Sen. Bernie Sanders has suspended his presidential campaign, but his camp is nevertheless livid that New York officials decided on Monday to cancel the June 23 primary.
The state Board of Elections voted on Monday to cancel the election due to the coronavirus pandemic. The chair of the elections board said it would be “essentially a beauty contest,” given that Sanders has dropped out and endorsed Joe Biden.
Sanders’ senior advisor, Jeff Weaver, issued a statement on Monday blasting the decision, calling it an “outrage” and a “blow to American democracy.”
Several states have postponed their primary elections due to the coronavirus, but New York becomes the first to cancel it outright.
Weaver said the decision creates a potential precedent that might help President Trump try to postpone the November general election. Weaver called on the Democratic National Committee to overturn the state decision, and failing that, said the state should lose all its delegates at the Democratic convention.
“No one asked New York to cancel the election,” Weaver said. “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.”
When he dropped out, Sanders said his name would stay on the ballot in the remaining contests, and that he hoped to win as many delegates as possible to influence the party platform. Weaver said the New York decision ignores that important function.
The decision leaves many counties in New York without an election on June 23, but many others will have primaries in down-ballot races. The decision to remove the presidential race is likely to reduce turnout in those races that remain.