125,000 Brooklyn voters removed from rolls, comptroller will investigate

Stephon Johnson | 4/21/2016, 6:35 p.m.
Hillary Clinton’s victory over Bernie Sanders in this week’s New York Democratic Primary saw yet another controversy emerge.
Hillary Clinton at the CNN Democratic Debate at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Tuesday, October 13, 2015. Adam Rose/CNN

Hillary Clinton’s victory over Bernie Sanders in this week’s New York Democratic Primary saw yet another controversy emerge. This time, voters are calling into question the voting process and how 125,000 Brooklyn voters were removed from the rolls.

There were numerous allegations of eligible voters being removed from registration rolls along with voters being affiliated with the wrong party. There were complaints about inadequate and underprepared staff at polling stations, poll sites that were not open at the start of the day as voters arrived ready to vote and the fact that close to 60,000 voters received notices in March falsely stating that the primary election is in September while not including the April date.

In a letter addressed to NYC Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer notified Ryan that his office will be auditing BOE’s management and operations.

“As I am sure you would agree, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, all New Yorkers deserve an electoral system that is free, fair and efficient—not one riddled with chaos and confusion,” wrote Stringer. “As a result of today’s reported irregularities, my office will be auditing the management and operations of the Board of Elections in order to identify failings and make recommendations to improve performance going forward.”

Stringer went further in a released statement.

“There is nothing more sacred in our nation than the right to vote, yet election after election, reports come in of people who were inexplicably purged from the polls, told to vote at the wrong location or unable to get in to their polling site,” Stringer said. “The people of New York City have lost confidence that the Board of Elections can effectively administer elections and we intend to find out why the BOE is so consistently disorganized, chaotic and inefficient. With four elections in New York City in 2016 alone, we don’t have a moment to spare.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in on the matter as well, saying in a statement that the audit needs to be done as soon as possible.

“These errors today indicate that additional major reforms will be needed to the Board of Elections and in the state law governing it,” said de Blasio. “The perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process and must be fixed.”

Attempts by the AmNews to contact the BOE for a response were unsuccessful, but Ryan confirmed to WNYC that Brooklyn Democrats were removed from the voter rolls because the board was “a little behind” in updating its voter registration records.