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EDITORIAL: Move New York's primary to June

EDITORIAL: Move New York's primary to June

Move would protect public health and save money without affecting state's role in selection of a candidate

Depending on what happens with today’s primaries, New York will be in a strong position to have a big influence over the selection of the Democratic presidential nominee.

With 274 delegates, New York has the most delegates of any of the remaining states in the race, including Florida today.

By this time in the presidential primary schedule, New York is almost always irrelevant, given how late we vote in the process.

But the closeness of the current race after much of the country has already voted places New York in an unusual and enviable position of being a potential difference-maker, now that the race has come down to just two candidates, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

With concerns over people coming into close contact with one another, and with health officials recommending the cancellation of public gatherings having as little as 10 people, postponing the primary is the right thing to do.

Many poll workers, and frankly many voters, are senior citizens, the demographic most in danger of suffering the consequences of exposure to the coronavirus.

Why put them at risk, when moving the primary back a couple of months will have a negligible effect on the election and on New Yorkers’ ability to influence the outcome?

Moving it also could save state taxpayers some money by consolidating the April 28 presidential primary with the already-scheduled June 23 primary for other federal, state and local races.

Other states, including Louisiana, Kentucky and Georgia, have moved their primaries, and other virus-related changes have been made to the election process.

New York City canceled a special election scheduled for later this month due to concerns about the virus.

And Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday reduced the required number of petition signatures candidates must collect, so candidates won’t have to interact as much with citizens in going door to door to collect signatures.

If New York postpones its primary, other states might be encouraged to follow suit, including the four other states with primaries scheduled for April 28.

Rhode Island and Pennsylvania are considering either moving their April 28 primary back or having it conducted all by mail, allowing voters to download ballots to mail in instead of voting in person. And

Maryland’s governor said his state was working on “contingencies” for its primary.

New York could consider going all mail, since absentee ballots are already available online for military personnel and others.

And even if the state didn’t go to an all-mail ballot, if enough people chose that option, it would reduce the number of people showing up in person to vote.

Given the state of emergency brought upon by the coronavirus, no changes that help stem its spread should be off the table.

There’s no harm in New York moving its primary to June, but there is a potential for harm if it doesn’t.
 

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