Joe Biden swept the primaries in Florida, Illinois and Arizona on Tuesday, setting himself up to become the de facto Democratic nominee.
With more than 90% of the vote counted in Florida, Biden was beating Sen. Bernie Sanders by nearly 40 points. He won Illinois by more than 20 points, and was leading in Arizona by 13 points with two-thirds of the vote tabulated.
Biden spoke shortly after 9:30 p.m. from his home in Wilmington, Del. He again reached out to Sanders’ supporters, and said his goal was to unify the Democratic Party and the country. He also addressed the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ll get through this together, that’s how we’ve always done it,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, Sanders gave his own live video address from Washington, D.C., in which he proposed a $2 trillion plan to fight the virus and to deal with the economic fallout.
Biden’s wins came as many voters seemed wary of heading to the polls amid the coronavirus pandemic. In Illinois, voter turnout appeared to down substantially from previous years.
In Florida, elections officials had trouble staffing polling locations. The supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County, Wendy Sartory Link, said at some locations, the volunteer poll workers never showed up. She was giving out new polling locations on Twitter into the late afternoon.
The Biden campaign urged voters to take advantage of curbside voting and vote-by-mail wherever possible. Sanders called the choice of whether to vote “a personal decision and we respect whichever choice voters make.”
In Chicago, dozens of polling locations were moved at the last minute. The Cook County clerk got permission to extend voting at 40 suburban precincts by one hour.
In Ohio, the election was canceled after a chaotic day in the court system. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine initially said he did not have the power to postpone the vote, but he encouraged a judge to do so. But late on Monday, the judge declined to reschedule the election. DeWine’s administration then canceled the vote anyway, using a statutory provision allowing state public health officials to take drastic measures to control infectious diseases.
In Arizona, Maricopa County elections officials put out sanitizer for voters, and encouraged hem to use it before they touched the voting machines.
Five states have postponed their primary elections since the pandemic response kicked into high gear last week. Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming are scheduled to vote on April 4, and officials there have encouraged voters to use vote-by-mail ballots. The next big state is Wisconsin, which is set to vote on April 7.