Who Is Tinkering With Voters' Party Affiliations in New York?

Author: David Yee
Created: 18 April, 2016
Updated: 16 October, 2022
2 min read

When Donald Trump's own family couldn't vote in New York's closed primary because they didn't switch parties in time, it made national headlines. New York has some of the strangest rules on switching political parties, mandating that a person must switch affiliation by October of the preceding year.

But now there are reports of an even stranger problem. At least

200 people have joined a lawsuit in New York claiming that their party affiliations had been switched--but not by them--making them ineligible to vote in their primary of choice this election.

The switch, one that is primarily affecting Democratic voters, will definitely help front-runner Hillary Clinton in her home state.

Bernie Sanders has repeatedly decried the closed system, one of only 11 completely closed primary states, but with a twist -- since you have to be registered for your party by October of the preceding year to be eligible to vote, it makes it even more difficult for independents and swing voters (like the Trump family) to switch in time.

Sanders has benefited from independent and swing votes in open primary states, winning by huge margins in many of these contests.

Who is doing this tinkering? In the age of the computer, there's always some form of digital paper trail of when data has been changed, but the state Board of Elections is remaining silent for the time being, presumably doing its own investigation.

The New York Board of Elections has been overwhelmed with problems in the past, called a survivor of "Boss Tweed-style politics"by one local newspaper. Tweed was one of the major players in Tammany Hall politics of the 19th century, known for rigging elections and coat-tail cronyism.

When investigated in 2014, 63 independent investigators showed up to vote as dead, incarcerated, or nonresident voters, and were still permitted to vote 61 times due to poor practices (all votes cast were write-ins for "John Test" to avoid skewing the election).

There are serious problems at the New York Board of Elections -- and where there's smoke in politics, there's almost always fire.

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A thorough investigation needs to take place, but it will be long after the April 19 election, and who knows how many more voters will find out at the polls that they are now ineligible to vote?

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