New York Primary Lawsuit Update: In Potential Win For Bernie Sanders Supporters, Judge Declares Voters Wrongly Purged From Democratic Party Rolls May Still Be Able To Vote

Nathan Francis - Author

Aug. 23 2017, Updated 5:03 a.m. ET

The New York primary lawsuit may have found an opening for the state’s voters who believe their registration was wrongly changed. A development on Tuesday was seen as a boost to supporters of Bernie Sanders claiming the actions unfairly targeted them.

An effort to open the state’s notoriously restrictive primary was put off by a judge, asking for a later hearing that involves election officials from all of the state’s 62 counties. But despite a lack of resolution, lawyers urged voters who believe they rightly belong on the Democratic Party rolls to cast provisional ballots in the hope that a further ruling could have them counted.

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Jordan Chariton, who has been covering the court proceedings for the Young Turks, tweeted on Monday that there is still hope for voters who believe they should have been able to cast ballots.

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The ruling was seen as a win for supporters of Bernie Sanders, who said the actions disproportionately targeted them.

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The lawsuit was brought by Election Justice USA, which called on supporters to rally outside the New York courthouse in favor of opening the primary to all voters.

The group had filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking to open the state’s primary to voters whose party affiliations had changed without their knowledge. There were numerous reports of voters who met the state’s October deadline to register with a party but found out that either their affiliation was never updated or somehow switched to unaffiliated.

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“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, in an interview with Think Progress.

The lawsuit had sought to make Tuesday’s primary open to all voters, allowing any registered voter to cast a ballot for either party, but the lawsuit itself was not heard until 9 a.m., the same time voting began for downstate residents. It was then moved to 2 p.m., and the resolution did not come until close to 3 p.m.

After Tuesday’s update, Election Justice urged voters who believe they rightly belong in the Democratic Party to demand provisional ballots.

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“A suggestion by one of our visitors – ‘Reference Docket # CV-16-1892 on your provisional ballot & don’t let them turn you away; you have a constitutional right if you’re a Democrat who was purged without notice.'”

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The New York primary lawsuit was fueled by many stories of unexpected registration changes, many from supporters of Bernie Sanders. Alexandria Osacio-Cortez, a Westchester County voter who has been a registered Democrat since 2008, said she found recently that she is now listed as a blank, New York’s designation for unaffiliated voters.

“I am so hurt that my right to vote in this primary has been taken from me,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a Reddit post about her discovery.

Osacio-Cortez explained that her affiliation changed after she voted outside of her district in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“Apparently when I signed that affidavit my party affiliation was waived,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “I had no idea I was losing my party status when I did that… Had I known this was the case I would have fixed this ages ago.”

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There has been much attention on New York’s closed primary in recent weeks, with many voters complaining that the October deadline to declare a party came before even the first Democratic debate. The restrictive voting rules — New York has the earliest deadline in the nation for primaries — seem to have a disproportional effect on Bernie Sanders supporters, a group that includes a larger percentage of independent voters. Sanders has also gained steam considerably in recent months, with many supporters finding out about his campaign and joining in months after the deadline had passed.

[Picture by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images]


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