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Virginians weigh in on Democratic Presidential Primary

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Posted at 7:15 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 19:17:43-05

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginians took to the polls on Super Tuesday to have their say in the Democratic presidential primary, picking who will face President Donald Trump in November’s general election.

Voters that CBS 6 talked to in Henrico, Chesterfield, and New Kent Counties and Richmond reported no issues at the polls.

“Pretty simple. Straight forward. Not much of a wait,” said Nicholas McCormick in Chesterfield County.

“It went really well,” said Kaniya Burwell in Henrico County. “Real smooth.”

The commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections reported the same findings during his mid-morning update on how the election was proceeding.

“It has been an incredibly smooth day. Of all the elections that I’ve participated in Virginia, this may be the smoothest morning I’ve ever had,” said Commissioner Chris Piper.

Voters turning out on Tuesday were given a ballot containing the names of 14 candidates, however, only five of them are still running: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Piper said those names remained because the candidates only had until December 18 to withdraw their names before the ballots were printed.

"To date we haven't gotten any official withdrawals from the candidates themselves, without an official withdrawal we can't post a notice or anything like that," said Piper.

In the three days between the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday, three candidates dropped out of the race, including businessman Tom Steyer, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. The latter two then endorsed Biden on the eve of Tuesday’s elections.

For some voters that CBS 6 spoke with, the last-minute changes helped them narrow down their choice.

“Well, over the last 48 hours the two dropping out, kind of, made it easy, so. I just, kind of, focused on the issues,” said Nicholas McCormick in Chesterfield County, who did not share who he voted for.

Among the voters CBS 6 talked to, we found supporters of former Vice-President Joe Biden:

“Because I think he has more experience. You know, he’s been Obama’s right-hand man for about eight years,” said Sean Taliaferro in Henrico County. “I think he’s the guy that can beat Trump. Based on experience of actually being in the White House, knowing how things work out.”

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders:

“I supported Bernie in the last election as well, so, I’m hoping that he has a chance this time,” said Drew Walthall in Richmond. “It just seems like he genuinely cares for the middle class and Trump claimed to, but it doesn’t seem like he’s done much for them.”

And former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

“I voted for Bloomberg because he has a vision for urban communities,” said Kaniya Burwell in Henrico County. “It’s not like we’re in a caste system. He actually cares about people in the urban communities. That’s why I voted for him.”

Virginia is an open primary state, which means any registered voter can cast a ballot regardless of their party affiliation.

One Chesterfield County woman, Victoria Jackson, told CBS 6 she was a Republican and planned to vote for President Trump in November, but was voting in the primary for Biden as a way of voting against Sanders.

“Joe Biden because he does have experience in the White House and I think he’s the most experienced that is actually running,” said Jackson. “I am totally against Bernie Sanders. I don’t want a socialist running the country.”

One thing voters may have noticed at their polling station was an increased amount of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

CBS 6 noticed them at all the polling stations it visited, and the majority of the volunteers said they were there as a precaution against the coronavirus. In a question about coronavirus concerns, Piper said there were no major changes to how they prepared for Tuesday.

“We did encourage localities to consult the CDC to be knowledgeable of the virus and then we always encourage our localities to take preventative measures with regard to hygiene and having hand sanitizers and wipes available,” added Piper.