Democratic primaries pushed back in four states amid coronavirus crisis
Voters in four states were due to cast their ballots in Democratic presidential primaries on Saturday — but those states have now postponed or extended voting in those contests due to the coronavirus crisis.
Wyoming, Alaska and Hawaii have canceled in-person voting because of the pandemic that has closed down most of daily life across the country. Instead the contests will be voted on 100 percent by mail. Officials have also pushed back the contests to allow voters more time to get their ballots in and for them to be counted.
Louisiana was also due to hold its primary on Saturday, but the state has postponed the election until June 20.
Hawaii has already sent out two rounds of mailed ballots, and this week sent out a third. The deadline to register was also pushed back. Democrats there won’t have iprimary results until May.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, the Democratic Party is allowing ballots to be downloaded from its website and has pushed back the date a mailed-in ballot needed to be postmarked from March 24 to April 10.
In Wyoming, the primary will also be mail-in only and people who registered too late to receive a ballot will be mailed one. The party also moved back the date by which ballots must be received from April 4 to April 17.
Former Vice President Joe Biden currently holds a commanding lead in the primary, but Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has refused to throw in the towel, arguing that there is still a narrow path to victory for him.
The delays are one in a number of moves nationwide by Democratic Party officials, who have moved quickly to adapt their primary season to the unique challenge of the pandemic.
The Democratic National Committee announced this week that its convention, scheduled for mid-July will be moved to August.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers called for a special session of the state legislature Saturday to overhaul Tuesday’s primary and allow an all-mail election. He is also calling for absentee ballots to be sent to every registered voter and the deadline for ballots to be sent back extended to May 26.
The Democratic governor warned that in-person voting at polling stations would be “a very unnecessary public health risk” during the coronavirus crisis.
“I can’t move this election or change the rules on my own. My hands are tied,” Evers pleaded in a video released on social media. “I was hopeful that the courts would intervene and help, and they did in fact implement some but not all of the common-sense changes I’ve been advocating for.”
On March 17, Florida, Illinois and Arizona were the last states to hold presidential primaries. Since then, 15 states and Puerto Rico – which were scheduled to hold their primaries and caucuses in late March, April or May – postponed their contests or switched them to nearly entirely by mail or absentee ballot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.