Public Comment

Voting Scandal in New York

Harry Brill
Friday April 22, 2016 - 02:18:00 PM

By now the public as learned that over 125,000 Brooklyn residents were disqualified from voting in the New York primary. Moreover, a federal judge denied a temporary restraining order that would have opened the polls to New York Democrats who claimed that they were unlawfully listed as Republican or unaffiliated. To avoid a repeat in future elections, Sanders issued a strong complaint. Many other progressives and public officials as well concurred. 

Of course steps must be taken to prevent future mishaps. But what should be demanded first is a new election, which includes all those who one way or another were illegally excluded from voting. It may be that Sanders would still come in second. But even so, it is the assault on democracy that matters most. It would be a serious mistake to postpone things because the future is always in the future. New York City's Election Board is notorious in how it conducts elections. Among its many "mistakes" was providing the wrong dates that the primary election was being held. Mistakes and inaccuracies are rife with the Board. The most appropriate way of addressing the blatant misconduct of the Election Board is to demand a new election NOW. 

What is particularly worrisome is the incredible and, unfortunately, successful assault on democracy, which in this instance includes illegally stripping citizens of their right to vote. Just depending on the courts to change this abysmal situation will not work. 

To assure a genuinely democratic election that would recapture both the right to vote and the assurance that all votes will be properly counted would require mass demonstrations and other direct action strategies. We cannot count on elected officials alone to lead us to the green pastures. Most important, people must take to the streets, which is our turf and where we could win. Progressives should not play into the hands of those who prefer the status quo even if it is illegal and undemocratic.