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Big Choice

Should W.Va. postpone its primary?

West Virginia’s primary election is scheduled to be held May 12, less than two months from now. Barring some miracle we have no reason to expect, COVID-19 will remain a concern then — though, hopefully, not as serious as it is today.

On Monday, Ohio officials took what appeared to be an unprecedented step: To safeguard the public’s health, they postponed the election that had been set for today.

“We should not force (voters) to make this choice, the choice between their health and their constitutional rights and duties as American citizens,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine explained.

Given the situation this week, DeWine is correct. Many Ohio voters would have been reluctant to go out in public, perhaps into crowded polling places, to cast ballots on Tuesday. The same may be true of West Virginians on May 12.

It is too early to jump to conclusions, of course. But Gov. Jim Justice, Secretary of State Mac Warner and others in West Virginia should begin considering what to do if COVID-19 remains a worry in mid-May. The groundwork for delaying our primary election should be laid.

In the meantime, voters may want to consider making use of the early voting process, now scheduled to be available from April 29 through May 9. State officials may want to consider how that should be handled, too. Clearly, extraordinary steps to safeguard voters’ health should be taken.

Federal officials already are being criticized for failure to act more expeditiously to prepare Americans for COVID-19, especially in regard to the availability of kits to test whether people have been infected by the virus.

There is virtually nothing state officials can do about that or many other concerns. Getting ahead of the game regarding the May 12 primary is something that can be done, however.

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