Voting in the Pandemic Era: Safety First.

As the officers of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee, we wanted to share some thoughts about the controversial decision to cancel the New York State Presidential Primary. We understand that there are Democrats who wished the primary to go forward so that their chosen delegates would have more of a say in the development of the Party Platform. However, there are many circumstances that argue in favor of the decision to cancel the primary.

New York State is constitutionally prohibited from automatically mailing absentee ballots directly to voters. That translates into an onerous process requiring many hands to send out applications, check the applications when returned for validity and then mail out the actual ballots. So, this is a two-step process. Approximately 600,000 applications will be mailed in Suffolk County alone and then, depending on how many completed applications are received back at the Board of Elections, hundreds of thousands of ballots will have to be processed and mailed.

Once ballots are returned, they would be clocked-in, sorted and finally opened after election day, June 23rd. Furthermore, since Suffolk County does not have scanners to do this work, hundreds of thousands of ballots in Suffolk County will have to be read and tabulated by hand at a time when the Board of Elections does not have a full complement of  employees and social distancing rules are in effect.

We do not want any voters to feel disenfranchised, but the reality is that there is no contest for the Democratic candidate for President. This is not the same as canceling the Presidential election on November 3rd. While the party platform is a worthy aspirational statement of our ideals, it has no teeth unless we elect more Democrats to every branch of government who will then have the power to implement those values. Similarly, the United States Constitution is just a piece of paper, unless there is the political will in this country to enforce it. We have already seen tremendous erosion of the rule of law in the past four years. Instead, let us focus on getting our candidates elected.

This is not politics as usual. This is politics in the midst of a life-threatening pandemic. It makes ultimate sense for us to put safety, health and the well-being of our voters and election workers first.

Gordon Herr, Chair, Southampton Town Democratic Committee

Robin Long, 1st Vice-Chair

Andrea Klausner, 2nd Vice-Chair


About D. Posnett MD

Emeritus Prof. of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
This entry was posted in Coronavirus, Fair elections, Health Care, Southampton, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Voting in the Pandemic Era: Safety First.

  1. Carol J Williams says:

    In a moment when democracy is seriously at risk in the United States, it seems either foolhardy at best or disingenuous at worst to cancel this Presidential primary election in New York State. (As the writers state, though the candidate is known, the platform is yet to be decided and would be influenced by the primary result–if there was one).This makes me look at the past behavior of the Democratic Committee in 2016 with a shudder: we saw what happened. And to the future- with President Trump only too happy to cancel the election for “public health”- with real dread.

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