The Political Rundown

Primaries amid a pandemic

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While it may seem like the whole world is shutting down due to COVID-19, Democratic primaries are continuing as scheduled. 

There have been eight primaries and one caucus since I last updated you all. On March 10, Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Washington had primaries and North Dakota had a caucus. On March 17, Arizona, Florida and Illinois followed with their primaries. 

Of these early votes, Joe Biden has won all of them. This has put him at a larger advantage against his sole opponent, Bernie Sanders. 

According to CNN, Biden currently has 1,115 pledged delegates and Sanders has 805 pledged delegates. 

Although these states were able to vote amidst the COVID-19 shutdowns, turnouts were low. 

This has led many other states scrambling in an attempt to boost voter turnout by postponing elections to extending deadlines for online registration and absentee requests. 

Here in Wisconsin, “the Wisconsin Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee sued Wisconsin elections officials,” according to The New York Times

In suing, the Wisconsin Democratic Party demanded an extension on the deadline for online voter registration and vote by mail application, which was originally set for Wednesday, March 18. 

“Nobody should have to choose between exposure to COVID-19 and disenfranchisement,” Ben Wikler, the chair of the state Democratic Party, said in a statement. “The court should immediately strike down the barriers to full participation in voting by mail. Our democracy depends on our ability to conduct free, safe, and fair elections, no matter what — even during a pandemic.”

While other states have postponed their primary elections, Wisconsin does not have that option. This is due to the state, local and municipal elections that have their own timeline — on top of the primary presidential election.

According to CNN, Judge William M. Conley extended the deadline to March 30. 

This is not quite what the Democratic Party had asked for, but it will hopefully be enough time to raise the number of people who are able to register — both electronically and by mail. 

As some Arizona voters commented, voting is a way to feel normal during these strange times. As the Wisconsin Democratic Party fights to make safe voting easier for us to do, there are even more reasons to place your vote. 

If you would like to request an absentee ballot or if you still need to register to vote, here is the website for Wisconsin voters. 

Kuchta can be reached at [email protected]