Former Vice President Joe Biden consolidated his lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday in a primary election marred by chaos, confusion and fears over the spread of coronavirus at polling places. Biden won Florida and Illinois by a wide margin and scored a victory in Arizona. He addressed his supporters via video stream Tuesday night from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, in a speech focused on the coronavirus.
Joe Biden: “You know, tackling this pandemic is a national emergency akin to fighting a war. It’s going to require leadership and cooperation from every level of government, and it’s going to require us to move thoughtfully and decisively to quickly address both the public health crisis as well as the economic crisis.”
In Illinois, which recorded its first coronavirus death Tuesday, more than 800 election judges — many of them elderly and highly at risk — refused to participate in Tuesday’s election. At least 200 Chicago polling places were moved away from highly sensitive sites including nursing homes and senior centers. At the Thurgood Marshall Public Library, scores of mostly African-American voters waited for up to two hours in a cramped lobby for their turn to cast a ballot.
Ohio was also scheduled to vote Tuesday, but Governor Mike DeWine delayed his state’s primary until June 2 after declaring a public health emergency.
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez came under intense criticism for supporting in-person voting during the pandemic. Bernie Sanders campaign adviser David Sirota tweeted, “There is something very wrong with a political culture that tells people to run out of their homes in the middle of a lethal pandemic to cast votes to protect health insurance industry profits and kill proposals to guarantee basic medical care to all.”