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.
"We respect what they're doing."
DNC Chair Tom Perez says states have systems in place to move forward with Tuesday's primaries, after judge denies Ohio governor's request to postpone the elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. pic.twitter.com/u4uotIGrdO
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 17, 2020
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.
Election Day so far: 5/8 election staff are elderly, we were provided with no cleaning supplies, we are missing an ENTIRE blue box (meaning anyone who comes to this precinct cannot vote), we are missing 2 election judges & nobody is answering our calls. pic.twitter.com/aPfmZ5McCt
— Rebecca (@rrebeccapearll) March 17, 2020
— Brian Prigge (@brprigge) March 17, 2020
My polling place at 6650 W Belden cancelled (not delayed), unannounced and unauthorized. Even Board of Elections wasn't aware. So, what will you be doing for the people that literally can't vote today, now? @nbcchicago @GovPritzker @cookcountyclerk #ElectionDay #IllinoisPrimary pic.twitter.com/EuBHT3jO9c
— Jeff Nz (@jeffnzmm) March 17, 2020
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.
The only guidance we have so far is that we should not gather in groups of 50 people or more.
I'm sure it's an honest mistake, but this is a public health crisis.
— Briahna Joy Gray (@briebriejoy) March 16, 2020
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.
While announcing that over a third of polling locations in Maricopa County, AZ will be closed, the Election Day Director says "I'm sorry, I can't do this." and walks off the podium. Notice his nervous demeanor. ?♀️?♀️?♀️
— Fiorella Isabel (@Fiorella_im) March 14, 2020
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.