The Intercept - March 18, 2020

VOTERS IN CHICAGO’S southwest suburbs voted by a slim margin on Tuesday to upset an incumbent Democrat who has opposed party efforts on health care, abortion rights, and immigration.

Dan Lipinski, who narrowly survived Marie Newman’s attempt to oust him in 2018, will no longer represent Illinois’s 3rd Congressional District as a Democrat. Newman — following a controversial decision by the state’s Democratic Party to hold its primary amid the coronavirus crisis — narrowly defeated Lipinski in her second attempt, according to projections and a call by Decision Desk HQ. With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Newman took 47.7 percent of the vote, to Lipinski’s 43.6.

In 2018, Newman lost by 2.4 points to Lipinski, the son of an old-school Chicago machine politician who was handed his seat by his father. Newman faced pushback from party leadership and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an organ of the party establishment. But as progressive groups and liberal lawmakers sprung to Newman’s aid, giving her momentum heading into the primary, widespread fears circulated that the coronavirus outbreak would dampen her vote count Tuesday.

Thousands of people, including at least 100 medical professionals, called for Illinois and the three other states scheduled to hold concurrent primary elections to postpone the vote. A memo sent last week by the Democratic National Committee warned that states that delayed their primaries could face penalties including cutting their delegates in half, The Guardian reported. The DNC said Monday the decision to delay primaries lay with states, not with the committee. Four states chose to postpone their primary elections. And Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the state’s first coronavirus death on Tuesday. Yet the vote went ahead as scheduled.

Newman’s race appeared to be in trouble when, in Chicago and surrounding areas, voter turnout on Tuesday was “extremely low,” as the Chicago Tribune reported. Voters fielded competing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Democratic Party officials when deciding whether to vote.

Analysts, and some primary candidates, said in the lead-up to Tuesday’s votes that the spread of coronavirus could very well help to protect incumbents and disadvantage insurgent campaigns relying on new voter turnout.

NUMEROUS POLLING PLACES in Illinois shut down Tuesday, while others lacked necessary voting and sanitizing supplies, resulting in hourslong delays.

At one polling location, 16-year-old volunteer Rebecca Gross told The Intercept that her precinct never received voting supplies and had to turn away every voter who arrived Tuesday to alternative locations. Voters were eventually redirected to a second and third polling location, the first of which had at least a two-hour wait. Gross said at least five of her fellow poll workers were elderly. She had tweeted earlier that the polling location was also missing two election judges. ...
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