Sanders petitions New York to remain on primary ballot
Lawyers for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) presidential campaign sent a letter to the New York State Board of Elections late Sunday asking that he remain on the Democratic primary ballot on June 23, warning that it would damage party unity if he is removed.
“Senator Sanders wishes to remain on the ballot, and is concerned that his removal from the ballot would undermine efforts to unify the Democratic Party in advance of the general election,” Malcolm Seymour, an attorney representing the Sanders campaign, wrote to Andrew Spano, the commissioner for the New York State Board of Elections.
HuffPost first reported on the letter. The commissioners for the board of elections will meet on Monday to finalize the ballot.
Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8 but announced his intent to remain on future primary ballots to continue accumulating delegates in an effort to influence the party’s platform at the August convention.
Sanders never terminated his candidacy with the Federal Elections Commission, and former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has publicly supported Sanders’s desire to hold on to his delegates so that he’ll be represented at the party’s national convention in August.
However, on April 13, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an appropriations bill that included a new provision giving the State Board of Elections discretion to remove a candidate from the ballot if they have suspended their campaign.
The Sanders campaign lawyers are arguing that the Vermont senator suspended his campaign under the assumption that he could remain on the ballot and that the new stipulation should not be retroactively enforced.
Seymour argued that the Sanders campaign went to great lengths to get on the ballot for the New York primary, which was originally scheduled for April 28 but has been postponed until June 23 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign obtained 60,000 signatures and 184 pledged delegates to get on to the ballot by mobilizing “a vast network of volunteer circulators across New York’s 27 congressional districts,” Seymour wrote.
The Sanders campaign also noted that neither Biden’s campaign, the state Democratic Party nor the Democratic National Committee has asked that Sanders be removed.
“His involuntary erasure from the ballot, on grounds of a law that was not in effect when he announced his campaign’s limited suspension, would sow needless strife and distrust, impeding Senator Sanders’ efforts to unify the Democratic Party in advance of November elections,” the letter states.
“Senator Sanders has collaborated with state parties, the national party and the Biden campaign, to strengthen the Democrats by aligning the party’s progressive and moderate wings. His removal from the ballot would hamper those efforts, to the detriment of the party in the general election. The Board should exercise its discretion to avoid such interference.”