Friday, May 1, 2020


What the Sanders campaign wanted is essentially a beauty contest that, given the situation with the public health emergency, seems to be unnecessary and, indeed, frivolous.
– Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections

Democracy is not a beauty contest. The “unanimous” vote of two co-chairs (both Democrats) of the New York State Board of Elections should not trump the votes of millions of New Yorkers. The provision they cite, empowering them to remove candidates from the ballot that have publicly suspended their campaigns, was shoehorned into the NYS budget bill passed days before Sanders suspended his campaign. Sanders made his intention to stay on the ballot absolutely clear when suspending the campaign:

On a practical note, let me also say this: I will stay on the ballot in all remaining states and continue to gather delegates. While Vice President Biden will be the nominee, we must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform and other functions. Then, together, standing united, we will go forward to defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history. And we will fight to elect strong progressives at every level of government, from Congress to the school board.
– Bernie Sanders

And just for the record, Sanders has not terminated his candidacy with the FEC.

The NYSBOE is arguing that the presidential primary is unnecessary, since Biden is the only candidate left on the NYS primary ballot, but it was BOE that removed Sanders and all other candidates from the ballot just prior to canceling the primary itself. Circular logic. Anti-democratic. Are you kidding me?

Taking Sanders off the ballot is likely a strategy to lower voter turnout, benefiting Democratic incumbents facing primary challenges from progressive candidates. So much for the DNC critique of Bernie not helping candidates up and down the ballot. Where does the DNC stand on this action? Are they really willing to allow the disenfranchisement of millions of New York State voters whose votes will be essential to defeat trump in November? Have they learned nothing from 2016?

This action sets a dangerous precedent. BOE cites the current health crisis as the reason for canceling the presidential primary, despite an executive order announced by Governor Cuomo last week to insure all New Yorkers can vote absentee in the June 23rd primary (if they request to do so). If Democrats are willing to engage in this kind of voter suppression, what will their response be if/when trump takes similar emergency action to postpone/cancel the general election in November?

The Sanders campaign has demanded the New York presidential primary be reinstated, and circulated a petition to the DNC to strip the state of its delegates if they violate party rules regarding delegate selection. Andrew Yang is suing New York State for “voter suppression.” Perhaps the ACLU or the Center for Constitutional Rights will file a suit on behalf of all New Yorkers disenfranchised by the NYSBOE.

Design for Awareness produced a video to raise awareness of the action BOE has taken. The first version of the video focused on the wholesale cancellation of the primary, as the action was initially reported. The video has been revised to reflect that ONLY the presidential primary has been canceled. Circus music was added to reflect the absurdity of two officials “unanimously” deciding to cancel our presidential primary (democracy). Call/contact New York State Board of Elections to let them know you would like your right to vote back.