New York Cancels Democratic Presidential Primary

becomes first state to cancel primary during coronavirus spread

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Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

New York officials canceled the state’s democratic primary and took senator Bernie Sanders off the ballot on Monday

Sanders withdrew from the presidential race earlier this month and started endorsing front-runner Joe Biden, but he hoped to stay on the ballot to accumulate delegates and to hold a primary in the interest of party unity.

When Sanders was taken off the ballot, his lawyer sent a letter to the New York State Board of Elections asking the officials not to cancel the contest, but BOE co-chairman Doug Kellner and commissioner Andrew Spano both voted to remove Sanders and cancel the primary. Kellner said there was no significant purpose for the primary now that Sanders is not running for president, and the decision was made in order to protect voter safety from the coronavirus. 

However, Sanders supports called this move a threat to democracy, and the Sanders campaign released a statement accusing the state party of a “checkered pattern of voter disenfranchisement.”

Additionally, Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign, expressed concern over this decision providing precedent for President Trump to postpone the November election.

New York is the first state to cancel its presidential primary, but 16 other states postponed their primaries, and others are enabling more voting by mail in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The state’s decision is protected, however, by a state law adopted April 3 that says a candidate should be removed from a ballot after suspending a campaign.

New York’s republican presidential primary was canceled in February after President Trump was the only republican candidate to qualify for the ballot.