More than 200 New Yorkers have joined ranks to file a lawsuit calling for the state of New York to be an open primary state. They claim the party affiliation on their voter registration changed without their consent, leaving them shut out of voting in Tuesday’s primary.
Ten other states also have a closed primary system, but New York has the earliest change-of-party deadline in the country. The purpose of this system is to prevent “party raiding,” where voters switch parties in large groups to influence their rival party’s primary. However, these extra restrictions are preventing many people from voting.
Many of those involved in the lawsuit claim that when they looked up their voter registration after the deadline had passed, it had changed their party affiliation from either Democratic or Republican to “Not affiliated” or “Independent,” which makes them ineligible to vote in either primary.
New York state Board of Elections spokesperson, Thomas Connolly said to ThinkProgess that with every alleged complaint about manipulated voter registrations that he’s followed through on, it has been a mistake on the voter’s part.
“I’ve yet to come across (a voter registration) that’s been maliciously changed,” he said.
Shyla Nelson, a spokesperson from the recently-formed Election Justice USA, however, says this is a “widespread national problem” and one that is, in fact, affecting presidential candidate Bernie Sanders supporters disproportionately, as they’re likely to have been previously unaffiliated with any party.
Nelson says their organization has received complaints of the same issue happening in other states, including California, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.