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Ohio Primary Raises New Election Worry: Rejected Provisional Ballots

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Ohio's Democratic presidential primary winner was never in doubt, but its voting process was.

The April 28 primary, the second statewide vote-by-mail contest since the pandemic interrupted the 2020 election, highlighted new complexities facing voters if the nation shifts to mostly absentee voting this fall.

In addition to postal delivery delays possibly disqualifying hundreds of thousands of ballots—as was seen in Wisconsin's April 7 primary—Ohio's saw legally registered voters who waited until the eleventh hour to vote wrestle with the vote-by-mail process and get prevented from casting a ballot that would be counted.

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Votes Do Matter, Bernie

If Bernie Sanders were amassing a nearly insurmountable lead in the delegate counts, I have little doubt that he would be saying to Joe Biden: “Democrats have spoken. Time to drop out and help the team.”

But doing what he expects of others is not Bernie’s way. As in the past, he can stay in, waving the implied threat that not adopting his program might cause his base to stay home in November. The impolite word is “extortion,” which Sanders launders with baloney claims that he is, somehow, actually winning.

My favorite is “We are winning the generational debate.” Sanders said this right after Joe Biden crushed him in Super Tuesday II. Sanders had just lost his working-class firewall of Michigan, plus Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and even Sanders-friendly Washington. (He won only North Dakota.)

By “generational debate,” Sanders meant he was prevailing among younger voters, which is true. But he is apparently not doing well among young nonvoters, who, contrary to the campaign’s claims, are not showing up in vast numbers to support him.

Camp Bernie fantasizes that young people’s votes count more than old people’s votes. For demographic reasons, Sanders was expected to lose Florida and Arizona. But Biden bested him by nearly 40(!) percentage points in Florida — and at a time when the coronavirus is scaring a lot of elderly voters away from the polls.

The Sanders campaign continually boasts that it is winning the small-donations race. “We’re especially proud that of the more than 2 million donations we received this month, over 1.4 million were from voters in states that vote on Super Tuesday,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, said at the start of March.

Sanders’ ability to raise large sums in small quantities is genuinely impressive. And it follows that the Vermonter would not be beholden to big-money interests. But dollars are not votes. Votes are something Americans cast free of charge — and not by writing checks, whatever the size. Votes determine the winner.

Two days later, Super Tuesday happened. After greatly outspending Biden, Sanders lost 10 of the 14 states including Texas and Virginia. He did grab the biggest prize, California, though by fewer than 7 percentage points. Vermont’s neighbors, Massachusetts and Maine, went for Biden.

After losing badly on Super Tuesday II, Sanders vowed not to end his campaign. He explained, “Poll after poll, including exit polls, show that a strong majority of the American people support our progressive agenda.”

It’s a cliche but true that the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day. But it’s not hard to “win” a poll if you word it in your favor. Sanders often cites the polls finding that most Americans like the idea of his “Medicare for All.” Other polls, however, show that even more Americans object to losing their private coverage, which his proposal would ban. How do you explain that discrepancy? Marketing.

What Sanders calls Medicare for All is not Medicare. It’s a Canadian-style single-payer system. However one feels about the Canadian system, the fact remains that Canada forbids people from buying private coverage for services included in the government plan. Medicare is a mixed-payer program combining government insurance with a good deal of regulated private coverage.

To we who have followed the health care battles over the years, Biden’s proposals to expand government’s role is plenty progressive. But if you buy into Sanders’ contention that the coronavirus pandemic will drive people toward his more radical ideas, you have to ask yourself: Why does Sanders lose by progressively bigger margins as this virus rampages?

It’s those darn voters. They get in the way every time.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Biden Sweeps “Super Tuesday III” With Big Wins In All Three Primaries

Winning decisive victories in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona, Joe Biden amassed a formidable lead over Bernie Sanders on Tuesday night, under the shadow of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The former vice president defeated the Vermont senator by wide margins in every state, which meant that by the evening’s end he had amassed 1,068 pledged delegates to only 771 for Sanders, according to ABC News. That is a lead many analysts regarded as almost mathematically insurmountable, requiring Sanders to win 60 percent of all delegates in the remaining states. But with many state parties postposing the contests that remain, it isn’t clear how or when Biden will be able to reach a majority before June.

In Florida, Biden won by nearly 40 points. He took Illinois by almost 24 points and Arizona by nearly 13 points, as Sanders underperformed his 2016 vote in all three states. Sanders offered no hint on Tuesday night as to whether he will heed increasing calls by Democrats for him to concede the primary and begin to build party unity against President Trump — or continue his campaign until the convention in July. Uncertainty caused by the national health emergency has led his own surrogates and advisers to suggest that he should press on.

In Illinois, progressive candidate Marie Newman won her second challenge to conservative Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski, making him the first member of Congress to lose his seat in 2020.

Biden spoke on Tuesday night briefly after the results began to come in.

In Debate, Biden Promises To Choose A Woman For Vice President

Joe Biden promised to choose a woman as his vice presidential running mate if he wins the Democratic nomination, as he and Bernie Sanders dueled in an unusual debate on Sunday evening. A surprised Sanders agreed that he too would likely select a “progressive” woman.

“There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow,” said the former vice president, who repeated the promise under questioning from the moderators. “I would pick a woman to be my vice president.” Although the Vermont senator didn’t respond with an equally firm pledge, Sanders said “in all likelihood I will. For me it’s not just nominating a woman, it is making sure we have a progressive woman — and we have progressive women out there.”

That moment of agreement came amid a sometimes heated debate over past votes and leadership styles as the two remaining Democrats in the race competed amid the advent of a national medical emergency that has no end in sight.

The coronavirus crisis changed not only the debate’s substance but its circumstances, with the candidates meeting in a CNN Washington studio, absent any audience, instead of a packed auditorium in Phoenix, AZ. As the candidates took the stage they bumped elbows instead of shaking hands, in accordance with CDC guidelines on personal contact to avoid spreading the virus. Both candidates said during the debate that they had felt no symptoms of the illness and had not been tested yet.

The debate’s first 40 minutes focused on the crisis, with Biden calling for national unity, criticizing the response of the Trump administration, and recalling his own role in dealing with pandemic threats as Barack Obama’s vice president. Sanders took the opportunity to again press his Medicare-for-all plan. But much of the remaining time was devoted to familiar disputes between the two men over policy issues and past votes. There was no startling moment that might have changed the trajectory of the race, as Biden delivered a better and more assured performance than in earlier debates, while the scrappy Sanders never landed a knockout blow. A Washington Post analysis declared that Biden was the evening’s main “winner.”