The New York Primary was a Sh*tshow. Here’s Why.

Russ Nickel is a screenwriter (with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University and an M.F.A in Screenwriting from Chapman University) who used to believe his vote mattered.

Russ Nickel.png

Russ Nickel

Like many Bernie Sanders supporters, I’m new to politics – most of my knowledge came from comedians, who seem to be the only ones unaffected enough by corporate media to be able to tell the truth (Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, I’m looking at you). They drilled into me some of the worst aspects of our system, and Super PACs were at the top of the list. But I resigned myself to the fact of their existence. Citizens United happened, every candidate was corrupt, and I might as well just sit back and focus on pursuing my career, not worrying about the country as a whole.

Then there was Bernie, a man who was untouched by the corruption of the system, who was addressing every issue these comedians had shown me was so important (the insane wealth gap, privatized prisons, climate change, women’s rights, LGBT rights, education, pretty much everything in The Big Short).

Like many Bernie supporters, I had faith. I believed everyone got a vote. I believed the will of the people mattered. But that faith has been destroyed. Not my faith in Bernie, of course—I’ll be hosting phone banking events and canvassing as much as I can—but my faith in democracy is well and truly gone. Here’s just some of what went wrong in New York’s Primary:

126,000 Voters Dropped from Voting Rolls

Shortly before the election, 126,000 Democrats were dropped from the rolls. This is a huge number, and it’s so significant that Mayor de Blasio (who is himself a Hillary Clinton supporter) demanded an explanation. Voters were removed for a number of reasons, often because they were “inactive.” Why should you be removed if you haven’t voted recently? And more importantly, why did this purge occur shortly before the election? Many of these purged voters showed up to their polling places and were unable to cast a vote. This is neither a Bernie nor Hillary issue. It’s just a democracy issue.

Voter Registrations Changed on a Massive Scale

Countless stories are rolling in of voters’ registrations being changed from a party they’ve voted for their whole lives to something else. This is particularly problematic in a closed election, where only Democrats can vote for the Democratic candidate. When voters showed up and were registered under the wrong party, they were given two options: either get a court order or fill out an affidavit.

It’s ridiculous that there is so much burden placed on voters. Voters should not be expected to travel to a court, speak to a judge, and receive a court order to vote. And even if they do miraculously have the time to do that, it’s not enough; they also need some sort of proof that they used to be registered as a Democrat. The onus should not be on the voters to keep evidence to prove their political affiliation.

Who knows how many thousands or tens of thousands of voters were turned away on Tuesday? Stories of this are everywhere (like this, or this, or this—the list goes on). In that first case, the poll worker actually discouraged the person from voting.

Registrations Changed Due to Forgeries

Who knows how many of the switched registrations were malicious? There are already accounts coming in of people’s signatures being forged so that when they showed up, well, they had to fill out an affidavit.

In fact, it got so bad that…

New York City’s Comptroller is Auditing the Board of Elections

Technically this is something going right, but it’s just further proof of things going so wrong. You can read his letter here. He brings up a number of critical points, like…

Polls Opened Hours Late

Multiple polling locations didn’t open until hours after their listed opening time. This meant that voters arrived, stood in line, and eventually had to leave for work, unable to cast a vote. These locations often suggested voters go to another location and fill out a provisional ballot.

Provisional Ballots and Affidavits Were Often Unavailable and Likely Won’t Be Counted

Many voters wanted to fill out provisional ballots and affidavits in situations when, for whatever reason, they weren’t allowed to vote. Unfortunately, there are countless stories of polling locations not having these ballots (like this and this). One report even states that the location refused to hand out provisional ballots, and when the Attorney General was contacted and instructed poll workers to do so, the local Board of Elections replied by saying “the Attorney General doesn’t run this office.”

Who knows how many thousands or tens of thousands of people didn’t even fill out these ballots? And there may be literally hundreds of thousands of people who did. Not only might these ballots not be counted, but if they are, it will happen weeks after Hillary has gained momentum from her win. This fiasco illuminates exactly how messed up the system is. People want to vote. They want to be part of our democracy. But they’re being told that they can’t, and when they can, they’re being told their vote doesn’t matter.

An Emergency Lawsuit was Filed

The registration problem got so bad that a lawsuit was filed and there was an emergency hearing. Unfortunately, rather than make any sort of real decision, the judge said that, because this was a county-by-county issue, the lawyers would need to produce defendants in every single county (that’s over 60 defendants). They were given about 20 minutes to do this. Obviously, that time limit is absurdly unrealistic, so the hearing had to be postponed. This meant that literally millions of voters were unsure whether the election would be open and their votes would count. The judge said it was okay because voters already had a remedy; they simply had to go to a judge and get a court order allowing them to vote.

No Working Machines

Even when polling places opened on time, there were reports of locations without a single working machine. So what’s the solution? Oh yeah, an affidavit. Of course. Or wait until a new machine is brought in, not knowing how long that wait will be. Again, people had to leave because of work.

Voters Listed in Wrong Location

As I write this list, my anger and depression are hitting me all over again. There are so many stories of voters going to polling locations only to not be listed. Here, take an affidavit, they were told, but many would-be voters were more stalwart and refused. Sometimes they turned out to magically be listed after all, and other times they were listed in different districts, despite having no change of address or anything—they were simply mis-listed. Or sometimes, literally everyone at the location wasn’t listed and was forced to fill out our good friend the affidavit.

New York has “2nd Lowest Voter Turnout So Far”

It’s absurd that New York is only ahead of Louisiana in terms of voter turnout. Only 19.7% of eligible New York Democratic voters cast a ballot. You know why the title of this section is in quotes? It’s because New York’s turnout was actually higher than usual and above what the official numbers indicate (here’s an article literally titled “Voter turnout unusually high in New York”). It’s because tens or hundreds of thousands of people were forced to fill out affidavits or were simply turned away. So yes, they turned out, but then they didn’t get to vote.

In Some Districts, Hillary’s Margins were Less than the Number of Affidavits

Hillary won some districts (again, no telling how many at this point) by small enough margins that the number of affidavits (which seem to have largely affected Bernie supporters) could overturn her victories.

One Polling Location on Lockdown

The silliest one yet. One polling location happened to go on lockdown. Meaning more people couldn’t vote. And all of this still doesn’t bring up the #1 problem with New York’s primary:

THREE MILLION INDEPENDENTS WEREN’T ABLE TO VOTE

Sure, maybe it’s fine to have a closed primary. I don’t know. But having the registration change deadline be October of the previous year, literally 6 months earlier, is absolutely insane. Few people even knew about Bernie’s campaign at this point. This law makes it virtually impossible for a come-from-behind candidate to win this state. It’s absurd. Bernie does incredibly well among Independents. These are people who are going to vote in the general election. They wanted to vote for Bernie in the primary, but they couldn’t.

To Conclude, Voter Suppression has Ruined this Election

Voter suppression has happened throughout the country. There is a lawsuit currently underway in response to Arizona’s disgraceful procedures, which many claim constitute blatant voter suppression. In Chicago, an official audit by the Board of Elections just showed that, while Bernie lost with 47.5% of the vote in one precinct, after an audit, he won with 56.7% of the vote. That’s absolutely insane. That amounts to a swing of 18.4% in the final results!!! The media continues to tell us that Hillary is an unstoppable force and Bernie an unelectable candidate, but the only 2 states Hillary has won in the last 10 primary contests are under investigation for election fraud and voter suppression. Think about that.

We live in America, a country ostensibly founded on the principles of democracy. This election has shown that the people do not have a voice. We cannot win. This is what we’re fighting against.

What would the New York Primary results look like if the hundreds of thousands of voters who wanted to exercise their democratic right to vote were simply allowed to? If the millions of Independents actually had a chance to make their voices heard?

What would it look like?

32 Comments

Filed under 2016 Presidential Election, US Political System

32 responses to “The New York Primary was a Sh*tshow. Here’s Why.

  1. Thank you all.

    Yes, it’s theater and ongoingly NOT an election since 2000. Fake elections, fake wars “for freedom,” fake money, fake corporate media: until enough people awaken to recognize MASSIVE and OBVIOUS crimes of election fraud, War Crimes, bankster looting, and lying complicit corporate media, “We the People” are trapped in empire.

    The solution, as best I see, is rising public demand for arrests of the obvious “leaders” of these crimes centered in war and money.

    More election fraud documentation: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/04/must-watch-2016-election-stolen.html

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/04/additional-evidence-mind-boggling-fraud-emerges-new-york-primary.html

    • What can we do to fix this? I’m willing to do it.

      • Since you’re replying to me, as I stated, I don’t see any way out of our Orwellian condition other than demand for arrests.

        This is the 5th consecutive presidential election that’s fraudulent.

      • Please help by doing what you can from these suggestions: WHAT CAN WE DO? 1) SUPPORT BERNIE MORE (PHONEBANK! https://go.berniesanders.com/page/s/the-revolution-is-calling
        CANVASS, DONATE
        2) REMOVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN AS DNC CHAIR http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/remove-debbie-wasserman
        https://www.change.org/p/debbie-wasserman-schultz-demand-debbie-wasserman-schultz-s-immediate-resignation-as-dnc-chair
        http://act.credoaction.com/sign/DWS_Resign/
        3) TELL DELEGATES TO VOTE FOR BERNIE http://hintit.com/super_for_bernie/
        4) INVESTIGATE ELECTION FRAUD:
        Contact the FBI which does investigate election fraud. You may have to file a complaint at the local level. Call for them to advise what you should do ((202) 324-3000
        FBI Headquarters
        935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
        Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
        (202) 324-3000

        5) Contact United Nations & ask them to OBSERVE OUR ELECTIONS. PHONE 212.963.1234 ask them to get you to the department that inspects elections.

        6) SIGN & SHARE petition here:
        https://www.change.org/p/jeff-weaver-request-un-investigation-into-democratic-primary-election

        7) Contact the Department of Justice and ask them to open formal inquiries into AZ & NY voter disenfranchisement. https://www.justice.gov/…/your-message-department-justice
        model letter:
        Dear Sir/Madam:
        I am requesting formal assistance for U.S. Primary and General Elections to be monitored. Voter suppression and disenfranchisement is occurring as evidenced in Arizona and New York. Please advise me of the steps I must follow to have your involvement in all of our state elections. Please respond to me via email.
        Thank you for your assistance.
        Kind Regards,
        8) For NY voting anomalies: The Attorney General urges voters experiencing problems or issues at the polls to call the office’s hotline at 800-771-7755 or email civil.rights@ag.ny.gov at any time between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. The hotline will be staffed by attorneys and staff in the office’s Civil Rights Bureau.
        Message from Nadya Stevens from Bernie Sanders campaign:
        IF YOU HAD TROUBLE VOTING IN NY:
        Please contact the Sanders Campaign with details of voting discrepancies you encountered. He has a team of lawyers waiting. Also, he will need a list of those who tried to vote Sanders and were denied that right. It’s ammunition for the Convention, and will add to his vote tally.
        -Send email to help@berniesanders.com
        -Make the subject line reflect the discrepancy:
        Subject: I voted Provisional ballot in NY or
        Subject: I voted Affidavit Ballot in NY or
        Subject: I could not vote in NY due to registration discrepancy.
        If there was a problem with polling site location or with the voting machine, state it in the subject line.
        You need that subject line so that your email can be easily identified as a report of voter suppression. Give as many details/specifics in the body of the email as you can.
        -Sign the email with your name, address, and phone number.
        9) DONATE to Election Justice for New York: https://www.gofundme.com/electionjusticeny

  2. jrk62

    But there’s more! The discrepancy between the exit polls (52-48) and the “real” vote (58-42) was insane. In other democracies, when the exit polling is off, this is a red flag and triggers automatic hand counts of the ballots. Fractionalized votes, maybe?

    • Brian

      LOL

      Is this your first election? Is this your first experience with early exit polling and how unreliable it often is?

      • Karen Ulvang

        Ok, then how about we seriouslyaudit and cerify voting machines as job one

      • LOL, Brian? Exit poll data before electronic voting machines without paper trail is applied to mathematical research and honed to within 1% predictability.

        LOL? Is this your first consideration of this implication of election fraud, given we can mathematically prove every presidential election since 2000 has been stolen through the billions-to-one odds of the difference between exit polls and no-evidence secret-coded and hackable voting machines?

        And LOL we are not as we all notice your lie of omission of all the other data showing what we have does not equal an election.

        This isn’t funny, Brian… ok, unless you’re into tragic-comedy and have a really good sense of humor.

  3. Stan Anderson

    Russ Nickel, There is a very consequential rigging of the NY Primary that you missed – downstate counties, counties that have greater support for Secretary Clinton, had poll hours of 6AM – 9PM while all other counties had poll hours that started at NOON, 12PM – 9PM. Giving only select counties six more hours, allowing workers to vote before going to work, is huge.

  4. WHAT CAN WE DO? 1) SUPPORT BERNIE MORE (PHONEBANK! https://go.berniesanders.com/page/s/the-revolution-is-calling
    CANVASS, DONATE
    2) REMOVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN AS DNC CHAIR http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/remove-debbie-wasserman
    https://www.change.org/p/debbie-wasserman-schultz-demand-debbie-wasserman-schultz-s-immediate-resignation-as-dnc-chair
    http://act.credoaction.com/sign/DWS_Resign/
    3) TELL DELEGATES TO VOTE FOR BERNIE http://hintit.com/super_for_bernie/
    4) INVESTIGATE ELECTION FRAUD:
    Contact the FBI which does investigate election fraud. You may have to file a complaint at the local level. Call for them to advise what you should do ((202) 324-3000
    FBI Headquarters
    935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
    (202) 324-3000

    5) Contact United Nations & ask them to OBSERVE OUR ELECTIONS. PHONE 212.963.1234 ask them to get you to the department that inspects elections.

    6) SIGN & SHARE petition here:
    https://www.change.org/p/jeff-weaver-request-un-investigation-into-democratic-primary-election

    7) Contact the Department of Justice and ask them to open formal inquiries into AZ & NY voter disenfranchisement. https://www.justice.gov/…/your-message-department-justice
    model letter:
    Dear Sir/Madam:
    I am requesting formal assistance for U.S. Primary and General Elections to be monitored. Voter suppression and disenfranchisement is occurring as evidenced in Arizona and New York. Please advise me of the steps I must follow to have your involvement in all of our state elections. Please respond to me via email.
    Thank you for your assistance.
    Kind Regards,
    8) For NY voting anomalies: The Attorney General urges voters experiencing problems or issues at the polls to call the office’s hotline at 800-771-7755 or email civil.rights@ag.ny.gov at any time between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. The hotline will be staffed by attorneys and staff in the office’s Civil Rights Bureau.
    Message from Nadya Stevens from Bernie Sanders campaign:
    IF YOU HAD TROUBLE VOTING IN NY:
    Please contact the Sanders Campaign with details of voting discrepancies you encountered. He has a team of lawyers waiting. Also, he will need a list of those who tried to vote Sanders and were denied that right. It’s ammunition for the Convention, and will add to his vote tally.
    -Send email to help@berniesanders.com
    -Make the subject line reflect the discrepancy:
    Subject: I voted Provisional ballot in NY or
    Subject: I voted Affidavit Ballot in NY or
    Subject: I could not vote in NY due to registration discrepancy.
    If there was a problem with polling site location or with the voting machine, state it in the subject line.
    You need that subject line so that your email can be easily identified as a report of voter suppression. Give as many details/specifics in the body of the email as you can.
    -Sign the email with your name, address, and phone number.
    9) DONATE to Election Justice for New York: https://www.gofundme.com/electionjusticeny

  5. 6 months is “SHORTLY BEFORE” the election pal?

    • I did struggle with that phrasing, to be perfectly honest. To me, the issue is that they were purged after the deadline to make changes, which is a short enough time that you can’t do anything about it.

  6. Judith Cassidy

    Anyone remember Watergate? Think about Hillarygate/DNCgate!

  7. Don

    You want to vote in the NY Primary? JOIN A PARTY! The rules haven’t changed – you were just too stupid and/or lazy to get off your privileged asses and go register. Now you WHINE WHINE WHINE about “voter suppression.” Total juvenile bullshit.

    • If that’s the case then the Democratic Party should have to pay for the primary, not taxpayers.

      You want a private party, use you own darn money.

  8. It’s a good column but can you increase the type? Very hard to read for people over 44 since we need reading glasses. Thank you.

    • Anon

      He’s a guest author, he doesn’t get to design the website. Did you know there’s a ‘zoom’ command in every web browser, that lets you choose how big to make the font for yourself? Take a look in your menus, or press the Ctrl key and the + key.

  9. David

    I just shared this on Facebook. I thought you might be interested to see the text I appended:

    “I love it when citizen journalists do the research and compile the information that many of us are interested in seeing.

    In the days of print media, the only places that I would see articles like this were The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, Wired, Vanity Fair. These were often investigative articles that were obviously written over the period of months.

    Article like this one are single issue, narrow focus but so important for their timeliness. This si what we all knew was possible in the dawning of the internet— just the well documented hyperlinked “facts” from a local source. More of that please.

    The internet has been looking for a way to monetize its content. I can tell you, if there were some way for an article author to put a tip button in their work, I would hit that for this piece.”

  10. Leif Knutsen

    Frank. When was the last time you tried to fight the powers that be? Damn right 6 months is a short time. Many of us have been fighting corrupt powers our whole lives.
    The seeds of exploitation, corruption and ultimate failure of Western Capitalism have been built into the paradigm from the get-go. It does not take a climate scientist or even a particularly bright bulb on the street to see that Capitalism, unrestrained by the requirements of Planetary life support systems, is guaranteed mutually assured destruction. When dollars are sacrosanct to Planetary life support systems, what other outcome can be expected? If you are happy with the lions share of your tax dollers subsidizing the pollution of the Planet, only then can you not want change. Help end tax funded pollution of the commons for starters. Our tax dollars are funding a Planetary ecocide future for the children of ALL species. A future EXXON scientists confirmed to the CEOs of EXXON as early as 1978. Shortly after that EXXON et.al. started investing big money into the denier-sphere pipeline. The GOPollutocrats of today would not exist as such without that cash infusion.You are witnessing the the failure of that paradigm as we speak. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

  11. Democrat primary ..Democrats vote..all they had to was register and they all could have voted. .Bernie could of run as an Independent… They could have voted.. Many states have closed primarily… Bernie bots think they are special…

    • cwaltz

      That’s fine but then your primary should be funded by Democratic voters only. Independants shouldn’t have to pay for your PRIVATE shindig if they aren’t going to be allowed to vote in it.

  12. Tom R. Sawyer

    Prosecute Hillary’s Trolls!!!!!!

  13. Please let me know: are you going to write to the New York Attorney General today to ask him to ask a Court for a new New York Primary? You don’t have to be from NY to point out to him what a disgrace it was with the
    disenfranchisement, the purges of voter rolls, and the questions about voting machine failures in particular areas. He can ask for a new primary under NY’s Section 78, which covers what in most states would be called a Petition for a Write of Mandamus.

    Contact: http://www.ag.ny.gov/contact-attorney-general
    Call the General Helpline: 1-800-771-7755 to ask what is the best email to send your letter; there is no submit form for election related complaints.

    I am not seeking piddling reforms or audits that do no good weeks from now; I see a need more for a summery judgement granting a new primary and ordering the NY Bureau of Elections to do so. This is a real hardball strategy, but not a long shot at all. Given the evidence or even the initial evidence thus far, most Federal judges would grant that relief and order that a new primary would be held; they won’t do anything, however unless you take the time to write Attorney General Schneiderman. This is participatory democracy and not spectator sports.

    Joining in with ElectionJustice’s suit is one thing, my idea is another, and nothing to prevent both of these moving forward.

    Stephen Fox stephen@santafefineart.com
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/592985284186083/

    A very helpful comment from Cliff Sommers:

    “Here’s my perspective as a former non-attorney legal practitioner with nearly 23 years experience in federal litigation practice. I think it would be constructive and productive to encourage both Sanders and Schneiderman to join as parties to the existing ElectionJusticeUSA litigation action in RE: docket CV-16 1892, or to file an amicus curiae “friend of the court” brief in support of this existing action than to commence yet another action in the State court system. The underlying dispute is a federal U.S. Constitutional issue, equal protection under the law, the action is already commenced, the parties duly served, and it is moving forward.

    Commencing the action in federal district court is a tactically superior choice because it provides a much quicker route to a much wider area of impact than the NY State courts. New York lies within the federal 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, one notch below the U.S. Supreme Court. Any decision won in NY and appealed in the 2nd Circuit will apply throughout CT, NY and VT; if further litigated in SCOTUS it would obviously create nationwide binding case law precedent. NY courts are much more limited in reach. An initial decision would apply only to the immediate parties to the action; a successful appeal decision only to NY.”

  14. The reason the comedians are doing so much of the heavy lifting right now is due to the legally nature of satire, which is the most protected form of expression in our faltering democracy right now.

  15. The number 126,000 of voters dropped from the rolls occurred just in Brooklyn alone.

  16. This is a very inconsistent essay that ignores big facts that don’t support the writer’s thesis.

    You say voter irregularities are “neither a Bernie nor Hillary issue. It’s just a democracy issue” then claim the affidavits “seem to have largely affected Bernie supporters”, even though you can’t cite one iota of evidence to support that. I’ve seen this happen several times, a state experiences some election irregularities, Bernie loses, and his supporters cry “voter suppression” and claim the election was stolen from him even though polling and voter demographics showed there was no way he was going to win in the first place. Yes, the Brooklyn voter purge was unfortunate (and it wasn’t “shortly before”, it was over a period of six months), but like Arizona there’s not one iota of evidence to support that it hurt Bernie more, and in both cases is more likely it hurt Hillary’s vote total since she’s been winning the lion’s share of votes in urban areas.

    Also the comment about “Three million independents”, most Independents in New York are Republican-leaning, and using past elections as a reference only about 200,000 Independents vote in Democratic elections, and of those 40% voted for Hillary – applying those estimates would turn her 58-42 victory into a 57-43 victory, hardly an earth-shattering change.

    You also didn’t mention that the Illinois election audit actually found Hillary was missing more votes than Sanders, and her net total increased by 4,000 votes.

    You claim “only 2 states Hillary has won in the last 10 primary contests are under investigation for election fraud and voter suppression. Think about that.” I suggest Googling “Post hoc ergo propter hoc”. A less sensationalized thesis? Hillary often wins large states with diverse electorates, more voters increases the probability for vote irregularities.

    • CG510

      You sound an awful lot like one of clinton’s paid trolls. The voter suppression and election fraud is real. There’s mountains of evidence to support this, from pretty much every single state…and yes, that includes evidence that it hurts Sanders supporters more. A sample of people in AZ who had their registrations mysteriously changed, showed that it affected 100+ sanders supporters, vs. a dozen or so Clinton supporters, and just a handful of republicans.

      Also, are you seriously claiming that states like Hawaii (least white state in the nation), Alaska (7th least white), Washington, etc aren’t diverse? Sanders won them in a landslide, and clinton has won plenty of non-diverse states herself (including some of the whitest in the nation), but for some reason no one ever brings that up as a negative for her like they do for Sanders.

      You’re drinking the clinton kool aide…or are you just collecting checks for the nonsense you’re posting? Either way you’re wrong, and are contributing to the subversion of democracy by spreading your lies.

    • Hillary has been fighting for Voting Rights since she was in her early a young progressive. In her twenties she went to the border to register Latinos to vote.
      Hillary filed suit against the voter suppression tactics of the GOP in Arizona, Bernie later joined the suit.

  17. Denise Painter

    You sir win the Internet today.

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