The New York State Boards of Elections failed to provide adequate access to the electoral process for the 2016 presidential primary by way of improperly purging voters from the rolls; failing to enroll new registers who properly registered before March 25, 2016; and altering the voter registrations of democratic voters. According to New York Election Law, a voter who is not on the rolls, or whose party affiliation is recorded incorrectly, or who has been recorded as having no party affiliation must vote on a provisional ballot. Hundreds of thousands of voters were forced to vote provisionally and were left dejected and skeptical about the New York democratic process while they questioned whether their vote would count. As an alternative to a provisional ballot, a voter can go through the onerous process of seeking a court order to vote. The process of securing a court order is impracticable for working New Yorkers. Central to the 2016 New York primary was the purge of over 100,000 New Yorkers which was done in violation of Federal and State law, which has designated procedures with respect to purges that the Boards of Election failed to follow.
The National Voters Rights Act was enacted by the federal government to address voter disenfranchisement. Specifically, with a purge, this Act requires the Boards of Elections to keep purged voter rolls for two years following a purge to allow easy access to a purged list. It has been alleged that there was a massive purge in Brooklyn in early 2015. Before a voter can be put into inactive status, New York Election Law section 5-213 requires a confirmation notice by first class mail with notice that the voter is going to be put in inactive statues with a chance to respond within fourteen days with a pre-post marked envelope. This law also requires that the Boards of Election keep the purged list in alphabetical order, or on a readily accessible computer database. As an added protection, the National Voters Rights Act requires the Boards of Election to keep the voter in active status unless they fail to vote in two general election cycles.
With the 2015 Brooklyn purge, voters were sent notice of their potential inactive status, and whomever failed to send back a confirmation notice was immediately purged. If a voter was purged, it is the Boards of Elections responsibility to give the voter notice that their vote didn’t count. This notice does not restore the voter’s rights to due process. This notice did nothing more than expose the Boards of Elections as complicit, or at the very least negligent in the mishandling of the vote counts. There were rules and procedures that hold the Boards of Elections accountable. The employees at the local Boards of Election hold patronage positions and are tied to their local parties.
One of the goals of the Election Justice USA New York Lawsuit was to put the burden of proof of the right for an individual to vote on the Boards of Election, who has direct access to the voter records. This “reversal of the burden of proof” occurred in the 2000 Bush v. Gore election where it was argued that it “results in a fairer result since courts are loath to overrule an election.” The New York lawyers argued “the only logical solution is to let those who want to vote, be permitted to vote, rather than requiring the deprived voter to request that there be a new election, which is akin to un-ringing a bell.”
The New York lawsuit had compiled a list of 500 disenfranchised voters who acted as witnesses to this crime. These witnesses were improperly purged or had their registrations tampered with. Some provided proof by way of screen shots. There was evidence that democrats were switched to independent and republican. It is undeniable that malfeasance occurred. The Sanders campaign did a big push from March 17-25 where voter registration drives were held across the state. There is evidence that a large percentage of these voters were not registered.
One source indicates there were boxes of new registrations in a back room at a Boards of Election that were never sent to the Boards of Election in Albany.
Take, for instance, the story of Brooklyn resident Chloe Pecorino. Chloe attempted to register as a first-time voter by submitting the relevant paperwork to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Brooklyn more than a week before the March 25th, 2016 deadline. Attempts to verify her registration status online were unsuccessful. On the day of New York’s presidential primary, Chloe still had not been registered as a Democrat, despite persistent efforts, including more than a dozen calls and emails, the evidence of which spans fifteen pages in Exhibit A of Election Justice USA’s initial New York lawsuit. On the day of the primary, Chloe took several hours to appear before a judge in an attempt to vote normally. Despite ample evidence of attempts to register before the deadline in good faith, the judge denied her request. As a consequence, Chloe was forced to cast her vote for Senator Sanders using an affidavit ballot. As can be seen in Photo 2, Chloe’s affidavit ballot was declared invalid, like so many others.