FILE PHOTO: A bicyclist rides through Times Square during evening rush hour, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan R Smith
(Reuters) – New York state on Monday canceled its presidential primary over concerns voting was an unnecessary risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing an angry response from the campaign of Bernie Sanders, who has suspended his White House bid but hoped to remain on the ballot.
With former Vice President Joe Biden the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, Douglas Kellner, one of two of the party’s commissioners on the New York State Board of Elections, said it would be “unnecessary and frivolous” to hold an effectively uncompetitive election in a state that is the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak.
The state’s primary had already been delayed from late April to June 23.
Republican President Donald Trump will be seeking a second four-year term in the Nov. 3 election. Biden’s last remaining rival, Senator Sanders of Vermont, suspended his campaign on April 8. Sanders wants his name on the ballot in remaining primary contests to enable his progressive supporters to choose like-minded delegates to the party’s convention to influence its platform.
A Sanders’ campaign official said the decision was “an outrage, a blow to American democracy,” and called for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to overturn the decision.
“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,” said senior adviser Jeff Weaver.
The DNC does not oversee state primaries, but reviews changes to how states allocate delegates
DNC spokesman David Bergstein said once the New York state party submits an updated delegate selection plan, a committee on rules and bylaws “will review that plan and make a determination.”
Reporting by Simon Lewis and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Howard Goller and Jonathan Oatis