in four states holding contests Tuesday are braced for a presidential primary day unlike any in memory, as the surging threat of the novel coronavirus has forced major changes at voting locations, rattled poll workers and left voters worried about how to cast their ballots. In Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, election officials have raced to replace poll workers who have said they will not show Tuesday, supply thousands of precincts with sanitizing supplies, and notify voters whose polling locations, many in senior facilities, have been moved as a result of the pandemic. Voters, meanwhile, have flooded information hotlines. Among their urgent questions: where to vote, how to deliver a ballot if they are under quarantine and how to vote if they registered while attending a college that is now closed. As the coronavirus spreads, the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico announced Sunday that it would seek to postpone the territory’s March 29 primaries, joining Louisiana and Georgia. One New York election official said Sunday that discussions are underway about whether to delay that state’s contests. The rapidly changing landscape left officials worried about the threat of two equally dire outcomes Tuesday: chaos at voting places, with diminished staffs causing long lines and increasing the risk of exposure to the deadly virus; or low turnout levels fueled by public fear.

Kentucky: Governor moves primary election date | Bruce Schreiner and Dylan Lovan/Associated Press

Kentucky’s governor has pushed back the May primary election and halted bar and restaurant in-person visits as he took aggressive steps to contain the new coronavirus. Gov. Andy Beshear also announced the state’s first death linked to the illness The 66-year-old Bourbon County man had other health conditions but his death was counted as a coronavirus fatality, Beshear said Monday. He offered his sympathy to the man’s family. “There were numerous factors that led to this point,” the governor said. “The coronavirus was only a factor. But what it means is that it’s very important that we all do our patriotic duty as we move forward to model the type of behavior that we need.” Beshear announced a postponement of the May primary election to June 23 after consulting with Secretary of State Michael Adams on Monday. Hall said that would give state officials time to prepare for an election if things aren’t yet back to normal.

Verified Voting Blog: Recommendations for Election Officials and Voters ahead of March 17 Primaries

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting in response to concerns around the March 17 primaries and the COVID-19 pandemic. For additional media inquiries, please contact PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – (March 16, 2020) “We understand the growing concerns about keeping voters safe at the polls amid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), which is…

Ohio: Governor Moves to Postpone Primary Over Coronavirus Concerns | Nick Corasaniti and Stephanie Saul/The New York Times

Ohio said Monday that it would move to postpone its presidential primary, becoming the first of four states that had been scheduled to vote on Tuesday to try to push back its election because of worries about the coronavirus. The state’s governor, Mike DeWine, said that he did not have the authority to unilaterally delay the primary and that a lawsuit would be filed to delay the election. The new date that state officials are seeking is June 2, and absentee voting will continue until then, Mr. DeWine said at a news conference. “We don’t know who coming through the line has been infected,” he said. “We should not force people to make this choice, a choice between their health and their constitutional rights and their duties as American citizens.” Ohio’s move raised questions about whether the three other states scheduled to vote on Tuesday — Arizona, Illinois and Florida — would follow suit. On Monday afternoon, Arizona and Illinois were planning to proceed with their elections, according to officials in each state. Early Monday afternoon, elections officials in Florida indicated that the state’s primary would be held Tuesday, but Department of State officials could not immediately be reached after Mr. DeWine’s announcement about Ohio.

Ohio: Judge declines Ohio request to delay primary vote amid coronavirus | Daniel Strauss/The Guardian

A judge has declined to allow Ohio’s primary vote on Tuesday to be postponed over concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recommended on Monday that his state postpone in-person voting during Tuesday’s primary elections. DeWine told a news conference on Monday that he alone did not have the authority to order postponing the election, but lawyers would file a lawsuit to try to move the in-person voting date to 2 June. “We cannot conduct this election tomorrow,” DeWine said, adding that Ohioans should not be forced to make the “choice between their health and their constitutional rights and their duties as [an] American citizen”. Later on Monday, in an interview with CNN, DeWine said without drastic moves tens of thousands of pollworkers, many of them “over the age of 65” would be in places where the virus could spread. “We in Ohio have to take very tough actions and I know people in Ohio today are very upset, I respect that,” DeWine added. But a Franklin county court of common pleas judge declined to order the postponement on Monday evening. According to a NBC news affiliate, Judge Richard Frye said he was reluctant to override the election date set by the Ohio legislature and that coronavirus has been an issue of concern since January.

National: Governors say Tuesday’s presidential primaries will go on | Associated Press

The governors of Illinois and Ohio on Sunday confirmed their states’ presidential primaries will continue as scheduled on Tuesday, even amidst the coronavirus outbreak. “We’re going to go ahead,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican who has moved aggressively to close schools and other institutions to limit spread of the virus, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “But we’re telling people, again, to be careful.” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said his state is issuing similar warnings. “We’re going to go ahead with it,” Pritzker said of the primary. “But we’ve been extra careful at all of our polling places. Everybody is practicing good hygiene. And we’re making sure that it’s safe for people to come and vote. The schools are closed, so many people will be voting in schools. And there won’t be big crowds.” Arizona and Florida are also scheduled to vote Tuesday night. Early voting his been underway for weeks in all four states, which may limit the crush at polling places Tuesday. Some have worried that predominantly elderly poll workers and volunteers would be exposed to the disease amid crowds of voters.

National: Georgia, Louisiana Postpone Primaries Over Coronavirus Concern | Alexa Corse and Jon Kamps/Wall Street Journal

States across the country are grappling with how to hold their presidential nominating contests while keeping voters and poll workers shielded from the coronavirus. Georgia on Saturday postponed its March 24 primary until May 19 and paused in-person early voting, which had already begun. Louisiana said Friday it was postponing its April 4 primary, pushing it into June, and later-voting states such as Maryland and Pennsylvania are trying to figure out how to safely hold primaries as events across the U.S. are being rapidly canceled to limit the virus’s spread. Four states with primaries Tuesday—Arizona, Florida, Ohio and Illinois—assured voters they can safely turn out. They called for healthy poll workers to show up and provided guidance on keeping voting equipment clean, the chief election officials from the four states said in a joint statement Friday. “Unlike concerts, sporting events or other mass gatherings where large groups of people travel long distances to congregate in a confined space for an extended period of time, polling locations see people from a nearby community coming into and out of the building for a short duration,” the officials said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged states to encourage early and mail-in voting when possible, or to encourage voters to come during off-peak times. The CDC also recommended cleaning and routinely disinfecting voting equipment, such as electronic voting machines.

National: Election Assistance Commission hires cybersecurity expert to help states with 2020 infrastructure | Sean Lyngaas/CyberScoop

The federal agency that oversees funding for states to secure their election equipment is hiring a cybersecurity expert versed in voting technology as it prepares for the 2020 election. Joshua Franklin will start in the coming weeks in a top cybersecurity position at the Election Assistance Commission, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. It is an effort by the EAC, a tiny agency with a big responsibility, to bolster the cybersecurity expertise it has on staff. Franklin, who spent six years as an engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is expected to protect EAC networks from hacking threats and support the commission’s cybersecurity work with state and local election officials. Franklin has been working as an election security advocate for years, drawing attention to the issue at hacking conferences. In 2018, Franklin presented research at DEF CON comparing the vulnerabilities in the websites of House and Senate candidates for the midterm elections. Franklin and others scanned the websites in their spare time and spent hours trying to contact administrators to fix them.

National: ‘Kill Chain’: HBO’s Election Security Doc Stresses Urgency | Lily Hay Newman/WIRED

In spite of documented Russian election meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election, and years of warnings from security researchers about insecure voting infrastructure, the US has moved slowly to improve its election defenses. Now a new documentary, Kill Chain, is attempting to lay out the urgency of taking action before it’s too late. Many of the problems and insecurities in voting systems across the United States are straightforward, yet it’s not easy to get voters—or lawmakers—to understand the risk or the path forward. That represents both a challenge and opportunity for Kill Chain, which like Netflix’s Cambridge Analytica documentary The Great Hack, tries to make an assortment of sometimes esoteric technical issues tangible and compelling. “It’s difficult material, which is why so many people don’t approach it and don’t cover it and don’t understand it,” filmmaker Sarah Teale tells WIRED. “That was definitely the hardest thing was to find the language of the film that made it make sense and made it some sort of a story.”

Editorials: How to protect the 2020 election from coronavirus | Richard L. Hasen/Slate

On Friday, Louisiana became the first state to announce it would be postponing its April 4 presidential primary. Meanwhile, officials in the next four states to hold primaries announced the votes would go forward this coming Tuesday. With the Democratic primary contest winding down of its own momentum, how to hold an election during a pandemic may feel at the moment like one of the less urgent questions. With our national election just less than eight months away, though, it is not. Congress can and should act to secure the ability of voters to cast ballots this November sooner rather than later. Most immediately, in light of the uncertain time frame for disruption of life and political activities due to the coronavirus, Congress should pass a law requiring states to offer no-excuse absentee balloting for the November elections. Congress has the power to do so, and it should fully fund the efforts. The bill has to be drafted carefully to protect all voters. But time is short. For this to happen, it must happen quickly.

Editorials: We need to emergency-proof our elections before November. In a democracy, the vote must go on | David Daley/Salon

he coronavirus has begun threatening elections. British prime minister Boris Johnson on Friday postponed U.K. local and mayoral elections for a year due to the outbreak. Louisiana, meanwhile, became the first state to reschedule its presidential primary, pushing it from April 4 all the way to mid-June.  The same fears led Wyoming Democrats to cancel the in-person portion of their April 4 caucus, but state law allows them to make a sensible adjustment: The entire caucus will now be conducted by mail, although voters can still drop off completed ballots at one of several collection centers. Everybody should have that right. While rallies have been canceled, and candidates have halted door to door field operations, in a democracy, the vote must go on.  Voting by mail remains the safest and most common sense option: Americans should be able to exercise their civic voice without putting their health, or the health of others, at risk. It was chilling last Tuesday evening to watch voters queued in long lines across Michigan and North Dakota, while cable news scrolls below delivered news of dozens of colleges sending students home for the semester. Yes, the election remains seven months away, but there are no good estimates on how long the nation may be disrupted. Some medical experts have warned that even if conditions improve during warmer summer months, the virus could still return in the fall.

Arizona: Court stops Maricopa County Recorder from sending ballots to all voters for Tuesday election | Dillon Rosenblatt/Arizona Capitol Times

A Superior Court judge has stopped Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes from sending ballots to all voters who aren’t on the early voters list for Tuesday’s Presidential Preference Election. Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed suit Friday for the emergency order after the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said Fontes disobeyed their orders to not mail out the ballots. “The Maricopa County Recorder cannot unilaterally rewrite state election laws,” Brnovich said in a press release. “Fontes is creating chaos in our elections during an already difficult time. In times of crisis, the public looks to our elected officials to follow the law – not make reactionary decisions for political gain.” Hobbs wrote a letter to Fontes this afternoon calling his actions illegal. “I want to reiterate what I communicated to you on the phone this morning,” Hobbs wrote. “My Office’s position is that you do not have legal authority at this stage to mail a ballot to all voters who have not requested one. The lack of an express statutory prohibition is irrelevant. If your view were correct, counties apparently have had authority to conduct countywide all-mail elections all this time.”

Georgia: Presidential primary delayed until May due to coronavirus | Greg Bluestein and Mark Niesse/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia elections officials postponed the presidential primary scheduled for next week because of the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the second state forced to push back a vote in the race for the White House due to the outbreak. The state rescheduled the presidential vote previously scheduled for March 24 until May 19, the same date as the regular primary for a U.S. Senate seat and many other offices, elections officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday. “Events are moving rapidly and my highest priority is protecting the health of our poll workers, their families, and the community at large,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Early voting for president ended a week early on Saturday and will resume April 27. Louisiana on Friday pushed back its April 4 primary to June 20. All votes already cast will be counted in May.  More than 279,000 Georgians cast ballots during two weeks of early voting in the contest, which features a matchup between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic ballot and President Donald Trump as the lone contender on the GOP ticket.

Louisiana: State postpones Democratic primary over coronavirus, the first state to do so | Jacob Pramuk/CNBC

Louisiana will postpone its presidential primaries set for next month, becoming the first state to take the step as fears about the coronavirus outbreak spread. The state will push its presidential nominating contests back to June 20 from the planned date of April 4, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced Friday. It has also delayed its municipal elections until July 25. “We want to protect the health and safety of all Louisianans by doing our part to prevent the spread of this highly infectious disease,” Ardoin told reporters.  As the global pandemic upends American life, it has also ground pivotal 2020 presidential campaign operations to a near halt.

New York: Officials Weigh Delaying April Primary Election Due to Coronavirus Outbreak | Stephanie Saul and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

New York officials are considering plans to postpone the state’s presidential primary election in April as fears over the coronavirus outbreak grow and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned against gatherings of more than 50 people. Douglas A. Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, confirmed on Sunday that discussions were underway about the possibility of delaying the primary from April 28 to June 23 in the interest of containing the virus’s spread, but he added that no final decision had been reached. The decision ultimately would rest with the governor and the State Legislature, he said in an interview. The discussions are underway as two states — Louisiana and Georgia — have already postponed their primaries and other states are weighing various delays or mail-in balloting measures to protect the public from exposure to the illness. Democratic Party officials in Puerto Rico, a United States territory, said they would request a postponement of their primary from March 29 to April 26. “The safety of every citizen is paramount,” the party said in a news release Sunday.

Tennessee: ‘Complex’ process ahead for new Shelby County voting machines | Bill Dries/The Daily Memphian

The Shelby County Election Commission is working toward a debut of new voting machines when early voting begins in July for the Aug. 6 election, but the commission still must select a  specific system. “The process is winding its way through purchasing. It’s a pretty complex project. It has many moving parts,” Shelby County elections administrator Linda Phillips said on The Daily Memphian Politics Podcast. “We can’t get the new machines until we have a place to put the old machines and get rid of them,” she said. “In moving to paper, we then have to have secure storage. So there have to be modifications to our warehouse. There are a lot of moving parts to this project, and we are doing it as fast as we can.” Whatever system the commission picks will involve the use of paper ballots in some way – either paper ballots that are marked by the voter or a printout of choices a voter makes on updated touchscreen machines. In both cases, the paper ballots would be run through a digital scanner and go into a ballot box as an audit trail.

France: French people urged to vote in local elections amid coronavirus lockdown | Kim Willsher/The Guardian

French voters were urged to turn out to vote in the first round of municipal elections, hours after a national shutdown of all non-essential shops and services. Polling stations opened on Sunday as planned despite calls for the two-round vote to be postponed as the coronavirus spread. On Saturday evening, the prime minister, Édouard Philippe, announced the country was moving into stage 3 of its response to the coronavirus emergency and ordered a partial lockdown, including the closure of cafés, bars, restaurants and cinemas. Food shops, tobacconists, pharmacies and public transport will remain open, Philippe said, but transport ministers warned services would be reduced to a minimum this week to try to contain the spread of the virus. French schools and colleges have shut down indefinitely and people are advised to work from home where possible and avoid unnecessary journeys. The decision to shut down non-essential public places came as France reported 4,499 confirmed cases, including 91 deaths, according to the national health agency, Santé Publique France.

United Kingdom: Ministers will no longer claim ‘no successful examples’ of Russian interference | Dan Sabbagh/The Guardian

Ministers have been told they can no longer say there have been “no successful examples” of Russian disinformation affecting UK elections, after the apparent hacking of an NHS dossier seized on by Labour during the last campaign. The dropping of the old line is the first official admission of the impact of Kremlin efforts to distort Britain’s political processes, and comes after three years of the government’s refusal to engage publicly with the threat. Cabinet Office sources confirmed the position been quietly changed while an investigation into the alleged hacking of the 451-page cache of emails from a special adviser’s personal email account by the security services concludes. Boris Johnson and his predecessor as prime minister, Theresa May, have both appeared reluctant to discuss Kremlin disinformation, with Johnson refusing to allow a report on Russian infiltration in the UK to be published before the election.

Wyoming: Democrats suspend in-person voting for caucuses as election officials face coronavirus fears | Hannah Knowles and John Wagner/The Washington Post

The Wyoming Democratic Party says it is suspending the in-person part of its April 4 presidential caucuses as election officials around the country confront the risk of the novel coronavirus. The party said on Facebook that it is also suspending all county conventions. “Our priority is ensuring that people are healthy and safe,” party chair Joe Barbuto said in a statement. “Holding public events right now would put that in jeopardy, so this is the responsible course of action.” Voters are being encouraged to vote by mail, the party said, adding that, as of now, ballot drop-off locations will be open on March 28 and April 4. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by March 20. Louisiana leaders on Friday announced they are delaying the state’s primary until the summer, while election officials in the four states slated to hold primaries Tuesday — Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — said in a joint statement that they remain confident voters can “safely and securely cast their ballots in this election.” They encouraged “otherwise healthy” poll workers to carry out their duties.