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NYC Board of Elections certifies April primary, leaves 91,000 ballots uncounted

U.S. Marine Corp Veteran Saundra Ramirez, protests the certification of the NYC Presidential Primary results on May 3, 2016. The Board on May 6 proceeded to certify the vote absent 91,000 cast ballots. Video Courtesy Warren Lynch/Youtube

New York, New York – More than 91,000 voters in New York City have just fifteen (15) days to determine the outcome of their affidavit ballots and contest the decision of the NYC Board of Elections (BOE) who disregarded their votes cast in the New York Presidential Primary on April 19.

“Election fraud is generally not common when one party or one faction of a party dominates the political landscape. Rather, the conditions most conducive to election fraud are close factional competition within an electoral jurisdiction for an elected position that matters. Thus, in a jurisdiction when one party is dominant, election fraud may nevertheless occur during the primary season, as various party factions vie for power.” – U.S. Department of Justice

 On Monday, the voter rights advocacy group Election Justice USA, in a release, expressed concerns that the majority of New York City voters who cast affidavit ballots would not meet a May 25 deadline. That deadline requires that each voter determine if his or her affidavit was counted. If the voter determines that the Board has erroneously or in error disregarded his or her vote, the voter is then required to challenge the decision of the Board via court proceeding.

“Nearly 5 times more affidavit ballots were cast than usual in the New York Primary on April 19th. An overwhelming number of those were previously registered Democrats whose party affiliation was mysteriously dropped from their registration status, which prevented them from voting in their own Primary,” Shyla Nelson spokeswoman for Election Justice USA (EJUSA) said.

Voter advocacy groups, poll workers and private citizens took to the streets and Board of Canvassers hearings last week to protest suspected election fraud as the NYC Board of Elections proceeded to certify the city’s primary results. The testimony and concurrent protests were held in the wake of mishandling, mismanagement and secrecy in the validation process of more than 121,056 affidavit ballots cast. The certified results excluded 91,000 provisional ballots cast in the presidential primary. The Board on Friday certified the election results without considering heated testimony from members of the public, given before a group of elected officials who were sometimes openly hostile and dismissive.

“It’s not an add water and stir process,” said Michael Ryan Executive Director at an intense hearing on May 3. Ryan said that the BOE was in the process of counting the affidavit ballots, it was in intensive hand process and that he couldn’t provide a solid number, because the ballots weren’t counted.

“Under New York Election Law 16-106, a voter who was forced to use an affidavit ballot, whose ballot was rejected by the BOE, can challenge the rejection in court,” Nelson said. “They have just 20 days from the certification to do so. EJUSA is concerned that some NY voters won’t get written notification in time. We are in a race against time and are fully engaged in getting the word out as promptly and widely as we can.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, election fraud usually involves corruption of one of three processes: the obtaining and marking of ballots, the counting and certification of election results, or the registration of voters. Information readily provided on the DOJ website explains that “election fraud is generally not common when one party or one faction of a party dominates the political landscape.

An electoral competition such as the increasingly acrimonious contest between Democratic candidates U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was more likely to produce election fraud according to DOJ. “Rather, the conditions most conducive to election fraud are close factional competition within an electoral jurisdiction for an elected position that matters. Thus, in a jurisdiction when one party is dominant, election fraud may nevertheless occur during the primary season, as various party factions vie for power,” the DOJ site said.

In April, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the handling of the presidential nominating contest in Arizona, where Maricopa County poll closings, voter misinformation and resultant chaos caused outrageously long lines at voting locations, prompting questions of voter suppression and civil rights violations. The request for investigation in the county that is home to Phoenix, came from the city’s mayor, Greg Stanton. Election Justice USA, the national voting rights organization also filed suit in Federal Court in Phoenix alleging voter suppression.

EJUSA who was involved in the New York issue since the news broke that more than 126,000 Democratic voters had been purged from the voter rolls in the city, moved forward in challenging the results of the New York Primary. According to their release, the organization filed a temporary restraining order on Thursday to stop the certification of the New York City election results.

Although the Board of Canvassers certification took place on Friday, lawyers for EJUSA were contacted by Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the BOE, prior, who assured them that the BOE “is doing everything to comply with the demands of the lawsuit filed by EJUSA on April 18th, in cooperation with the New York State Attorney General’s Office.”

“According to Michael Ryan, the Board of Elections is going beyond the surface analysis in determining the validity of the affidavit ballots,” said EJUSA attorney Jonathan Clarke. “He has ordered his staff to pull up all voter records of affidavit ballot voters, and the staff is examining the entire voting history before determining the validity of the ballot.”

“We are pleased with this new level of accountability on the part of the Board of Elections, and sufficiently satisfied that the BOE is substantially compliant with the majority of the demands of the EJUSA lawsuit. We therefore felt it was no longer necessary to request the delay of the certification and withdrew the emergency motion, though the lawsuit as a whole remains active,” Clarke said in the release.

The EJUSA advisory went on to encourage voters to check their ballot status and act on the information received.

Registered Democrats who were forced to vote on affidavit ballots were urged by EJUSA to contact their county Board of Elections immediately to confirm whether their ballot was accepted or rejected. Ryan assured the attorneys that the Board of Elections would be able to provide a response within a day of requesting the information.

Although the BOE acknowledged the purge, two BOE clerks were fired and an investigation was launched by state Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman in conjunction with the state comptroller’s office, the election results were certified.

EJUSA did not immediately respond as to whether a request for investigation of voter fraud in the New York Presidential primary had been made to the U.S. Department of Justice by the organization. To read the entire release from EJUSA, click here. The NYC Board of Elections hearing and testimony from May 3 can be viewed here.

This article originally appeared on Examiner.com on May 10, 2016. 

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