The 2020 election is nearing and with that, comes the caucuses and primary elections. But what’s the difference?
WASHINGTON – There are multiple presidential primary elections taking place around the country Tuesday as election season chugs forward amid the coronavirus pandemic. Think of it as the “Super Tuesday” of postponed elections.
Several states delayed or made changes to their scheduled primary plans due to the outbreak, and have been postponing their upcoming contests since mid-March. Many have expanded vote-by-mail options, as well.
The elections also come as protests have engulfed the nation after the death of George Floyd in police custody. Former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter after bystander video showed him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
More: More than a dozen states have delayed their primaries due to coronavirus
Here are the states hosting primary elections, what you need to know and the latest regarding the widespread protests affecting polling places:
Which states states are holding primary contests?
Voters in seven states plus the District of Columbia will cast ballots in presidential primary elections.
Originally scheduled to host primaries on Tuesday were:
- New Mexico
- South Dakota
- Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, the states that postponed their elections to Tuesday due to COVID-19 crisis are:
More: June 2 primaries: 6 races to watch as Democrats, Republicans vie for House, Senate nods
Who is on the ballot?
While there are still presidential primaries on the calendar, former Vice President Joe Biden is the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee. All other candidates have exited the race.
More: Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign app gets a boost with Phunware partnership, one day after Twitter fact-check
However, in some states former Democratic primary contenders will still appear on the ballot, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. After ending his campaign, Sanders said he’s planned to stay on the ballot in the remaining primary states to earn delegates. He and Biden reached a deal that while Sanders-won delegates will shift to Biden, their delegate slots will be filled by Sanders supporters.
Additionally, President Donald Trump already has the delegates to clinch the Republican nomination. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, the last Republican who challenged Trump in the Republican primary, ended his longshot bid in March.
Tuesday’s primaries are a test run of several state’s mail-in voting systems and offer a glimpse at how voting might look on Election Day, which is Nov. 3.
Why host these primaries?
One reason: Biden is not technically the nominee until a majority of delegates have voted to make it so at the Democratic convention.
Some states, like Connecticut and New York, allow primaries to be canceled if there is only one candidate remaining on the ballot. However, New York tried this, and a federal judge in Manhattan ruled the state must hold its primary, which is on June 23.
Additionally, while the presidential primaries are the highest-ranking contest in which citizens can vote in on Tuesday, there are down-ballot primaries for House and Senate seats or runoffs, as well.
‘Battle against the swamp’: Steve King fighting for his political life in competitive primary
More: Obama says George Floyd’s death shouldn’t be ‘normal’
Would there have been a different outcome if states would had voted on their original day?
Sanders dropped out April 8. That’s after Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, along with other states, all postponed their primaries in mid- or late March.
His exit followed a string of losses to Biden earlier in the primary election cycle, causing his momentum to fizzle, particularly after the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, when black voters backed Biden in large numbers. That primary foreshadowed struggles Sanders would have with a key Democratic constituency going into Super Tuesday three days later.
More: Will mail-in voting decide America’s next president?
Sanders won the biggest Super Tuesday prize – California. But he lost 10 other states to Biden that night, including Texas, a state in which Sanders had invested a lot of time and energy. After that, he never regained his footing.
It’s impossible to definitively know whether Sanders could have made a roaring comeback in the states that delayed their contests due to COVID-19, but he was 300 delegates behind Biden when he left the race, and is now more than 500 behind. Biden has 1,566 delegates and needs 1,991 to seal the nomination.
In the states that were rescheduled to June 2, Sanders won half in 2016 against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sanders took Indiana and Rhode Island, while Clinton won Maryland and Pennsylvania.
More: Biden lead over Trump jumps 8 points in ABC News/Washington Post poll
Are most people voting by mail?
Almost all of the states voting on Tuesday have seen a huge increase in absentee ballot requests.
More: Conway compares waiting in line to vote to standing in line at Georgetown Cupcake, which is delivery-only
Several states, plus D.C., changed the rules of how to run their elections to include guidelines for social distancing, as well as promoting increased mail-in voting.
And despite the president’s hammering against mail voting, some Republican-leaning states, like Indiana, have encouraged voters to cast their ballots by mail.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock gave counties the option of holding the primary election by mail-in ballot due to coronavirus concerns, and as of early last week roughly 35% of the total ballots mailed to residents had been returned to the state.
More: State of Montana says 35% of mail-in ballots returned so far for June primary election
In Indiana, according to the South Bend Tribune, more than a half-million registered voters are plan to participate in the primary by using mail-in ballots, which would be the highest number in the state’s history.
More: Residents report issues with absentee ballots that could exclude votes in upcoming primary
Rep. Ben Ray Luján, of New Mexico, is urging his state’s Secretary of State to extend the deadline for turning in absentee ballots due to previous mail delays. Luján, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, said his office has heard reports of “some ballots that are missing altogether.”
Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania’s secretary of the state, said Monday that more than a million voters already have cast ballots by mail.
Some states have urged patience as there could be delays in counting. Tuesday’s primary will be a test to see whether widespread remote voting may be doable for November’s general contest.
Will curfews from protests impact Tuesday’s primary?
The death of George Floyd has sparked demonstrations against police brutality and racial discrimination in cities across the United States.
Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25 after a white officer pinned him to the ground under his knee. Before his death, video captured Floyd desperately telling the officer, who had his knee on Floyd’s neck, that he couldn’t breathe.
‘Most of you are weak’: Trump rails at the nation’s governors, urges crackdown on violence
Police cars and government buildings burned, the National Guard was deployed, and some of the country’s largest cities instituted curfews.
USA TODAY reached out to the states hosting primaries on Tuesday regarding potential demonstrations and protests.
Miguel Nunez, deputy director of elections of Rhode Island, said election officials are in communication with the Department of Homeland Security and the Rhode Island State Police about possible planned protests at election sites or other demonstration that could affect voting. He said they haven’t gotten indication of any so far.
George Floyd: Biden meets with black leaders at local church amid unrest
He said Rhode Island has not changed any election protocols to deal with the possibility of rioting during voting, but he stressed “that situation could change,” particularly in and around Providence, the state’s largest city and capital.
Nunez said each voting sites in Providence, East Providence and Cranston had already planned to be staffed with one police officer apiece to ensure the coronavirus pandemic’s social distancing requirements are followed.
More: Trump briefly taken to underground bunker as protests grew outside White House
“Over the weekend, several cities and communities across PA saw tensions turn into civil unrest and looting following peaceful protests. Gov. Wolf activated the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center at (Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency),” Wanda Murren, director for the Office of Communications and Press for the Pennsylvania Department of State, told USA TODAY.
“DOS is closely in touch with PEMA and our other state and federal election security partners, as well as the counties impacted, and are monitoring and tracking these events and disturbances closely. We will inform the public if we have any information that could impact pre-election operations or on Election Day,” she continued.
More: Indianapolis extends curfew through Tuesday morning
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced on Monday that he would extend his city’s curfew order for an additional night, beginning at 8 p.m. Monday and ending at 4 a.m. Tuesday, which was two hours earlier than the first order, because of voting starting at 6 a.m.
His order also includes an exception of permitting people to travel during that curfew for “election-related activities.”
More: Fires started near White House as DC curfew kicks in following a day of protests
In D.C. on Monday, following protests Sunday night, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a curfew starting at 7 p.m. Monday that would last two days. However, Bowser said it will not impact Tuesday’s primary in D.C., and that voters will be allowed to vote until the polls close at 8 p.m.
Contributing: Rebecca Morin, Joey Garrison, Ledyard King, USA TODAY; Candy Woodall, York Daily Record; Phil Drake, Great Falls Tribune.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/06/02/super-tuesday-part-two-everything-you-need-know-tuesdays-primaries/5269233002/