Arizona, Florida, Illinois hold 2020 US presidential primaries; Ohio postpones

Friday, March 20, 2020

On Tuesday, the United States Democratic Party held primary elections in the states of Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. By reports, former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden won all three elections. Ohio, which was also scheduled to hold a primary election, delayed its voting in the face of the national emergency around the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The same day, incumbent President of the United States Donald Trump became the Republican Party's presumptive nominee for the 2020 United States presidential election after winning the party's primaries in Florida and Illinois.

Biden in 2013
Image: White House.
Sanders in 2019
Image: Gage Skidmore.

The Democratic and Republican Parties use primary elections, along with caucuses, to select their nominees for the 2020 presidential election. For a candidate to win the Democratic Party's nomination, a total of at least 1,991 delegates are needed. The three primary elections the Democratic party held represented a total of 441 delegates.

Biden's victories in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois left him with a reported total of 1,124 pledged delegates; United States Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders trailed him with a total of 815. In the 2016 United States presidential election, Sanders also lost in all three of these states to Hillary Clinton. The Democratic Party awards delegates proportionally to how candidates fare; candidates must receive at least 15% of the vote to be eligible to earn delegates from a state, territory, or district within a state or territory.

On the Republican side, 1,276 delegates are required to secure the nomination. After winning the Republican Party's primaries in Florida and Illinois on Tuesday, Trump reportedly amassed 1,330 delegates, more than the number needed, making him the Republican Party's presumptive nominee.

to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk

Mike DeWine, Twitter

In Ohio, which was planning to hold its primary election on Tuesday, Governor Mike DeWine postponed it, citing the health crisis. In a two-part statement on Twitter, he wrote, "During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus." He continued by announcing, "As such, @DrAmyActon will order the polls closed as a health emergency. While the polls will be closed tomorrow, Secretary of State @FrankLaRose will seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options so that every voter who wants to vote will be granted that opportunity."

DeWine's decision comes a few days after President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The World Health Organization has classified the the outbreak of COVID-19 disease as a pandemic.

As of Tuesday, Ohio was one of six states that had decided to postpone its election. Maryland rescheduled most of its primary races to June 2; they were originally planned for April 28. It did not change the date of its special election to fill the United States House of Representatives seat formerly held by Elijah Cummings, but instead is to switch to mail-in voting only. Cummings died in October at the age of 68.

The Democratic National Committee urged states not to reschedule their elections but rather to use mail-in voting instead. Support for mail-in voting also came from United States Senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar. On Monday, Klobuchar, along with Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, introduced a bill to require voting by mail in all states as an emergency measure. Klobuchar was herself a candidate in the 2020 presidential election before she ended her campaign.