The New York City Board of Elections suspended a top official late Thursday. In a press release, the board announced that Chief Clerk Diane Haslett-Rudiano from the Brooklyn Borough office has been suspended without pay. After voters in Brooklyn found their names absent from voter rolls in Tuesday’s primary election–in fact, 126,000 voter entries for Brooklyn Democrats (or, 8% of active voters) had been purged– New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into the Board of Elections.
— sheiman (@sheiman) April 21, 2016
Haslett-Rudiano, who has been with the BOE since 1999 and served in her position since 2006, is the first official to be suspended during the investigation into the purged voter entries. The NY Daily News has stated her salary last year was $125,758. The probe will examine her role in the voter purge and whether she skipped a step in maintenance that led to it.
A member of the Board of Elections can only be terminated after a vote by the commissioners. The next meeting of commissioners will be Tuesday afternoon.
The announcement appears to contradict the message of Board of Elections executive director Michael Ryan, who told the press Wednesday, “No one was disenfranchised.”
A New York state voter hotline received more than 700 complaints Tuesday, the most the state has ever seen. Yet Ryan attempted to blame the voters for failing to register properly.
“What we did see was a concerted effort by some folks to apparently, to protest New York’s closed primary process by showing up to vote when they weren’t registered to vote,” Ryan told Fox5. “We tracked down dozens who say they were disenfranchised and as it turns out, they weren’t registered in the parties that they were trying to vote for.”
“The voter rolls in Brooklyn were part of a routine list maintenance process,” Ryan told Fox5. When grilled further by Greg Kelly, he maintained that he had not seen any anomalies in this process.
“What happened on the ground just doesn’t bear out that there were mass numbers of disenfranchised in Brooklyn,” said Ryan after several other denials that there was anything not “routine” about the polling disturbance.
“The problems were on par with other years, but more media attention has been paid to this primary because of the candidates,” the Board of Elections told CBS2 on Tuesday after numerous complaints began to emerge early in the day.
“Where are our votes?” was projected on the Board of Elections building by art collective The Illuminator in protest of the purged votes (Source: Democracy Now!)
Mayor de Blasio has not been convinced, however, that of the 126,000 purged voters there are have not been registered Democrats dropped from voting rolls since last November whose missing records can’t be accounted for.
“This number surprises me,” said de Blasio, “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.”
Michael Ryan told WNYC on Tuesday that he had been contacted by the mayor’s office and explained to them that the Brooklyn voter rolls were experiencing a backlog that left them six months to a year behind on updates. Because of restrictions that people cannot be removed within 90 days of a federal election.
While other boroughs have updated their lists on a rolling basis, “Brooklyn was a little behind with their list maintenance tasks,” Ryan said.
Something appears to have gone wrong in the borough’s attempt to update its Democratic registry since the last federal election in November. Yet, as NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer announced Tuesday evening, this happened “without any adequate explanation furnished by the Board of Elections.”
— Alex Silverman (@AlexSilverman) April 20, 2016
Machines at my polling place in Hell's Kitchen not working. Poll worker shakes head, says "the electricians are on their way." #NYPrimary
— Alex Silverman (@AlexSilverman) April 19, 2016
— sheiman (@sheiman) April 19, 2016
CORRUPTION IN FULL FORCE in Harlem…I'm told there are NO republican ballots available and I was given this one pic.twitter.com/qaDrctjhOG
— John Burnett (@IAmJohnBurnett) April 19, 2016