NYC residents coming out to vote in Tuesday’s primary elections were met with a bungled process across the board, if a record number of voter complaints were any indication. Now the city’s Board of Elections will undergo a full-scale investigation into what went wrong.
The problems began to surface early in the day as complaints from early-bird voters started to roll in after 6 AM warning that voters in Queens and Brooklyn were unable to vote because they were nowhere to be found on the rolls. Voters reported that some polling stations were not even open in the morning hours.
— Karishma (@kdesai382) April 19, 2016
— Brooklyn Daily Eagle (@BklynEagle) April 19, 2016
Polling sites were understaffed, and many reports came in citing long lines, closed sites, broken machines, and general impediments to voting. At the polling place in the Atlantic Terminal Senior Citizens Center in Brooklyn, the polling site coordinator simply did not show up in the morning.
Many voters at deficient polling sites were told to fill out their vote and trust that it would be processed at a later time, which was generally reacted to with (due) skepticism.
— Ben Casselman (@bencasselman) April 19, 2016
Workers at a locked polling site in Brooklyn told voters "to go to work & come back later" because nobody had a key. https://t.co/LYT6flvE3s
— Gothamist (@Gothamist) April 19, 2016
Among the claims were a woman who told NBC New York that when she arrived at a polling place in Brooklyn, voters with last names beginning with M-Z were missing from the books. About half of the registered voters at this polling station were asked to vote through affidavit.
A state voter complaint hotline received 562 phone calls and 140 emails between 6 a.m. and 3:50 p.m. — more than four times as many as in the 2012 general election, said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. — NY Daily News
It has also been noted, documented, and confirmed by the Board of Elections that 126,000 voters were removed from voter rolls in Brooklyn since last fall, which left many voters coming out to cast ballots to be told that they simply were no longer registered.
According to Mayor de Blasio, some entire buildings and city blocks of voters had been purged from the books. Of the 126,000 Brooklynites who were purged, the NY Daily News reports that 12,000 had moved out, 44,000 were marked as inactive, and 70,000 were completely removed without warning or explanation.
“These errors indicate that additional major reforms will be needed to the Board of Election,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process, and must be fixed.”
City Comptroller Scott Stringer has announced a probe of the Board of Elections, assuring the public that he believes that “there is nothing more sacred in our nation than the right to vote.”
“The people of New York City have lost confidence that the Board of Elections can effectively administer elections and we intend to find out why the BOE is so consistently disorganized, chaotic and inefficient,” Stringer said in a statement
— Dan Linden (@DanLinden) April 19, 2016
Mayor de Blasio issued a statement that he would support the Comptroller’s audit and urge action to be taken before the June elections because the errors found yesterday indicated “major reforms” were necessary for the Board of Elections.
“The perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process and must be fixed,” the mayor said.
— Justin Michael (@JstnMchl) April 20, 2016