One of Tuesday night’s major story lines surrounding the Democrat’s presidential primary had to do with voter irregularities in New York City. Throughout the day voters reported that their names did not appear on voter rolls.
NPR detailed how over 100,000 voters had been purged in Brooklyn alone:
The problem was first identified in a an analysis of state voter enrollment statistics by WNYC’s Brigid Bergin. The Board of Elections then confirmed that more than 120,000 voters have been dropped from the rolls in Brooklyn alone since November.
“No other borough in New York City nor county in the rest of the state saw such a significant decline in active registered Democrats. In fact, only 7 of the state’s 62 counties saw a drop in the number of Democrats. Everywhere else saw the numbers increase,” WNYC found. The more than 120,000 dropped includes 12,000 people who moved out of the borough, 44,000 people who were moved from active to inactive voter status, and 70,000 voters removed from the inactive voter list, according to the station.
The voter purge in Brooklyn could be particularly significant for the Bernie Sanders campaign as multiple reports in the days leading up to the primary suggested Sanders had gained significant ground in the borough. The Daily Beast pointed the Brooklyn trend out this past Monday:
Sanders seems to have closed the gap here dramatically over the past few weeks. The massive crowds of supporters at his rallies across the state give the impression that Hillary Clinton—with her more modest venues and mostly small crowds—is falling behind.
The New York Daily News reported on a class-action lawsuit filed by voters on Monday, the day before the primary:
Fabrizio Milito, another voter who signed up with the suit, registered as a Democrat in 2009 and voted in local elections as recent as last year.
The 25-year-old construction worker from Bayville, L.I., noticed his registration now says “not affiliated.”
“I got really upset and I went to call them (the Nassau board of elections) and even the guy on the phone was pretty baffled,” Melito said. “He told me I must have changed it but I never did.”
Some voters involved in the lawsuit — who are primarily Democratic — also claim they their voter registration had been canceled altogether.
Sanders addressed the issue on election night, as detailed by CNN:
“It is absurd that in Brooklyn, New York — where I was born, actually — tens of thousands of people as I understand it, have been purged from the voting rolls,” Sanders said during an evening campaign rally at Penn State University.In an email to CNN, Sanders spokesman Karthik Ganapathy called the state’s handling of the primary a “shameful demonstration.”“From long lines and dramatic understaffing to longtime voters being forced to cast affidavit ballots and thousands of registered New Yorkers being dropped from the rolls, what’s happening today is a disgrace,” he said.
Even Hillary Clinton supporter Mayor Bill DeBlasio acknowledged the problem on election day:
“It has been reported to us from voters and voting rights monitors that the voting lists in Brooklyn contain numerous errors, including the purging of entire buildings and blocks of voters from the voting lists,” de Blasio said in a statement Tuesday calling on the board to “reverse that purge.”“The perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process and must be fixed,” he said.
It’s hard to say whether this “routine voter purge,” as the Board of Elections calls it, had a significant impact on Sanders’ chances in the Empire State, but it’s instructive to see the kind of shenanigans that can happen on Hillary Clinton’s home turf.