April 29 (UPI) — Former Vice President Joe Biden was projected early Wednesday to win the Ohio Democratic presidential primary.
With nearly 81 percent of precincts reporting, Biden won 72.8 percent of the vote with 459,318 ballots cast to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 16.6 percent, or 104,766 votes, according to an unofficial tally by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
As of early Wednesday, Biden has received half of the state’s 136 pledged delegates.
Originally scheduled for March 17, the Ohio Democratic presidential primary was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and then reformed as an all-mail vote for Tuesday following a series of litigations.
A day before the primary, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced in a release that nearly 2 million Ohioans had requested a vote-by-mail ballot with 1.4 million having already cast their votes.
“In a matter of weeks, we’ve done something that’s taken other states years to do — transform our state into one capable of voting entirely by mail,” said LaRose.
Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Monday to be counted, his office said, adding, in-person voting was open to those with disabilities and those who cannot receive mail.
Biden was the expected winner of the contest after Sanders dropped out of the presidential race early this month and then endorsed his former combatant for the country’s highest office.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump was projected to win the Ohio Republican primary contest as the only candidate on the ballot.
On Tuesday, Biden received the endorsement of former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The coronavirus, which has infected more than 1 million Americans and caused businesses to shutter countrywide, has upended the primary season as 15 states and Puerto Rico have pushed back their voting dates or extended vote-by-mail deadlines.
New York, one of the worst-hit states by COVID-19, took precautions even further on Monday and canceled the contest.