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New Yorkers Should Ask Court to Put Hold on Democratic Primary As Repeat of Arizona Fraud Looms

Updated on April 17, 2016
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Ralph Lopez majored in economics and political science at Yale University. He has been published in the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun.

Numerous regular and Internet news outlets are reporting that voters in the Empire State are finding that their voter registrations have been changed, or dropped altogether, as the closely watched New York Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders approaches. The complaints follow patterns seen in Arizona last month, now the subject of a lawsuit filed by supporters of Bernie Sanders.

The Arizona Republic has published data seeming to show that poorer precincts, arguably more likely to vote for Sanders, were hit hardest by what have been called vote suppression tactics. The New York problems follow a string of legal actions already undertaken by Sanders supporters in multiple states, one of which includes an Illinois state's attorney taking the side of voters who were denied a chance to vote by similar tactics.

The allegations against local and state election officials across the nation, a constituency heavily dominated, on the Democratic side, by open Hillary Clinton supporters, is thrusting the integrity of the nation's voting process into a spotlight almost as harsh as that shining on the primary contest itself.

New Yorkers may check their officially listed party affiliation status online here.

The New York-based Gothamist reports:

"Since shortly before the late deadline to register to vote in the April 19th presidential primary in New York, state Board of Elections spokesman Tom Connolly said his office has been fielding nearly 100 calls a day from voters who are "pissed off" about their registration status, for one reason or another. On social media, there are dozens of reports from voters who say they checked their registration online recently and found that their party affiliation had been switched, which is disqualifying because New York's primaries are closed, or that that their registration couldn't be found altogether."

The Gothamist notes that the complaints mostly seem to involve Sanders supporters. Some bloggers speculate that voter registrations are being hacked along the lines of publically available Federal Election Commission lists of Sanders donors.

To date, neither the lawsuits nor the voter roll irregularities have received any major media coverage.

The popular New York online magazine Heavy reported on March 25th:

"Huge problems plagued the Arizona primary earlier this week, with allegations of election fraud resounding across the Internet. People who said they were previously registered Democrat suddenly found their registrations inactive and couldn’t vote in the primary. Now people are discovering the same thing in New York."

The magazine presents preliminary evidence of a New York voter's registration being changed by hand, in which the voter obtained a copy of a voter registration form showing a signature which is not hers. A single instance of a false voter registration being filed by an election official or a campaign operative would constitute a major crime.

The Heavy reporter says "The more you look, the more stories are reported." has also picked up the story in "Arizona All Over Again? Voter Registration Records Disappearing in New York."

NY voter's registration form falsely filed on her behalf.
NY voter's registration form falsely filed on her behalf. | Source
Same NY voter's true registration form.
Same NY voter's true registration form. | Source

In Arizona last month, thousands of people, mostly Sanders supporters, protested loudly that they had been kept from voting, due to a range of tactics which they say amounted to voter suppression. Extraordinarily long lines at certain polling places discouraged thousands of people from voting, and many complained of unapproved switches in party affiliation. The movers of a lawsuit against AZ officials say that the magnitude of the voter disenfranchisement calls the entire AZ primary result into question, a state which was considered a must-win for Clinton.

Line to vote in AZ primary

Disenfranchised AZ primary voter

In Wyoming, Sanders supporters at the Democratic caucus in the state's largest county, Laramie, are objecting that, after in-person Sanders voters won the county for Sanders by 474 votes to 329 votes, 621 absentee ballots were brought in by a Clinton supporter, 402 of which were for Clinton and 215 for Sanders. The additional votes gave Clinton a slight victory in the county. Sanders supporters voiced suspicions at the unusually large number of absentee ballots, and vowed to audit them. Sanders won the state of WY by 56% to Clinton's 44%. However, his margin of victory was expected by many to be much larger.

Voter Action Before the Primary, Not After It.

What is unique about the New York revelations is that voters have now become attuned to the potential for massive fraud before the fact, while they can still do something about it, rather than always after it, when little is left but to seethe in impotent rage. In Illinois, Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard fought for, and won from a judge, the right for voters to sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury that they had registered properly to vote, and then be allowed to vote after the botched primary. The ruling was reversed, however, when the Illinois State Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, a Clinton supporter, appealed the decision to a higher court. Again, voters had found themselves removed from the rolls or improperly listed.

Illinois, another "must-win" for Clinton, was won by her by less than 2%.

The time for New Yorkers to act is now, before the primary, to put the issues before the co-equal branch of government. New Yorkers should ask the state courts to put a hold on the primary until voter registration issues are resolved. This could include an opportunity for voters to sign a similar affidavit.

Long-term remedies include proposals to use video surveillance technology to oversee every step of the voting process. This would mean polling entrances, exits,secure ballot storage areas, and terminals accessing electronic counts.

Beginning now, misconduct by elections officials and elections contractors must be tracked down and result in criminal charges.

Otherwise, we have become, openly and for the world to see, an oligarchical dictatorship in which the passion, energy, and good faith of the masses of people exercising their right to vote determines exactly nothing.

(New Yorkers may check their officially listed party affiliation status online here. Disclosure: the author is a supporter of MA voters and Volunteers Disenfranchised by Bill Clinton.)


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