Maybe there would not be much extra expense to holding a presidential primary election on June 23 because New York State is already holding local primaries. And maybe, for the same reason, there would not be extra risk of contracting Covid-19, possibly being hospitalized and possibly dying.
But after a slew of presidential candidates exited the campaign stage, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee, the primary that federal courts are ordering to continue serves no purpose. Indeed, it is a danger.
Yet two former contenders – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and businessman Andrew Yang – believe the state should hold a primary anyway, even though they have suspended their campaigns. Ego counts for more than the public health.
Thank you, gentlemen.
A three-judge federal panel agreed with a lower court ruling two weeks ago that ruled in favor of Sanders and Yang. The former presidential candidates want to force New York to hold the primary, possibly amplifying their influence at the Democratic convention.
But at what cost?
Voters will still arrive to cast votes in local elections. The highly contested 27th Congressional District race remains the marquee event, as voters finally choose a successor to former Rep. Chris Collins, who was convicted of felonies involving insider trading. That’s an important race.
But what about voters whose districts remain quiet? What is their motivation to get out the vote, given Biden’s golden road to the nomination?
The Democratic Party will host what is likely to be uneventful deliberations later this summer when Biden is expected to be formally nominated to represent the party in a campaign against President Trump.
Canceling the presidential primary was a sensible response to a set of conditions that makes the event both unnecessary and risky. Perhaps the state should have permitted expanding voting-by-mail options for the presidential primary, as it is doing with other June contests. But that argument misses the point.
Next month, the court has said, voters will have to show up during a deadly pandemic in order to ensure a voice for the Sanders and Yang and every other discarded Democratic presidential contender even though they aren’t even in the race anymore.
Thank you, judges.
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