Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday called the cancellation of the Democratic presidential primary in New York state “an act of disenfranchisement.”
NY1 Political Reporter Juan Manuel Benítez spoke to the Bronx and Queens congresswoman about this and other issues. Below is a transcript of their interview.
Benítez: The New York State Board of Elections just cancelled the presidential primary. You were a Bernie Sanders supporter, and Bernie Sanders was hoping to gain some influence in the convention process this year. Are you happy with a the fact that New Yorkers are not going to be able to vote on the primary?
- LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus in New York City
- LIVES LOST: Remembering Victims of the Coronavirus
- What to Do If You Test Positive for COVID-19
- CDC Coronavirus Page
- WHO Coronavirus Page
Ocasio-Cortez: I am not happy at all, and this doesn't have to do with what candidate you are supporting. No matter who you are supporting in this election and in the primary election, we should be able to cast our vote. And the problem with cancelling the primary is that there's still going to be a primary that day. So, to cancel one line of a ballot that people are already going to be filling out it's completely unjustified.
It also prevents progressive gains and the ability for people to push for thing like a living wage and health care at the convention. So I think that this is an act of disenfranchisement, and I believe everybody should be able to vote in a primary election no matter what state you live in.
Benítez: Do you agree with the way that Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have been handling this crisis?
Ocasio-Cortez: I think that they are doing their best, but I think that ultimately there are some very large blindspots that we have that we are failing to address. We need to take rent and mortgage action on both the state and the federal level. We have millions of New Yorkers who are at the risk of displacement, eviction, and foreclosure.
Even when it comes to this primary change. This idea that we are going to be voting absentee is very misleading for a lot of New Yorkers, because absentee ballots are not counted on the day of the election.
Benítez: So what would you ask Gov. Cuomo, for the June 23 primary election?
Ocasio-Cortez: I would ask the governor — and I would ask all of our state legislators as well that also have power on this situation — I would ask that all absentee ballots that are cast be counted in the original vote count. It's incredibly important that they are counted, and don't wait for the result to be within 1 to 2 percent to unseal them.
Benítez: Last week, you voted against a $484 billion bill that would help small businesses and hospitals. Why did you vote against that?
Ocasio-Cortez: I think one of the things that's very disturbing about this bill is that while people are saying that it's helping hospitals and small businesses, and while granted, there are some small amount of funds for hospitals and small businesses, overall this is Trump's relief bill and he is overwhelmingly structuring this to help big businesses, to help Wall Street and to not do enough for working families.
- How to Vote in New York: Frequently Asked Questions
- What a Borough President Can Do in New York City
- Debunking Some Common and Unusual Myths About Voting in New York
We have to do better, and with three packages having been passed that don't help working families enough, I think this is when I decided to draw the line and say, “No, we don't have time to wait, it's now been two months, there's no rent relief, no mortgage relief, we need to act now.”
Looking for an easy way to learn about the issues affecting New York City?
FURTHER CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE