Skip to content

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Democratic efforts to cancel a democratic N.Y. primary rebuffed by federal judge

Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was behind the plan to scrap only the presidential portion of the June 23 primary.

Al Bello/Getty Images

The unique effort by top Democrats in New York to outright cancel their presidential primary looks to be over after just 10 days, ending an extraordinary challenge by the party to the bedrock democratic principle that contested elections are never called off.

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered election officials to conduct the primary as planned on June 23, with all qualifying candidates on the ballot.

The ruling halts a plan to drop the presidential contest, ostensibly over concerns about the coronavirus, while nonetheless proceeding with nomination elections for all other down-ballot offices. That inconsistency prompted progressive groups, especially, to accuse Gov. Andrew Cuomo of a shameless attempt to help presumed nominee Joe Biden while trampling the electorate's fundamental rights.

New York's decision had exposed Cuomo and the Democrats to criticism they were no fairer in administering the presidential contest than Republicans, who called off their presidential primaries in five states last fall even when President Trump's renomination was being opposed by three nationally known if extremely longshot challengers.

"I'm glad that a federal judge agreed that depriving millions of New Yorkers the right to vote was wrong," said Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate who sued to restore the primary. "I hope that the New York Board of Elections takes from this ruling a newfound appreciation of their role in safeguarding our democracy."

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Officials at the board, which is controlled by Cuomo allies, said they were reviewing the decision but were poised to appeal. The governor said the state would follow the court's ruling for the time being but also didn't rule out the possibility of an appeal.

Although the board had cited the state's spot in the center of the nation's public health emergency when it canceled the presidential part of the primary on April 27, District Judge Analisa Torres said that excuse was not valid in light of Cuomo's decision several weeks earlier to suspend the state's usual requirements for having a specific excuse to vote absentee.

"Protecting the public from the spread of Covid-19 is an important state interest," she wrote. "But the court is not convinced that canceling the presidential primary would meaningfully advance that interest — at least not to the degree as would justify the burdensome impingement" on the rights of voters and candidates alike.

The cancelation had drawn particular outrage from the allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who suspended his presidential bid in April but said he wanted to remain on primary ballots and accrue convention delegates who could shape a platform more progressive than what would be expected from Biden, the former vice president.

The judge agreed. Removing presidential contenders from the primary ballot "deprived Democratic voters of the opportunity to elect delegates who could push their point of view in that forum," she said. "The loss of these First Amendment rights is a heavy hardship."

Sanders' campaign called the decision "an extraordinary victory for the democratic process here in New York, a state much in need of something to cheer about."

The board said an essentially meaningless contest for 274 delegates might have drawn an extra 1.5 million to local polling places. Candidates for Congress, the Legislature and other offices didn't dispute that — arguing that without Biden and Sanders on the ballot the turnout for their races would be unduly minimized.

The judge's ruling, if it stands, will assure higher turnout and is a positive for New York voters, said Jennifer Wilson, deputy director of the state's League of Women Voters chapter.

"From an administrative point of view, it's going to be a much bigger lift for the county boards of elections to pull this off," she said. "But generally this is more positive than negative. It's certainly something voters really wanted."

Read More

Trump and Biden at the debate

Our political dysfunction was on display during the debate in the simple fact of the binary choice on stage: Trump vs Biden.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The debate, the political duopoly and the future of American democracy

Johnson is the executive director of the Election Reformers Network, a national nonpartisan organization advancing common-sense reforms to protect elections from polarization.

The talk is all about President Joe Biden’s recent debate performance, whether he’ll be replaced at the top of the ticket and what it all means for the very concerning likelihood of another Trump presidency. These are critical questions.

But Donald Trump is also a symptom of broader dysfunction in our political system. That dysfunction has two key sources: a toxic polarization that elevates cultural warfare over policymaking, and a set of rules that protects the major parties from competition and allows them too much control over elections. These rules entrench the major-party duopoly and preclude the emergence of any alternative political leadership, giving polarization in this country its increasingly existential character.

Keep ReadingShow less
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Voters should be able to take the measure of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., since he is poised to win millions of votes in November.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty Images

Kennedy should have been in the debate – and states need ranked voting

Richie is co-founder and senior advisor of FairVote.

CNN’s presidential debate coincided with a fresh batch of swing-state snapshots that make one thing perfectly clear: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. may be a longshot to be our 47th president and faces his own controversies, yet the 10 percent he’s often achieving in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and other battlegrounds could easily tilt the presidency.

Why did CNN keep him out with impossible-to-meet requirements? The performances, mistruths and misstatements by Joe Biden and Donald Trump would have shocked Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, who managed to debate seven times without any discussion of golf handicaps — a subject better fit for a “Grumpy Old Men” outtake than one of the year’s two scheduled debates.

Keep ReadingShow less
I Voted stickers

Veterans for All Voters advocates for election reforms that enable more people to participate in primaries.

BackyardProduction/Getty Images

Veterans are working to make democracy more representative

Proctor, a Navy veteran, is a volunteer with Veterans for All Voters.

Imagine this: A general election with no negative campaigning and four or five viable candidates (regardless of party affiliation) competing based on their own personal ideas and actions — not simply their level of obstruction or how well they demonize their opponents. In this reformed election process, the candidate with the best ideas and the broadest appeal will win. The result: The exhausted majority will finally be well-represented again.

Keep ReadingShow less
Person voting at a dropbox in Washington, D.C.

A bill moving through Congress would only allow U.S. citizens to vote in D.C. municipal eletions.

Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The battle over noncitizen voting in America's capital

Rogers is the “data wrangler” at BillTrack50. He previously worked on policy in several government departments.

Should you be allowed to vote if you aren’t an American citizen? Or according to the adage ‘No taxation without representation’, if you pay taxes should you get to choose the representatives who help spend those tax dollars? Those questions are at the heart of the debate over a bill to restrict voting to U.S. citizens.

Keep ReadingShow less
people walking through a polling place

Election workers monitor a little-used polling place in Sandy Springs, Ga., during the state's 2022 primary.

Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

What November election? Half of the U.S. House is already decided.

Troiano is the executive director ofUnite America, a philanthropic venture fund that invests in nonpartisan election reform to foster a more representative and functional government. He’s also the author of “The Primary Solution.”

Last month, Americans were treated to an embarrassing spectacle: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) tradingpersonal insults related to “fake eyelashes” and a “bleach blonde bad built butch body” during a late-night committee hearing. Some likened it to Bravo’s “Real Housewives” reality TV series, and wondered how it was possible that elected officials could act that way and still be elected to Congress by the voters.

The truth is, the vast majority of us don’t actually elect our House members — not even close. Less than 10 percent of voters in Crockett’s district participated in her 2024 Democratic primary, which all but guaranteed her re-election in the safe blue district. Greene ran unopposed in her GOP primary — meaning she was re-elected without needing to win a single vote. The nearly 600,000 voters in her overwhelmingly red district were denied any meaningful choice. Both contests were decided well before most voters participate in the general election.

Keep ReadingShow less