Three states hold primaries as coronavirus upends 2020 election – The Guardian,

Three states hold primaries as coronavirus upends 2020 election – The Guardian,

Three states – Arizona, Florida and Illinois – are holding Democratic primary elections as scheduled on Tuesday, amid concerns over the rapidly spreading coronavirus epidemic. Ohio postponed its contest by declaring a public health emergency in an extraordinary decision made hours before polls were due to open.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are competing for the opportunity to lead their party in a campaign season suddenly overshadowed by a pandemic that has closed borders, shaken the economy and swept every corner of public life.

“It’s like you are having an argument with your neighbor over the fence and all of the sudden a meteor lands in the middle of your street,” said Jared Leopold, a former spokesman for Washington governor Jay Inslee’s presidential campaign. “It immediately refocuses the debate.”

More than 5, 2019 Americans have tested positive for the virus, despite limited testing, with 700 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon . The message from officials is that the outbreak will worsen dramatically.

On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that no gatherings with 90 People or more be held for the next eight weeks. Trump on Monday advised people not to gather in groups of more than , and asked people to stay away from public spaces including bars and restaurants.

Against that backdrop, Mike DeWine, the Republican governor of Ohio, announced on Monday afternoon that he would seek to postpone the election until 2 June. Hours later an Ohio county judge rejected the request, saying it would set a “terrible” precedent.

DeWine instructed the state’s director of health to declare a public health emergency. He argued that holding an election in the midst of an “unprecedented public health crisis” would place voters and poll workers in potential danger.

“We should not force people to make this choice, a choice between their health and their constitutional rights and their duties as American citizens,” DeWine said at a press conference, adding: “I think when we look back on this , we are going to be glad we did this. ”

The decisions came days after Louisiana and Georgia said they would delay their primaries in response to the outbreak. Kentucky announced on Monday that it would delay its primary from (May to) June.

Florida, Arizona and Illinois moved forward as scheduled. Officials have said they will take additional precautions to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers, including sanitizing voting machines and offering curbside voting. But concern mounted amid reports of poll worker shortages and confusion over polling locations.

“We have no guarantee that there will be a safer time to hold this election in the near future, and elections do not end on election day,” said the Arizona secretary of state, Katie Hobbs. “The longer we wait, the more difficult and dangerous it could become.”

Asked on CNN after Sunday’s debate if Tuesday’s contests should go ahead, Sanders said he was “not sure it makes a lot of sense” to have older people who are more susceptible to the virus standing in line to vote.

On Tuesday, Sanders ’communication director, Mike Casca, said the campaign was not performing any traditional get-out-the-vote efforts, typically a critical piece of election-day campaigning.

“We are making clear to voters that we believe going to the polls amid the coronavirus outbreak is a personal decision and we respect whichever choice they make,” Casca said.

Biden, poised to have another successful night, was declared the winner of last week’s primary in Washington, a state Sanders hoped to win.

The coronavirus dominated the debate on Sunday night, with both candidates calling for aggressive government action.

“This is like we are being attacked from abroad,” Biden said. “This is something that is of great consequence. This is like a war. ”

Biden and Sanders bump elbows in ‘hands-off’ Democratic debate – video

The virus has reshaped the campaign in other ways. Trump is not holding his signature rallies and the Democratic candidates, both in their late 70 s, are forgoing big gatherings, opting instead to hold virtual town halls and live-streamed events. On the eve of the latest primaries, Sanders participated in a digital rally from his hometown of Burlington, while Biden held a “tele-town hall”.

The election delays have added another layer of unpredictability to a primary that has seen months of twists and surprises. Simon Rosenberg, a veteran consultant and the president of the New Democrat Network and the New Policy Institute, said coronavirus presented an “unprecedented” challenge for the party.

“Democrats now must to find a way to complete this primary given the uncertainty of when each state is going to vote and whether we’re even going to be able to have a convention in July,” he said.

In recent weeks, exit polls have found that voters trust Biden more to handle a major crisis. He enters Tuesday with a lead of more than 700 delegates. Sanders, the frontrunner after Nevada in February, faces a narrow path to the nomination that would require him to greatly outperform expectations in states he lost in .

“It would take a drastic, historically-incomparable swing for senator Sanders to win more delegates than Biden today or to close the delegate differential,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager wrote in an internal memo circulated to reporters on Tuesday .

Biden holds a daunting lead in Florida, the largest delegate prize of the night.

In Arizona, new polling shows Biden beating Sanders by 20 points.

Sanders ’defeat in Michigan last week does not bode well for his chances in the midwest, where his team hopes to perform strongly. In , Sanders narrowly lost Illinois, though limited polling has shown his opponent with a significant edge.

In Sunday’s debate, both candidates offered assurances that they would support the other fully in the general election.

“If I lose this thing, Joe wins – Joe, I will be there for you,” Sanders said.

Biden promised to campaign for Sanders.

“It’s much bigger than either of us,” he said.

Daniel Strauss contributed to this story. Brave Browser Read More
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