A Bernie Sanders rally in March. Photo: Brittany Greeson/Getty Images

New York's Board of Elections canceled the state's June 23 Democratic presidential primary on Monday, deciding that the risk of spreading the coronavirus was greater than holding an election with only one contender, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: This makes New York, which had already delayed the contest from April 28 to June 23, the first state to cancel its primary.

The big picture: The Bernie Sanders campaign and its supporters had lobbied against the decision, despite the fact that Sanders ended his bid and endorsed presumptive nominee Joe Biden earlier this month.

  • Sanders chose to remain on the ballot in New York and other primary states that haven't yet voted in an effort to influence the Democratic Party's platform at the convention. His supporters argue New York's decision undermines party unity.
  • “Suppressing the Sanders vote in New York will again lead to attacks on the Party across the nation and harm the volunteer effort that our group and others are building for Joe Biden,” said Larry Cohen, chair of the Sanders-aligned Our Revolution.

The state of play: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order allowing New Yorkers to vote absentee in the primary. However, polling places were still expected to remain open.

  • No other contest besides the presidential primary is on the ballot in about 20 of the state’s 62 counties, the Times notes, meaning that those voters will no longer need to go to the polls.

What they're saying:

"No one asked New York to cancel the election. The DNC didn’t request it. The Biden campaign didn’t request it. And our campaign communicated that we wanted to remain on the ballot.  Given that the primary is months away, the proper response must be to make the election safe – such as going to all vote by mail – rather than to eliminating people’s right to vote completely.
"New York has clearly violated its approved delegate selection plan. If this is not remedied, New York should lose all its delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention and there should be a broader review by the Democratic Party of New York’s checkered pattern of voter disenfranchisement.”
— Sanders campaign senior adviser Jeff Weaver

Go deeper: Joe Biden reaches out to Bernie Sanders' supporters

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