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Andrew Yang sues New York over canceled presidential primary

Former presidential candidate and businessman Andrew Yang is suing the New York State Board of Elections, accusing it of violating his rights when it took his name off the state's Democratic primary ballot. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI.
Former presidential candidate and businessman Andrew Yang is suing the New York State Board of Elections, accusing it of violating his rights when it took his name off the state's Democratic primary ballot. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI. | License Photo

April 29 (UPI) -- Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang has filed a lawsuit against the New York State Board of Elections for canceling the state's Democratic presidential primary.

The lawsuit, filed by Yang and seven others who were to serve as his delegates to the Democratic National Convention, argues that the election board's decision to cancel the vote denies them their fundamental rights as they had qualified for the contest and had not requested their names to be removed from the ballot.

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"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 6 million, as it fundamentally denies them the right to choose our next candidate for the office of President of the United States," the lawsuit reads.

On Monday, New York state became the first in the nation to effectively cancel its June 23 presidential primary by removing all Democratic candidates from the ballot aside from the presumptive nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Andy Spano, the commissioner of the Democratic Board of Elections, said the decision was made due to the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 300,000 people in the state, according to the New York State Department of Health.

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"We should minimize the number of people on the ballot, minimize the election for the protection of everybody," he said.

The decision was derided by some, including the campaign of former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, which called it an "outrage" and "a blow to American democracy," stating President Donald Trump may use it as precedent to postpone the general election in November.

"No one asked New York to cancel the election. The DNC didn't request it. The Biden Campaign didn't request. And our campaign communicated that we wanted to remain on the ballot," Sanders' senior advisor Jeff Weaver said in a statement. "Given that the primary is months away, the proper response must be to make the election safe -- such as going to all vote by mail -- rather than to eliminating people's right to vote."

Sanders had dropped out of the race earlier this month and has endorsed Biden for president but has left his name on the state ballots as the allocation of delegates influences platforms.

The New York primary was initially scheduled for Tuesday but was delayed weeks ago to June 23 so as to coincide with several congressional, senate, assembly and other local elections that are still slated to continue.

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The coronavirus, which has infected more than 1 million people in the country, has rocked the presidential primary, forcing more than a dozen states to adopt measures including mail-in votes or postponements. However, New York is the only state so far to end the contest.

Yang's lawsuit alleges that by being the sole state to forego the vote millions of New Yorkers will be disenfranchised through being barred from expressing their preference of president. It also describes the move as a form of voter suppression as voters will have less incentive to vote in more localized elections "if they cannot cast a vote for the highest office in the land."

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