WASHINGTON — On the biggest day of voting since the coronavirus disrupted public life, Americans cast ballots in extraordinary circumstances on Tuesday, heading to the polls during a national health and economic crisis and amid the widespread protests and police deployments that have disrupted communities across the nation.
It made for some unusual scenes in this most unusual election season.
In the nation’s capital, for instance, polling places are open until 8 p.m., while the citywide curfew in place begins at 7 p.m. (the police did not anticipate arresting voters who broke the curfew).
In Philadelphia, 70 percent of polling places were closed while the authorities banned vehicle traffic and shut down public transportation in Center City, the downtown area, because of the unrest, meaning the only ways to get to polling sites were by foot or by bicycle.
And in Indianapolis, where 90 percent of polling locations were closed, voters faced long lines outdoors in 90-degree heat to vote in the remaining spots.
The voting also came amid a sustained assault on the electoral system by President Trump, who has falsely attacked mail voting as biased toward Democrats, threatened to withhold federal resources from states that mailed ballots to voters and suggested in general, with no evidence, the Democrats are looking to rig the election.
Voters in eight states and Washington, D.C., were choosing nominees for congressional and local offices while casting perfunctory primary ballots in the presidential contest, which has long been set between Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
All locales voting on Tuesday had seen an exponential surge in absentee voting because of the pandemic, with some states receiving more than 20 times the absentee requests of four years ago. The increase in absentee ballots also brought a new reality to an already irregular election night: some jurisdictions, overburdened by the amount of mail ballots, would be sluggish in reporting returns, producing an election night many fewer results. Some races were not likely to report results until Wednesday at the earliest.
One race of interest in Indiana did produce a winner: Republicans in the state’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes the northern swath of Indianapolis and counties to the north, picked Victoria Spartz, a self-funding Ukrainian-born state senator. She was one 15 candidates to replace Representative Susan Brooks, a Republican who is retiring. Democrats nominated Christina Hale, a state House member, for a race they believe will be competitive in November.
The most prominent down-ballot race on Tuesday involved Representative Steve King of Iowa. Ostracized by his party after giving an interview questioning why white supremacy was considered offensive, Mr. King, a nine-term Republican, faced the toughest primary of his career.
Elsewhere, Valerie Plame, the former C.I.A. agent outed in what became one of the biggest scandals of the George W. Bush administration, was seeking the Democratic nomination for a House seat in New Mexico. And Iowa Democrats were choosing a nominee to face Senator Joni Ernst in the fall.
The impact of current events…
Read More News: Pandemic, Protests and Police: An Election Like No Other