New York State Primary Controversy: Board Of Elections In Upstate County Sends Postcards Telling Voters The Primary Is September 13

Voters in one Upstate New York county may have run into a bit of confusion when their county’s board of elections sent them a postcard reminding them about the upcoming primary — on September 13.

Tuesday is the New York state primary, when voters from the Republican and Democratic parties will take to the polls to make their picks to represent them in November. So it caused a bit of controversy when voters in Central New York’s Tompkins County got a notification from their board of elections telling them that it was actually five months out.

As noted, the “postcards aren’t wrong, and they’re not lying — they’re just misleading,” as there actually is a primary in September, although it’s for state and local elections. The report called it an “honest mistake” but noted that it was one likely to cause some confusion among voters.

But in other parts of the state, there are some much larger controversies brewing regarding the New York primary. In Brooklyn, an equally confusing postcard went out to 60,000 newly registered voters that the primary date they originally were told was wrong, and that instead it would be held on September 13. The mailer was a correction to an earlier one stating that the primary was on September 28, but neither mentioned that they were referring to the local primaries, not the presidential one.

“You have recently received an Approval Notice. The date on the notice for the Primary Election was incorrect. The correct date is September 13, 2016. Polls will be open from 6 AM to 9PM. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

To make the mailer even more strange, some voters told Gothamist that they weren’t actually in their mailboxes, but instead scattered around them.

“It was weird to me in a lot of ways, but also because I had mail inside my mailbox,” said Morgan, a Greenpoint resident. “But this was outside of it, perched on top the mailboxes.”

While those could be discounted as misguided mistakes (and there is no evidence of intentional voter suppression), there are other allegations of a more direct plot against voters in the Empire State. A number of voters have claimed that their registration was switched without their knowledge, Think Progress reported, leading to a lawsuit asking that the state allow these voters to cast ballots on Tuesday.

“This is our attempt to provide a means of recourse for those thousands of New York voters who find themselves in this very frustrating position, and to raise awareness about the need for a new level of accountability in the electoral process,” said Shyla Nelson, a spokesperson for Election Justice USA, which filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction that would allow independent voters to cast ballots on Tuesday.

Some groups are even telling voters who believe they had their registration wrongly changed to cast conditional ballots on Tuesday in the hopes that a judge may rule in favor of having them allowed.

While there is no evidence of a larger plot to disenfranchise voters in New York, many Bernie Sanders supporters have noted that the so-called accidents with voter registration appear to be hitting their supporters harder. It’s not clear if that’s true, but the strange mailer in Tompkins County would certainly have an impact on Sanders voters. The home of Cornell University, Tompkins County is especially left-leaning and, in 2008, was one of the strongest counties across the state for Barack Obama in the Super Tuesday primary, with many voters holding resentment against Clinton for her vote to authorize the Iraq War.

The lawsuit seeking to allow independent voters to cast ballots in New York is scheduled to be heard by a judge on Tuesday morning.

[Phoro by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images]