Sanders Camp Blames Biden for Encouraging Voters to Cast Ballots Amid Coronavirus Fears

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders / Getty Images
March 17, 2020

Campaign staff and surrogates of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) criticized Joe Biden and his campaign Tuesday for encouraging people to go to the polls, accusing the former vice president's campaign of lying and endangering voters in the process.

"Biden’s campaign has lied repeatedly about the safety of going to the polls," Sanders’s national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray said in a tweet. "Bernie Sanders is putting the health and safety of the country first. I know who I’m voting for."

Social justice advocate and prominent Sanders supporter Shaun King echoed Gray’s comments in another tweet, arguing that Biden should have pushed to postpone Tuesday's primary elections.

"After several states saw the risk, and postponed primaries, at least to give themselves time to prep, @JoeBiden and the Democratic Party doubled down, ignored the risks, and didn't even make sure polling locations had BASIC cleaning supplies," King said in a tweet on Tuesday. "SUPER irresponsible and dangerous."

Ohio was the only Tuesday primary state to postpone elections, with Florida, Arizona, and Illinois all forging ahead. Georgia and Louisiana postponed their primaries last week until May and June, respectively. At press time, Biden is projected to win Florida and Illinois by wide margins, while Arizona's polls have yet to close.

On Sunday, Gray attacked Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, for saying after Sunday night's debate that it would be safe to vote on Tuesday according to CDC guidelines.

Sen. Sanders himself refrained from urging people to vote in a tweet on Tuesday, saying that it was a "personal decision" and he would "respect whichever choice voters make."

Biden, however, encouraged people to get out and vote as long as they followed guidelines to reduce the chance of spreading illness.

Some supporters of the Sanders campaign also argued on Tuesday that refusing to postpone the primary amounted to voter suppression. Sanders backers such as Dream Defenders co-director Rachel Gilmer argued that younger voters, Sanders's key voting bloc, having their lives upended by school cancellations tilted the elections in favor of Biden.