On Tuesday, the New York City Board of Elections finally admitted to violating state and federal law when it purged hundreds of thousands of legal voters.
WNYC reported Tuesday afternoon that a year after it was sued, the Board of Elections agreed to a settlement that would involve undoing the purge of more than 117,000 Democratic voters in Brooklyn, New York, and more than 80,000 voters in other boroughs, and instituting reforms that would be in place through the 2020 presidential election. The board is now required under a draft consent decree to come up with a plan to undo the voter disenfranchisement that plagued the April 2016 Democratic primary.
Between November of 2015 and April of 2016, tens of thousands of legally registered Democratic primary voters were quietly purged from the rolls — particularly in Kings County, New York, the birthplace of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who lost the pivotal New York primary to Hillary Clinton by less than 300,000 votes. According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, approximately 200,000 New Yorkers were stripped of their right to vote by the NYC Board of Elections.
The news of the purge on the eve of the April 19 primary angered supporters of Sen. Sanders, who argued the NYC Board of Elections was illegally purging voters in areas where Sanders was likely to receive high levels of support. Diane Haslett-Rudiano — the NYC Board of Elections official who oversaw Kings County — was fired following the purge during an internal investigation into the incident.
In 2014, the West Side Rag reported on a curious real estate sale that would prove to be an interesting tie between Haslett-Rudiano and Hillary Clinton. Even though the brownstone apartment Haslett-Rudiano failed to sell for $1.5 million in 2013 was off the market, the property was sold to a development company that was owned by the daughter of U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York) for more than $6 million. In 2016, Rep. Lowey was a Democratic superdelegate who fervently supported Clinton’s candidacy.
The New York primary was widely viewed as Sen. Sanders’ last chance to stay competitive in the delegate race for the Democratic nomination. Many of Sanders’ voters who affiliated as independent were hamstrung by New York’s arcane registration rules, which required voters to change their party affiliation more than six months before the primary took place. The first Democratic primary debate — in which Sen. Sanders was first introduced to a mainstream audience — took place four days after the registration cutoff.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.