(UPI) — Fourteen states and one U.S. territory will vote Tuesday in races nationwide that will help solidify the nominee in the Democratic presidential campaign — a race led by former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Known as “Super Tuesday,” the pivotal date comes shortly after three candidates dropped out — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Monday, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Sunday and billionaire Tom Steyer on Saturday. At a rally Monday in Texas, one of the states voting Tuesday, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and former candidate Beto O’Rourke all endorsed Biden.
Who’s voting on Super Tuesday?
States casting ballots Tuesday are Alabama, Arkansas, California Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia. American Samoa, a U.S. territory and the birthplace of candidate Tulsi Gabbard, will also vote for a Democratic nominee.
A total of 1,357 delegates are up for grabs Tuesday — nearly 70 percent of the 1,991 needed to secure the Democratic nomination at the party’s national convention in Milwaukee in July.
With the largest populations and most delegates to award — a total of 756 — California and Texas are the top prizes Tuesday.
Who’s still in the race?
Sanders, after contests in four states, so far leads all candidates with 60 pledged delegates. Biden, fresh off a dominating win last weekend in South Carolina, has 53 pledged delegates and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has eight. Buttigieg won 26 delegates and Klobuchar won 7 prior to ending their campaigns, and it remains to be seen to which candidate their supporters will go.
Bloomberg has spent millions on advertising so far in his campaign and has participated in the last two primary debates, since the party dropped the donor requirement. The former New York City mayor has his legion of supporters, and a solid performance Tuesday could vault him into “serious contender” territory — whereas a weak showing would effectively kill his campaign.
Concern about cyberattacks and coronavirus
A recent survey by computer security firm Critical Start showed 66 percent of Super Tuesday voters said they fear the elections aren’t secure — with many believing one of the campaigns would seek to influence the election and others concerned a foreign power, like Russia, might try to interfere.
Jordan Mauriello, Critical Start vice president of managed security, warned that cyberattacks — like denial of service attacks that seek to slow voting computers and other infrastructure through increased traffic — are simple for attackers to pull off and can be difficult to discern from common technical difficulties or other errors.
“Outside of getting honesty from the people who run the infrastructure, there is no way to tell the difference between a technical issue, a bug, an outage, something that is intentionally being disrupted,” he told UPI.
The survey found almost half of voters said paper ballots would make them more confident in the accuracy of elections — and Mauriello acknowledged electronic voting machines, which print bar codes as a mark of accuracy, can be manipulated.
“There’s no way for a human to really validate that a bar code is accurate, so if somebody were to compromise that system and manipulate what it actually writes on the bar code, people would never know the difference.”
Mauriello said the best way voters can ensure the accuracy of their ballot is to manually validate it.
“People [can] take the output of the ballot marking device and feed it right back in, and it only takes a couple of minutes to validate it,” he said. “Take the extra time to do so, because it could be the difference between a correct and incorrect vote.”
Election security isn’t the only concern for Super Tuesday. Dozens of confirmed coronavirus cases have turned up in the United States, and at least six people have died.
In California, which has both the largest number of pledged delegates and the highest concentration of COVID-19 patients among Super Tuesday states, Secretary of State Alex Padilla said there have been “no indications of any disruptions” by the virus to the state’s primary.
Padilla noted that 75 percent of the state’s voters received absentee ballots, which can be mailed or dropped off at certain locations. John Gardner, assistant registrar of voters in Solano County, said the county has added curbside locations to allow voters to deliver ballots without leaving their vehicles.
Reporting by Daniel Uria