The coronavirus may upend plans for the April 4 election, which has already received 20,000 mail-in ballots.
The Democratic Party of Hawaii’s executive committee is working to decide how its presidential primary will be conducted, given the growing coronavirus threat.
Interim Party Chair Kate Stanley said local Democrats are consulting with the Democratic National Committee on how to coordinate the April 4 contest.
The party-run presidential primary is the first for local Democrats to be conducted primarily through mail-in voting.
About 57,000 ballots have already been mailed to voters registered both in the state and with the party. Another 15,000 were planned to be mailed.
And for people who did not receive a mail-in ballot, walk-in registration and voting was to be held at 21 locations across the state from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 4, which is a Saturday.
Given that federal officials are warning the public not to attend large gatherings, the walk-in vote is up in the air.
Stanley said about 20,000 completed ballots have already been mailed in for counting.
“I encourage people with ballots to mail them in,” she said late Monday.
Voting is also being conducted with ranked choice voting, allowing voters to list their first, second and third preferred candidates.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are on the Hawaii ballot, as is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and several candidates who have already dropped out.
The latest development comes as Ohio’s governor on Monday ordered Tuesday’s primary closed due to coronavirus. Florida, Illinois and Arizona are still expected to hold elections Tuesday.
Previously, Georgia announced it would delay until May 19 its presidential primary, which was set for March 24. And Louisiana has moved its April 4 primary to June 20.
Biden currently has 894 delegates and Sanders 743. Another 168 delegates total are shared by some candidates who have dropped out and Gabbard, who has two delegates.
The delegate count does not include Washington state, which late on Monday was called in Biden’s favor.
To win the Democratic nomination 1,991 delegates are required.
The Hawaii Republican Party is not holding a presidential contest this year.
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Chad Blair is the politics and opinion editor for Civil Beat. You can reach him by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @chadblairCB.
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