The Latest: Ga. Democratic Senate primary too early to call

Steven Posey

Steven Posey checks his phone as he waits in line to vote, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at Central Park in Atlanta. Voters reported wait times of three hours. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 primary elections (all times EDT):

1:45 a.m.

The Democratic Senate primary in Georgia is too early to call.

In Georgia, candidates must win more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff.

With more than half of the expected vote counted at 1:30 a.m. EDT, Jon Ossoff has approximately 48% of the counted vote. He leads Teresa Tomlinson, who has roughly 16% of the counted vote, and Sarah Riggs Amico, with about 13%.

The Associated Press will continue to monitor the race as election officials in Georgia continue to report results.

Georgia Democrats fielded seven contenders in their effort to choose a challenger for Republican Sen. David Perdue in November, who had no Republican opponent.

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12:40 a.m.

The Democratic Senate primary in Georgia is too early to call.

In Georgia, candidates must win more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff.

With more than half of the expected vote counted just after midnight, Jon Ossoff has approximately 49% of the counted vote. He leads Sarah Riggs Amico and Teresa Tomlinson, who each have roughly 13% of the counted vote.

One of the state’s largest counties, De Kalb in the metro Atlanta area, has yet to report any results.

The Associated Press will continue to monitor the race as election officials in Georgia continue to report results.

Georgia Democrats fielded seven contenders in their effort to choose a challenger for Republican Sen. David Perdue in November, who had no Republican opponent.

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11:50 p.m.

Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango has won the Democratic nomination for governor of West Virginia.

Salango’s victory in Tuesday’s primary sets him up for a November showdown with coal billionaire and incumbent Republican Gov. Jim Justice.

Salango narrowly defeated progressive community organizer Stephen Smith to win the Democratic nomination. As a commissioner of the state’s most populated county, Salango had emphasized his experience in government throughout his campaign.

Justice trounced Woody Thrasher, former state lawmaker Mike Folk and others to win the GOP nomination.

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11:40 p.m.

A progressive candidate featured in a Netflix documentary on politics has won the Democratic Senate primary in West Virginia to face Republican Sen. Shelly Moore Capito in November.

Paula Jean Swearengin was featured in the 2019 Netflix political documentary “Knock Down the House.” She accepted only individual donations during her campaign and outraised one of her two opponents, former state Sen. Richard Ojeda, by a more than 10-to-1 margin. Also seeking the Democratic nomination was former South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb.

The Senate race wasn’t Swearengin’s first bid for public office. She received 30% of the vote in the 2018 primary against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

In the Republican primary, Capito easily defeated Family Policy Council of West Virginia President Allen Whitt and former craftsman Larry Butcher.

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10:10 p.m.

Primary polls are closing across Nevada and elections officials are cutting off any voters from joining long lines at polling places. Election officials say any voter in line before the 7 p.m. cutoff will get to cast a ballot.

The secretary of state’s office says no election results will be released in Nevada until every one of those voters has been able to vote.

Voters were waiting in lines for three hours and more Tuesday at limited polling places in Las Vegas despite Nevada officials encouraging people to cast their primary election ballots by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nevada Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Wayne Thorley said his office had received a report of a three-hour wait at one Clark County polling place.

Voters waiting to cast ballots at the Clark County Election Department office told The Associated Press they had been waiting in line for four and five hours.

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9:45 p.m.

Two incumbents have won the Republican nominations for governor in West Virginia and North Dakota.

Gov. Jim Justice was declared the primary winner in West Virginia on Tuesday, while Gov. Doug Burgum captured the GOP nomination in North Dakota.

Justice, a billionaire coal and agricultural businessman, defeated Woody Thrasher, Mike Folk and others to win the GOP nomination. This week, President Donald Trump tweeted a message of support for the governor: “Big Jim is doing a tremendous job for West Virginia. Vote for Big Jim!”

Burgum, a former software executive, defeated Michael Coachman in the election, which was conducted exclusively by mail. He’s expected to be a heavy favorite in November over Democratic political newcomer Shelley Lenz, a veterinarian and small-business owner.

Two Republican incumbent senators also won their primaries on Tuesday: Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia and Lindsey Graham in South Carolina.

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7:45 p.m.

Joe Biden has won the Democratic presidential primaries in Georgia and West Virginia.

The former vice president was declared the winner Tuesday, after a day of voting problems plagued Georgia. Voters reported long lines, equipment not working and absentee ballots not received. Polling places in at least nine counties extended voting hours because of the problems.

Biden had already amassed enough delegates to be Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee. His status will be formalized at the party’s convention in August.

Georgia is considered a potential battleground state in November’s election. It hasn’t gone for a Democratic presidential contender since 1992.

West Virginia is a reliably Republican state.

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7 p.m.

Polling places in at least nine Georgia counties will remain open later than expected because of voting problems.

Voters reported long lines Tuesday, voting equipment not working and absentee ballots not received, among other complaints. The extensions span the northwest corner of the state to the southeast coastline.

In Bartow County, a heavily Republican county on the suburban fringe of Atlanta, county officials extended the hours at one polling place by half an hour, saying the polling place was unable to open on time because of “unforeseen circumstances.”

A judge in DeKalb County signed an order approving extended voting hours for seven polling places. The extensions, ranging from 15 minutes to three hours and 10 minutes, were the result of delays in voting because of “technical and logistical issues.”

Laurens County Probate Judge Helen Harper says hours were extended at one of the rural middle Georgia county’s 16 polling places by an hour after workers couldn’t get the computerized devices using for signing in voters to work on Tuesday morning.

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6:05 p.m.

Georgia’s House speaker is directing leaders of the House Governmental Affairs Committee to investigate the voting problems in Tuesday’s primaries.

Republican House Speaker David Ralston said in a statement that the move was prompted by anecdotes of “unacceptable deficiencies” from around the state: poll workers lacking proper training, voting equipment not working, absentee ballots not received, among other problems.

“The legislative branch of government has an obligation to go beyond the mutual finger-pointing and get to the truth and the real reasons underlying these frustrations and concerns,” Ralston said.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told The Associated Press in an interview that county election directors are responsible for the voting problems.

“It falls back on the management team to make sure the poll workers are trained properly,” he said. “The machines are operating fine when the operator knows what they are doing.”

But voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, who lost the 2018 governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp, tweeted that Raffensperger “owns this disaster.”

“He must stop finger-pointing and fix it,” the Democrat wrote.

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5:35 p.m.

Georgia’s secretary of state is blaming county election directors for voting problems in Tuesday’s statewide primary elections.

Republican Brad Raffensperger said in an interview with The Associated Press that voting was running smoothly across much of the state, except for two metro Atlanta counties.

“When these things arise, and it’s really specifically in one or two counties, in Fulton and Dekalb counties that had these issues today, it leads us back to the failure of the management of the county election directors,” Raffensperger said. “It has nothing to do with what we’re doing in the rest of Georgia.”

But the problems weren’t exclusive to Fulton and Dekalb counties. Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams’ group Fair Fight Action said voters had reported that at least 21 polling locations in at least eight counties did not open as scheduled at 7 a.m.

In Chatham County, which includes Savannah, voting hours were being extended two hours because of problems and delays.

It was Georgia’s first time using its new voting system, which combined touchscreens with scanned paper ballots in races for president, U.S. Senate and dozens of other contests.

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5:05 p.m.

The Biden campaign is denouncing the voting problems in Georgia and calling on the state to make improvements before the November general election.

Rachana Desai Martin, the campaign’s national director for voter protection and senior counsel, said Tuesday that the long lines, undelivered absentee ballots and voting machine malfunctions were “completely unacceptable” and a threat to American values of free and fair elections.

“We only have a few months left until voters around the nation head to the polls again, and efforts should begin immediately to ensure that every Georgian — and every American — is able to safely exercise their right to vote. Our campaign will remain fully engaged in defending that right,” she said.

It was Georgia’s first time using its new voting system, which combined touchscreens with scanned paper ballots in races for president, U.S. Senate and dozens of other contests.

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3:20 p.m.

The president of a group that advocates for fair elections is calling on Georgia to extends its voting hours following widespread reports of voting machine malfunctions and long lines in its twice-delayed primary election.

“This election has been a catastrophe,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “If we view the primary election as a dry run for November, Georgia gets an F.”

Clarke said her group has filed notices with Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties asking them to extend voting hours Tuesday because of the widespread reports of problems. People have reported waiting in line for up to five hours.

“I place the indictment on the secretary of state and the governor for not doing all they can to ensure, in the middle of a pandemic, that counties would have the support, resources and training necessary to administer an election in which they were using new machines,” Clarke said. “They could have anticipated every problem we are seeing across the state today.”

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, has opened an investigation of voting problems in Fulton and Dekalb counties and said “every other county” was significantly better prepared. But voting delays haven’t been limited to those two counties.

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2:30 p.m.

Georgia’s secretary of state has opened an investigation into voting problems in two counties in metro Atlanta amid reports of voting machine malfunctions in its twice-delayed primary election.

Republican Brad Raffensperger on Tuesday announced investigations into Fulton and Dekalb counties’ election process. He called what was happening there “unacceptable” and said his office was investigating how to resolve the issues before the November general election.

It’s the first time Georgia is using its new voting system, which combined touchscreens with scanned paper ballots in races for president, U.S. Senate and dozens of other contests. But Raffensperger said “every other county” was significantly better prepared.

However, voting delays weren’t limited to Atlanta. In Savannah, Mayor Van Johnson said he was “inundated” with calls Tuesday morning from voters reporting “extensive delays.”

Technical problems caused at least one polling place in the Augusta area to open more than 90 minutes late, Richmond County elections supervisor Lynn Bailey told WRDW-TV. News outlets also reported problems with poll workers operating voting equipment in Macon and a long line stretching through the parking lot of polling site at a church in Columbus.

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This story has been corrected to show Gov. Doug Burgum captured the GOP nomination in North Dakota, not South Dakota.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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