Voters go to the polls in eight states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic and the continuing protests taking place nationwide over the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Four of the states – Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island – are holding their presidential primaries on Tuesday after they were postponed in April or early May because of health concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak.
Like many of the states, Pennsylvania saw a surge of people wanting to receive mail-in ballots, and on Monday Gov. Tom Wolf extended the deadline for receiving them in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and a number of counties.
“We think we’re prepared,” Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills told the Associated Press.
“Thank goodness we have the opportunity of working this out in the primary because we don’t know where we’ll be with the pandemic in November.”
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, can formally clinch the nomination if he wins 89 percent of the delegates at stake Tuesday.
The former vice president, who shot to the front of the Democratic pack following a strong showing in March’s Super Tuesday contests, needs 1,991 delegates to secure the nomination.
Biden has 1,550 delegates and there are 479 up for grabs.
But Biden is the only Democrat running in the primary after Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont dropped out of the race in April.
Sanders, who endorsed Biden’s candidacy and urged his supporters to turn out for the former veep, is not actively campaigning.
But he’s still hoping to amass delegates so he can use them as a bargaining chip to push for his progressive policies at August’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.
“People who support Bernie Sanders and his agenda, who want to maximize the influence of progressives at the convention, should cast their vote for Bernie Sanders,” senior adviser Jeff Weaver told the AP.
With the presidential outcome settled, the down-ballot race and those for House and Senate will be prominent.
Along with weighing which candidate to cast a ballot for, voters will have to consider the health risks of voting in person during the pandemic and navigate the curfews that have been enacted following the protests that have turned violent in many cities.
In Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser will allow voters to remain out after the 7 p.m. curfew so they can get to polling places that will be open until 8 p.m.
The same applies to Philadelphia, where voters can still go to the polls after the 6 p.m. curfew.
Other states holding primaries on Tuesday include Iowa, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota.
With Post Wires