Yesterday, dozens of New York voters sued the state, alleging that their registrations in the Democratic party had been purged or altered and were thus preventing them from voting in today's presidential primary; the same day, it was reported that the number of registered Democrats in Brooklyn had dropped by 63,500. Now, that number has doubled: the NYC Board of Elections has reportedly removed 126,000 Brooklyn Democrats from the rolls since last fall.
Michael Ryan, who's the executive director at the NYC Board of Elections, told WNYC that the number breaks down as follows: 44,000 voters were inactive; 70,000 were removed from the inactive voter list; and 12,000 people had moved out of the borough.
Why so many? Brooklyn was "a little behind" in maintaining its voter records, Ryan said. He told the NY Post that Brooklyn's Board of Elections saw a number of retirements and staff illnesses, meaning that it was catching up on a backlog.
Mayor de Blasio demanded yesterday that the Board of Elections provide his office with more analysis on the drop in registered Brooklyn Democrats.
"I admit that Brooklyn has had a lot of transient population—that’s obvious," de Blasio said. "Lot of people moving in, lot of people moving out. That might account for some of it. But I'm confused since so many people have moved in, that the number would move that much in the negative direction."
Ryan told WNYC that he provided the same explanation to the mayor's staff: the borough was between six months and a year behind in updating its records.
Yesterday's lawsuit, which has a hearing this morning, is not about Brooklyn Democrats specifically, but rather was filed by voters from across the state who claim that their registrations were changed or purged without their input. Because New York has closed primaries, only those registered in a given party can vote in that party's primary, and those filing the lawsuit say that these changes to their registrations are denying them equal protection under the constitution. They want a judge to issue a blanket order allowing anyone in their situation to vote in today's primary.
If there's a problem with your voter registration (which you can check here), you're not entirely out of luck, even if the lawsuit doesn't get a favorable ruling by the end of the day. You can go to your local Board of Elections, where a judge can hear your case and, if he or she thinks you should be allowed to vote, give you paperwork that you can bring to your polling place. Alternately, you can fill out a provisional ballot at your polling place, on which you can make your case for being eligible to vote. If you're deemed ineligible by the election commissioners tasked with assessing your provisional ballot, you should receive a mailing informing you of that fact.
You can report problems to the hotline set up by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, at (800) 771-7755; to the New York U.S. attorney's offices at (718) 254-6323 (for Brooklyn, Queens, Richmond, Nassau, and Suffolk counties) and (212) 637-0840 (for New York, Bronx, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester counties); or to the FBI, at (212) 384-1000.