The US Democratic Party went ahead with its third marathon run of primaries on March 17, Tuesday, despite concerns raised by public health and State authorities. The ‘Super Tuesday 3’ primaries were held in the three delegate rich States of Arizona, Florida and Illinois. With 441 delegates up for grabs, this was the second largest primary round on a single day for the Democratic Party.
Public health experts have raised the alarm about the third stage of COVID-19 spread in the United States – when the infection goes beyond one-to-one transmission and reaches a point of sustained spread across the community.
Washington, Oregon and California were among the first States to consistently report community spread in early March. Washington Democratic Party which held its primary along with other States last week, implemented social distancing by allowing members to vote from home.
On the other hand, the Ohio Democratic Party, which was also to hold its primaries yesterday, took the Ohio State government to court for postponing all primaries. Eventually, the Ohio State supreme court backed the State government’s decision to postpone in-person voting for all primaries. Similar measures were taken by State authorities in Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana.
Holding the primaries on Super Tuesday 3 during COVID-19 returned among the lowest turnout in years. Even though details of the complete turnout are yet to be released as votes are still being counted in most precincts, news reports suggest a grave picture.
The State of Illinois, for instance, with over 2.5 million Democrats, only reported little more than 400,000 votes for the primaries. In Florida, news reports have reported higher turnout than the 2016 primaries, when barely 28.5% of eligible voters participated in the Democratic and Republican primaries.
So far, the lower turnout seems to have given greater dividends for pro-establishment candidate Joe Biden. While the Sanders campaign had encouraged people to keep their health and safety in mind if they chose to vote, Biden encouraged people to vote if they are healthy.