ALBANY, New York – The Democratic presidential primary in New York is back on.
A federal judge in Manhattan ruled late Tuesday that New York must hold the primary on June 23, contending that canceling it would be unconstitutional and take away the ability of the candidates to receive delegates for the party’s convention in August.
Removing the candidates from the ballot and “canceling the presidential primary denied them the chance to run, and denied voters the right to cast ballots for their candidate and their political beliefs,” U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres ruled.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of former presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang, who argued in a lawsuit April 28 that it was illegal for New York to cancel the primary.
“Yes – the people of New York will be able to vote in the Democratic presidential primary,” Yang wrote on Twitter.
John Conklin, a spokesman for the state Board of Elections, declined to comment on the ruling or whether the state would appeal, saying it was under review by the board’s attorneys.
When asked about the ruling on CNN by his younger brother, the anchor Chris Cuomo, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said: “Yes, right now by a judge’s determination” the primary is back on.
But Cuomo said the decision could be appealed.
The state’s Democratic election commissioners voted last week to remove 10 presidential candidates from the ballot except Joe Biden, the only actively campaigning candidate and presumptive nominee.
The vote came after a new measure in state law that allows the board to remove candidates from the ballot if a candidate publicly suspends his or her campaign.
Primaries for state and federal elections were still being held, but the commissioners said it was best to end the presidential primary due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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But the judge ruled the Democratic presidential primary is required for a variety of reasons, including delegates selected by the primary “to compete for the chance to become Convention delegates.”
“That Delegate Plaintiffs’ rights are tied to those of Yang and other presidential candidates does not diminish Delegate Plaintiffs’ importance, or their standing to sue when their ability to run — which rises and falls on their presidential candidates’ viability— is threatened,” Torres ruled.
The Working Families Party, which supported Sanders, praised the decision.
“The BOE should not respond to our public health crisis by canceling elections — but instead by ensuring all New York voters have a safe and effective means to vote,” said Sochie Nnaemeka, the party’s executive director.
“This decision is a victory for all voters and for the progressive movement.”
Joseph Spector is the New York state editor for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany