Dear New York State Board of Elections,
As a Democratic State Committeeman, former Secretary of the Manhattan Democratic County Committee and former Vice President of the Young Democrats of America, I urge you not to remove Bernie Sanders from the June 23 Primary ballot for four reasons:
1. Democrats across the spectrum deserve to have their voices herard. While the outcome of the election may not be contested, the coalition that will bring the Democratic Party to victory in 2020 is broad and diverse.
As much as at anytime in our history, the candidates in the Democratic Primary represent a belief of the policies the Democratic Party should pursue. Healing the divisions between these groups will be made infinitely harder if people are deprived of their sole vehicle for expressing those preferences in a meaningful way.
2. The Democratic Party needs a way to hear what voters want. That way is the Primary. Those of us doing the hard work of voter engagement are constantly telling people to vote in primaries — that it is their way to guide the party. Not only does cutting off our primary make a mockery of that important process, it deprives the Demcoratic Party of the very intent of this election — to poll the constituency of the Party so that it can properly represent their views in Delegates at the convention and definitively know its composition.
If the result of the primary is 1% for Bernie Sanders, that sends an important message. If it is 40% for Sanders, it sends an equally important message. Primaries not only provide voters their opportunity to elect delegates, but the opportunity for a Party to update itself.
3. We are electing DELEGATES, not a PRESIDENT. Even though the colloquial interpretation of the Primary is to directly elect a Presidential candidate, the Party Convention was invented to assemble delegates of the Party members.
Yes, electing delegates by who they would support for President is a handy way to draw distinctions, but every Democrat is entitled to cast a ballot for their REPRESENTATIVE to the convention. A convention which, as you know, know doesmuch more than select a nominee. It votes on the platform and the very rules governning the Democratic Party. Should we disband elections for Congress because we know who will run for the White House? Of course not, these institutions serve separate purposes. So too with a presumptive nominee and the delegates.
4. In this election it is absolutely imperative that the Democratic Party be as open, transparent and democratic as possible. A large part of the argument against Trump is that he undermines democratic principles. Reducing participation in DNC processes by cancelling the Primary will tarnish the Democratic Party’s ability to claim it is a champion of those principles, and further erode the overall faith the electorate at large has in the American political system.
I got my start as a volunteer and staffer in the 2008 Primary for Barack Obama. Since then, I have spent over a decade involved in local elections, organizing and participating in the Democratic Party structure. It can be a struggle, pushing the Party to live up to its ideals and its name. But through Primaries, I have seen new and better people invigorate a new and better politics in our city and State. This Board cannot be an institution that stands in the way of more inclusive and representative politics, but must be one which fascilitates them. I ask you to leave Bernie Sanders on the ballot and allow Democrats to vote for whoever best represents their beliefs.
Democratic State Committeeman, AD 66