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Upcoming Virginia elections postponed to mitigate COVID-19 spread

Gov. Ralph Northam has the authority to postpone elections for two weeks and has done so, but is asking the General Assembly to move the election to November.

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday requested the General Assembly move the May General Election and all special elections scheduled for May 5 to the Nov. 3 General Election date to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Northam also exercised his statutory authority to move the June primary elections from June 9 to June 23.

"As other states have shown, conducting an election in the middle of this global pandemic would bring unprecedented challenges and the potential risk to voters and those who work at polling places across the commonwealth," Northam said.

"Making these decisions now will help election officials prepare and implement the necessary changes. This is about protecting the health and safety of Virginians during this pandemic and ensuring our citizens can make their voices heard in a safe, fair, and uniform manner," Northam added.

Moving the upcoming May elections requires the following action by the General Assembly. The plan Northam proposes includes the following measures:

  • There will be one ballot in November.
  • Voters who are qualified in November will be able to vote in November. An individual who was not qualified in May, but is qualified in November will be able to vote.
  • All absentee ballots already cast will be discarded. Virginians will have an opportunity to vote for local elected officials in November.
  • Those officials whose terms are to expire as of June 30 continue in office until their successors have been elected on Nov. 3, and have been qualified to serve.

There are now more than 3,600 positive cases of coronavirus in Virginia. 

Northam has advised all Virginians to wear a mask when they have to leave their homes for an essential trip to help curb the spread of the virus. The Virginia Department of Health reports 3,645 positive COVID-19 cases and 75 deaths in the commonwealth.

What precautions should you take?

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Check the status of the virus in your state with your state health department's websites by tapping below:

RELATED: Watch Live: Gov. Ralph Northam provides the latest coronavirus updates in Virginia

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