presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign has called reports of voting irregularities in New York state “absurd” and “a disgrace” amid widespread reports of polling site problems.
New York state’s strict voter registration rules sparked mounting frustration and anger among Sanders supporters on Tuesday as some discovered they were unable to vote in the primary election contest with Hillary Clinton only after arriving at their local polling stations.
Officials in New York state have condemned the New York City Board of Elections for stripping over 125,000 Democratic voters from the election rolls, which lists all those registered to vote.
Thousands of registered voters arrived at polling stations claiming they had met all the requirements to switch party affiliation in time, yet still found themselves missing from the list, prompting angry scenes that may further hamper hopes of reconciling the two wings of the Democratic Party once the nomination is decided.
The polling site coordinator at the Brooklyn borough of New York City estimated that about 10 percent of those who showed up to vote on Tuesday were previously removed by the board of elections.
“It is absurd that in Brooklyn, New York — where I was born, actually — tens of thousands of people as I understand it, have been purged from the voting rolls,” Sanders said on Tuesday during a campaign rally at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania.
In an email to CNN, Sanders spokesman Karthik Ganapathy called the state’s handling of the primary a “shameful demonstration.”
“From long lines and dramatic understaffing to longtime voters being forced to cast affidavit ballots and thousands of registered New Yorkers being dropped from the rolls, what’s happening today is a disgrace,” he said.
In pledging to audit the city’s Board of Elections, the office of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer issued a strict verdict.
“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,” he said.
The office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman received more than 1,000 complaints throughout Tuesday about voting irregularities.
In a statement out Wednesday, Schneiderman said, “I am deeply troubled by the volume and consistency of voting irregularities, both in public reports and direct complaints to my office’s voter hotline.”
Schneiderman said his office was starting “inquiries in additional areas of the State where voting irregularities appeared unusually high.”
“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and if any New Yorker was illegally prevented from voting, I will do everything in my power to make their vote count and ensure that it never happens again,” he said.
New York mayor Bill de Blasio said the “numerous errors” in voter rolls in Brooklyn were evidence that major reforms were needed to the election board and state law.
“The perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process and must be fixed,” De Blasio said in a statement.