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."
Biden’s campaign has lied repeatedly about the safety of going to the polls. Bernie Sanders is putting the health and safety of the country first.
I know who I’m voting for. https://t.co/WjIdPEoJzB
— Briahna "Curly Fries" Gray (@briebriejoy) March 17, 2020
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."
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.
SUPER irresponsible and dangerous.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) March 17, 2020
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.
The only guidance we have so far is that we should not gather in groups of 50 people or more.
I'm sure it's an honest mistake, but this is a public health crisis.
— Briahna "Curly Fries" Gray (@briebriejoy) March 16, 2020
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."
While Arizona, Florida and Illinois are still voting today, going to the polls amid the coronavirus outbreak is a personal decision and we respect whichever choice voters make. If you do go to the polls, please see CDC guidance on keeping yourself safe: https://t.co/dS8dW76GwH
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 17, 2020
Biden, however, encouraged people to get out and vote as long as they followed guidelines to reduce the chance of spreading illness.
Elections are happening today in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois. I encourage folks to vote by mail or curbside vote if you can. If you vote in person, please wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and stay 6’ from others in line. Learn more: https://t.co/yzZZp4uKFk
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 17, 2020
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.