COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) —

Ohio’s governor and elections chief have recommended postponing Tuesday’s primary election as the number of cases of COVID-19 across the state rises.

Gov. Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose, both Republicans, said at a news conference Monday that they would sue to postpone in-person voting until June 2. The two officials do not have the power to postpone an election on their own.

If they get a court order to delay in-person voting, they said, absentee voting will continue until June. There have been questions raised about the impact on turnout, but DeWine said he didn’t want older voters to face the choice of staying home, as recommended, or going out to vote.

Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden, the former vice president, and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont are competing for 136 delegates in Ohio, which also has primaries in congressional and and state legislative races, as well as local-issue votes to be decided.

The recommendation likely means polling places will not open Tuesday, despite LaRose’s assurances as recently as Monday morning that voting was ready to go forward.

““Suspending in-person voting is a serious matter and we have tried to do everything we could to avoid that”” LaRose said Tuesday. State officials said they had been getting calls from concerned voters and poll workers.

Louisiana and Georgia earlier postponed presidential primaries scheduled for March.

LaRose’s office had reported that roughly 140 polling places in nursing homes or residential care facilities successfully had been relocated and that a recruiting effort had netted more than 1,500 last-minute poll workers.

LaRose on Sunday issued an updated “best practices” directive that required all 88 county boards of elections to offer a curbside voting option Tuesday to any voter “concerned about coming inside a polling location.” He also had required the boards to accept absentee ballots from “unforseeably confined or hospitalized voters” until 3 p.m. on Election Day.

It was not immediately clear whether these activities could continue if the primary is postponed.

Voting rights advocates had raised issues that the earlier steps weren’t enough.

“As a result of last-minute polling location changes and fears around contracting the coronavirus, an increased number of voters were in need of absentee ballots on very short notice,” representatives of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the civil rights group Demos, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law wrote in a letter to LaRose on Sunday.

The groups said short staffing at county boards, slow postal delivery times and the number of steps needed for a voter to request an absentee ballot were making it “all but impossible” for voters to meet the absentee ballot deadline. Absentee ballot voting has been underway for a month.

They reported that 2,603 combined absentee ballots were requested from Montgomery, Summit and Lucas counties, three of the state’s largest, and only 29 had been returned and designated countable.