Mar 15, 2020 - World

France holds local elections despite coronavirus pandemic

Electoral assessors wearing protective masks give a voting ballot.

Electoral assessors wearing protective masks give a voting ballot on March 15. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

France is electing mayors and municipal councils leaders on Sunday, despite a public ban on gatherings of more than 100 people and closures of schools, restaurants, clubs and more due to the coronavirus, AP reports.

The big picture: Public officials around the world must decide if and how to hold elections in a pandemic.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron decided against delaying the elections over concerns that it would be viewed as undemocratic.
  • In the U.S., Louisiana and Georgia have pushed back their primaries to June 20 and May 19, respectively. Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio have announced their March 17 primaries will go on as scheduled.
  • The U.K. postponed May 7 local elections, including for mayor of London, for a year.

How it works: The French government issued guidelines to polling stations nationwide, including enforcing a 3-foot gap between voters waiting in lines, providing alcoholic gel and disinfectant wipes for voting machines, and encouraging voters to bring their own pens to sign voter registration documents.

By the numbers: Sunday is the first of two rounds of voting for the country's 35,000 communes. The virus is expected to reduce voter turnout.

  • France currently has more than 4,400 cases of the new coronavirus, with at least 91 reported deaths.

Go deeper: Israel and France to close restaurants and cafes

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