The New York State Board of Elections voted to cancel the presidential primary scheduled for June 23 during a call with the board on Monday.
Douglas Kellner, the co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, told CNN the two Democratic election commissioners — himself and Andrew Spano — have the power under the election law to cancel the election.
“In the budget that was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor on April 3 included a provision that any candidates who have suspended their campaign or requested to be removed from the ballot should be removed from the primary ballot,” Kellner said. “And of course Sen. Sanders had suspended his campaign. He did that five days after the law was enacted. And it basically rendered the primary moot, and at a time when the goal is to avoid unnecessary social contact, our conclusion was that there was no purpose in holding a beauty contest primary that would marginally increase the risk to both voters and poll workers.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last month moving the primary from its originally scheduled date of April 28 to June.
He responded to the board’s vote in his news conference today, saying, “I’m not going to second guess the board of elections there are a number of, I know there are a lot of election employees, employees of boards of elections who are nervous about conducting elections. But I’ll leave it up to the board of elections.”
Jay Jacobs, chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee, told CNN in a phone interview Monday afternoon that he agreed with the decision to cancel the state's presidential primary contest.
Jacobs said it was a "necessary move" by the New York election officials to protect the health and safety of voters and poll workers.
He noted that the outcome was essentially “pre-determined” since Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic race and emphasized the need to protect voters amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"We've stopped all non-essential business. This certainly is a non-essential primary if ever there was one," Jacobs said.
The Bernie people are furious, none more than Bernie Sanders himself.
Sanders’ campaign in a statement called the decision “an outrage” and a “blow to American democracy,” urging the Democratic National Committee to overturn it.
“While we understood that we did not have the votes to win the Democratic nomination our campaign was suspended, not ended, because people in every state should have the right to express their preference. What the Board of Elections is ignoring is that the primary process not only leads to a nominee but also the selection of delegates which helps determine the platform and rules of the Democratic Party,” said Bernie 2020 senior advisor Jeff Weaver.
“No one asked New York to cancel the election. The DNC didn’t request it. The Biden campaign didn’t request it. And our campaign communicated that we wanted to remain on the ballot. Given that the primary is months away, the proper response must be to make the election safe — such as going to all vote by mail — rather than to eliminating people’s right to vote completely.”
Our Revolution, a 501(c)(4) organization that was created after Sanders’ first run for president in 2016, has pushed its grassroots army to persuade voters to back the Vermont senator in states that have yet to hold their primaries. It aims to make sure Sanders wins enough delegates to push for key reforms in the Democratic platform.
After the self-described democratic socialist was removed from the ballot, Our Revolution’s leadership told CNBC they plan to reach out to delegates and state party leaders in the remaining primary states to persuade them that if they decide on a similar course, the party will split.
“I would say to state party chairs in other states” not to follow New York, Our Revolution’s chairman, Larry Cohen, said in an interview. “You are better off following the Republican governor in Ohio who extended a mail in ballot, than following a Democratic governor in New York, and that’s a disgrace, but that’s a reality,” he added, while placing the blame entirely on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and what he believes is his control of the state party apparatus.
Threatening the party with a schism is definitely the way to influence decisions made within the party.
Having said that, even Kentucky got its shit together enough for vote by mail this year.
Do better, Cuomo.