PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Democratic presidential hopefuls Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden face off in another round of primaries Tuesday.
States holding the March 10 contests include Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri and North Dakota. The two biggest prizes of the batch however are Michigan and Washington; the two states represent nearly two-thirds of the delegates up for grabs. Washington’s 89 delegates is second only to Michigan’s 125. Fifty-eight of Washington’s delegates will be allocated based on the outcome in congressional districts and the remainder are allocated based on statewide results.
Because Washington is an all vote-by-mail state, roughly 1.4 million ballots have already been returned, according to the Associated Press.
The 2020 primaries are a stark contrast to the ones held in 2016 for Washingtonians. The state’s GOP primary was virtually meaningless in 2016 as Donald Trump had already secured the nomination by the time it was held. Democrats held their caucuses two months earlier when the contest was down to Sanders and eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.
In order to give voters throughout the state more say in the process, Washington’s legislature moved the state’s presidential primary to occur the week following Super Tuesday.
“I think the goal that we wanted — as many voices as possible that can be heard in the primary — has been more than achieved,” said Tina Podlodowski, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party. “Our voters votes could potentially affect the winner of the Democratic primary.”
Each major political party requires voters to choose a party in order to vote in the Washington primary meaning a voter who identifies as Democrat can not vote for the Republican and vice versa. A voter can vote for whomever they choose in the November general election.
“This is very different than every other primary election that we do in the state of Washington,” said Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey. “People in Washington aren’t given the opportunity to declare a party affiliation when they register to vote unlike every other state in the country. Without that party affiliation the political parties will not allow a person to participate in the nominating process.”
One factor that is being considered by both the Sanders and Biden campaigns is that 13 names will appear on the Democratic side of the ballot despite there only being three Democratic candidates left in the race. (Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has not dropped out).
The ultimate Democratic nominee must claim 1,991 delegates. Biden has at least 664 delegates so far, while Sanders has at least 573, according to the AP delegate count. Gabbard has a distant two.
Because voters’ ballots only have be to postmarked by Tuesday or dropped at an election box by 8 p.m., final results could take days or weeks to calculate.
“We got about 12 thousand in this morning,” said Kimsey. “[It’s a] pretty good chunk. We think we will be right at 50 percent [turnout].”
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