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Nine Primaries Go On Amid Coronavirus, Curfews

Many states have expanded absentee voting in an effort to enable continued social distancing

A person is talking to another person at a polling location during the election

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

An election official wears a mask and sits behind a plastic barrier as he checks in voters at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C.

En español | Voters in eight states and the District of Columbia went to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots for a presidential nominee and to choose who will run for Congress or state and local offices. What is being called a second Super Tuesday, however, is taking place as Americans continue to face the coronavirus pandemic and, in many cities, protests in the streets.

Ballots are being cast in the District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Philadelphia and D.C., which are among the cities where protests have erupted over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, both have curfews that are due to start before the polls close. But leaders in Philadelphia (where people are supposed to be off the streets at 6 p.m.) and D.C. (where the curfew is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.) say voters can still go to the polls until they close at 8 p.m. without concerns about being stopped. Late Tuesday Philadelphia officials moved its curfew back to 8:30 to accommodating voting.

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In many of the states voting Tuesday, the coronavirus has led officials to find ways to curtail in-person voting. An increase in the number of absentee ballots is expected. Several states have limited the number of polling places and added drop-off centers for absentee ballots. Here’s a look at when the polls close:

  • District of Columbia: Polls close at 8 p.m.
  • Idaho: Ballots are being cast by mail and must be received by 8 p.m.. Voters should check with their county clerk for drop-off centers.
  • Indiana: Polls close at 6 p.m. All absentee ballots had to be received by the county election board by noon.
  • Iowa: Polls close at 9 p.m.
  • Maryland: Polls close at 8 p.m., and ballots may be brought to drop-off centers by 8 p.m. Mailed ballots must be postmarked by June 2 to be counted.
  • Montana: Ballots are being cast by mail and must be brought to county election offices by 8 p.m.
  • New Mexico: Polls close at 7 p.m. Absentee ballots should be dropped off at a polling place by 7 p.m.
  • Pennsylvania: Polls close at 8 p.m. In Philadelphia and Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie and Montgomery counties, absentee ballots will be counted if they are postmarked by June 2 and election officials receive them within a week.
  • Rhode Island: Polls close at 8 p.m. Absentee ballots must be received at 8 p.m. and may be brought to drop boxes at city and town halls.

After Tuesday, some states will still cast primary ballots. Georgia voters go to the polls on June 7; Kentucky, New York and Virginia vote on June 23; Louisiana on July 1; and New Jersey on July 7.

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez has called on states to move to voting by mail or other methods that would not disenfranchise voters while protecting their health.

“As our country deals with the uncertainty of COVID-19, it is critical that states provide clarity and not confusion, which could lead to disenfranchising voters,” Perez said in a statement. “In order to ensure the voices of voters are heard, the DNC is urging the remaining primary states to use a variety of other critical mechanisms that will make voting easier and safer for voters and election officials alike.”

According to Perez, the easiest alternative would be for states to proactively mail ballots to all voters. “Additional tools include no-excuse absentee voting, whereby a voter can either drop a ballot off at convenient locations or drop it in the mail,” Perez said. “And, where in-person voting can still take place under public health guidelines, states should expand days and hours of early voting to reduce lines.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect new information.

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