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Presidential preference election will continue in Arizona despite coronavirus concerns

Posted at 10:26 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 01:47:29-04

PHOENIX — The Arizona presidential preference election will go on as planned Tuesday, despite coronavirus concerns and quarantines across the country.

RELATED: How to vote in Tuesday's Presidential Preference Election in Arizona

"The longer we wait, the more difficult and dangerous this will become," said Arizona's Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, announcing the decision to move forward with in-person voting.

Late Monday night, Ohio's Health Chief ordered the polls to close in the state Tuesday. Illinois, Florida, and Arizona all decided to move forward with the democratic presidential primary.

"Global pandemics don't happen every day," said Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes.

Despite a lot of uncertainty and CDC guidelines, Arizona's top elected officials decided Tuesday's presidential preference election will continue as planned.

"This decision was not made lightly," said Hobbs. "We have no guarantee that there will be a safer time to hold this election in the near future."

The virus is in the early stages in Arizona and across the U.S., but experts expect cases to multiply in the coming weeks.

"We have community spread of COVID-19 in Arizona and we are expecting more cases," said Dr. Cara Christ, Director of Arizona's Department of Health Services.

The CDC's new guidelines recommend less than ten people gather together. Secretary of State Hobbs says ideally voters will not be gathering at the polling places or in lines.

"Our intent at polling places tomorrow is to get people in and out," she said.

Specific health precautions are being taken, at the advice of medical experts.

"We are going to be wiping down the equipment once every half hour. We are going to have hand sanitizer and other cleaning equipment," said Fontes, who pushed for more mail-in ballots to be allowed.

"We've also talked about trying to social distance people while they were in line, to make sure there's more space in between them," said Dr. Christ.

Many people dropped off their ballots in-person Monday, but even more have already mailed in their ballots. The Maricopa County Recorder's office told ABC15 that more than 50% of Arizona Democrats who requested a mail-in ballot, roughly 285,000, sent in their pick by Monday morning.

"Arizonans vote by mail, that's how we vote," said Fontes.

On Tuesday thousands will still cast a ballot in person. Officials hope after they exercise that right, they head straight back home.

One other big change, 151 voting locations will be open in Maricopa County and voters can go to any one of them to cast their ballot.

If you live in Maricopa County, check your nearest polling location here.