Good Question: Should New York move the presidential primary?

Brennan Somers
Created: March 20, 2020 11:46 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — There's a debate over whether New York should hold its presidential primary in the middle of this outbreak with concerns for voters and poll workers. Other states have already postponed their primaries.

New York's is still scheduled for late April, but it could've been held as early as Super Tuesday on March 3 before the coronavirus became a pandemic.

So why is New York's primary held so late in the spring? You asked, and News10NBC's Brennan Somers got answers from Tim Kneeland who teaches political science at Nazareth College.

Brennan: I got a question from a viewer, April 28th, New York primary. We're now down to two candidates on the Democratic side, does my vote even matter? What would you say to them?

Kneeland: Your vote matters, very important. So, even if, right, it's a two-person race. You have a choice and the delegates for either candidate will still have a say in how the party platform is written. So, if you're a very progressive individual, if you really like what Bernie Sanders is saying, you should go out and vote for him because he will collect delegates and those delegates will influence what the Democratic Party stands for for the next four years, even if Joe Biden is the candidate and the next President of the United States, you will still influence what happens. So, it's important that you go out and vote.

Brennan: Is that date significant, or is it just, they pick it?

Kneeland: That that was picked by the Board of Elections, by the New York State Legislature in consultation because they believe that that was the best day.

Brennan: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina. Why?

Kneeland: Well, there's a variety of reasons. First of all, New Hampshire and Iowa, back in the 1970s, guaranteed their position by putting something in their legislation, in their laws, that said that they have to be the first primary in New Hampshire, the first caucus in Iowa. And if somebody tries to go earlier than them, they are going to move the calendar back. They even threatened to go in December of the year before the calendar usually begins simply to be first in the nation.

The Democratic National Committee, as well as the Republican National Committee, have recognized that in the past by punishing other states by taking away delegates if they don't follow the rules and move up too early.

Looking ahead, some still want New York's presidential primary to be pushed back until June. One state lawmaker says its unrealistic to expect people to go out and vote while the state is telling everyone to stay home.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he hasn't considered that just yet.

"I have virtually no political thoughts at this time and no thought about postponing an election,”  Cuomo said at a recent press conference.

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