Puerto Rico postpones presidential primary

By Zach Montellaro

Puerto Rico on Saturday became the eighth jurisdiction to postpone its presidential primary as the coronavirus spreads across the United States, according to a statement from the island's Democratic Party.

The U.S. territory joins seven states in postponing primaries over the virus, as governments race to enact policies to prevent mass gatherings.

Puerto Rico was originally scheduled to hold its primary on March 29 and will now hold it no earlier than April 26. With Puerto Rico's suspension, no more primaries will be held in March.

So far, seven states have postponed their primaries: Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Ohio.

"Without a doubt, this is the time for preventative measures to stop the spread of the virus. But even in this crisis, both the legislature and the governor highlighted the democratic freedoms and rights that allow us to be a society based on the value of voting, as an expression of the will of the majority of our people," Charles Rodríguez, the chair of the Puerto Rico Democratic Party, said in a statement.

The next set of presidential primaries on the calendar is scheduled for April 4, the day Louisiana was originally scheduled to vote. Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming are set to vote on that day. Wyoming, which is hosting a caucus, has already canceled in-person caucusing for a mail-in and drop-off only option. Alaska and Hawaii's party-run primaries already have vote-by-mail options.

Puerto RIco's primary was changed after Gov. Wanda Vazquez signed a resolution that passed through the island's legislature.

The newly signed resolution also allows Rodríguez and the chair of the commission on elections to further postpone the primary "if the emergency situation persists," according to the release from the state party.