The following letter was circulated by Michelle Deal Winfield, State Committee, 74th Assembly District. We will need every member input to have the club say for delegate selection. Our next membership meeting will be May 28th, however, I have asked Committeemember Winfield to let us know the timing so we can adjust our input.
For Immediate Release: 05/04/2020
New York State Democratic Committee
LETTER FROM CHAIRMAN JAY S. JACOBS
Dear Fellow Democratic Leader,
I know many of you have questions in light of the State Board of Elections’ decision on Monday to cancel the Presidential Primary. This was a difficult decision reached by the Democratic Commissioners of the State Board and it was predicated, entirely on two – and only two facts: (1) the outcome of the primary, the purpose of which was to choose a nominee for President, was already conclusively decided; and (2) holding the primary would unnecessarily create and exacerbate a potential health hazard for Democratic poll workers and voters. I unequivocally support that decision.
We are currently in discussions with the Democratic National Committee to prepare an acceptable plan in which the State Committee, by vote, will approve a slate of delegates that would have otherwise been elected in the Primary. It is our intention to work in cooperation with both the Biden and Sanders campaign to come up with a fair representation for both campaigns, based on the likely results had a primary been held. That way, this decision in no way advantages one side or the other. When we have a plan and we know better how it will work, we will let you know right away.
While editorial and other support for this decision has been exceptionally favorable, I know that there are many Sanders delegates, supporters and others who feel that this was an unnecessary act that deprived them of their right to vote. Here are some facts and answers to some of the questions:
In 2016 the Democratic Presidential Primary brought out a 34% turnout – 1,971,000 Democrats out of 5,792,500 enrolled. A typical non-presidential primary is between 8-15%, leaning much more heavily toward the lower number. As an example assuming a 10% turnout: In the only Democratic primaries in Nassau County (CDs 2 & 3 – Nassau portion), the combined Democratic enrollment is 147,605 which would mean a likely turnout of about 14,700 voters WITHOUT a Presidential Primary. WITH a Presidential primary, at a 34% turnout of the 415,674 registered Democrats, Nassau County BOE would have to staff EVERY poll site for a 141,000 voter turnout – 9.6 times the number of voters. That’s not only more voters – it’s more poll workers. Moreover, in 20 counties – about a third of all of our counties – there will now be no primary at all.
People who say that we now have unlimited absentee voting so that we don’t need to open polling places are completely uninformed when it comes to the running of elections. This is the FIRST time we would go completely by mail, if we did that. What about the people who did not receive their ballots? What about the people who received them late? What do we say to leaders and elected officials in some of our minority districts who tell us that participation in their areas, if we only allow vote by mail, will be greatly reduced? Talk about disenfranchising people! People STILL have to have an opportunity to vote in person – both early and on Election Day. That’s not a choice.
Most of our poll workers are seniors who are most at risk for the worst effects of the virus. Many of our polling places are now in senior residences. How do we get these folks to work in large numbers in a full scale Presidential Primary? If we do, what risk are they taking (see Wisconsin)? I ask those who oppose the Board’s decision: just how many poll worker’s lives are you willing to risk in order that your “voices are heard” in an already predetermined election? 5? 10? 15? 20? Tell me when to stop. My answer to that question is zero.
Some have argued that this decision, hurting turnout, will benefit incumbents down ballot and the establishment. First of all, the Presidential Primary WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE SAME DAY AS THE DOWN BALLOT RACES! That was changed by the Governor recently due to the outbreak. So, at the worst, we only returned the down ballot races to where they would have been without the virus. Second, whose reading of primary election results shows that activists and candidates of the far left are more likely HELPED by a larger-than-normal turnout? Check out local primaries. Most times, activist candidates tend to beat incumbents WHEN TURNOUT IS LOW. When turnout is high, in most districts the result is that more MODERATES are drawn to the polls and incumbents win.
This decision deprives Sanders’ supporters the opportunity to be delegates to the convention. As I stated above; that’s not our objective and we will be working with the two campaigns to come up with a fair allocation for both. So, barring any quibbling over a handful of delegates in the distribution, the Sanders’ folks will be pretty close to where they would have been HAD the primary been held. Who knows? Maybe better!
So, for those reasons, I support the decision of our State Board of Elections to protect the health and safety of our poll workers and voters by cancelling a predetermined election. If we closed all nonessential businesses in New York to protect our health, shouldn’t we cancel all nonessential elections? And, if an election where ONLY ONE CANDIDATE IS RUNNING isn’t a nonessential election, I don’t know what is!
Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you soon!