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Reports of Widespread Voter Suppression in New York State Democratic Primary


On the day New York State Democrats select their party’s standard-bearers for the upcoming midterm elections, voters are reporting numerous forms of procedural roadblocks, incorrect voting information and disenfranchisement that many suggest rise to the level of voter suppression.

In a series of tweets beginning mid-morning on Thursday, New York Magazine author Rebecca Traister detailed her own purge from Democratic Party voter rolls–despite the fact that she’s voted from the same address for the past four years. Traister noted that she wasn’t the only one experiencing such issues:

Traister’s thread continued–and taking stock of the same thing happening to a friend of hers. She wrote, “Also! My next door neighbor, registered for years as a Dem, an RHA activist, extremely politically engaged, especially in local and state elections this season, is also not on the rolls at our polling place. She’s on her way to get a court order as we speak.”

Soon, other New York State voters began chiming in with similar stories.

Lydia Polgreen, editor-in-chief of HuffPost and a former director at the New York Times, said she had her information scrubbed from the Democratic Party’s voter rolls as well.

Jess McIntosh, a New York resident who hosts the popular Signal Boost show on Sirius XM also went to vote on Thursday morning. And when she did, McIntosh discovered that her name was not on the Democratic Party’s voter rolls either.

McIntosh described her situation by way of advice to others facing the same issue. She wrote, “Had to assert my rights for the 1st time at a polling place today! Reminder: if you’re in the right place and not on the rolls, sign an affidavit and cast a provisional ballot.”

As the day wore on, similar stories cropped up all across Twitter and Facebook.

Kristen Richardson discussed her own experience and that of multiple friends, noting that she’d never once been forced to accept an affidavit–or provisional–ballot before today:

Podcast host John Gawarecki-Maxwell also noted the extent of stories coming from New York State voters but didn’t appear to have experienced the issue himself:

Another podcast host and author, Virgil Texas, made light of his own apparent disenfranchisement. He wrote:

Even Democratic National Committee member Nomiki Konst experienced an apparent purging of her information from New York’s voter rolls:

At least some voters found they were still on the voter rolls but came to learn that they had somehow been moved over to the conservative New York State Reform Party (which also holding their primary on Thursday).

Jalopnik writer Michael Ballaban noted, “So after years of being registered as a dirty dem, I get to the voting place today and am informed I am now registered as a member of the Reform Party. And that I can’t vote. WEIRD.”

Fiction author Kea Kruse also experienced an apparently unauthorized party-switch:

Multiple voters who had been removed from the rolls attributed the change to some sort of an incumbent protection racket. Twitter user James Ryan wrote:

Freelance author Suzanne Zuppello also took note of said phenomenon:

But it wasn’t just a problem across the digital void.

This reporter witnessed a man at a Brooklyn polling station in Sunset Park pleading with poll workers to find his name and pointed at his wife’s name. After many minutes of arguing, he realized he’d been removed from the rolls as well. A devastated look gave way to acceptance as he solemnly accepted a provisional ballot. “I’ve lived here for 20 years,” he said.

And at least one elected Democrat appears to have taken part in some of New York’s infamous election day shenanigans. Large numbers of voters reported that they received a text message from New York State senator Marisol Alcantra with incorrect voting information:

Law&Crime reached out to Senator Alcantra’s office for comment but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.

And then there’s this letter which was circulated by the New York City Housing Authority–imploring all residents to stay home almost all day long on an election day:

Law&Crime reached out to the New York State Board of Elections for comment on this story. A promised phone call was not returned at the time of publication. This is a developing story.

[image via Craig Ruttle-Pool/Getty Images]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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