New York independent voters and those who feel their registrations are erroneously marked for the wrong party or purged from the system altogether are being told to vote in today’s primary using provisional ballots. If a standard ballot is not provided, Election Justice USA says that New York voters have a right to request a provisional ballot.
While provisional ballots usually don’t have much effect, Election Justice USA is fighting for provisional ballots to be counted just as a standard ballot would be counted. At 9 a.m. Tuesday morning in New York Federal District Court, a scheduled hearing began for an emergency injunction that would allow provisional ballots to be counted.
The voters’ rights organization says it has thousands of pages of documentation on behalf of New York voters to back up their lawsuit. Reasons for the justification of the injunction, as stated by the Gothamist, include voters claiming to have had their registrations purged from the system and voters claiming their party affiliations were switched. The lawsuit also addresses voting rights and challenges the very concept of closed primaries as a form of voter suppression, although the lawsuit is on behalf of voters who believe they had been properly registered as Democrats by the deadline last fall.
“We are encouraging all independent and disenfranchised voters to VOTE (Tuesday) by provisional ballot,” Shyla Nelson of Election Justice USA said. “They should tell poll workers that there is a motion pending in Federal District Court to declare the Primary open.”
An editorial in the New York Post explained the general opposition against closed primaries and New York’s early registration deadline.
“Because in New York, we don’t just have a closed-party system in which only enrolled Democrats and Republicans can vote for their respective candidates: The primary is closed shut. The deadline to switch parties or change affiliation is the earliest in the country — this cycle it was Oct. 9, 2015. If you’re a Republican, Democrat or unaffiliated voter, you’d better know six months out whom you’re supporting, because there won’t be an opportunity to reconsider.”
Election Justice USA filed the voters’ lawsuit in New York on Monday. The lawsuit asked for the immediate restoration of the voting rights of New York residents who had been previously registered to vote but found themselves no longer registered. Recently, it was discovered that at least 54,000 Democratic voters in Brooklyn, Bernie Sanders’ hometown, vanished from the system sometime between November and April, according to the New York Post. Other reports indicate the number of voters that have vanished from the system to be much higher.
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) April 18, 2016
A voter purge in Brooklyn may have removed as many as 126,000 Democratic voters from the rolls between Nov. 2015… https://t.co/Qt8rbcLGcU
— WCPT Radio (@wcptradio) April 19, 2016
A political journalist for the Young Turks and previously of MSNBC has been tweeting live updates from the case. The judge instructed the lawyer for the voters to give formal notice to the elections board and the Attorney General, which they did. Election Justice USA has expressed that the organization’s leaders are extremely hopeful for a verdict that will allow all New York voters to have their ballots counted.
#NYPrimary lawsuit UPDATE: Judge told attorney 2 give formal notice 2 BOE/Attorney Gen-They just did, AG should appear in court within hour
— Jordan (@JordanChariton) April 19, 2016
— Jordan (@JordanChariton) April 19, 2016
New York voters on Tuesday are also facing additional hurdles, according to Election Justice USA. Voters have reported that their polling locations have been switched at the seemingly last minute. A database of the switched polling locations and the new places where the voters in those precincts should cast their ballots is available online.
Last month, Assemblyman Fred Thiele introduced legislation to the New York State Legislature for open primaries, but for Tuesday’s primary, New York voters who have found themselves purged or registered as having no party affiliation are urged to show up at their polling locations and cast their votes with a provisional ballot.
[Image via Election Justice USA]