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New York cancels Democratic presidential primary over coronavirus

New York cancels Democratic presidential primary over coronavirus
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New York Democratic officials on Monday canceled the state's June 23 presidential primary, citing the coronavirus outbreak.

Congressional and state-level primary contests will still be held June 23 as planned. The primary was already postponed from April 28 due to the pandemic.

This is the first time New York Democrats have canceled a presidential primary. The move also makes New York the first to forgo a Democratic presidential primary for 2020, with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE now the presumptive nominee.

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The news comes a day after lawyers for former White House candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike House set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package On The Money: Democrats scramble to save minimum wage hike | Personal incomes rise, inflation stays low after stimulus burst MORE's (I-Vt.) presidential campaign sent a letter to the State Board of Elections asking that he remain on the June 23 ballot. The campaign warned that the party would be damaged if the board did not grant the request.

“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.

Sanders suspended his campaign earlier this month, but he pledged to remain on upcoming primary ballots to continue accumulating delegates in an effort to pressure the Democratic National Committee to adopt a more progressive platform at the party's convention in August.

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNY billboard calls for Cuomo's impeachment amid controversies On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Stefanik renews call for Cuomo to resign amid new sexual harassment accusation MORE (D) signed an appropriations bill earlier this month that included a provision giving the State Board of Elections discretion to remove candidates from the ballot if they have suspended their campaigns.

Republicans canceled their presidential primary in New York in early March. Last year, Republicans canceled 2020 presidential primaries and caucuses in South Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Alaska and Kansas in order to throw the maximum amount of support behind President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE.

Monday's announcement by Democrats on the State Board of Elections will likely lead to lower turnout.

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New York Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs told The Associated Press that the move is the right one given the "extraordinary nature of the challenge."

Cuomo announced earlier this month that voters will be able to cast absentee ballots for the state’s primary.

New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with more than 288,000 positive cases.

Updated at 1:26 p.m.