New York state has canceled its Democratic presidential primary due to COVID-19 concerns despite a request not to do so by the campaign for former candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). The primary was scheduled to take place on June 23 — nearly two full months from today.
The Democratic members of the state's Board of Elections made the unprecedented decision in a vote Monday morning, the Associated Press reported. The state still plans to hold its congressional and state-level primaries on Election Day in June.
BREAKING: New York cancels Democratic primary. https://t.co/MH9eeebDL9— NBC New York (@NBC New York) 1588004688.0
Commissioner Andrew Spano reportedly pondered the decision at length but eventually decided it was unwise to force voters to choose between their democratic duty and their health.
The commissioner added that for contested races it made sense to give voters an opportunity to choose. But as as for the presidential primary, it didn't make sense to "have anyone on the ballot just for the purposes of issues at a convention."
'Essentially a beauty contest'
Commissioner Douglas Kellner echoed that sentiment, citing Sanders' recent decision to drop out of the presidential race and support presumptive nominee Joe Biden.
"That has effectively ended the real contest for the presidential nomination," Kellner said. "And what the Sanders supporters want is essentially a beauty contest that, given the situation with the public health emergency that exists now, seems to be unnecessary and, indeed, frivolous."
A lawyer for the Sanders campaign, Malcolm Seymour, asked the election commissioners Sunday not to cancel the primary.
"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. His removal from the ballot would hamper those efforts, to the detriment of the party in the general election," Seymour wrote in a letter obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
The move will undoubtedly anger Sanders supporters who reportedly bombarded Spano and Kellner's offices with emails urging them to keep their candidate on the ballot.
Sanders has argued that he wants to stay on ballots in order to effect change to the Democratic Party's platform.
WATCH: Sanders says he's staying on the ballot to help 'shape' Democratic platform youtu.be