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Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang filed a lawsuit against New York after the Democratic presidential primary there was canceled by the state election commission.
The lawsuit against the New York State Board of Elections was filed in federal court on Monday by Yang and seven other New Yorkers who were set to serve as his delegates to the Democratic National Convention, Politico reported.
The lawsuit argued that neither the delegate candidates nor the entrepreneur himself had requested to be removed from the ballot and that removing Yang “denies voters due process and denies voters the right to vote, and therefore must be invalidated removing the authority for the Defendant to take the actions complained of herein.”
“This unprecedented and unwarranted move infringes the rights of Plaintiffs and all New York State Democratic Party voters, of which there are estimated to be more than six million, as it fundamentally denies them the right to choose our next candidate for the office of President of the United States,” the lawsuit stated.
The New York State Board of Elections was criticized for the decision by two Democratic commissioners to remove all but one candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, from the ballot, as he was the only one who still had an active campaign for president. The primary was effectively canceled as Biden wound up with no one to challenge him.
Once Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign earlier this month, it “basically rendered the primary moot,” one of the commissioners, Douglas Kellner, told CNN.
“At a time when the goal is to avoid unnecessary social contact, our conclusion was that there was no purpose in holding a beauty contest primary that would marginally increase the risk to both voters and poll workers,” Kellner said.
Sanders campaign adviser Jeff Weaver slammed the decision as “a blow to American democracy” and called for it to be overturned.
NEW statement from @BernieSanders’ Senior Advisor Jeff Weaver on NY BOE decision to disregard Sanders’ plea and cancel primary.
“Today’s decision by the State of New York Board of Elections is an outrage, a blow to American democracy, and must be overturned by the DNC.” pic.twitter.com/SofOS4dMlF
— Cara Korte (@CaraKorte) April 27, 2020
“It is reasonable to take precautions to allow for safe voting, but such decisions cannot arbitrarily pertain to some elections and not others,” Yang’s lawsuit stated.
“Defendants cannot provide any colorable justification as to why they canceled the presidential primary and not other federal and state primaries. By doing so, Defendants are attempting to create a dangerous precedent,” the suit added.
The filing also argued that down-ballot candidates would see a negative impact from Yang’s removal from the ballot, and contended that the cancellation of the primary will be “suppressing voter turnout as voters will have less incentive to vote if they cannot cast a vote for the highest office in the land, and thereby negatively impact challenger candidates.”
New York had initially rescheduled the presidential primary from April 28 to June 23 due to the coronavirus outbreak which has taken over 17,000 lives in New York City alone. Gaining votes in the state’s primary meant Sanders and Yang could have earned more delegates and thus more influence at the national convention.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered that residents of the state can vote in remaining federal and state primaries on June 23 by mail-in ballots.
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