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What States Have Election Primaries Today? A Full Elections Guide

2020-06-02 12:43:36

Eight states and Washington, D.C., are holding primary elections on Tuesday, and the drama is less about which presidential candidate Democrats support and more about how voters and elections officials adapt to voting by mail.

Tuesday’s contests in Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were postponed from dates in April and May, giving voters time to request and return absentee ballots. Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota and the District of Columbia have largely transitioned from traditional primaries to ones conducted by mail.

Together, it’s a potential warm-up for the November general election, when voting by mail could be paramount because of the coronavirus.

Here’s what to watch for as the votes are counted on Tuesday — a process that could take a very long time given all the jurisdictions processing large amounts of mailed ballots for the first time.

Since the coronavirus crisis largely shut down American life in mid-March, a few states have held regularly scheduled elections. Wisconsin’s April 7 contest for a State Supreme Court race drew national scorn, but primaries in Nebraska and Ohio, held largely by mail, and Oregon, which sends ballots to all registered voters, took place with few problems.

Pennsylvania is perhaps the clearest test for how voters are responding to pushes from their party to request ballots by mail. Though the state’s presidential contest is irrelevant, with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. set to become the Democratic nominee, more than twice as many Pennsylvania Democrats have requested absentee ballots as have Republicans, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of State.

How much of that is linked to President Trump’s repeated and baseless attacks on mail voting — or to Democrats’ eagerness to vote in an already decided presidential contest — is unquantifiable. But it is a data point that worries Republicans, especially in a key battleground state Mr. Trump carried in 2016.

Beyond partisan scorecards, there is also the question of whether elections officials running Tuesday’s contests are up to the task of smoothly instituting a new system of voting. It remains unclear whether the Postal Service and local clerks can process hundreds of thousands of new mail ballots — or if voting will be disrupted by the coronavirus or by renewed demonstrations against police violence.

One thing that seems quite likely: Elections jurisdictions will be slower than normal to process and report results.

In his 17 years in Congress, Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, has defended white nationalism, posted a Confederate flag on his office desk and described immigrants in vile terms.

That has put an increasingly large target on his back, but he has kept winning re-election — though opponents have given it their best shot.

Christie Vilsack, the wife of Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary at the time, lost to Mr. King in the general election by just over 30,000 votes in 2012. Four years later a Republican state senator, Rick Bertrand, made a serious primary challenge but ended up losing handily. And in 2018, J.D. Scholten, a Democrat, came within 10,000 votes of ousting Mr. King from a district considered safe territory for Republicans.

Now Mr. King has four Republican primary opponents. The best funded is Randy Feenstra, a state senator who has the support of most of Iowa’s Republican establishment. Mr. Feenstra has raised three times as much money as Mr. King.

But the splintered opposition could benefit Mr. King. In Iowa, a candidate must win at least 35 percent of the primary vote to claim the nomination. If no one does, the party’s nominee will be chosen this summer at a district convention, which is likely to be packed with activist Republicans still loyal to Mr. King.

Waiting for whoever emerges from the Republican primary is Mr. Scholten, who basically never stopped campaigning against Mr. King after the 2018 election. Democrats see Mr. Scholten as having a shot at winning in November if he faces Mr. King again, but the race probably wouldn’t be competitive against Mr. Feenstra.

Republicans held New Mexico’s Second Congressional District, which covers the southern half of the state, for 36 of 38 years until Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat, won it in 2018.


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