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North Dakota sets all-mail June primary due to virus fears

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s June 9 primary will be conducted entirely by mail after all 53 counties chose to avoid in-person voting due to the coronavirus.

Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, signed an executive order in March to let counties opt out of a requirement that they open at least one physical polling location. On Thursday, the state announced that every county commission had authorized voting by mail only.

The state said it would mail ballot applications to every eligible voter.

The challenge of conducting elections safely amid the coronavirus crisis became a national flashpoint in the lead-up to Wisconsin’s April 7 presidential primary, where Republicans went to court to force in-person voting. Thousands of voters were forced to congregate for hours in long lines, some without protective gear, and thousands more stayed home rather than risk their health.

Burgum issued his executive order at the request of the North Dakota County Auditors Association, which had also requested that no polling locations be open during the primary for safety reasons.