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The Hill's Campaign Report: Three states holding primaries despite coronavirus

The Hill's Campaign Report: Three states holding primaries despite coronavirus

Welcome to The Hill's Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We're Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here's what we're watching today on the campaign trail. 

 

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LEADING THE DAY:

In Palm Beach County, the third largest county in Florida, poll workers at some precincts didn't show up.

In Arizona's Maricopa County, the number of polling sites was reduced from 229 to 151 in recent days to ensure that there were adequate supplies to keep them clean.

And in Chicago, equipment delays at some precincts forced voters to line up in droves at other locations. 

The fears and complications surrounding voting during the coronavirus outbreak were striking on Tuesday as voters in three states headed to the polls to cast their presidential primary ballots. There were already signs of low turnout, though state and party officials expressed hope that increased early and mail-in voting would make up for dwindling in-person voting.

Matt Grodsky, the communications director for the Arizona Democratic Party, said that a majority of expected voters had already submitted ballots before Tuesday, adding that the party doesn't "expect turnout to be impacted as a whole" by the outbreak. 

Still, others expressed frustration with how the elections were handled. Liza McClenaghan, the chairwoman of the governing board of the watchdog group Common Cause Florida, described voting on Tuesday as "a dog's breakfast," saying that polling place closures and a fragmented system for notifying voters of the changes had left many people confused.

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"The state could have taken more steps to ensure that voters could have cast ballots that would count without hassle. And the information that they're providing could have been better provided to the voters," she added.

A handful of states have already postponed scheduled primaries amidst the coronavirus outbreak, including Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Maryland. Ohio was set to hold its primary on Tuesday, but that plan was scrapped late Monday night after the state's top health official ordered polling sites closed.

--Max Greenwood

 

READ MORE: 

Voters in three states are taking part in primaries on Tuesday even as public health officials warn that people should stay at home and avoid contact with other people during the coronavirus pandemic. Florida is the biggest prize of the day with 219 delegates, but Max and Amie Parnes report that turnout is expected to be light.

 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced late Monday that his administration will order that polls be closed on Tuesday due to a health emergency, capping a day of mixed messages and confusion over whether the state's primary would proceed as planned, reports The Hill's Justin Wise.

 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose on CNN's "New Day" explained the decision, saying there was "no way in good conscience" the state could carry on with its election on Tuesday.

 

On Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court also denied a legal challenge seeking to stop the delay of the state's primary election.

 

Kentucky has postponed its May 19 primary to June 23, state officials announced Tuesday.

  

FROM THE TRAIL:

Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate, by The Hill's Rafael Bernal.

Sanders's digital events conducted in the past three days drew a total of 5.3 million views, reports The Hill's Rebecca Klar.

The Secret Service is now protecting Biden.

 

PERSPECTIVES: 

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Charles Pierce: Will Biden go in a progressive direction?

Robert Draper: What happened to Sanders?

Matt Ford: Biden's diversity promises are identity politics at their best

 

FROM CONGRESS AND THE STATES:

Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyDozens of legal experts throw weight behind Supreme Court term limit bill Presidential debate proves the power of the climate movement Democrats see fundraising spike following Ginsburg death MORE (D-Mass.) will use the email list for his Senate campaign to raise funds to help those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, according to an email sent to his supporters on Monday, The Hill's Julia Manchester reports

 

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POLL WATCH:

MORNING CONSULT – NATIONAL

Biden: 58 percent

Sanders: 37 percent

Gabbard: 3 percent

 

REUTERS/IPSOS – NATIONAL

Biden: 48 percent (-6)

Sanders: 39 percent (+6)

Gabbard: 2 percent (+/-0)

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

March 29:

Puerto Rico Democratic primary

 

ONE USEFUL THING

We understand that it's a stressful time for Americans and people across the world. As journalists, we understand how difficult it is to turn on the television or get on the internet without seeing worrying news about the coronavirus. 

However, it's important to know that there are ways to cope. Not everyone may use the same coping method, but we wanted to at least give our readers some options. 

Here's some tips from Poynter's Al Tompkins and Sidney Tompkins. This list was curated for journalists, but can easily be applied to other industries as well. 

Schedule some time to unplug from the newscycle

Make sure you are getting as much sleep as you can 

Communicate with your loved ones 

Remind yourself of normalcy 

Click here for the full list.

 

Check back at TheHill.com tonight for the results on today's primaries. And we'll see you back here tomorrow with a recap. 

Stay healthy and safe, and please enjoy your St. Patrick's Day Guinness at home with fewer than 10 people!