(NEW YORK) — Voters in Arizona, Florida and Illinois went to the polls on Tuesday amid a global pandemic that has upended the 2020 election cycle.
Three states — Louisiana, Georgia and Kentucky — have successfully postponed their presidential primaries and the Puerto Rican government is working to do likewise with its Democratic primary.
However, voters in Ohio, a critical general election battleground that has 136 Democratic delegates at play this primary cycle, couldn’t cast ballots as planned Tuesday after the governor announced late Monday that he and the director of the state’s health department had issued an order to close the polls, citing a health emergency. A judge blocked the state’s effort to postpone the contest just hours earlier.
Here’s how the primaries unfolded:
11:06 p.m. ABC News projects Biden will win Arizona primary
ABC News projects that Biden will win the Arizona Democratic primary.
In preliminary election poll results in Arizona:
Survey respondents picked Biden over Sanders as the candidate they trust more to handle a crisis by 2-1, 63-31%.
Respondents picked Biden as having a better chance than Sanders to defeat Trump in November, by 69-26%. And 65% in Arizona said they’d rather see the party nominate the candidate who can beat Trump rather than the one who agrees with them on major issues.
Fifty-nine percent called Biden “about right” ideologically, vs. 41% who said the same about Sanders. Forty-seven percent instead called Sanders too liberal.
Arizona vote count (67% expected vote reporting)
In Maricopa County, Arizona, which includes Phoenix, Biden leads Sanders 41-29%, with 76% of the vote reported. This area of the state has the highest population of Hispanic voters in the state and is the largest county, and was a must-win Tuesday night for Sanders.
Sanders is currently leading in Coconino County, 48-35%, with 46% of precincts reporting, which is home to large parts of the Navajo Nation, Hualapai Nation and Hopi Nation. Around 30% of the county’s population is native, and its largest cities are Flagstaff and Sedona.
10:42 p.m. Biden amasses more than half the delegates needed to win nomination
In the overall delegate race, Biden is currently estimated to earn at least 1,004 delegates, compared to Sanders’ 730, meaning the former vice president just surpassed the halfway mark to 1,991 — the delegates he needs to win the Democratic nomination.
Across the three states voting Tuesday, the maps in two of them this year look very different than they did four years ago, and are leaning heavily in Biden’s favor this time around.
In Florida, Sanders isn’t winning a single county, with 93% of the expected vote reporting, but in 2016, despite a bruising loss to Hillary Clinton statewide, he still clinched nine counties. And in Illinois, with 72% of the expected vote in, he’s currently only leading in one county, Champaign at 49-44% with 79% of precincts reporting. Last cycle, Clinton narrowly eked out a win over Sanders, winning 23 of the state’s 102 counties along the state’s edges, while Sanders ran up the score in the rural counties that made up the middle of the state.
In Florida, 2020 turnout surpassed 2016’s total, largely due to a big boost from early voting, in which at least 1.1 million Democrats cast their ballots early. So far, with 93% of the expected vote in, 1,714,409 ballots have been cast in the Democratic primary, compared to 1,709,183 in 2016. It’s still slightly short of 2008’s 1,749,920.
10:28 p.m. Arizona election officials mistakenly disclose personal information
Election officials mistakenly disclosed the personal information of nearly 80 voters in a report prepared for state political parties, the Arizona secretary of state disclosed in a statement on Tuesday.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said that the information was related to a group of voters whose personal information is protected, because of their occupations or because they were victims of particular crimes. It was inappropriately included in an early ballot report prepared for the political parties, that drew from Arizona’s voter database, she said.
9:48 p.m. Biden seeks to strike presidential tone, reach out to Sanders supporters during speech
In a speech that comes on the heels of his projected wins in Florida and Illinois, former Vice President Joe Biden sought to seek a presidential tone as he addressed supporters via an online message and reached out to those who back Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
During his speech, he once again underscored that the nation must work together in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s in moments like these we realize we need to put politics aside and work together as Americans. The coronavirus doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican … we’re all in this together,” he said.
9:29 p.m. Biden will win the Illinois Democratic primary, ABC News projects
Based on an analysis of the vote, ABC News projects that Biden will win the Illinois Democratic primary.
In preliminary election poll results from Illinois:
Survey respondents picked Biden over Sanders as the candidate they trust more to handle a crisis by 64-31 percent.
Eighty-seven percent said they were very or somewhat concerned about the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. That includes 53% who are very concerned — among whom Biden’s support peaked, compared with those less concerned.
Respondents by 69-25% picked Biden as having a better chance than Sanders to defeat Trump in November. Sixty-one percent said they’d rather see the party nominate the candidate who can beat Trump rather than the one who agrees with them on major issues.
Seventy-two percent said they would be either enthusiastic or satisfied with Biden as the nominee. As many, 73%, said they’d be enthusiastic or satisfied with Sanders. Those include only about a third who expressed outright enthusiasm for either candidate.
9:02 p.m. Chicago’s suburbs boosting Biden in his 20-point lead in Illinois, with 10% of precincts reporting
In Illinois, with 10% of expected vote in, DeKalb and Lake counties, which cover part of Chicago’s suburbs/exurbs, Biden is currently ahead of Sanders, 55-36% (with 35% of precincts reporting) and 64-34% (with 10% of precincts reporting). In McHenry County, another suburban county outside of Chicago, Biden is currently leading over Sanders, 58% to 40%, with 92% of precincts reporting. In 2016, this county was one of Sanders’ best performances in Illinois, beating Hillary Clinton there, 61% to 39%. And in Chicago, with 13% of precincts reporting, Biden has a narrow lead 48-47%.
9:17 p.m. What happens if political conventions aren’t feasible due to coronavirus?
In a letter to the director of the Secret Service, House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson wonders what would happen if the COVID-19 pandemic causes interference in the political conventions and presidential campaigns.
He’s asking for a contingency plan and explanation on how USSS would protect the nominees on the trail.
“Even as daily life is upended by COVID-19, Americans deserve to know how the USSS intends to safeguard its protectees on the campaign trail, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and President Donald J. Trump, and ensure that the party conventions proceed safely and securely with regard to this growing pandemic,” Thompson writes.
8:24 p.m. Sanders lost Illinois in 2016, but won a number of its counties
Sanders actually won a number of counties in Illinois in 2016, despite losing the state, though most were by a narrow margin.
His biggest victories were in McLean County and Champaign County, which the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is — read: lots of college students.
“We already know Sanders does better with younger voters, so I’ll be interested to see if these are his best counties again this time around,” wrote Kaleigh Rogers, a reporter covering politics and technology for FiveThirtyEight.
8:15 p.m. Trump projected to win Illinois GOP primary, becomes presumptive nominee
ABC News projects that with the Illinois projected win, Trump has reached the delegate threshold and is now the presumptive nominee.
“Nobody motivates our base more than President Trump, as evidenced by the historic turnout we’ve seen in state after state this primary season,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “Fueled by both our longtime supporters and the thousands of new voters that continue to join our movement, we are united and enthusiasm is on our side. We have the strongest record of success, an unparalleled grassroots infrastructure, and are thrilled to have President Trump as our Party’s presumptive nominee once again.”
8 p.m. Biden projected to win the Florida Democratic primary
Based on an analysis of the vote, ABC News projects that former Vice President Joe Biden will win the Florida Democratic primary.
In preliminary election poll results from Florida:
Survey respondents picked Biden over Sanders by 71-23% as the candidate they trust more to handle a crisis.
Respondents by 73-21% picked Biden as having a better chance than Sanders to defeat Donald Trump in November. And 66% said they’d rather see the party nominate the candidate who can beat Trump rather than the one who agrees with them on major issues.
Biden beat Sanders in trust to handle Social Security (by 59-37%) and gun policy (by 63-27%) alike.
Eighty-two percent expressed a favorable opinion of Biden overall, better than favorable views of Sanders, 68%. Sixty-five percent called Biden “about right” ideologically, vs. 36% who said the same of Sanders. Instead, 47% called Sanders “too liberal.”
8 p.m. Trump projected to win the Florida Republican primary
President Trump will win the Florida Republican primary, based on an analysis of the vote, ABC News projects.
7:45 p.m. Turnout in Arizona is light, but steady
Democratic turnout is light but steady across Arizona, according to Garrett Archer, the elections and data analyst at ABC15 in Phoenix.
He said this is likely a combination of some Democrats staying home because of the coronavirus, and the less competitive nature of the primary with only two top tier Democrats remaining in the race.
People are also noticing poll workers sanitizing equipment constantly and have reported seeing poll workers enforcing social distancing in lines. There was one instance reported where a group of people crowded near a broken tabulator while the election worker tried to fix it.
Archer did point out that the majority of voting in Arizona is conducted by mail.
In Arizona, roughly 944,000 active Democratic voters were sent ballots in the mail, according to the secretary of state’s office. Upwards of 85-90% of voters have already cast their votes and, therefore, don’t need to wait in line.
Polls close in about two hours.
ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel reports
7: 45 p.m. With 38% expected vote reporting, Biden leading Sanders so far
Most polls in Florida have closed but some in the Panhandle won’t close until 8 p.m. ET, meaning a projection won’t come until at least that time. But some of the vote is trickling in across Florida, and currently, with 38% of the expected vote reporting, Joe Biden is leading Bernie Sanders by nearly 40 points, 58%-21%.
In some of the state’s larger counties, such as Hillsborough, which covers Tampa, and Broward, a Democratic stronghold in south Florida, Biden is ahead of Sanders, 52.3% to 23.5% with 74% of precincts reporting, and 63.8%-17.6%, with 60% of precincts reporting, respectively.
Florida vote count (38% expected vote reporting) Biden 58% Sanders 21%
ABC News’ Kendall Karson, Meg Cunningham and Quinn Scanlan reporting.
7:31 p.m. Sanders delivers remarks on coronavirus
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is in the middle of remarks about his campaign and the coronavirus outbreak.
His message: we can only tackle this crisis if we are united.
“We’re dealing with a growing economic meltdown which will impact tens of millions of workers in this country. We’re dealing with a political crisis, as well. And I think the main point to be made tonight is that in this moment of crisis, it is imperative that we stand together,” he said.
He then details his campaign’s proposals for handling the pandemic, including adjustments to Medicare, mobilizing healthcare workers of all experience levels and boosting production of coronavirus testing kits.
7:02 p.m. Biden to deliver election night remarks
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign announced that the former vice president will speak at about 9 p.m. ET about his campaign amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
His remarks, which will be streamed live from Wilmington, Del., will “call on Americans to come together to address this global health pandemic, and describe how we will come out of the crisis stronger as one nation,” the email said.
6:28 p.m. The view from Illinois
At the polling location at John T. McCutcheon Elementary School in Ward 46, the voting equipment from the Chicago Board of Elections didn’t arrive in the morning, Democratic Committeeman Sean Tenner said. He’s heard it has arrived since, but wasn’t able to say for certain or provide a time. He’s been driving around the ward to check on any issues at various polling locations, and told ABC News he’d add that one to the list.
Across Chicago, if voters are unable to vote at their regular polling location because it’s been closed or moved due to coronavirus, they can vote at the one early polling location in the ward they live in, which in Ward 46, is at Truman College — hence the complaints of long lines there. Tenner was on his way to that location as we spoke to deliver more hand sanitizer.
“What I’ve been hearing around the city of course is that, because of the virus, there are polling places that are not functioning. Many people are going to those (early vote) locations, and there are, there are very long lines at many of them,” Tenner said.
ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan reports.
6:20 p.m. Sanders to address coronavirus
The Bernie Sanders campaign announced that the Vermont senator “will address his principles for responding to the coronavirus” tonight at 7:15 p.m. ET via livestream from Washington, D.C.
The campaign did not say if he will specifically address tonight’s primary contests and those states’ decisions to move forward with voting. Sanders’ remarks will steam across all of his campaign’s social media platforms and on his campaign website.
5: 26 p.m. Biden prevailed over Bernie Sanders in trust to handle a crisis in telephone surveys
According to preliminary results from the National Election Pool’s election polls on the Arizona, Florida and Illinois Democratic primaries, former Vice President Joe Biden prevailed over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in trust to handle a crisis in telephone surveys in advance of today’s Democratic primary elections in Arizona, Florida and Illinois. With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting the world, health care was a high-level concern.
Given the pandemic, exit polls were not conducted in these states; instead telephone surveys were fielded March 9-15 in Arizona and Florida and March 13-16 in Illinois. The surveys cover early voters (who predominate in Arizona), and people who said they intended to vote in person today (a sizable share in Florida and Illinois). The departure from customary exit polls in Florida and Illinois requires caution in interpreting the results.
In preliminary results, survey respondents picked Biden over Sanders as the candidate they trust more to handle a crisis by 71-23 percent in Florida, 64-31 percent in Illinois and 63-31 percent in Arizona. (A telephone survey in Ohio was canceled after the primary was halted there.)
The numbers who called health care the top issue in their vote (out of four issues listed) reached 47 percent in Arizona and 43 percent in Florida and Illinois – far and away the top mention in these states.
Again, the Florida and Illinois results, in particular, may be different from the views of actual voters, especially if large numbers of people who intended to vote in person today end up staying home because of concerns about the new coronavirus. (Forty-one percent in the Illinois survey and 30 percent in Florida said they’d vote today.) In Arizona, with the vast majority voting by mail, a telephone survey rather than an exit poll was planned all along.
ABC News’ Polling Director Gary Langer reports.
5:12 p.m. DNC urges states to push early voting, especially mail-in ballots
While there’s nothing binding in an election-night statement from Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, he is urging states that have not yet voted to push early voting — especially mail-in ballots — in lieu of pushing back primaries.
The DNC has complicated rules about when primaries can be held and has suggested that some states changing their dates could lose delegates at the Democrats’ convention.
“What happened in Ohio last night has only bred more chaos and confusion, and the Democratic party leadership in Ohio is working tirelessly to protect the right to vote,” according to the statement. “Eligible voters deserve certainty, safety, and accessibility. That’s why states that have not yet held primary elections should focus on implementing the aforementioned measures to make it easier and safer for voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote, instead of moving primaries to later in the cycle when timing around the virus remains unpredictable.”
Earlier Tuesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine defended his decision to close polls for the state’s primary in response to the evolving novel coronavirus pandemic on ABC’s “The View.” He said that the state “did not defy any court order” despite a judge denying the state’s request to postpone the contest until June.
“It was not a specific court order. We did not defy any court order,” DeWine said. “The Ohio Supreme Court, later in the night in a separate case, basically said that the elections could be stopped, so we did not defy anything.”
“This is about protecting Ohio citizens’ lives. As governor, I have the obligation to do everything I can to protect people,” said DeWine.
ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and ABC News’ Joanne Rosa report
2:40 p.m. One-time GOP congressman votes for Biden
Former long-shot Trump challenger and one-time Republican congressman Joe Walsh announced on Twitter Tuesday he voted for a Democrat for the first time for president, casting his ballot for Joe Biden. Walsh’s home state of Illinois is voting today.
“You see, Donald Trump is a horrible human being. He must be defeated,” Walsh added.
Walsh ended his campaign three days after the Iowa caucuses.
2:16 p.m. Yang’s team ‘offering resources’ to White House for possible stimulus checks
Andrew Yang, a former Democratic presidential candidate and universal basic income advocate, announced Tuesday that his team was in touch with the White House as they consider sending checks to Americans impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are doing anything we can to help,” Yang said on CNN. “This is a crisis and we all need to pull together to try to keep the country strong and whole.”
Yang’s signature campaign proposal was to give $1000 a month to every American citizen who opts into the program regardless of income. Today, he seemed to add to his proposal, saying that an additional $500 should be distributed per child.
“I look forward to monitoring the developments of the White House as they consider methods of distribution, and both me and my team are eager to offer.”
12:29 p.m. Biden fundraising email: We’re working — virtually — to beat Trump
In a new fundraising email sent Tuesday, former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign asks: “What does a presidential campaign look like in these uncertain times?”
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the campaign said they’re bolstering their web operations as more Americans opt to stay at home.
“We’re still doing the same things we did before. We’re working with elected officials who endorse us to hold events, talk to voters, and push out policy plans. It’s just all online now,” the email said.
But the campaign acknowledges they’re still figuring it out as they go.
The campaign’s ‘virtual town hall’ on Friday with Illinois voters faced major technical issues, and they skipped the video element altogether for their virtual town hall Monday, opting to connect voters with Biden via telephone.
“We’re going to keep building (and learning!) together, which is why even when plans change, our fundraising goals still remain critically important,” the email continued.
ABC News’ Molly Nagle reports.
9:58 a.m. Sanders campaign shifts away from traditional outreach
While ballots were being cast in Arizona, Florida and Illinois, the Sanders campaign announced it would not be doing traditional get-out-the-vote outreach amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign had already shifted away from in-person contact at rallies and door-to-door canvassing and have pushed their volunteers to sign up for phone/text banking shifts instead.
While there are volunteers contacting voters by phone, the message Tuesday was to let voters know that going to the polls is a “personal choice.” “We are making clear to voters that we believe going to the polls amid the coronavirus outbreak is a personal decision and we respect whichever choice they make,” according to a statement from Mike Casca, communications director. “We are also passing along guidance from the CDC on staying safe during the crisis.
ABC News’ Averi Harper reports
Coronavirus, candidates and the 2020 elections:
As ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan writes, the mercurial nature of this season’s primaries has significantly escalated in a short number of days. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have both run for the presidential office before, but never in a race like this.
By ABC News’ count, Biden is leading Sanders in the delegate race, 841-690. But with more than half of the total delegates still up for grabs, and a rapidly evolving global pandemic that’s upending all facets of life in the United States, the race to 1,991 pledged delegates — the number needed to win the nomination — may not be as settled as political pundits once thought.
In both Illinois, where there are at least 105 confirmed coronavirus cases, and Arizona, where there are at least 18 confirmed cases, the entities overseeing the elections defended the decision to continue with the primaries as planned, despite the developments in Ohio.
For those who do show up to cast ballots the old-fashioned way, steps are being taking in each state to adhere to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and keep voters at ease as they fulfill their civic duty in the midst of a crisis.
In Palm Beach County, where nearly a quarter of the population is over 65 years old, Wendy Sartory Link, the supervisor of elections there, told ABC News that no more than 50 people at one time will be allowed inside a polling site, and voters have been encouraged to bring their own pens and to make use of available hand sanitizer before and after voting.
In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a directive with recommended guidance on keeping polling locations as sanitary as possible, including routinely disinfecting “frequently touched surfaces” like voting machines, and offering hand sanitizer to voters before or after they cast their ballots.
Sangamon County, Illinois, Clerk Don Gray posted a video to Twitter that said voting booths in his locality will be six feet apart, adhering to social distancing recommendations.
All three states had early voting and vote-by-mail options — and the hope is that these methods will help mitigate the overcrowding and long lines typically expected at polling sites, which are now facing the additional obstacles of a shortage of workers and numerous site closures in the past week.
In Arizona, roughly 944,000 active Democratic voters received ballots in the mail, according to the secretary of state’s office. In Florida, more than 1 million ballots have already been cast in the Democratic primary, either in person or by mail, which is already more than 60% of 2016’s total turnout for the primary. In Illinois, early voting is surpassing record levels, with about 504,000 votes cast in the state’s primary as of Monday morning, plus an additional 111,000 mail-in ballots counted.
A spokesperson for the Illinois Democratic Party cited these metrics as reasons they’re “optimistic” about high turnout for the Democratic primary, while also using them to downplay the possibility of busy, crowded polling locations throughout the state, which, unlike Florida and Arizona, is also holding its down ballot races on Tuesday.
Among some of the most at-risk populations when it comes to coronavirus are older voters, who are typically more reliable voters, and this cycle, they’ve also shown themselves to be reliable Biden voters, backing him by a wide margin, according to exit polls from states that have already cast ballots. And young voters, some of the least reliable to show up on Election Day, are overwhelmingly supporting Sanders, much like they did in 2016.
As local officials adjust to the unprecedented circumstances presented by the coronavirus, it remains to be seen how exactly the pandemic will ultimately affect turnout with voters and poll workers rattled by the rapidly spreading disease.
Before the outbreak, Democrats were, for the most part, at least breaking 2016 turnout numbers across respective states, but whether the same will be true for the three states moving forward with their nominating contests on Tuesday remains unclear given the unique environment.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.