LIVE: Biden wins Illinois, Florida primaries

Biden projected to win Illinois, Florida primaries

Former Vice President Joe Biden increased his lead Tuesday in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, beating Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in the Illinois presidential preference primary.

The Associated Press called the Illinois race in Biden’s favor early Tuesday.

Mail-in votes could sway outcome in tight races (7:25 p.m.)

Numbers are starting to come in from polls across the state, however there are several polling places in the Chicago-area that are being kept open until 8 p.m.

Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich said he didn’t hear too many concerns other than some voters complaining there wasn’t hand sanitizer, but he said local officials worked to remedy concerns. He also said there was a shortage of election judges in some places, even with counties like DuPage offering increase pay from $175 to $200 for judges.

But, one thing he said is obvious is an increase in the number of early votes and mail-in ballots that have been sent and already received from four years ago.

“Those are drastic changes,” Dietrich said. “600,000 early votes compared to 423,000 early votes. 296,000 mail ballots mailed out compared to 162,000. That’s a huge increase and that is almost all attributable to coronavirus concerns.”

He said state and local elections officials really hammered on early voting and mail-in balloting in the past few weeks.

With that increase in the number of such ballots, Dietrich said that could impact some tight races.

“As long as they’re postmarked by election day, on or before election day, they can be counted up to two weeks after election day, so you will have up to 160,000 mail votes still tricking in,” he said. “That could make a big difference in a lot of races.”

The state board will certify official results April 17, once all the mail in and provisional ballots are sorted and counted.

Illinois voters head to the polls

Illinois voters took to the polls across the state in the face of the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland and Ohio delayed their primary elections. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Illinois’ elections must go on.

“Free and open elections are the structural support of our democracy,” Pritzker said last week. “One of the most important duties that I have as governor is to do everything in my power to make sure elections proceed forward as planned.”

Arizona and Florida also went forward with their primaries on Tuesday.

Illinois’ polls opened Tuesday morning across the state despite Chicago elections officials asking the governor to postpone the election. They said more than 850 election workers called off amid coronavirus concerns. That forced the move of 80 polling locations.

Pritzker was asked Tuesday about working with officials there to get election judges in place.

“Yes we offered the national guard to come in plain clothes to offer as potential election judges, or to volunteer at polling places should they need it. They did not want that,” Pritzker said.

He also said local officials rejected using a youth program with people eligible to be election judges.

Local election officials across the state took a variety of steps to ensure voters voted in clean polling places. Those steps included disinfecting regularly touched surfaces, including voting machines. Many election judges were wearing gloves when handing out ballots.

The Illinois State Board of Elections said Tuesday there were 600,000 early votes cast. That is 200,000 more than in 2016’s primary. There have been 296,000 mail ballots sent to voters, which is 130,000 more than four years ago.

How concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the overall outcome remains to be seen. The elections board said despite 47 percent turnout in 2016, the average turnout over the last five presidential primaries has been 33 percent.

Poll across the state close at 7 p.m.

While a lot of national attention will be on who will be the winner of the Illinois Democratic primary for the presidential nomination, there is a statewide primary for the Republican nominee who face Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in November.

For those across the state that did select a Republican ballot, they were asked to choose from five candidates to get the party’s nomination.

“It’s marred by the coronavirus, but I’m hopeful and prayerful that people will get out there and vote to see fit to put me up against Dick Durbin,” candidate Peggy Hubbard said.

Dr. Tom Tarter used social media to make his pitch.

“We need a safe drug supply,” Tarter said. “We need a reliable drug supply. Having all our drugs produced in China, I believe, is a security concern.”

Casey Chlebek also took to social media to lay out some of his positions in the days leading up to the primary.

“I will never allow anyone to challenge the Second Amendment rights, our constitutional right for private citizens to bear arms for a very clear purpose which is to defend ourselves when our life is in danger,” Chlebek said.

Robert Marshall is another Republican who wants to take on Durbin.

“I come from the private sector, like you, and my platform reflects that,” Marshall said. “I’m for a flat federal income tax. I’m also for pension reform and term limits, 12 years for a Senator max. I’m also the only candidate that believes abortion should remain legal up to at least 20 weeks. I for legalized marijuana and I’m for the ERA for womens’ rights.”

Former Lake County Sheriff Marc Curran is also on the ballot for Republicans.

There are also contested Democratic and Republican races for the U.S. Congress all across the state, including incumbent Democrats Bobby Rush, Robin Kelly, Daniel Lipinski, Mike Quigley, Danny Davis, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Bill Foster.

No incumbent Republican U.S. Representatives have primary opponents. Seven congressional districts do have multiple Republicans vying to take on an incumbent Democrat.

In Illinois’ 14th Congressional District seven Republicans, including two state lawmakers, will be vying to take on Democratic incumbent Lauren Underwood. With the retirement of John Shimkus from Illinois 15th congressional district, there are four Republicans and four Democrats aiming to be considered for the seat in November.

There are 125 referenda on ballots across the state.

“A fair number of them are municipal advisory referenda asking should there be cannabis sold within the village limits, or city limits,” state elections board spokesman Matt Dietrich said.

There are 39 different referenda dealing with taxes. Seventeen questions deal with some kind of bond issue on a local level. Three counties had a nonbinding question about splitting Chicago from the rest of the state.

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