The New York presidential primaries were sullied by widespread accounts of irregularities and entire voter blocs being purged from voter-registration rolls. The outrage has prompted the New York City comptroller to say he will audit the state’s Board of Elections.
On April 19, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump both won their respective primary contests by considerable margins.
The actual voting process proved to be a nightmarish flop for many New Yorkers, thousands showing up to polling places and being met with broken voting machines, closed voter registration rules, clerical errors and missing voter rolls.
A hotline designated for voter complaints received nearly four times the number of complaints than it did in the 2012 primary, according to USA Today.
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New York is a closed primary state where only enrolled Democrats and Republicans are eligible to vote in primary elections. Registered voters who want to switch had to have done so in October 2015 while new voters were expected to have registered in March 2016.
Many New York residents complained their records were bundled together with information of other voters who shared similar surnames but not the same party affiliation.
One New York voter, Ben Gershman, had repeatedly communicated with the Board of Elections to ensure he was properly registered and to sort out a case of mistaken identity. He even made his way to his polling place in the early morning, but was told that he would have to appeal his vote in court.
“I spent three hours this morning try to vote,” Gershman told The Daily Beast. “I’m at a loss for words. I don’t understand that in the 21st century you have to stand in front of a judge to get to vote. It was laughable.”
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The most egregious roadblock to a fair voter turnout was reportedly in Brooklyn, where 120,000 eligible Democratic voters had been dropped from the rolls without explanation.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer issued a letter to the Board of Elections outlining concerns with how the primary process was handled, according to NPR.
“These errors have conspired to bar first time and longtime voters from exercising their fundamental democratic right,” Stringer wrote.
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City blasted the Board of Elections for the Brooklyn controversy and called for all 120,000 voters to be reinstated into the rolls.
“I am calling on the Board of Election to reverse that purge and update the lists again using Central, not Brooklyn borough, Board of Election staff,” de Blasio declared in a statement.