New York Democratic Primary Goes Forward After Yang Suit

(Bloomberg) -- A federal appeals court ruled that New York must hold a Democratic presidential primary on June 23 even though all the candidates but former Vice President Joe Biden have dropped out of the race.

The decision came Tuesday in a lawsuit to block the primary’s cancellation filed by former presidential contender Andrew Yang, who has since endorsed Biden. Yang argued that he and other candidates like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont should be allowed to stay on the ballot in New York to collect delegates to potentially influence the Democratic Party’s convention platform.

Yang tweeted his approval of the decision, saying he was “thrilled that democracy has prevailed for the voters of New York.”

New York won’t challenge the ruling and will instead focus on keeping voters and election workers safe, Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the state’s Board of Elections, said in a statement. He urged voters to take advantage of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders allowing all state residents to cast absentee ballots.

A three-judge appeals panel in New York on Tuesday upheld a lower court’s order reinstating the primary. Both courts said the state could not remove candidates who had qualified for the ballot without their consent. The state had argued that the decision to remove the candidates from the ballot was supported by reasonable concerns about the health of the public and election workers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Like Sanders, Yang didn’t ask for his name to be taken off the ballot when he dropped out, hoping to collect votes that would entitle him to delegates at the convention, where he could use their clout to sway party policy. Candidates who receive at least 15% of the vote in a congressional district and 15% of the vote statewide can send delegates to the convention, under the New York Democratic Party’s selection rules. The state sends 320 delegates to the Democratic convention.

Yang’s suit was joined by candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for other offices, including Jonathan Herzog, a former Yang staffer who is challenging New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler for his seat. Herzog argued that canceling the presidential primary would reduce turnout at the polls, potentially costing him votes.

New York was the first state to cancel a Democratic primary, although more than a dozen postponed their elections or moved to mail-in voting due to the pandemic. Joe Biden effectively sewed up the presidential nomination after Sanders suspended his campaign in April.

The case is Yang v. New York State Board of Elections, 20-cv-3325, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.