The New York State Board of Elections has invoked a law removing former candidates from an upcoming ballot; as a result, the state's Democratic presidential primary election has been canceled.
As the New York Times reported, the decision came down on Monday (April 27), one day before the primary was originally slated to take place. All areas with down-ballot elections, such as for Congress and local officials, will still hold their elections, but on June 23 instead. Around one-third of the state's 63 counties will not need to hold elections at all, which the Board of Elections views as both a cost-saving measure and a safety protocol during the coronavirus pandemic.
Per WNYC reporter Brigid Bergin, Elections Board chair Douglas A. Kellner called the petitions to keep former candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) on the ballot "frivolous" since the Senator already announced he was suspending his campaign on April 8.
Those comments, and the decision, came one day after counsel for the Sanders campaign wrote a letter to the board's commissioners advocating for his remaining on the ballot alongside former Vice President Joe Biden, who is the presumptive nominee. The firm pointed out that "unlike most of the other major candidates who have conceded in this year’s Democratic primary, Senator Sanders has not officially terminated his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission," and further detailed proof that he is still otherwise eligible to appear on the ballot.
"Senator Sanders has collaborated with state parties, the national party and the Biden campaign, to strengthen the Democrats by aligning the party’s progressive and moderate wings," the letter added. "His removal from the ballot would hamper those efforts, to the detriment of the party in the general election."
The state of New York currently allows residents to request absentee ballots and cite a fear of contracting COVID-19 as a reason for voting absentee; they can select "temporary illness or disability" to receive their ballot, even if they are not currently presenting symptoms. On April 24, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all eligible voters would receive the applications to request mail-in ballots the June 23 election, NPR affiliate WBFO reported.
The Board of Elections canceled New York's Republican primary on March 3, after three primary challengers failed to meet requirements to appear on the ballot; President Donald Trump was the only Republican to qualify.