April 28 (UPI) — The State of New York Board of Elections has canceled the Democratic presidential primary this year, due to coronavirus concerns.
The primary was initially scheduled for Tuesday, but was pushed ahead for eight weeks to June 23 because of stay-at-home restrictions because of COVID-19.
State party officials removed all other Democratic candidates from the ballot, leaving only Vice President Joseph Biden in the slot for the race for president, effectively canceling the election.
“We should minimize the number of people on the ballot, minimize the election for the protection of everybody,” Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Andy Spano said.
Other local elections will still take place in June, but the state will save money by not printing a ballot page for every registered voter in New York. About 20 counties with no scheduled local elections will not have to open polls, officials said.
The state’s election authorities will also have more time to implement mail-in voting schemes for upcoming local and statewide elections.
The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders petitioned the state to remain on the ballot, to give voters the chance to continue accumulating delegates to influence the August convention. Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8.
But election officials called Sanders’s request “unnecessary and frivolous” during a major health crisis.
“What the Sanders supporters want is essentially a beauty contest,” Doug Kellner, commissioner for the Democratic Board of Elections said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said his “pause” stay-at-home order for non-essential businesses to remain closed beyond May 15 will be extended in some parts of the state.
Almost 290,000 New York residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 17,000 people have died since the start of the outbreak, according to the state health department.
As the winner of the Democratic presidential primary has become a foregone conclusion, multiple other states are still mulling how to deal with elections in the midst of a pandemic. Many states have postponed their contests, and others nixed in-person voting and extended absentee ballot deadlines.
Fifteen other states and Puerto Rico have pushed back their primary dates or extended vote-by-mail deadlines: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wyoming.