It didn’t take long before New York’s primary election on Tuesday was marred by a voter-rolls bombshell, broken machines, long lines, missing Republican ballots in Harlem, and a trending #VoterSuppression hashtag on Twitter.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio found himself “confused” after radio station WNYC 93.9 FM revealed the city Board of Elections removed 126,000 Brooklyn Democrats from its rolls. The rest of the state dealt with pockets of polling stations that were closed or operating with broken machines.
“This number surprises me,” de Blasio said Monday, the station reported. “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.”
Roughly 12,000 citizens were said to have moved out of the borough, 44,000 people were shifted from active to inactive voter status, and 70,000 voters were removed from the inactive list, the station reported. Inactive voters may cast a ballot within the city, but those whose distinction changed to “missing” cannot.
The mayor demanded Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan account for the numbers, but Bertha Lewis, director of the Black Institute, called for an investigation.
“There needs to be a probe. We know that 300,000-plus have been purged without explanation,” Lewis said, the New York Post reported.
Comptroller Scott Stringer said the city’s Board of Elections would be audited since “the people of New York City have lost confidence” in its ability to do its job.
“There is nothing more sacred in our nation than the right to vote, yet election after election, reports come in of people who were inexplicably purged from the polls, told to vote at the wrong location or unable to get into their polling site,” Stringer said.
Ryan claimed Monday that voter rolls merely seemed inaccurate because “Brooklyn was a little behind with their list maintenance tasks,” WNYC reported.
“This will be out of the headlines in a matter of days and out of the minds of all but the most zealous people who will fight in futility until they have exhausted all energy and resources,” a man named Jack commented on the radio station’s website. “Welcome to American ‘democracy.'”
Other New Yorkers may not have been purged from voter rolls, but they did have to deal with shuttered polling stations and locations an broken machines.
“You can’t vote nor cast any type of ballot. They (the keys to the building) are in a locked box and no one has the key,” Torsha Childs of PS 73 in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn wrote on Facebook, the Post reported. “You can’t even get inside the building, you are being turned away at the door way. WOW!”
The polling location was supposed to be open at 6 a.m. EST.
“Am mad as hell for my vote not being counted b/c scanner would not accept ballot Brooklyn District 30 #NYPrimary #fixit #educatevolunteers,” @heidiko44 tweeted.
Political strategist John Burnett had to wait over two hours in Harlem because his polling station had zero Republican ballots on hand. He was given a Democrat ballot and then told to wait when he demanded the proper form.
“Corruption in full force in Harlem,” he tweeted.
A voter at Sunset Park’s Marien-Heim senior center polling station on 4th Avenue told the newspaper that he was shocked to see his deceased mother was not taken off the voter rolls.
“Is it possible that someone has been voting using her name for a few years?” Jonathan Petersen, 63, asked.
Petersen said his mom, Helen, passed away in 2010 and had not voted in at least a decade.
Two people who did have smiles on their face during the process were Republican and Democrat front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively.
“It’s a proud moment. It’s a great moment. And who would’ve thought?” Trump said to reporters after casting his vote a few blocks from Trump Tower, CNN reported.
Trump is hoping to win 50 percent support statewide and in each of New York’s congressional districts to secure 95 delegates. A strong showing in The Empire State would help halt momentum by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Clinton cast her ballot in Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua, New York. Recent polls showed Clinton with a 53 percent to 43 percent lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“I had a great time going around the city in the last couple days. Just seeing a lot of old friends, meeting new people. And I just urge everybody – please come out and vote before 9 p.m. tonight,” Clinton said after voting, CBS News reported.