Tuesday’s Primaries Should’ve Been Postponed

It took a while, but everyone seems to agree that COVID-19 is kind of a big deal. Major cities have shuttered restaurants and bars, states have declared states of emergency, and the CDC has recommended against gatherings of more than 50 people for the next two months.

But the Democratic primary? Open for business.

Despite recommendations from federal and state governments, the Democratic Party is moving ahead with in-person primary voting in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois (Ohio governor Mike DeWine managed to postpone his state’s primary Monday night). By early Tuesday morning, there were complications at polling places in Chicago and Barrington, Ill. where election judges either arrived late or didn’t show up at all, forcing poll workers to literally turn away voters. And another polling station in Chicago closed altogether.

The outright disorganization has laid bare the Democratic Party’s real intentions—they simply don’t care about public safety as much as they care about finishing off Bernie Sanders for good.

“The party leadership doesn’t care about the consequences of pushing forward, they just want to drive a final stake into Sanders,” The Intercept’s Ryan Grim tweeted. “If by some chance Bernie wins today there’s just no chance the party lets those stand without a fight.”

Indeed, the Sanders campaign has said for days that holding Tuesday’s primaries would be irresponsible. Sanders detractors like Neera Tanden and even Joe Biden senior advisor Symone Sanders have played these complaints off as the Vermont senator attempting to suppress turnout and say the CDC has proclaimed it safe to vote—which it hasn’t.

Sanders’ chances in Tuesday’s primary states were slim at best; even without a public health emergency, polls have him well behind Biden in all four states. But the question isn’t about Sanders’ viability—it’s whether holding in-person primaries during a pandemic is a public health risk, which it unquestionably is.

Even some election officials have expressed reticence to continue with primaries as scheduled. In a now-viral clip, Maricopa County, Ariz.’s Election Day Director appeared overcome with emotion as he explained that one-third of the county’s polling locations would be closed due to lack of cleaning supplies. It’s more than a little odd to close that many polling places in a county of 4.4 million people, thus forcing them into more tightly packed polling stations and increasing the chance of COVID-19 exposure.

More information will roll in throughout the day about low turnout and poor election preparedness, including people being unable to vote. As it does, people will realize how big of a mistake it was to hold primary elections during a global pandemic. And maybe they’ll understand the Democratic Party wanted it this way.