New York Democrats Ordered by Judge to Reinstate Primary

The New York primary election is back on track after a federal judge ordered state Democratic officials to reinstate the vote on June 23 in response to Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s challenge to its cancellation.

Numerous states rescheduled their presidential primary elections due to Covid-19 but New York is violating voters’ constitutional rights by having canceled the primary, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres said in an order on Tuesday.

Yang and a group of candidates seeking to represent him at the party’s national convention sued in late April to block the state from canceling the election and to reinstate the vote. State officials removed 10 Democratic presidential candidates, including Yang, who had qualified to be on the ballot but suspended their campaigns or were no longer seeking nomination, leaving only Joe Biden eligible to collect delegates, according to Yang’s lawsuit.

Former presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Yang didn’t ask for their names to be taken off the ballot when they dropped out, hoping to collect votes that would entitle them to delegates at the convention, where they 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.

Removing all but one candidate from the ballot and calling off the primary means Yang and others “will be deprived of the opportunity to compete for delegate slots and shape the course of events at the convention and voters will lose the chance to express their support for delegates who share their views,” Torres said. “The loss of these First Amendment rights is a heavy hardship.”

Torres ordered the names of presidential and delegate candidates who were qualified as of April 26 to be restored to the ballot.

Representatives of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and the Board of Elections didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment on the ruling. Lawyers representing Yang in the case also didn’t immediately respond to emails.

— With assistance by Bob Van Voris

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