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U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Bernie Sanders team asks Murphy for all-VBM primary

Co-chairs: ‘any county organization that has moved its election has implicitly endorsed an all Vote-by-Mail primary’

By David Wildstein, May 04 2020 11:06 am

The chairs of Bernie Sanders’ New Jersey campaign want Gov. Phil Murphy to conduct the July 7 primary election entirely through vote-by-mail ballots.

“In the midst of the largest public health crisis in our country’s history, it is only prudent to limit exposure to this uniquely deadly virus,” said Barry Brendel, Patricia Campos Medina and Lawrence Hamm.  “We have the wherewithal to hold a primary that provides everyone a chance to vote while limiting exposure to COVID- 9. If we save only one life – and we will save more than that – we owe it to each other to do so.”

While Sanders has dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and endorsed Joe Biden, he remains on the ballot in the New Jersey primary.  The Sanders campaign is running a full slate of delegates with the hope of accumulating a large enough block to influence the party’s platform at the national convention in August.

One of the Sanders arguments in support of an all-VBM primary: the decision of numerous local party organizations that moved county committee elections to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We can only conclude that if they believe it is too dangerous to hold a county committee election in-person they must also believe that holding an in-person election for president is, also, too dangerous. Any county organization that has moved its election has implicitly endorsed an all Vote-by-Mail primary,” Brendel, Campos Medina and Hamm said.  “The governor should keep this in mind.”

The Sanders team cited success of all-VBM elections in other states.

“Let’s dispose of the false argument that vote-by-mail is vulnerable to fraud,” Brendel, Campos Medina and Hamm said.  “Between the three of us we have nearly one hundred years of experience with in-person primaries. You will have a very hard time convincing us of the security of the current system.”

Hamm is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate against incumbent Cory Booker.

According to the Sanders New Jersey chairs, over 1.3 million New Jerseyans voted in the 2016 presidential primaries.

“Why would we risk potentially exposing 1 out of every 7 people in our state to risk – on the same day – when there is a safe alternative?” the campaign chairs asked.  “We believe that that a vote-in-person primary in this public health climate discriminates against, minorities, the elderly, people with immune compromising disabilities such diabetes, cancer, etc., the poor and people who live in urban areas.”

The Sanders team cites health threats to poll workers, who are often elderly.

“So, one, they are going to be reluctant to work the polls on election day and two, they are exposing themselves to close contact (the width of a table) with hundreds of people,” said Brendel, Campos Medina and Hamm.  “We know how voting goes. You walk in, give them your name and bend over the table with the worker inches away and sign the book. Even with a mask, which will be another issue, the risk of exposure is great.”

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