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Sanders Closes Polling Gap in NY Again; Primary Voters File Lawsuit Ahead of Vote

Updated on April 17, 2016
Democracy Spring protesters arrested in DC last week.
Democracy Spring protesters arrested in DC last week.

A late-breaking poll on the day before the NY primary debate shows Bernie Sanders closing the polling gap between himself and Hillary Clinton to single digits. Recent polls showed Clinton ahead by as much as 17%. The new poll, conducted by Siena College, shows Sanders and Clinton now apart by 10%. The Yonkers Daily Voice reports:

With the state presidential primary looming, the former New York state senator, first lady and secretary of state was pulling 52 percent to the Brooklyn-born Sanders’ 42 percent, the poll said.

The news repeats Sanders' pattern of closing in on Clinton rapidly in the weeks and days before a vote. Sanders has won six of the last seven primaries after being behind in all those states by vast margins since last December.

The New York Democratic primary is this Tuesday. And this weekend, the New York Daily News reported that hundreds of voters who intended to vote in the primary are filing lawsuit against election officials because their names are incorrectly listed on the voting rolls and they cannot vote.

The Daily News reports:

More than 200 outraged New York voters have joined a lawsuit claiming the party affiliation on their voter registration changed without their consent. The voters say they are unfairly being shut out of Tuesday’s primary.

The lawsuit follows a similar fiasco in Arizona, in which voters have filed lawsuits after the primary in which Hillary Clinton was declared the winner by 57% to Sanders' 40%. But large-scale voter disenfranchisement has been claimed as voters found themselves not on the voter rolls or mysteriously changed or incorrectly listed. In addition, Arizona voters found themselves in five and six hour lines to vote. Voters who could not devote the better part of a day to vote were not heard.

AZ voting lines

NY Requires Audits of Machine-Counted Totals, Provides for Court Intervention

New York state requires that a randomly selected 3% of voting stations must be audited to match the machine totals with a hand count of the paper ballots. Section 9-211 of the NY election law provides that:

Within fifteen days after each general or special election, and within seven days after every primary or village election conducted by the board of elections, the board of elections or a bipartisan committee appointed by such board shall manually audit the voter verifiable audit records from three percent of voting machines or systems within the jurisdiction of such board. Voting machines or systems shall be selected for audit through a random, manual process. At least five days prior to the time fixed for such selection process, the board of elections shall send notice by first class mail to each candidate, political party and independent body entitled to have had watchers present at the polls in any election district in such board’s jurisdiction.

Other specific polling stations can be audited upon an order by the NY State Supreme Court, a process governed by Article 16 of the NY election law. The law states that the court can order an audit of the paper ballots when "there has been such fraud or irregularity as to render impossi­ble a determination as to who rightfully was nominated or elected..."

The primary news and actions come after a bruising debate between Clinton and Sanders last Thursday.

The citizens' group Election Justice USA has posted an online form for NY voters who believe they have been disenfranchised to join a class-action suit, posted here. Voters can check their officially listed voter registration here.

So far, key Democratic primaries in the states of Arizona, Massachusetts, Illinois, Nevada, Iowa, and Wyoming, have been marred by allegations of voter fraud often seeming to impact Sanders constituencies. In Ohio, a top Clinton lawyer and campaign operative, Marc Elias, has been investigated for registering dead people to vote. The Washington Free Beacon reports:

"A group that had been represented by the top lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign earlier this year is now being investigated by Ohio authorities for fraudulent voter registrations, including the registration of deceased individuals."

In MA, a blogger has discovered the unusual pattern that in towns with hand-counted ballots, Sanders won by an average 17% over Clinton, but in machine-counted towns, Clinton won by an average of 2%. The same blogger also showed that exit polls which heavily favored Sanders were later adjusted to reflect the actual final results. The blogger wrote:

Sanders led the Unadjusted MA Exit Poll Gender (1297 respondents) by 52.3-45.7%. The poll was captured from CNN at 8:01pm .

Clinton led the adjusted exit poll (1406 respondents) by 50.3-48.7%, a near-exact match to the 1.4% RECORDED vote margin. But her 50.3% share was IMPOSSIBLE. The proof is self-explanatory: How could Clinton gain 114 respondents and Sanders just 7 among the final 109 exit poll respondents?

Exit poll discrepancies and random manual inspection of paper ballot total will be some of the most potent tools in the Sanders camp's arsenal for forcing a closely monitored primary process. Voting stations in NY are stocking themselves with "affidavit ballots," which voters can request if they feel their party registration has been fouled up, resulting in their not being able to vote in the primary. Voters can request affidavit ballots at polling stations.

The NY primary takes places as hundreds have been arrested in Washington DC as part of "Democracy Spring," a mass action which has called for "free and fair elections" in America. Organizers have submitted a detailed list of demands regarding legislation on the role of money in politics, and measures to insure accurate ballot counts.

In other late-breaking news, a new poll indicates that Sanders beats Trump in head-to-head matches by about double what Clinton does, and beats all other potential Republican nominees while Clinton, in the poll, loses to Kasich.

ON THE WEB: Cliff Notes for the Bernie Sanders Platform

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