Updated at 4:14 p.m. Thursday
Georgia’s Secretary of State has postponed the May primaries until June 9 because of concerns over the coronavirus.
Early voting will now take place between May 18 and June 5 for both the presidential preference primary and state and local races with potential runoffs on Aug. 11.
In recent weeks, several high profile Republicans including House Speaker David Ralston and Georgia’s U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler had urged Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to delay the election because of the pandemic.
Raffensperger maintained he didn’t have the legal authority to change the election because, at the time, the elections period wasn’t included under the state of public health emergency. But that emergency declaration was extended through May 13 by Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday.
“I am now comfortable exercising the authority vested in me by Georgia law to postpone the primary election until June 9,” Secretary Raffensperger said. “This decision allows our office and county election officials to continue to put in place contingency plans to ensure that voting can be safe and secure when in-person voting begins and prioritizes the health and safety of voters, county election officials, and poll workers.”
The Secretary of State’s office had been urging Georgians to vote by mail. It sent absentee ballot applications to all 6.9 million active voters in late March. Both absentee voting and in-person voting will be available for the June 9 primaries.
The state’s presidential primary had originally be set for March, but was pushed back to May to join the already scheduled state and local primaries. Now both will take place in June.