Arizona All Over Again? Voter Registration Records Disappearing in New York

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at Pilgrim Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mesa, Arizona. Lines in the evening were around three hours. (Michael Chow/The Republic)

Reports are popping up on Facebook and Reddit that New York voters who have been registered Democrat — sometimes for years — are now listed as not enrolled to vote or not registered in a party. With allegations of election fraud in last week’s Arizona primary still fresh in their minds, New York Democrats are justifiably alarmed.

On the Facebook group Long Island for Bernie Sanders, Anthony DeVincenzo commented:

“I wanted to change my affiliation and did so on 10/9/15 through the [Department of Motor Vehicles] website. The DMV did not complete the transfer until 5 days later which made my submission late. It was an electronic communication that could have been sent instantly. Now I and many others must go to court on the 19th. I believe certain parties of interest are trying to make it hard to vote. Call me crazy.”

The Oct. 10, 2015, deadline was only for those registering for the first time or wishing to change their party affiliation if they had been purged or listed as inactive. So many people reported technical issues like this that New York granted an extension to Mar. 25. Voters who missed that deadline must go to court on primary day, Apr. 19, to get permission by a judge to vote.

It’s not only new voters or voters wishing to change parties who have been experiencing difficulties. Some long-time Democrats have been shocked to find their registrations have mysteriously changed. Heavy found these reports on Reddit:

  • A couple voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, yet the New York voter registration website says neither of them are registered. None of their other information had changed.
  • A person registered in December 2015, received an email approval, and carried a wallet voter registration card, yet his online record listed him as unregistered.
  • One man had registered as a Democrat in 2010, voting in every election since. He recently checked his voter status, which was unchanged. He wrote:

“Fast forward to last night when I received three phone bank calls asking if I’ve registered; it made me check my eligibility. Guess what? My information was not there.” He went to the county elections office to register again and was told that no one knew what had happened.

Wary voters are preparing themselves for surprises on primary day.

“I went online to verify I registered as Democrat, which I am. Then I snapped a picture of the page,” said another member of Long Island for Bernie Sanders.

In light of these irregularities, it’s a good idea to check your registration status on the NYS Board of Elections website well in advance of the primary.

To report registration changes, contact these organizations:

If you’re a New York voter listed as inactive or unaffiliated, you can still change your registration for the general election on Nov. 8. You can print a form and drop it off in person, or you can mail it in or change your registration online.

Here are deadlines for absentee ballot voting:

  • Apr. 12: Last day to postmark an application or letter of application by mail for an absentee ballot.
  • Apr. 18: Last day to apply in-person for an absentee ballot
  • Apr. 18: Last day to postmark absentee ballot. It must be received by the local board of elections no later than Apr. 26.
  • Apr. 19: Last day to deliver absentee ballot in-person to local board of elections.

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Susan Starr is a freelance writer and editor, writing on liberal topics, spirituality, health, sustainability and the environment. She has a master's degree in liberal studies from Stony Brook University and a certificate in holistic health coaching. In her free time, she reviews books, plays with her miracle Maine Coon Mollie and networks for cat rescue organizations.