WASHINGTON – Despite the coronavirus outbreak, Tuesday's primary elections are going forward as planned.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many states and cities have taken extra precautions to slow the spread of the virus. Dozens of K-12 schools and universities have suspended classes or moved classes online. Many Americans also have begun working from home and practicing social distancing.

Four states — Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — head to the polls Tuesday, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders leading the Democratic race. Rep Tulsi Gabbard is also still running, but trails Biden and Sanders by hundreds of delegates. 

Officials from all four states said they are taking extra precautions to keep voting machines sanitized and will post guidance from local health officials at voting locations.

Arizona Secretary of State Kathy Hobbs, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Illinois Elections Board Chairman Charles Scholz and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a joint statement last week that they are working closely "with our state health officials to ensure that our poll workers and voters can be confident that voting is safe."

"Americans have participated in elections during challenging times in the past, and based on the best information we have from public health officials, we are confident that voters in our states can safely and securely cast their ballots in this election, and that otherwise healthy poll workers can and should carry out their patriotic duties on Tuesday," the four said in the statement.

Here is a look at how the four states with upcoming primaries are dealing with issues related to coronavirus:


Arizona has 13 cases of coronavirus.

Maricopa County, the state's most populous county and where Phoenix is located, will cut about 80 polling locations Tuesday due to polling locations canceling, as well as poll workers canceling. In addition, there is a lack of necessary cleaning supplies to stock all polling locations, according to the Arizona Republic. 

But of the 151 polling locations that remain in the county, voters will be allowed to vote at any location, not just the one nearest to their residence.

"Folks should come on Election Day if they want to vote," Supervisor Bill Gates said. "It's going to be safe and there will be many places to do that."

In another issue, the Maricopa County recorder on Friday was stopped from mailing ballots to registered Democrats who had not yet voted in Tuesday's primary.

County recorder Adrian Fontes said Friday that his "first concern is to protect the health of the voters and staff who work in the polling places while maintaining the integrity of the election." His plan was to have voters receive a ballot in the mail on Monday or Tuesday and then drop it off at a polling place.

“Anything we can do to minimize human interaction in the polling place is what we must to do,” Fontes said at the time.

But Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Fontes "cannot unilaterally rewrite state election laws" and filed a lawsuit against the recorder, seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent him from sending out ballots. 

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Friday night agreed with Brnovich and granted the restraining order, stopping Fontes from mailing ballots.


There are at least 155 cases of coronavirus in the state and at least five people have died.

Due to coronavirus concerns, Florida officials have moved voting locations across the state from areas where those who could be vulnerable to coronavirus live.

In Leon County, home to the state capital of Tallahassee, two precincts at assisted living facilities were moved to minimize possible exposure to vulnerable older people, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

In Broward County, a dozen precincts out of 421 have been moved, mostly from retirement homes to other public locations such as libraries, elementary schools or community centers.

Miami-Dade County will keep six precincts at senior facilities so voters that live there can vote on site, the Miami Herald reported. But all other voters assigned to that precinct must vote at newly assigned locations.

"Our recommendation would be if there's a polling location in assisted living facility, allow the residents to vote there," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday at a press conference. "But maybe the general public should have the option or be directed to go to a different polling location."

In addition, election officials said they will provide hand sanitizer, clean voting equipment and additional training to poll workers. Election officials encouraged voters to vote early or during the off-peak hours of 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Election Day.

DeSantis maintained as the week continued that the state is "definitely voting" Tuesday.

“They voted during the Civil War. We’re going to vote,” DeSantis said during a press conference Friday.


As of Monday morning, there are 93 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois.

Like some other states voting Tuesday, the biggest change in Illinois is moving polling locations from senior living facilities.

In Chicago alone, 168 of 2,069 polling places have had to move. Chicago Board of Elections Chair Marisel Hernandez reminded voters during a press conference Sunday to check the city's Board of Elections website to locate their polling place in case of changes and to practice "social distancing" when voting.

"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures," she said. "This is what’s happening right now with our upcoming election on Tuesday."

The Chicago Board of Election said vote by mail applications have also hit an all-time high, with 117,813 applications received, according to the Chicago Tribune. 

Early voting hours in some areas have also been extended. The Chicago Board of Elections extended hours for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday before Tuesday's election. Early voting will also be available Monday.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Sunday "we're going to go ahead with" the election.

“But we've been extra careful at all of our polling places," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "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.”


There are 37 confirmed cases of coronavirus , which is also called COVID-19, in Ohio.

Ohio officials said last week that poll workers who had been scheduled to work Tuesday's election were cancelling due to fears of coronavirus.

As a result, Secretary of State LaRose tried to recruit state and local government employees, college students, and from outside organizations, according to the Columbus Dispatch. State election officials also encouraged voters to cast early ballots or vote absentee if they want to avoid heading to the polls.

In addition, voting locations at roughly 125 senior living facilities moved to new locations to avoid spreading the virus to residents of those facilities.

LaRose's office also told county boards that they will be reimbursed for buying sanitizers, disinfectants, disinfecting or antibacterial wipes, disposable gloves, rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, and other sanitizing materials, the Dispatch reported.

While Gov. Mike DeWine signed an order Thursday banning most gatherings of 100 or more people, the order did not count to voting locations.

DeWine during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday confirmed the state is still holding its election Tuesday, adding that officials have been urging voters to cast their ballots early.

“We're going to go ahead,” DeWine said. “But we're telling people, again, to be careful.”

Contributing: Jessica Boehm, Arizona Republic; Rick Rouan, The Columbus Dispatch; Jeff Burlew, Tallahassee Democrat, Associated Press.