March 3 (UPI) — Fourteen states and one U.S. territory will vote Tuesday in races that will help choose the Democratic nominee to face President Donald Trump in the November general election, a primary race led by former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Three candidates dropped out of the race just before the “Super Tuesday” vote — 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 endorsed Biden.
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 and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, will also vote.
A total of 1,344 delegates are up for grabs Tuesday — nearly 70 percent of the 1,991 needed to secure the Democratic nomination on the first ballot 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. North Carolina will pledge 110 delegates.
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.
“The last few days have made one thing very clear: We are building the campaign that will beat Donald Trump,” Biden tweeted Monday night.
“Whether you supported Pete, Amy, Beto, or any other candidate in this race — know that there is a home for you in our campaign. I will do everything I can to earn your vote.”
Sanders said, “We need a new vision for America — a vision that tells the corporate elite and the 1 percent that this country belongs to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.”
A wild card in the race is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a late entry to the campaign who could become a serious contender with a good Super Tuesday performance. He didn’t appear on the ballot in any of the early voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina — instead deciding to focus on the Super Tuesday states.
Bloomberg has spent millions on advertising and has participated in the last two primary debates, since the party dropped the donor requirement.
“Super Tuesday will mark the 100th day of our campaign,” Bloomberg tweeted. “In those 100 days, we’ve been mobilizing the country and building a movement to defeat Trump. To defeat him, we have to win Tuesday.”
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. Mauriello acknowledged that 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.