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Who Are The 3.2 Million New Yorkers Who Can’t Vote Today?

Today is one of the most important days on the primary calendar: New York is finally voting! The stakes are high for candidates in both parties, but especially so for the Democrats, each vying for part of the 247 delegates up for grabs.

However, millions of New Yorkers will be unable to take part in today’s voting: aside from the scores of independent voters who are ineligible to take part in closed party primaries, in which only party members can vote, many thousands more reportedly discovered recently that their voter registrations had been changed.

Both Ivanka and Eric Trump missed the October 2015 deadline to change their voter registrations to Republican so they could support their father, and they’re not alone: around 3.2 million New York voters can’t vote in today’s primary, and many of them favor the anti-establishment candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

According to Vice News, political minorities are disproportionately affected by the state’s election laws. Around 37 percent of New Yorkers under 30 don’t identify with either party, and 15 percent of African American voters and 22 percent of Latino voters were also politically unaffiliated.

Furthermore, recent revelations of voter roll purges show that even some committed party voters may be shut out of voting: the names of 126,000 Brooklyn registered Democrats have been removed from voter rolls since November 2015, resulting in a net loss of 63,500 registered Democratic voters. Executive director at the NYC Board of Elections Michael Ryan told WNYC that the drop was the result of the removal of inactive voters and the address changes of those leaving the borough.

But such a dramatic loss is still suspect, even to New York City’s Brooklynite mayor Bill de Blasio, who told WNYC “I admit that Brooklyn has had a lot of transient population – that’s obvious. Lot of people moving in, lot of people moving out. That might account for some of it. But I’m confused since so many people have moved in, that the number would move that much in the negative direction.”

The Election Justice USA, which describes itself as “a national organization advancing election integrity, transparency, and the protection of voting rights,” filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of “all disenfranchised and purged voters,” alleging that the unapproved registration changes deny affected voters equal protection under the law. The organization has called for a blanket order allowing “tens of thousands” of potential plaintiffs to vote in the primary today.

“We were seeing an alarming number of voter affiliations changed without people’s knowledge or consent, people who were registered listed as not registered,” said Shyla Nelson, a spokeswoman for Election Justice USA, to local New York City publication Gothamist. But, given that the lawsuit was filed just yesterday, it is unlikely that a decision will be made before polls close at 9 p.m. tonight.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders brought up that fact, which will undoubtedly impact his support levels in the state, during a campaign rally in Washington Square Park last week. “We have a system here in New York where independents can’t get involved in the democratic primary,” he said. “Where young people who have not previously registered and want to register today just can’t do it. So this is going be a tough primary for us.”

Of course, New York’s primary has been closed to independents for decades.

For Hillary Clinton, the absence of independent voters skews the Democratic vote for her, given she has polled poorly among Democratic-leaning independents. And while Donald Trump remains nearly unchallenged in the state, his argument that the party systems are “corrupt” has focused squarely on primaries and caucuses that he can paint as “undemocratic.”

“I hope it doesn’t involve violence. I hope it doesn’t. I’m not suggesting that,” he said Sunday, referring this time to the Republican National Committee’s delegate system. “I hope it doesn’t involve violence, and I don’t think it will. But I will say this, it’s a rigged system, it’s a crooked system. It’s 100 percent corrupt.”

Photo: A demonstrator dressed as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump protests outside the Trump Tower building in midtown Manhattan in New York March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

How Big Cable Makes New Yorkers Pay More For Slower Internet

As 40,000 Verizon employees clog New York’s streets with one of the nation’s largest strikes in years, and with no end in sight, it’s worth mentioning one thing those strikers are incontrovertibly right about, among many others:

The availability, speed, and cost of New York City’s internet are all pretty dismal.

Take FiOS, Verizon’s high-speed, fiberoptic broadband internet service that, if made available to every home in the city, would finally catch New York up to its most technologically advanced peers around the world.

In fact, Verizon made a deal with the city in 2008 to wire any of its 3.1 million households that wanted an alternative to Time Warner and others, with a completion date set for June 30, 2014. Two years behind schedule, Verizon has no intention of fulfilling their end of the agreement, and large parts of New York City are still without FiOS, even where demand is overwhelming.

Last June, the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications released a report excoriating the slow implementation of Verizon’s promises. In 2012, it found, 1.7 million homes were in areas where FiOS could be installed. By the end of 2014, that number was just under 2 million, an increase of less than 300,000.

“Through a thorough and comprehensive audit, we have determined that Verizon substantially failed to meet its commitment to the people of New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio on NY1 in June of last year.

The seemingly intentional slowdown of bringing FiOS to New York falls squarely on protesting workers’ list of grievances. Verizon already wants to cut operational costs by decreasing worker benefits and outsourcing jobs, and any large effort to expand FiOS beyond the current bare minimum of coverage (which happens to be concentrated in wealthy areas) would require hiring new employees, strengthening the union with whom they currently refuse to negotiate.

This is not the Verizon New Yorkers were promised in 2008.

In comments to the New York Times after the deal with the city was made eight years ago, Verizon Telecom president Virginia P. Ruesterholz bragged that “No other provider has said it will build in all of New York […] The other competitors haven’t built everywhere, but just taken their turf.”

Well, that’s all it was: talk.

The practice amongst internet providers of “carving up” service areas, as Ruesterholz described to the Times, is used to minimize competition and keep costs high.

As a result of the increased consolidation brought on by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the city operates with a handful of large cable providers: Verizon, Time Warner, AT&T, and Comcast, who are widely reviled by New York’s residents, and a small handful of others.

And while all of these companies repeatedly claim that their various expansions have resulted in increased competition, the reality has been far different. Rather than citywide coverage by — and competition between — all the major providers, New York resembles a mosaic of provider strongholds.

These same companies have led the fight against net neutrality, the notion that Internet service providers should allow open access to any IP address on the web regardless of its source. Without that, one of the governing principles behind the creation of the internet would be lost, and providers would charge customers more for visiting certain websites.

It was a battle Big Cable almost won, with a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission that proved the nation’s tech administrators are woefully under equipped to govern the internet, Comcast Corp v. FCC.

While that decision ended the commission’s use of ancillary jurisdiction, which the Electronic Frontier Foundation described as “a catchall source of authority that amounts to ‘we can regulate without waiting for Congress so long a the regulations are related to something else that Congress told us to do,'” it also opened the door for further challenges to the FCC’s power.

A second challenge, Verizon Communications Inc. v. FCC, led to the brief death of net neutrality, as the D.C. Circuit court ruled that the FCC chose the wrong legal framework to enforce it. The result was a months-long public commenting period which resulted in 4 million comments by Americans, a triumph of civic engagement in support of net neutrality. The corporations turned petty — Verizon’s response was written in Morse code.

Nevertheless, the cable companies have continued to try to turn the tables in their favor with lobbying efforts and campaign donations. In the 2014 election cycle, Comcast spent $5 million on political donations and $17 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, whose website OpenSecrets.org tracks money in politics. Verizon spent over $2 million in donations and $13 million on lobbying, AT&T spent $4 million on donations and $14 million on lobbying, and Time Warner spent just over $1 million on donations and a further $3 million on lobbying.

In 2012 in New York state, Verizon spent $850,000 on lobbying efforts, according to numbers collected by Long Island publication Newsday,

In Paris, Zurich, Hong Kong, and Seoul, people pay as little as $30 a month for high speed internet that can download high definition movies in under 10 seconds. It’s high time the city’s residents paid less for more, too.

Photo: Flickr user jseliger2.

Hillary Clinton And Bill de Blasio’s Racial Joke Didn’t Go Over Well

Sometimes politicians make dumb jokes.

Sometimes politicians make dumb racist jokes.

Sometimes politicians get called out on the cover of the New York Daily News for making dumb racist jokes.

This time it was Hillary Clinton and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

It’s a quick bit — and purely scripted, as de Blasio told CNN’s Erin Burnett.

Clinton made a joke about how long it took for de Blasio to endorse her. (He endorsed her back in October, but months earlier he was noncommittal.)

De Blasio then responded with a quick line; Leslie Odom Jr., a black performer who plays Aaron Burr in the Broadway phenomenon Hamilton, was in on the joke, which plays off of an old, stupid racial stereotype.

There was an added bit of irony, too: De Blasio is married to Chirlane McCray, an African-American woman.

Screengrab of Leslie Odom, Jr., from Hamilton, Hillary Clinton and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, trying to tell a joke. tomm2thumbs via YouTube

Endorse This: Ted Cruz ‘Doesn’t Know What The Hell He’s Talking About’

Ted Cruz got flustered today when CBS’ This Morning’s anchors pointed out the logical fallacies in his argument that the U.S. needs to spy on Muslim communities to weed out radical jihadists.

Co-host Norah O’Donnell was having none of Ted Cruz’s political posturing.

“How many Muslims are in America?” she asked him.

Ted Cruz admitted he didn’t know.

“There are three million Muslims in America. Law enforcement is overwhelmed…It’s impractical what you’re suggesting. Also, it doesn’t suggest it would lead to anything. It’s more of a political point that you’re making.”

She was referring to the police surveillance program that was initiated after the 9/11 but was disbanded under New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, due to its ineffectiveness.

The CBS anchor weren’t the only one who found Cruz’s logic ridiculous. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton blasted Cruz for his ignorance on the same program earlier:

“He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, to be quite frank with you. I took great offense to that statement. I have almost one thousand Muslim officers in the NYPD. Ironically, when he’s running around here, we probably have a few Muslim officers guarding him.”

Cruz dismissed Bratton’s comments, calling him and his partner John Miller, the deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism,“Democratic political henchmen” under de Blasio’s command.

“It could be because he simply thinks that patrolling Muslim neighborhoods is a bad thing to do in the interest of New York?” Rose asked.

But Cruz, sticking to his political talking points, instead blamed de Blasio, Hillary Clinton and the President for sticking to “political correctness” in refusing to use the words “radical Islam” when referring to ISIS, a statement he has used repeatedly.

The hosts don’t take the bait, continuing to press the oily Texas senator. Watch as the journalists do their jobs — pointing out errors, inaccuracies, and bluster in a presidential candidate.

Screenshot via YouTube/CBS This Morning