Georgia: Presidential primary delayed until May due to coronavirus | Greg Bluestein and Mark Niesse/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia elections officials postponed the presidential primary scheduled for next week because of the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the second state forced to push back a vote in the race for the White House due to the outbreak. The state rescheduled the presidential vote previously scheduled for March 24 until May 19, the same date as the regular primary for a U.S. Senate seat and many other offices, elections officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday. “Events are moving rapidly and my highest priority is protecting the health of our poll workers, their families, and the community at large,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Early voting for president ended a week early on Saturday and will resume April 27. Louisiana on Friday pushed back its April 4 primary to June 20. All votes already cast will be counted in May.  More than 279,000 Georgians cast ballots during two weeks of early voting in the contest, which features a matchup between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic ballot and President Donald Trump as the lone contender on the GOP ticket.

Texas: Voting delays in Fort Worth area blamed on machine set up | Anna M. Tinsley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Some Tarrant County voters waited in long lines — some that took an hour or more to get through — to cast their vote Tuesday in the presidential primary election. Officials said that was because the turnout at some sites was larger than expected, some sites were understaffed, and some voters are still getting accustomed to the new voting machines. But frustration grew on Super Tuesday when there was, for instance, a long line of Democrats waiting to vote at a polling site as several machines went unused because they were set aside for Republicans. Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said he believes the problem can be avoided. “I hope we will take advantage of what technology offers us and share the machines between the two parties,” he said Wednesday. The catch is that early voting, which is run by the county, lets residents use any of the 600 voting machines set up to cast ballots in either the Republican or Democratic primary.

Editorials: You could be disenfranchised in California’s presidential primary if you’ve registered nonpartisan | Jessica A. Levinson/Los Angeles Times

California is at risk of disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters in the March 2020 presidential primary election. The problem is so large it could impact who becomes the Democratic nominee. Voters in the Golden State are accustomed to seeing candidates from of all parties on the same ballot. This, of course, is how we vote for governor, and members of the state Legislature and the U.S. Congress. We have every reason to believe that if we are registered to vote, we will be able to weigh in on the presidential primary contest without doing more. But voting for president is different. The rules for presidential primaries are set by the national political parties — not California’s secretary of state or local county officials. And the national parties have divined a process sure to trip up millions of nonpartisan voters. If you are a nonpartisan voter, there is a different process for how you vote in the presidential primary versus any other election. If you registered as “no party preference” — previously known as “decline to state” — your ballot will not include any presidential candidates unless you take an extra step. The same applies to those registered with a party so small it isn’t officially recognized. (For instance, maybe you wrote in “Whig party” on your voter registration.)

District of Columbia: D.C. is slated to vote last in 2020 Democratic primaries. That might change. | The Washington Post

At it stands, Democratic voters in Washington, D.C., will be last in the nation to weigh in on who should challenge Donald Trump in 2020’s presidential contest. But some local politicos want to change that. At a meeting Thursday, the D.C. Democratic State Committee will consider whether to recommend moving up the District’s primary from June 16 to April 28, or some other early spring date. “If you want to be competitive in the democratic process, you need to be early up,” said D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who represents the District on the Democratic National Committee. Evans and others have long argued that an earlier primary would draw national attention to the city’s lack of representation in Congress and spark more enthusiasm from local voters.

Wyoming: Friess suggests election-law change following loss | WyoFile

The morning after his GOP primary election loss, Foster Friess asked other state party gubernatorial candidates whether they would support banning Democrats from switching parties on primary day. In an email to Wyoming GOP chairman Frank Eathorne and to each Republican candidate or a representative of their campaign — with the exception of Gordon — Friess said voting results didn’t reflect his vision of Wyoming’s political makeup. “It seems like the Democrats have figured out this party switch deal to their advantage,” Friess said in the email. “I guess there’s 114,000 registered Republicans and 17,000 registered Democrats. No way is that the actual mix, and with Trump getting 70% of the vote, it shows how the Democrats have been able to control our elections with putting on a Republican coat.”

Colorado: Nearly 7,000 unaffiliated Colorado voters nullified their primary votes by turning in ballots for both parties | Associated Press

One in 42 unaffiliated voters who tried to participate in Colorado’s first-ever open primaries flubbed it by submitting both Democratic and Republican ballots — ensuring neither was counted. But state election officials, who released numbers Friday, consider the lower-than-expected 2.4 percent ballot rejection rate a success for the inaugural run of the new law in the June 26 primary elections. A total of 293,153 unaffiliated voters returned mail ballots across the state, and 6,914 of those envelopes contained completed ballots for both parties, resulting in their nullification. Backers of Initiative 108, which Colorado voters approved in 2016 to open primaries to unaffiliated voters, praised the outcome in a news release. But they and election officials also said they’d work to lower the rejection rate in future primary elections.

Pennsylvania: Changes primary election process being considered | Meadville Tribune

In 1842, James Shellito of Sadsbury Township was upset with the procedure used by the Crawford County Democratic Party for choosing its nominees. He proposed a change that instead of a designated few choosing the party’s nominees for the general election in a behind-closed-doors session, all the registered Democrats should be allowed to choose the nominee. The matter was put to a vote and others agreed with Shellito. Thus, the “primary election” as it is known today was born. The primary election is defined as the election held by the two major political parties (Republican and Democrat) to choose their respective nominees for the fall election. Although states have primary elections, the types of primary elections differ from state to state.

Colorado: State’s 1 million-plus unaffiliated voters can participate for the first time in a primary election | The Denver Post

Colorado’s county clerks are gearing up to send out a record number of primary election ballots this week as the state’s unaffiliated voters — the largest voting bloc — get their first-ever chance to vote in a primary contest. But with that new opportunity for the more than 1.1 million active voters not tied to a political party — thanks to the 2016 passage of Proposition 108 — comes some new processes. And if they’re not careful, unaffiliated voters’ newfound ability to vote in a primary might not count.

Pennsylvania: Flashlights, generators, paper ballots employed for primaries | The Daily Item

The storm that ripped through the region at about 3 p.m. knocked out power at several polling sites, leaving voters in one Northumberland County polling place to vote by flashlight. While generators were used at several polling sites to keep voting machines running, the voting area in Jordan Township had to employ flashlights and paper ballots, said director of elections Alisha Elliott. The storm did not deter voters from coming out, though. Elliott said turnout in primary elections during a non-presidential election is usually between 15 and 17 percent, but Tuesday’s turnout was about 20 percent. Turnout in Union County topped 25 percent, besting the 18 percent prediction director of elections Greg Katherman put forth before any ballots were returned at the county government center.

South Carolina: Registering by party idea spurs questions, fear ahead of primaries | The Post and Courier

Lonnie Smith grew up questioning his world, including why certain people got elected in South Carolina. The 28-year-old Conway man can still remember going to church in 2004 when George W. Bush was running for president. He kept hearing people in the pews describe the Texas Republican as “a good person and a good Christian man.” “Would you go to the plumber with the Christian fish on the back of their truck or would you go with the one who is going to do the best job?” Smith remembers asking a fellow believer one Sunday.

Colorado: Election changes bring primary voting to unaffiliated voters | The Rocky Mountain Collegian

In 2016, Colorado voters passed a ballot measure granting unaffiliated voters the opportunity to participate in the primaries.  In this year’s state election, these changes will come into effect both on a local and statewide front. Unaffiliated voters have been excluded from the primaries in past elections, Larimer County clerk and recorder Angela Myers said. With recent changes to the Colorado election process, however, independent voters will receive both the Democrat and Republican ballots. The purpose of this change is to give the opportunity for unaffiliated voters to have a say in the outcome of the parties, as they have not been allowed that right in the past, said Kristin Stephens, Fort Collins city councilmember and chair of the election subcommittee.

Florida: Movement to open Florida’s primary-election system faces test | Daytona Beach News-Journal

With three letters, NPA, on his voter registration card, Steve Hough has only one way to have a say during Florida’s primary elections: Claim he’s a Republican or Democrat. “I’ve always been an independent,” said Hough, a Panama City resident. “I can always go down to the Supervisor of Elections Office and check a box 29 days prior (to a primary), then after voting change it back. I don’t see the reason why we have to do this.” More than 3 million Floridians did not participate in the primary elections of 2016 because they are part of the growing number of “no-party affiliation voters,” those who choose not to be associated with either of the two major parties. Where many states have opened up primary elections to voters like Hough, Florida’s remains closed. An effort to change that passed a critical test last week and faces another Thursday.

Colorado: First year of open, mail-in primaries will be an unprecedented experiment with unclear implications | Summit Daily

Colorado will elect a new governor in November, and at least a dozen candidates are currently in the running on both the Republican and Democratic sides. This year, unaffiliated voters have reason to take early notice in the race to replace term-limited Governor John Hickenlooper — and not just because of the dizzying number of candidates. Thanks to an open primaries ballot measure passed in 2016, voters who aren’t registered to either major party will able to help choose nominees for the first time in June. Proponents of the measure argued that opening up primaries to independents could give a boost to more moderate candidates and wrest some control from the hardcore partisans who cast a disproportionate number of primary votes.

Massachusetts: Scheduling state primary turns into major political headache | Associated Press

What should have been a fairly routine administrative exercise — setting a date for this year’s primary election in Massachusetts — is turning into a major political headache for state Secretary William Galvin. The primary is normally held seven weeks before the November general election, which would be Sept. 18. But this year, that day also marks the start of Yom Kippur. Setting the primary for that date would clash with a state law requiring the primary to be moved when it conflicts with a religious holiday. Backing up a week to Sept. 11 doesn’t help, either, because that would fall on Rosh Hashanah. That presented Galvin, who oversees state elections, with a potentially dicey decision. The longtime Democratic officeholder decided to crowdsource the decision by making a public appeal for suggestions from voters, candidates or anyone else with an interest.

Texas: Republican Party Drops Lawsuit To Remove Farenthold From Primary Ballot | Texas Public Radio

The Republican Party of Texas dropped its lawsuit to remove embattled Congressman Blake Farenthold’s name from the 2018 primary ballot. Farenthold asked to have his name removed from the primary ballot following ongoing accusations of sexual harassment, but his request came after the state’s deadline to remove himself from the ballot. Chris Gober, an attorney representing the Republican Party of Texas, told an Austin federal judge that they were dropping their lawsuit because the party and the Secretary of State’s office had come to an agreement that the party chairman, James Dickey, is ultimately responsible for submitting the list of candidates running in the 2018 primary election.

Texas: GOP Sues to Keep U.S. Rep. Farenthold Off 2018 Ballot | Governing

The Republican Party of Texas sued the secretary of state Friday to keep U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold off the 2018 ballot after the congressman accused of sexual harassment said he will not seek reelection. Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, announced his intent to retire two days after the state’s Tuesday deadline to withdraw from the general election primary, creating a legal and potential headache for GOP leaders. “By disallowing Mr. Farenthold’s withdrawal from the primary election, the state is forcing the Republican Party of Texas to be associated with Mr. Farenthold via his appearance on the primary ballot. Neither Rep. Farenthold nor the Republican Party of Texas desires this outcome,” Chris Gober, an attorney for the Texas GOP, said in a federal lawsuit requesting the state be barred from enforcing its withdrawal deadline against the congressman. Gober characterized the cutoff as “unconstitutionally overbroad.”

Florida: Was the Heated 2016 Democratic Primary Rigged for Debbie Wasserman Schultz? | Alternet

In August 2016, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz faced off against progressive maverick and Bernie Sanders supporter Tim Canova—her first-ever primary challenger—after six terms in Congress. Just weeks earlier she had been forced to resign as head of the Democratic National Committee after stolen emails showed her talking smack about Senator Sanders and leaning on the scales in favor of her ally Hillary Clinton. Canova focused the national outrage against her, raising over $3 million, and turning the congressional election into a referendum on her policies and ethics. But with a 13.5% victory she overcame questions about her political viability and returned triumphantly to her job in Washington. Now new evidence of original ballots being destroyed and cast ballots not matching voter lists calls into question the results of that election. 

Guam: Election reform measure fails to pass | The Guam Daily

Bill 45-34, a piece of major election reform intended to eliminate primaries on Guam, has again failed to pass the Legislature. Discussion in session revolved around the technical ramifications of the measure. Early in session, Sen. Joe San Agustin, the bill’s author, stated that a Nov. 29 letter from the Guam Election Commission acknowledged that the understanding of a majority vote was 50 percent of votes plus one. However, San Agustin said the code of law the election commission cited made reference to all other votes except candidate elections. Elections only require a majority in terms of the most votes, San Agustin said.

Editorials: For a better Pennsylvania: voting reforms | John Baer/Philadelphia Inquirer

Here’s the dilemma. Reform begins at the ballot box. But what if access to the ballot itself needs reform? Such is the case in Pennsylvania. If, for example, you’re an independent or third-party voter – and there are more than 1.1 million of you – you can’t vote for candidates in primary elections. … We’re a “closed primary state” – one of only nine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This is wrong on its face. It helps protect the political status quo. It disenfranchises citizens, even while using their tax dollars to pay for elections in which those citizens can’t participate. And it’ll get worse as more (especially younger) voters step away from the two major parties. In Philadelphia, for example, independents and third-party voters now total 117,800 – outnumbering registered Republicans.

Alaska: State to appeal ruling on independent candidates in primary elections | KTUU

On Friday, the state of Alaska is appealing the court’s decision on a lawsuit regarding unaffiliated candidates to run in a specific party’s primary election. The court ruled last month that candidates do not have to be a registered member of a party to appear on that party’s primary ballot. The suit was originally brought by the Alaska Democratic Party. A superior court judge found that the requirement violates the party’s first amendment right to associate with candidates who are not Democrats. The case will now be taken to the Alaska Supreme Court.

Guam: Primary election bill sent back to committee | The Guam Daily

Bill 45-34, an act to remove the primary election from the Guam Code Annotated was sent back to committee during session yesterday. Speaker Benjamin Cruz ordered that the bill, also known as the “Election Reform Act of 2017,” be sent back after several issues were raised about the provisions of the bill. “With these issues, we may need to completely restudy the whole bill,” he said. Prior to the decision, lawmakers deliberated on a bill provision concerning the election of the public auditor following Sen. Joe San Agustin’s motion to amend the bill to remove the provision that refers to a runoff election.

Guam: Lawmakers to vote on bill eliminating primary elections | The Guam Daily

The amended version of Bill 45-34, a measure from Sen. Joe San Agustin seeking to eliminate primary elections on Guam, was moved to the voting file during session yesterday. Lawmakers debated the provisions of the bill, with San Agustin emphasizing the cost-saving goal of the bill, noting that the primary elections are paid for by the public through appropriations made to the Guam Election Commission. Eliminating the primary elections would generate savings, he said. The Legislature’s Committee on General Government Appropriations convened a public hearing for the bill in August, during which Sen. Michael San Nicolas, committee chair, estimated the cost of holding a primary election at around $400,000. San Nicolas added that the 2016 primary resulted in about 2,000 spoiled ballots, which came to an estimated cost of about $32,000.

Guam: Election reform may depend on governor | The Guam Daily

The governor may be the determining signatory on which two competing pieces of legislation being debated in the Guam Legislature would become law. Bills 156-34 and 45-34 attempt to legislate election reform related to primaries. While Bill 156 intends to change the date of the primary election and the date of filing candidate nomination papers – to ease the burden on the Guam Election Commission – Bill 45 would eliminate the primary entirely. Sen. Mary Torres introduced Bill 156, while Sen. Joe San Agustin introduced Bill 45.

Alaska: Judge rules Democratic Party can run ‘nonpartisans’ in their primary | Must Read Alaska

In a 33-page ruling, an Alaska Superior Court judge has ruled that the Alaska Democratic Party may run candidates in its primary who are not officially aligned with any political party. In practical terms, this means a non-Democrat could win against a registered Democrat in the Democrats’ primary,  and then go on to represent the Democrats in the general election. For example, if Gov. Bill Walker decides to run in the Democrats’ primary, he might beat Mark Begich, whom many have thought is considering a run. If he won in the Democrats’ primary, he’d have to appear on the General Election ballot as a Democrat, according to the court ruling.

Colorado: GOP votes down move to cancel 2018 primary | Associated Press

Colorado Republican leaders on Saturday voted down an attempt by party activists to cancel the 2018 primary in order to prevent participation by unaffiliated voters. State voters last year approved changes that allowed Colorado’s 1.4 million unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican primary. The changes also included an “opt-out” provision that allowed for canceling primaries if the vast majority of a party’s leaders agree. In Saturday’s vote, 67 percent of the Republican central committee voted to stick with the primary system, versus 33 in favor of opting out, Republican Party spokesman Daniel Cole said. Party leaders also agreed to revisit the issue in two years, he said. The vote came after some Republicans activists said only party members should be able to participate in candidate selections, so that those chosen would better reflect GOP values.

Utah: Count My Vote may take initiatve to the ballot because of constant efforts to dismantle SB54 | Utah Policy

The organizers behind Count My Vote say they’re encouraged the SB54 compromise worked beautifully in the recent GOP 3rd CD primary election. But, the ongoing effort to undo that agreement may push them to take the issue of eliminating the caucus system directly to the people. UtahPolicy.com previously reported that Count My Vote was readying to refile their petition initiative to do away with the caucus/delegate/convention route to the ballot, leaving only a direct primary. Rich McKeown says the constant effort to do away with the legislative compromise has changed the dynamic. “It has been an absolute struggle,” said McKeown. “We have given some thought about taking this to the people. It never went to the people. It was a compromise with the legislature, so that’s the consideration we have. We’re trying to assess the landscape and trying to determine whether to move forward.”

National: In one corner of the Internet, the 2016 Democratic primary never ended | The Washington Post

On Friday afternoon, a judge in South Florida dismissed a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, brought by people who accused it of committing fraud during the 2016 primary to the detriment of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). Neither the DNC nor ousted chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) responded to the dismissal when asked to comment. Within hours, the attorneys who bought the suit, Jared and Elizabeth Beck, were providing updates on the case to the blogger and fantasy author H.A. Goodman. Calling out the people and outlets who they believe had covered them unfairly, the Becks described a legal system so corrupt that there could be no fair accounting for what the DNC did. It would be up to alternative media to get the truth out. “This population has been battered by propaganda, and misinformation, and corrupt politicians for so long,” Jared Beck said. “If you go into court, and you represent anyone but a rich person or a powerful corporation, the chances of you having a fair day in court are slim to none.”

National: Florida judge dismisses fraud lawsuit against DNC | The Washington Post

A year-long legal battle over the Democratic National Committee’s handling of the 2016 presidential primary came to an end Friday, with a federal judge in Florida dismissing a class-action suit brought by supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “To the extent Plaintiffs wish to air their general grievances with the DNC or its candidate selection process, their redress is through the ballot box, the DNC’s internal workings, or their right of free speech — not through the judiciary,” Judge William Zloch, a Reagan appointee, wrote in his dismissal. “To the extent Plaintiffs have asserted specific causes of action grounded in specific factual allegations, it is this Court’s emphatic duty to measure Plaintiffs’ pleadings against existing legal standards. Having done so . . . the Court finds that the named Plaintiffs have not presented a case that is cognizable in federal court.”

South Dakota: Open primaries campaign to get $140K boost | Associated Press

A national nonprofit has pledged $140,000 to help supporters of a constitutional amendment that would move South Dakota to an open primary system for many races, the nonprofit’s spokesman said Tuesday. New York-based Open Primaries is supporting the amendment campaign’s signature-gathering efforts, spokesman Jeremy Gruber said. The proposed amendment would have the top two finishers in a primary advance to the general election regardless of party. Backers of the amendment hope to start gathering signatures around Sept. 1, campaign chairman Joe Kirby of Sioux Falls said. They must submit nearly 28,000 valid signatures to the secretary of state by November 2017 for the amendment to appear on the 2018 ballot.