Kentucky, New York and four other states faced a challenging day of votingon Tuesday, as officials tried to balance a crush of mail-in ballots with a reduced number of in-person polling sites.
That combination has led to long lines, delays and confusion during primaries in other states, including Wisconsin and Georgia, offering a preview of possible problems for the Nov. 3 general election if it is conducted under similar social distancing guidelines and other restrictions.
Kentucky and New York, which have statewide elections Tuesday, encouraged mail-in balloting as a safe alternative to in-person voting, resulting in record numbers of absentee ballot requests.
Early voting was also encouraged. One who took advantage of that was Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who voted presumably for herself in her home district in the Bronx four days ago.
Ocasio-Cortez, the 30-year-old progressive firebrand better known as AOC, campaigned in Astoria, Queens Tuesday, bumping elbows and with locals and speaking to the media about what she said were shortcomings in New York's voting procedures - even in the best of times.
"We do not have mail-in ballots, we do not have same-day registration. And these are really enormous obstacles to the vote, and it really puts New York far behind in voter access."
Her primary race will test the strength of the Democratic party’s left wing as she faces a challenge from the more moderate, former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.
In a congressional district neighboring Ocasio-Cortez’s, former teacher Jamaal Bowman is mounting a strong challenge to Representative Eliot Engel, a 31-year veteran of Congress who chairs the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Meanwhile, in Kentucky, progressive Charles Booker, an African-American state legislator, is waging an unexpectedly spirited challenge to Amy McGrath, an ex-fighter pilot, in the race to become the Democratic candidate to face Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November.
Polling locations in Kentucky were cut to fewer than 200 from more than 3,000, leaving one each for the biggest counties of Jefferson and Fayette. Absentee ballots were issued to about 27 percent of the state’s registered voters.