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New York Board of Elections Cancels Democratic Presidential Primary

April 28, 2020 by Dan McCue
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington. (Photo by Dan McCue)

New York election officials on Monday canceled the state’s Democratic presidential primary due to concerns over spreading the coronavirus, infuriating Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. and his supporters.

The decision by the New York Board of Elections was unanimous, and the board Democratic co-chairman, Douglas Kellner, brushed aside the anger of Sanders and his backers, saying the risks associated with the vote that had been scheduled for June 23 simply outweighed other concerns,

“What the Sanders campaign wanted is essentially a beauty contest that, given the situation with the public health emergency, seems to be unnecessary and, indeed, frivolous,” Kellner said.

Sanders dropped out of the presidential contest last month, but in doing so, asked his supporters to continue to vote for him in the remaining primaries so that he could amass convention delegates and help shape the party’s platform in August.

Sanders later formally endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden.

But as word spread late last week that New York might forgo its primary, Sanders supporters launched a vigorous campaign by email and Twitter to try to persuade officials to hold the primary.

On Monday, Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign called the decision “an outrage” and “a blow to American democracy.”

“Just last week Vice President Biden warned the American people that President Trump could use the current crisis as an excuse to postpone the November election. Well, he now has a precedent thanks to New York state,” Weaver said in a written statement.

As a result of the board’s decision, voters in 20 New York counties having no other contests on their ballots can now forget about getting to the polls and stay home.

During a radio interview on Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wondered aloud why Sanders would still want a full primary.

“I don’t even understand the issue, to tell you the truth,” Cuomo said. “I don’t understand why his campaign would be upset if he’s not running.”

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