Former Vice President Joe Biden swept the Arizona Democratic presidential preference election on Tuesday, crushing competitor Bernie Sanders in an election marred by epic turmoil over coronavirus fears.
Biden was more than 10 percentage points above Sanders as early returns came in, leading major news agencies to call the race for Biden just after 8 p.m. The Arizona Secretary of State's Office showed Biden at 42 percent to Sanders' 29 percent at 8:10 p.m. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, who both dropped out of the race in early March, still made a showing of 7 and 5 percent, respectively, most likely due to early voting.
The election could hardly have been more different than the 2016 presidential primary. That one, which drew both Democratic and Republican voters, had strong turnout on top of a reduced number of polling stations, a perfect storm that led to hours-long waits at some locations.
This morning, reports of relatively few people at the polls trickled over social media. Reporters did not cover the election as usual, and local newsrooms were empty.
Biden also won primaries on Tuesday in Florida and Illinois.
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Arizona officials pondered canceling the election as businesses closed across the state and people shuttered themselves indoors because of the virus. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs made the call on Monday to keep the polls open.
“We have no guarantee that there will be a safer time to hold this election in the near future,” she said in a press conference with Governor Doug Ducey. "The longer we wait, the more difficult and dangerous this will become."
In Maricopa County, officials counted 732,376 registered Democrats eligible to participate in the election, and they had 285,913 ballots by 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, representing 39 percent of the eligible voters, "with no in-person voting reported yet." The count in the state's largest county, as of that time, 42 percent for Biden and 30 percent for Sanders. Officials said they'll keep updating the totals from the 148 voting centers at the website results.maricopa.vote.