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Frustrated New York Voters Cry Foul Following Primaries


A voter is seen at a polling station during the New York primary elections in the Manhattan borough of New York City, April 19, 2016. Many voters in New York state complained of technical problems and disenfranchisement.

A voter is seen at a polling station during the New York primary elections in the Manhattan borough of New York City, April 19, 2016. Many voters in New York state complained of technical problems and disenfranchisement.

New York’s primary results came in loud and clear Tuesday evening, bringing decisive victories for hometown favorites Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

But many voters who showed up at polling locations throughout the day claim their voices were never heard.

More than 125,000 Democratic voters in New York’s most populous county – Kings, home to Brooklyn – were removed from the state Board of Elections’ voting registry during a five-month span, November 2015 through April 2016, more than double the initial statistics reported as of April 1.

The result: a lot of confusion and frustration.

Nick Benson, spokesman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said their office received more than 700 hotline complaints from voters across the state by late afternoon Tuesday.

In addition to issues with voter registration lists, city voters reported delays in polling site openings, broken machines and instances of incorrect party affiliations, a set of allegations that moved New York Comptroller Scott Stringer to conduct an audit of the Board of Elections (BOE).

FILE - In this April 14, 2016, photo an activist speaks at a rally on the steps of New York's City Hall. As New York voters prepared for presidential primary elections, critics decried restrictive ballot rules that they say disenfranchise countless New Yorkers.

FILE - In this April 14, 2016, photo an activist speaks at a rally on the steps of New York's City Hall. As New York voters prepared for presidential primary elections, critics decried restrictive ballot rules that they say disenfranchise countless New Yorkers.

Stringer expressed “deep concern” about the reports in a written statement directed to NYC BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan.

“Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, all New Yorkers deserve an electoral system that is free, fair and efficient – not one riddled with chaos and confusion," he said.

Supports audit

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – an open supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid – said he supports the audit, and urged its completion before voters return to the polls for a congressional primary in June.

“We will hold the BOE commissioners responsible for ensuring that the Board and its borough officers properly conduct the election process to assure that voters are not disenfranchised,” de Blasio said. “The perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process and must be fixed.”

Ryan, BOE executive director, responded to the allegations in an interview with CNN.

“We’re not finding that there were issues throughout the city that are any different than what we experience in other elections,” he said.

People vote in the New York primary elections at a polling station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City,April 19, 2016.

People vote in the New York primary elections at a polling station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City,April 19, 2016.

Of those taken off King County’s voting rolls, a combined 114,000 were marked inactive, while an additional 12,000 were no longer residents, Ryan said.

'Absurd'

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who trails Clinton in the Democratic Party presidential race, lamented the voting irregularities during a rally in Pennsylvania, a reality he called “absurd.”

In addition, he criticized New York’s closed primary system, which prevents independent voters – those not registered as either Democrat or Republican – to cast a ballot in the state’s primary.

"I would hope that in future primary elections in New York state, the officials there make some fundamental changes about how they do business,” Sanders said.

Of New York’s 10.7 million active state voters, roughly 3 million are impacted by the restrictions in place.

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