(Reuters) – Former Vice President Joe Biden was projected on Monday to be the winner of Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary, as results began to be released in state elections last week that also included a hotly contested state Supreme Court race.
Biden, who became the likely Democratic nominee to face Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election when his last remaining rival, Bernie Sanders, dropped out last week, was projected to win easily by the Associated Press.
The chaotic process in Wisconsin, which featured an explosion in absentee balloting and long lines of voters braving health risks and stay-at-home orders in the coronavirus pandemic, was seen as a potential preview of the national election in November if the pandemic lingers.
Thousands of state and local offices also were on the Wisconsin ballot, led by a state Supreme Court race between Dan Kelly, a conservative incumbent endorsed by Republican President Donald Trump, and his liberal challenger, Jill Karofsky.
The winner will help the court decide future voting rights and redistricting issues in Wisconsin, a vital general election battleground, including a case now before the court that seeks to purge more than 200,000 people from Wisconsin’s voter rolls.
State Republicans, warning of possible fraud and administrative issues if the elections were delayed, won legal challenges blocking Democratic efforts to postpone Tuesday’s in-person voting and extend the time for absentee voting.
But Democrats said Republicans were primarily motivated to keep down turnout in the Supreme Court race, particularly in Democratic-dominated urban areas such as Milwaukee, where a lack of workers meant the closure of all but five of the city’s usual 180 polling places.
All absentee ballots had to be hand-delivered or postmarked by last Tuesday and received by 4 p.m. CDT (2100 GMT) on Monday to be counted.
The election turmoil overshadowed the Democratic presidential primary between Biden and Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont. Sanders dropped out the day after the Wisconsin voting was finished, and endorsed Biden on Monday.
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