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Tuesday, April 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Biden claims majority of Washington’s delegates in presidential primary

UPDATED: Tue., March 24, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington on March 15, 2020. Biden has earned 46 of Washington’s 89 pledged delegates to the national convention, as he continues to lead Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the contest for the Democratic nomination for president. (Evan Vucci / AP)
Former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington on March 15, 2020. Biden has earned 46 of Washington’s 89 pledged delegates to the national convention, as he continues to lead Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the contest for the Democratic nomination for president. (Evan Vucci / AP)

Former Vice President Joe Biden will receive a majority of Washington’s pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention, the state party announced Tuesday.

The announcement coincides with certification of ballots in the March 10 presidential primary, the first in Washington’s history that exclusively determined the state’s support of a national nominee.

In Washington, Biden earned roughly 21,000 more votes than Bernie Sanders, good enough for 46 of the state’s 89 pledged delegates to the national convention in Milwaukee, currently scheduled for July.

The New York Times reported Monday convention officials are working on contingency plans, should health advisories against large public gatherings be extended through the summer.

Washington’s delegates will be selected through an all-digital process, after the state Democratic Party announced last week it was canceling in-person operations through May 30 in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Party officials are establishing an online system for people to apply to become delegates, which will take the place of planned caucuses the week of April 26 through May 3.

The party is in the process of establishing that online system, said Will Casey, communications director for the state party. Once it’s operational, potential delegates will have until April 24 to register and be considered a delegate to the state convention. Those selections will be made by existing precinct committee officers in the party.

Just as in past nomination processes, the presidential campaigns will have a right to deny a delegate represent them at the national convention, Casey said.

“No one will be elected to be a pledged delegate that the campaigns have not signed off on,” he said.

Biden, who trailed narrowly on Election Night, continued to extend his lead as ballots were counted following an 18-day voting period that began before Sanders won the Nevada Democratic Caucuses and ended after Biden’s resurgence on Super Tuesday. In the final count, Biden carried 26 of Washington’s 39 counties, including its large population centers in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane counties.

In Spokane County, Biden edged Sanders by 868 votes in the primary. The margin was also close across Washington’s 5th Congressional district, with Biden earning 1,385 more votes than Sanders. The district will have four delegates to the Washington convention, meaning they will be split evenly between Sanders and Biden, with two delegates apiece.

Spokane County turnout, for both the Republican and Democratic primaries, was 45.5%, which fell below the statewide figure of 49.6% but still tracked far ahead of the 2016 primary, which wasn’t used to allocate delegates.

Biden holds a delegate lead in the two-man race for the nomination, which has seen several primary contests postponed over fears of crowded polling places. The next states scheduled to vote are Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming, three states won by Sanders in his 2016 contest against Hillary Clinton. Those states are set to vote April 4.

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