Cuomo: Avoid travel; Dems: Go help Biden

At a time when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is advising New Yorkers to avoid nonessential travel and large family gatherings over the holidays, Democrats from across New York are being called to travel to Pennsylvania to knock on doors and get people out to vote.

The New York State Democratic Committee sent an email out to party members early this week calling for them to assist former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign in Pennsylvania, a swing state and key battleground for the presidential election.

“We’re in (the) home stretch, and we need your help to get out the vote in Pennsylvania!” the email sent Tuesday reads. “The Biden/Harris campaign is looking for New Yorkers who can head to PA to knock doors for any part of (get out the vote). Come for a single shift or all four days!”

State Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs said the Biden campaign is looking for Democratic volunteers to knock on doors and help get people to the polls in the commonwealth Saturday through Election Day.

The state party as well as local committees have put out calls seeking volunteers for the efforts, but it is the Biden campaign that is managing the efforts, Jacobs said.

“We’ve been assured that no one is going to be directed into any areas that are considered a hotspot, and of course everyone will be wearing masks and socially distant,” he said. “You have to be extremely cautious and not travel in large groups — and again, not go to any hotspots.”

Jacobs recognized that New Yorkers will have to weigh the health risk of participating in the effort against the benefit of what they hope will be the outcome of the election.

“The fact is we’re going to spend the next four years with a president, and Pennsylvania is going to have a lot of say on who that president is, so you have to make a very cautious but tough decision as to how far you are going to go,” he said.

An email to press contacts for the Biden campaign was not returned Thursday.

Some New Yorkers have already volunteered to travel to Pennsylvania to be poll watchers, Jacobs added. He said everyone will be instructed on how to stay safe.

The email blast sent out Tuesday also noted nightly training sessions for those who have volunteered to knock on doors and said that all proper health and safety guidelines will be observed during these activities.

Cuomo, a Democrat and longtime Biden supporter, has advised New Yorkers to avoid nonessential travel to neighboring states that have seen COVID-19 spikes — although Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey are not included in New York’s travel advisory.

Cuomo has given the adjacent states a pass from the travel restrictions due to the mid-Atlantic states’ intertwined economies.

“There are just too many interchanges, interconnections, and people who live in one place and work in the other,” Cuomo said in a statement last week announcing the policy. “… However, to the extent travel between the states is not essential, it should be avoided.”

It’s unclear whether Cuomo considers electioneering in another state to be essential travel. The Times Union was unable to ask any questions of the governor during Wednesday’s conference call with the media, and Cuomo’s senior advisor Rich Azzopardi did not respond to emails, calls or texts seeking comment.

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