'Blow to American democracy': Sanders' campaign blasts cancellation of NY primary

The Sanders campaign called for the state to lose all of its delegates to the Democratic National Convention "if this is not remedied."
Image: Sen. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden speak before a Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25, 2020.
Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden speak before a Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25, 2020.Matt Rourke / AP file

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By Gary Grumbach and Dareh Gregorian

Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign blasted the New York State Board of Elections’ announcement on Monday that his name would not appear on the ballot for the state's presidential primary in June, calling the move 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. Well, he now has a precedent thanks to New York state," Sanders 2020 senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement.

The statement was issued hours after the state Board of Elections, citing coronavirus concerns and Sanders' endorsement of Biden, announced it was effectively canceling the primary by pulling Sanders' name off the ballot.

"I think it's time for us to recognize that the presidential contest is over," Democratic Commissioner Doug Kellner said.

While Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8, his campaign lawyers sent a letter, obtained by NBC News, to the state board this past weekend asking the party to keep his name on the primary ballot.

They argued his withdrawal from the race amounted to a "limited suspension of his presidential campaign" because he "intended to remain on the ballot in upcoming primaries, gather delegates, and attend the Democratic National Convention, with an eye to influencing the party's platform."

Weaver noted that neither the Biden campaign nor the Democratic National Committee had requested that the primary be canceled.

"Given that the primary is months away, the proper response must be to make the election safe — such as going to all vote by mail — rather than to eliminating people’s right to vote completely," he said.

"If this is not remedied, New York should lose all its delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, and there should be a broader review by the Democratic Party of New York’s checkered pattern of voter disenfranchisement," Weaver said.