Former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday night predicted that he performed well in the Democratic presidential primary in Wisconsin, as the voting process in large part just showed the challenges of casting ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials results weren’t expected to be released until Monday due to a court ruling.
“Depending on how many showed up, I think I will have done well, but who knows. We’re going to find that out,” Biden said in a CNN appearance. Ahead of Tuesday’s voting, the former vice president had been enjoying a big lead over rival Bernie Sanders in polls of Wisconsin’s voters, and the Vermont senator has faced pressure to drop out of the Democratic race.
“My gut is that we shouldn’t have had the election in the first place — the in-person election. It should have been all mail ballots,” Biden also said on Tuesday night.
Another key statewide race pitted a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice backed by President Donald Trump, Daniel Kelly, against a challenger endorsed by Biden and Sanders, Jill Karofsky.
Voters with and without face masks dealt with long lines at many polling stations, after the Badger State’s top court on Monday ruled against an order from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers that aimed to delay in-person voting due to the virus. The U.S. Supreme Court also had weighed in Monday, blocking Democratic efforts to extend absentee voting. A record number of absentee ballots were requested by the state’s voters.
“What’s happening at polling locations across Wisconsin right now is outrageous,” tweeted Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a former 2020 White House hopeful. “We must plan ahead for Nov. & pass my bill to keep all Americans safe by expanding #VoteByMail & extending early voting.”
At his daily coronavirus press briefing, Trump on Tuesday said the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority was right to block the extension of absentee voting in Wisconsin, and he accused Wisconsin Democrats of trying to postpone the election as a response to his endorsement of Kelly. When asked about the long lines and the safety of voters, the president said reporters should direct those questions at Evers. He also said voting by mail led to cheating.
“Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country,” Trump said. “These mailed ballots are corrupt, in my opinion. They’re forgeries.” There has been no evidence of fraud in mail-in ballots, and Trump himself voted by mail in March’s Florida primary.
More than a dozen other states have postponed their primaries due to the pandemic, while Wisconsin’s push to proceed left it struggling to find enough polling-place workers as well as relying on the National Guard to help staff voting sites. The Biden and Sanders teams were reduced to campaigning virtually in recent weeks in Wisconsin due to concerns over the new coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19.
The chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Andrew Hitt, played down health worries in an interview with the Associated Press, noting the state’s residents still have been going to the grocery store, the liquor store and even boating stores classified as essential businesses. Hitt said he “can’t really think of something more essential than voting,” adding that he didn’t have a face mask and was “sure most of Wisconsinites don’t have masks. This isn’t New York City.”
MarketWatch’s Greg Robb contributed to this report.