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Feds: Board of Elex illegally purged voter rolls - Brooklyn Paper

Feds: Board of Elex illegally purged voter rolls

Roll on: Electoral workers check voters’ names off the rolls at a polling station at the Brooklyn Museum in 2016.
Associated Press / Bebeto Matthews

The Brooklyn Board of Elections illegally purged more than 117,000 voters from the electoral rolls ahead of the April 19 presidential primary, the Feds charge in a recent lawsuit.

The suit — first launched by good-government group Common Cause in November before the Department of Justice got on board on Jan. 12 — accuses the board of defying federal laws by nixing voters solely because they hadn’t voted in previous elections.

A state can boot someone off the rolls if they die or move outside of their registered city or county, but not simply because they fail to exercise their democratic right to cast a ballot.

The board can prove a voter has moved if he or she fails to vote in two successive federal general elections and then fails to respond to a notice sent to their home, but many of the purged voters never received one, the suit alleges.

What’s more, some 4,100 of them had actually had voted since 2008 after all, it says.

The Feds want the board’s leaders to own up to their alleged mistakes and promise to reform so citizens aren’t shafted again, according to the prosecutor in charge.

“The right of citizens to vote is a critical part of democratic process,” said U.S. attorney Robert Capers. “We will work tirelessly to ensure that, in the future, the New York City Board of Elections fulfills its statutory obligation to maintain the rolls properly, and provide appropriate notice to voters when it does so.”

Many of the spurned Kings County voters were incensed when they showed up to vote in the Democratic primary on April 19 — then still a hotly contested face off between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders — only to learn their name had mysteriously vanished from the roll.

The city subsequently launched an investigation into the shemozzle, and suspended Republican deputy chief clerk Diane Haslett-Rudiano and her Democratic counterpart Betty Ann Canizio for the duration.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is still performing his own inquiry, but that probe is still ongoing, a spokeswoman said.

The Board of Elections cannot comment on pending litigation, a spokeswoman said, but she did confirm that Canizio and Haslett-Rudiano remain suspended.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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