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New York Cancels Presidential Primary Election, Angering Sanders Supporters

Voters cast their ballots in the midterm election in Brooklyn on Nov. 6, 2018.
Voters cast their ballots in the midterm election in Brooklyn on Nov. 6, 2018.

New York Democrats will not be casting primary votes for a presidential candidate this year.

State election officials effectively canceled the presidential primary by removing every Democrat except the presumptive nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, from the primary ballot.

According to multiple reports, Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, received thousands of emails from supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders pushing for the primary to continue as planned.

"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 told The New York Times.

The primary, originally scheduled for April 28, had previously been pushed back to June 23 due to concerns over the coronavirus.

Voting will continue as planned for New Yorkers on June 23 for congressional and state-level races.

The cancellation will likely make it easier for election workers to manage the other state elections in June during a primary season that has seen unprecedented administrative challenges.

But the decision generated significant backlash from Sanders' campaign and his supporters.

In a statement, senior adviser Jeff Weaver called the cancellation 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," the statement reads. "Well, he now has a precedent thanks to New York State."

Sanders, who suspended his campaign earlier this month, had wanted to remain on the ballot in the remaining primaries in order to maximize the delegates he brought with him to the Democratic National Convention in August. His campaign argued that the more pledged delegates he brought to the convention, the more influence he would have on the party's rules and platform.

New York has 274 pledged delegates and Biden currently has a 366-delegate lead over Sanders.

Prominent Sanders surrogate and progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., blasted the board for its decision, calling it "completely wrong."

New York's Republican presidential primary was already called off earlier this year, when no candidates aside from President Trump qualified for the ballot.

All other states that had primaries scheduled for April 28 have postponed them.

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