Now We Wait: With Mail-In Ballots Yet to be Counted, Here's What We Know So Far From Tuesday's Primary Races

Voters cast fill out their ballot during Tuesdays Kentucky primary on June 23, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Voters cast fill out their ballot during Tuesdays Kentucky primary on June 23, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

It is very likely that former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman may have unseated 31-year-incumbent Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel in Tuesday’s New York primary, but the full results of the race will not be known for some days because mail-in ballots still need to be counted. Though Bowman delivered a victorious speech in Yonkers, N.Y., last night, it is unclear when his victory will be certified by election officials.


We are no longer in the days when we will get election results confirmed on the same night.

That is our new reality for elections during COVID-19, and after New York, Virginia and Kentucky primaries on Tuesday, election officials in those states are wading through an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots that could take weeks to tally. Here’s what we know so far.

New York

The biggest upset in the making so far comes from the 16th Congressional District with Bowman leading Engel with 65 percent of the vote. It doesn’t appear that Bowman will lose much ground as mail-in ballots come in.

The Democratic establishment rallied around Engel with endorsements from Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and much of the Congressional Black Caucus—and he still is getting his ass kicked. The race has not been called for Bowman yet, but this feels like a forgone conclusion.

It is fair to say that if Bowman is the presumptive Democratic nominee, he will cruise to victory in November, as the district tends to vote Democrat.


Incumbent U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke is leading the field in the Ninth Congressional District with 62.3 percent of the vote over Adem Bunkeddeko, who is a distant second with 17.9 percent of the vote. Bunkeddekko lost by six points to Clarke in the 2018 primary.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her 14th Congressional District race in a landslide victory, earning 72.6 percent of the vote. Her closest competitor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera was able to pull together 19.4 percent of the vote.


No surprise there.

Up in the 17th Congressional District, progressive Mondaire Jones is leading the competition by nearly 25 percentage points and it doesn’t appear that he’ll lose any ground. If he wins he would be the first openly gay Black member of Congress.


In the 15th Congressional District, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, a 2019 Root 100 honoree, is leading state Assemblyman Michael Blake and fellow councilman and extreme homophobe Ruben Diaz. If elected, Torres would join Jones as another openly gay Black man in Congress.


The most controversial primary comes out of Kentucky where state Rep. Charles Booker is making Amy McGrath fight for her political life in the Democratic U.S. Senate race. She was supposed to cakewalk to the nomination to face off against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November, but the recent uprisings have lifted Booker into the national spotlight in ways few observers in Kentucky and Washington, D.C., anticipated. As of now, McGrath is leading by roughly seven points, according to the Lexington Herald Ledger.


But that lead could dwindle, as mail-in ballots come in. Per Politico: “The exact number of votes left to count isn’t clear, but the 58,000 tallied in early returns doesn’t include anything from the state’s two largest and most Democratic counties, Jefferson and Fayette—home to Louisville and Lexington, respectively.”

Local officials say they won’t be tabulating those votes until June 30, so be ready to wait for results from this race.


The most troubling aspect of this primary is how the state closed hundreds of polling stations in the most populous areas. Usually, there are 3,700 polling stations across the state. Tuesday, that number was cut to 170, leading to long lines of people being cut off from voting.


Black Voters Matter, a civil rights organization that organizes black people to vote around the country, is on the ground in Kentucky and has been tweeting about people waiting in line for hours at polling stations, only to be locked out.


But people refused to leave and stayed until they got a chance to vote. But a court order filed by the Booker campaign allowed voters to receive more time to vote.



Down in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, which the New York Times describes as “Republican leaning,” Cameron Webb is the winner of the Democratic primary for that race. The Roanoke Times reports that Webb, an internal medicine doctor and director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia, earned more than 26,800 votes or 68 percent of the vote. Almost all of the precincts have reported results.


If Webb wins in November, he will be the first black physician to have a vote in the U.S. Congress, according to the Times.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.


The Democratic establishment rallied around Engel with endorsements from Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and much of the Congressional Black Caucus

The same Engel who said “if I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care” at a conference after violent protests in a part of the area he represents, still got support from his old buddies in Congress and the Congressional Black Caucus as well?

and people wonder why I have no faith in the Democratic Congress?