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New York cancels presidential primary amid coronavirus concerns


New York elections officials canceled the state’s Democratic presidential primary on Monday, citing health concerns relating to the coronavirus pandemic.

The move by the state Democratic party infuriated progressive supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders who had hoped to amass convention delegates and have a voice in the party's platform going into the November election.

Choosing to forgo the June 23 contest followed a decision by Sanders earlier this month to suspend his presidential campaign, a move that effectively conceded the Democratic nomination to former Vice President Joseph Biden.

Nevertheless, Sanders had expressed a desire to remain on the ballot, and his supporters called the decision to cancel the election an affront to democracy. 

"New York's Democratic Party just sent a clear message to progressives that their voice and their values do not matter," Sochie Nnaemeka, the the director of New York state's Working Families Party. "Voting for Bernie Sanders would have allowed New York's progressive voters to send progressive delegates to the convention so we could have a voice in shaping the Democratic Party platform that we know we need at this moment."

Local voters were to cast ballots for two special elections scheduled for June 23, one in the 27th Congressional District, between Republican Chris Jacobs and Democrat Nate McMurray.

That contest will still happen because that election is governed by federal law, explained Monroe County Acting Democratic Elections Commissioner LaShana Boose.

The second special election, one for the 136th District Assembly race between Sarah Clark and Justin Wilcox, will not happen because it falls under the state's jurisdiction, Boose said.

Both Clark and Wilcox will be on the ballot in June for the Democratic primary in that Assembly race. Wilcox has the endorsement of the Monroe County Democratic Committee. Clark has the Working Families Party line, but she hasn’t said yet whether she will still campaign for the general election if she doesn’t win the Democratic primary.

The seat in the 136th Assembly District became vacant after former State Assemblywoman Jamie Romeo got appointed Monroe County Clerk, filling an opening left by Adam Bello, who was elected county executive in November.

The office will remain vacant now through the rest of the year unless Governor Andrew Cuomo calls another special election.

The state is mailing out applications for absentee ballots for the June 23 election to all New York voters. Applications must be filled out for an actual ballot to be mailed.

There will still be some polling sites open on June 23, but there may be changes from previous elections.

With reporting from WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.