Are New York Primary Voters’ Party Affiliations Being Purged Like Arizona?

Arizona voters are still angry about long lines and charges of voter suppression due to many voters’ party affiliations being purged, preventing them from voting in last week’s primary elections. Now it looks like New York is the next state facing a primary election controversy. Like Arizona, many New York voters are reporting that their party affiliations have mysteriously disappeared or been changed, which would exclude them from voting in New York’s closed primary. As if that weren’t enough, now citizens of New York are saying that a postcard sent out by New York election officials regarding the date of the primary is misleading, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Are voters facing an unprecedented and alarming trend of election officials manipulating the process?

When allegations of purging party affiliations came to light in New York, Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Douglas Kellner gave an extension through March 25 for anyone to either register as a new voter, or change their party affiliation from unaffiliated or inactive, which could be done online. At least, it was supposed to be able to be complete online, but according to Heavy, many New Yorkers reported that the DMV site was having technical problems on Friday, preventing them from updating the registration and making the deadline to vote.

However, any voter whose party affiliation was changed to a specific party registration, such as a Democrat switched to an Independent or a Republican, was not eligible to make the correction by Friday regardless of technical issues.

One anonymous commenter on Heavy reported that they did make the change online, but was told that even though they completed that change before the deadline, because Board of Elections didn’t receive it until a day later, it was too late and they would be ineligible.

“[A]lso checked on my new registration. I did it in October 2015, received a confirmation number, and when I contacted them yesterday, I was told I was one day too late to vote in the primary. Same for my son. Talk about disenfranchisement. And this is in NY! I have a confirmation number, date, and time when filed, in writing, The Bd. of Elections told me it was timely filed online with the DMV but the County Bd. of Elections received it one day too late. I was told that in NY if I were a new voter, the deadline was Friday, but since I was only changing my party status from Independent to Democrat in order to vote in the closed primary, the Suffolk County Bd. of Elections received my info one day too late, even though it was timely filed with the DMV online. And this was SIX Months before the primary. This is Disenfranchisement with a capital D!”

Some long time voters, like Rebecca Jimenez, have never had problems voting, but suddenly found herself having to register again this last Friday after years of participating in the process.

“I voted Democrat for the last 10 years (presidential and general elections), voted a year or two ago, and yet when I checked my registration status, it said I was no longer registered to vote. Luckily, I took Friday off and made myself useful by going to the DMV to register again. This is completely bogus and I’ve NEVER had this happen to me. My mother and I have lived in the same home for my whole life (her for 38 years) and yet she’s still registered. I honestly don’t get why or how this happened, ESPECIALLY in an election year. What bulls—.”

Many Reddit posters also reported problems on a whole thread dedicated to New York voter issues, with people from other states chiming in, including some California voters who are finding party affiliations changed.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, Gothamist reported on copies of a very confusing postcards sent by the Board of Elections in New York giving the date for the “primary election” in September, without clarifying that it is the primary elections for state and local elections only.

When contacted by voters about the confusing postcard, Board of Elections executive director Michael Ryan was unapologetic about the misleading information, saying the postcard corrected an earlier notice giving the date for the state and local primaries as September 28, when it should be September 13.

“There is no need for a correction,” he said. “We sent out the proper notice as required by law.”

New York voters can register concerns and complaints with the NY ACLU as well as the New York Attorney General. With so many problems at polls, it’s fair to say that anyone who intends to vote in the primary or general election should verify all voting dates and deadlines, and double check the registration and party affiliation status to prevent any problems on voting day.

[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]