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

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

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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

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

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11 Comments

  1. runfastandwin April 19, 2016

    A non-Democrat has no right to vote in a Democratic primary, same as on the Republican side. You want to vote in the Democratic primary, you need to register as a Democrat. A funny thing about California, the GOP pushed open primaries for decades, now that they finally have it, the California Senate race to replace Senator Boxer is going to be between 2 Democrats!

    Reply
    1. Scott Bloom April 19, 2016

      So the quote “every vote counts” doesn’t mean anything to you?

      1. Walter Keonig April 20, 2016

        If the voter doesn’t stay current and change their party affiliation then NO. You can go online and change your party affiliation in less than 15 minutes and have a new voter registration card in like 3 weeks if not less. Why should the parties and state be responsible for the voter? If they want to vote, they need to make sure they are registered and eligible to vote where they live! You people are all against government interfering with your lives but turn around and ask them to do everything for you. I mean make up your mind. Do you want the government to hold your hand or you do it on your own?

  2. JPHALL April 19, 2016

    Why had no one noticed this before now. We supposedly have 24/7 coverage on multiple platforms. Yet nothing till now? By the way, why do Independents and other non party members in some states get to vote in party primaries?

    Reply
    1. Siegfried Heydrich April 19, 2016

      Different states have different laws. In an open primary state, you can vote for either party. In closed primary states, only those registered with a party can vote in that party’s primary. .If you’re an Independent, then you can’t vote in either, though you can vote for whatever other issues may be down-ballot (where I live, the town had several items not related to the primary). So, in closed states, you have democratic ballots, republican ballots, and neither ballots.

  3. feathered_head April 19, 2016

    The rules in NY have been in place for decades — and now the Sanders campaign is going to make a stink about it if they do not win? Their campaign dropped the ball when they should have been making sure their supporters knew the registration rules of each state their candidate was competing in. How hard would it have been to include this information on their website and constant fundraising emails? They sure managed to get out the vote in caucus states — why was NY not important enough to bother? The deadline for new voters was March 31st — well enough time for their new voters to get registered. For former voters — they already knew they would be excluded from the democratic primary when they signed up as independents or greens or socialist or libertarian or whatever. This was their own foolish choice — they valued feeling cool over being able to actually cast an effective vote.

    Reply
    1. Margaret Jones April 20, 2016

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  4. Siegfried Heydrich April 19, 2016

    Cuomo just needs to call in the Feds at this point and tell them to get to the bottom of all this, and let him know what they find. And tell the state workers to keep their mitts off of everything while the Feds figure all this out, because at this point, I wouldn’t trust the State of New York to sell me a raffle ticket.

    Reply
  5. Dominick Vila April 20, 2016

    We should have changed our antiquated and discouraging voting system immediately after the hanging chad fiasco. Every American born citizen, and naturalized citizens, who has not committed a crime, should be automatically registered since the day we were born or became a citizen. Moreover, the system should comprise of both electronic and manual voting capabilities.
    The goal should be to make it as easy as possible for people to vote, using a secure and effective system. Insisting on the preservation of a system that is, obviously, ineffective and prone to fraudulent manipulation is absurd.
    Last, but not least, we must change campaign funding to a system that allots equal amounts of money to the candidates that garner over a specific percentage of the vote. If they run out of money, it would be obvious they are not qualified for the office they are seeking.

    Reply
    1. Walter Keonig April 20, 2016

      No! People should take the responsibility upon themselves to make sure their name, address, and party affiliation are up to date on their registration card.

      You can go online and change your party affiliation in 15 minutes or less and get your new card within weeks. If people cant go online and change the party affiliation in less than 15 minutes. What makes you think they could vote online?

      How about you allow each person to donate up to $2500 each to each candidate they wish and cap it at that and end special interests, super pacs and what have you?

      If wasn’t for the DNC you would not know nothing about Bernie. Where was in 2012? Where was he in 2008? If Democrats and Republicans ARE SO BADDDDDDD, where was he in 2004, 2000, 1996 and 1992?

      Bernie had an option to accept the DNC money and help raise money for him and he turned it down. So dont blame the party for offering to help him spread his platform and then bash their rules that have been around for hundreds of years.

      1. Dominick Vila April 20, 2016

        I don’t blame the DNC for anything. I simply believe that our entire electioneering process, and voting, are antiquated, discourage voting, and that the influence of big money makes a mockery of our purported democracy.
        The embarrassing hanging chad episode highlights the need for change to a more robust, simplified, consistent, and accessible system of voting.
        As for the special interests donations, ban them!

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