New York City voters who were purged from voter rolls ahead of the 2016 presidential primary won a court victory on Tuesday as the city Board of Elections agreed to federal oversight following the lawsuit over a mass purge of voter rolls that resulted in over 200,000 voters stripped of the right to vote before that year's primary.
WNYC reports that the city's BOE admitted wrongdoing in the voter purge and agreed to a series of fixes following the mass purge that kicked 120,000 Democratic voters off the rolls in Brooklyn alone.
The NYC BOE now has 90 days to submit a plan to the federal government outlining how they'll improve the management of their voter rolls, including the list of staff who will oversee maintenance of the rolls and the procedural steps that will go into said maintenance. Every voter stricken from the rolls since July 1st, 2013 is now subject to a review by the BOE, and unless the voter registration information was already updated, they must be restored to the rolls if their removal violated state and federal laws.
In addition to having to answer monthly and annual reporting requirements on their overhaul efforts, the BOE has to "establish a complaint intake process where it records, tracks, investigates, resolves and responds to complaints about voter registration status submitted by voters."
The changes appear to end a saga that began in April 2016 when voters began finding that they had been removed from the state's voter rolls, ahead of the presidential primary. Thousands of would-be voters reported showing up to their polling places only to find themselves left off the voter rolls and either not allowed to vote or forced to fill out affidavit ballots.
After the group Election Justice USA sued New York State over the mass purges, the Justice Department joined a suit filed by good government group Common Cause, charging the city BOE with numerous violations of the rules regarding voter list maintenance outlined in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman backed up the DOJ's assessment and joined the suit against the BOE two weeks later. After the story of the settlement came out, Schneiderman tweeted that his office will be "closely monitoring" the BOE's attempts to reform its procedures.
Regardless of the changes the city Board of Elections makes going forward, New York State still has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country, including a lack of same day registration and early voting. In addition, the opportunity to change parties ahead of 2018's pivotal Democratic primary, which will see both Governor Andrew Cuomo and numerous local state Senators up for reelection, passed two weeks ago. The city saw low turnout in this year's local primary, but even the lack of participation still led to issues with voters being told they couldn't be found on the rolls.