ATLANTA — Georgia election officials are postponing the state’s March 24 presidential primaries until May because of fears over the coronavirus.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement that in-person early voting, which began statewide March 2, will be halted and the election will be moved to May 19, when Georgia’s other 2020 primary elections are being held.
The action followed Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature of an emergency declaration that unlocked sweeping powers to fight COVID-19. In a speech Saturday, the governor renewed a call for places of worship, schools and others to consider canceling large gatherings as cases in the state rise.
As of Saturday, the virus had infected more than 150,000 people worldwide and killed over 5,600. Georgia is reporting 66 confirmed cases, with most concentrated around metro Atlanta. One death in the state has been caused by the virus.
Election officials said in addition to the safety of the public, one of the biggest considerations was the risk the virus posed to poll workers, who are often older.
On Friday, Louisiana became the first state to push back its presidential primaries.