by Claire Bernish
Amid further reports of numerous problems with today’s primary election — including reports of some 126,000 voters purged from the rolls — New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced on Tuesday he will be auditing the city’s Board of Elections.
“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,” the Comptroller stated. “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.”
Stringer was so alarmed, he penned a letter to NYC BOE Director Michael J. Ryan about the audit, noting his“deep concern over widespread reports of poll site problems and irregularities” — and demanded the BOE provide viable explanations for each.
“Voters across the city have complained about poll workers erroneously redirecting them to different poll sites, poll workers unable to operate voting machines, poll workers unable to produce the correct party ballot for an individual voter, and poll workers giving conflicting information,” he wrote.
“Of particular concern are numerous allegations of widespread removal of eligible voters from voter-registration rolls, as well as instances of incorrect party affiliations on individual registration records. These errors have conspired to bar first time and longtime voters from exercising their fundamental democratic right.”
Stringer’s concerns were echoed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this afternoon, who issued a statement cited by Politico about the ongoing turmoil and outrage:
“It has been reported to us from voters and voting rights monitors that voting lists in Brooklyn contain numerous errors, including the purging of entire buildings and blocks of voters from the voting lists. I am calling on the Board of Elections to reverse that purge and update the lists again using Central, not Brooklyn borough, Board of Election staff.”
In fact, a spokesman for State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman claimed his office has already received “by far the largest volume of complaints” from any election since 2011, Politico reported.
In concurrence with Stringer’s audit announcement, de Blasio added:
“We will hold the BOE commissioners responsible for ensuring that the Board and its borough officers properly conduct the election process to assure that voters are not disenfranchised. The perception that voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process and must be fixed.”
Despite these telling public statements from officials, Ryan told the Observer:
“I bristle at the suggestion that some folks might be making that there are widespread problems. We’re just not seeing it.” He added the snafus occurring Tuesday were “what we typically see during elections.”
Ryan did mention he’d been away from his office most of the day, yet repeatedly rebuffed suggestions the voluminous number of reports were anything out of the ordinary for an election.
“Comptrollers audit agencies, that’s why comptrollers are there,” Ryan told the Observer about Stringer’s intent to audit. “If Comptroller Stringer believe that it is a worthy use of his agency resources to investigate the Board of Elections, we’re no different than any other city agency.”
With voters increasingly irate over inexplicable difficulties in simply casting a primary vote, we may be in for quite the ride in November.
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