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Ohio governor urges Tuesday presidential primary be postponed

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Washington (AFP)

Ohio's governor called Monday for the postponement of the state's presidential primary including the Democratic contest between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, citing emergency measures against the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is my recommendation that we postpone in-person voting until June 2, 2020. #COVID19," Governor Mike DeWine tweeted barely 15 hours before polls were due to open across the industrial Midwestern state.

DeWine, a Republican, said "a lawsuit will be filed to postpone the election" until that date.

Three other states voting Tuesday -- Arizona, Florida and Illinois -- are set to hold their primaries as scheduled.

The day is being closely watched as an opportunity for frontrunner Biden to consolidate his lead while a poor showing by Sanders could even cause him to quit the race.

Should a judge allow DeWine to postpone the vote, Ohio would become the third state to delay its primary.

Louisiana pushed its April 4 vote to June 20 and Georgia postponed its March 24 primary by nearly two months.

President Donald Trump said Monday that Americans should avoid groups of more than 10 people, refining suggestions by health experts on Sunday to avoid gatherings of 50 people or larger.

Trump said it was "up to the states" to decide whether to delay their primaries, but ultimately, he said, "I think postponing is unnecessary."

The election process "goes to the heart of what we're all about," Trump told reporters.

"I hope they do it very safely," the president added.

All four states due at the polls Tuesday use a combination of in-person voting and absentee ballots sent by mail.

Earlier Monday, Florida, the largest state to vote Tuesday with a huge number of delegates at stake, was still on track to hold its primary.

"FL Dept of Health has assured healthy Floridians it's safe to work the polls for & vote in Tuesday's election," Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee tweeted.

But she stressed on Sunday that voters who have been ordered to self-isolate or who are experiencing symptoms "should not go to the polls," but instead get someone to bring them a vote-by-mail ballot.

In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey said state authorities and election officials were taking "every precaution necessary to protect public health on election day," and were encouraging voters wash hands carefully before and after entering polling stations to vote.

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