Voters all over New York state flocked to their polling centers on Tuesday, eager to cast their votes and make their voices heard. The results? Frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump emerged victorious, but before their supporters could begin celebrating, reports of suspicious activity at the polls came pouring in. What really happened? And what’s being done about it? Let’s break it down.
Voting Records were falsified.
A woman named Alba Guerrero stepped up to cast her vote at her polling place in Ozone Park, Queens, only to be informed that she apparently changed her party affiliation to Republican back in 2004. A long registered Democrat, Guerrero knew something was wrong. New York is a closed democratic primary, meaning only registered democrats can cast votes within the democratic party. Upon reviewing her registration, Guerrero found a form dictating her republican registration, with a forged signature on the dotted line. Is this a coincidence, or strange accident? Maybe.
In another case, a man and a woman were first in line at their polling center, waiting to cast their votes before work. The man approached the volunteer and prepared to cast his vote before being informed that only one person in his precinct was registered to vote. Upon demanding to see the voting roll, sure enough, only one person was on the list. After threatening to go straight to the Board of Elections about the issue, the volunteer miraculously found the correct book with everyone’s name in it. Is this some weird administrative error? Could be. These are just two specific incidents, but they aren’t the only ones…
2. People were turned away from the polls–in mass numbers.
It turns out, over 120,000 Brooklynites ran into similar problems, all ending with them walking away from the polls without casting their vote. And that was just in Brooklyn. Some people were sent away from the polls because of apparel that voiced support for a particular candidate, while others were forced to leave because of late openings and lack of machines in many precincts. For the most part, though, the problem lied with registrations. Most of the thousands of reported incidents dealt with citizens being unable to vote due to complications (or complete erasure) of their Democratic registration. Still think it’s a coincidence or a fluke? Neither do we.
3. The winners were announced before all the votes were counted.
It is a federal law that as long as you are in line to vote at your polling place before 9pm, you are able to vote, regardless of the official closing of the polls. This means, therefore, that a winner can’t be called until every vote has been counted, even if the polls close at 9. This didn’t stop Hillary Clinton’s win from being announced at around 10:30pm, despite over 50% of New York’s precincts having not finished counting votes yet.
4. Mayor de Blasio weighs in
The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, urged the Board of Elections to launch an investigation on the voting purges, and called for all of the missing registrations to be reinstated using the central Board of Elections staff. Despite this action, de Blasio, and avid Clinton supporter, released a statement saying he “had no reason to believe” that the purges were an effort to sabotage democratic underdog Bernie Sanders’ chance of winning the state. Regardless, the New York City comtroller is set to audit the Board of Elections for all of the problems, holding the committee responsible for the thousands of votes left unaccounted for.
5. Bernie Sanders released a statement too.
In his concession speech after losing New York on Tuesday night, Sanders called out the Board of Elections for the illegitimate practices that went on at the polls.
“While I congratulate Secretary Clinton, I must say that I am really concerned about the conduct of the voting process in New York State. And I hope that that process will change in the future and I’m not alone about my concerns. The city of New York talked today about voter irregularities and about chaos at the voting places.”
Later, at a rally at Penn State University, Sanders also called out New York State’s closed primary policy. Since the state has a closed democratic primary, anyone who is registered as independent is unable to voice their opinion in this crucial first round of elections.
“Three million people in New York State who registered as independents didn’t have the right to participate in the Democratic or Respublican primary. That really is not democracy.”
Pennsylvania, along with Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Rhode Island, vote this coming Tuesday, and the stakes are high for everyone. If one of these states is the one you call home, we urge you to check your registration and find your nearest polling place.