Bernie Sanders Moves to Ensure He's on New York's Primary Ballot After Shooting Down Prospect of Another Presidential Bid

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign filed an amicus brief with the Second Circuit Court of New York Monday seeking affirmation of the district court's decision to allowed the New York Presidential Primary to be held with all Democratic nominees on the ballot.

In April, the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBE) cancelled the primary, saying that in-person voting was a potential health threat during the coronavirus pandemic. Another factor in the NYSBE decision was that all Democratic candidates, except former Vice President Joe Biden, had exited the race.

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang challenged the decision, later filing a lawsuit against the NYSBE on the grounds that his campaign was suspended, but not fully terminated.

In his lawsuit, Yang said the "unprecedented and unwarranted" decision by the NYSBE to cancel the primary "infringes the rights of Plaintiffs and all New York State Democratic Party voters, of which there are estimated to be more than six million, as it fundamentally denies them the right to choose our next candidate for the office of President of the United States."

Sanders also declared his intention to remain on the ballots. "We would like to get as many delegates as we can," Sanders told PBS in April, "so that we can have a stronger position at the Democratic Convention to help us shape the new platform of the Democratic Party and the other issues that the DNC [Democratic National Convention] deals with."

Judge Analisa Torres ruled in Yang's favor, saying that the removal of candidates' names from the ballot violated their rights.

"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," Judge Torres wrote in her May ruling, "but also deprived their pledged delegates of the opportunity to run for a position where they could influence the party platform, vote on party governance issues, pressure the eventual nominee on matters of personnel or policy, and react to unexpected developments at the Convention."

bernie sanders
Bernie Sanders' campaign filed an amicus brief with a New York Court of Appeals Monday to affirm a lower court's ruling that Sanders' name could remain on the New York Democratic Primary ballot. berniesanders.com/Getty

The Sanders campaign filed the amicus brief on Thursday in a bid to ensure the district court's decision is upheld.

"We are very disappointed that in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, the State of New York is spending taxpayer dollars undermining voting rights," Sanders' campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a Monday statement. "At a time when Republicans are trying to make it more difficult for people to vote, Democrats should be making it easier-- not denying people the right to participate in the political process."

"The district court got it right," Shakir continued. "The State of New York acted unconstitutionally and the district court's decision should be upheld. The people of New York deserve to have their voices heard and their votes counted."

According to the Sanders campaign, even delegates who are allocated to candidates that do not win the nomination play a "central role" in the Democratic party's platform. Having Sanders delegates at the convention could lead to some more progressive policies being instituted by the party at the Democratic National Convention. This could be particularly important to Sanders, since he has indicated he will not be running for president again.

"I think the likelihood is very very slim at that," Sanders told C-SPAN Monday. "I think next time around you're going to see another candidate carrying the progressive banner. I think it's very very unlikely that I will be running for president ever again and I think right now the focus, I would say not only for progressives, not only of Democrats but Independents, moderate Republicans, has got to be how we come together to defeat this very dangerous president who is in office right now."

Newsweek reached out to the Sanders campaign for further comment. This story will be updated with any response.

New York is currently expected to hold its Democratic presidential primary on June 23. Mail-in ballots can be used by residents to avoid potentially crowded voting places.