Mar 15, 2020 - World

France holds local elections despite coronavirus pandemic

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

Go deeper

Democratic primaries in flux over coronavirus concerns

Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger announced Saturday evening the state's presidential primaries would be rescheduled from March 24 to May 19 in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Georgia is the second state to postpone primaries over the outbreak as officials scramble to contain the virus, which had infected more than 2,700 Americans by Saturday evening. On Friday, Louisiana moved its Democratic presidential primary from April 4 to June 20, citing concerns over the global pandemic.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Israel and France to close restaurants and cafes

A restaurant in Le Touquet, France on March 14. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

France and Israel moved on Saturday to close restaurants, cafes, movie theaters and clubs to promote social distancing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Where it stands: COVID-19 cases in France have jumped within the last 72 hours from 3,672 as dictated by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center to roughly 4,500 cases. Deaths in the country have increased from 79 to 91 in that time frame. There are 193 cases in Israel, which has not recorded any deaths as of Saturday.

Go deeperArrowMar 14, 2020 - Health

Why coronavirus could help stalled efforts to expand voting options

Photo: Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The coronavirus could make it harder for some U.S. voters to cast ballots this year, but that threat can be a catalyst for election changes that have previously met partisan resistance, elections law expert Trevor Potter said in an interview with "Axios on HBO."

Why it matters: Congress and state and local elections officials are looking for ways to protect voters in remaining primaries and even the general election.

Go deeperArrowMar 15, 2020 - Health