A federal court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by the New York Board of Elections and ruled the state's Democratic presidential primary must take place on June 23 as scheduled, a decision that supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang celebrated as a win for democracy.
"We expect New York to work to make voting safe, rather than wasting taxpayer money trying to disenfranchise New York voters."
—Faiz Shakir, campaign manager for Sen. Bernie Sanders
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld District Court Judge Analisa Torres' May 5 ruling that ordered New York to restore Sanders, Yang, and other Democratic presidential candidates to the ballot after state election officials voted to remove them last month.
Yang and seven other New York residents sued the state Board of Elections over the decision on April 28.
"The removal of presidential contenders from the primary ballot not only deprived those candidates of the chance to garner votes for the Democratic Party's nomination," Torres wrote, "it deprived Democratic voters of the opportunity to elect delegates who could push their point of view in that forum."
Three-judge panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals affirms ruling that New York’s June 23 presidential primary should go forward. Kudos to @AndrewYang for pressing this pro-democracy fight, and to voting rights advocates and to @BernieSanders and his backers for amplifying it. pic.twitter.com/MEGXm9WeTb
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) May 19, 2020
Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York Board of Elections, said in a statement after Tuesday's ruling that there are no plans to file an appeal with the Supreme Court.
Faiz Shakir, Sanders' campaign manager, said the ruling "confirmed what we knew: the state of New York acted illegally in trying to cancel the Democratic presidential primary."
"With today's decision, which affirmed the District Court's recent ruling, we expect New York to work to make voting safe, rather than wasting taxpayer money trying to disenfranchise New York voters," said Shakir. "This ruling is a victory for democracy. Congratulations go to Andrew Yang, his delegates, and our delegates for standing up to this abuse of power."
Yang celebrated the ruling on Twitter.
"Thrilled that democracy has prevailed for the voters of New York!" Yang tweeted.
New York election officials claimed the effort to cancel the presidential primary was driven by concerns about spreading Covid-19, but critics said that justification did not make sense given that down-ballot races are still scheduled to take place on the same day.
"One can't help but see this as the New York Board of Elections trying to protect machine Dems from insurgent progressive primary challengers," Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos wrote last month.
Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout, a Sanders supporter, tweeted that Tuesday's ruling affirms that "you can't just say 'pandemic' and give away unconstrained power to change ballot rules."
"Good," said Teachout.