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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Saturday, August 19, 2017

In the 2017 Presidential Election in New York State, more than 168,000 people cast their votes for President of the United States on paper ballots, as those are still currently being used.  However, those particular voters were not listed on the voter rolls….and more than 78,000 of them were discounted by the City of New York Board of Elections. However, despite there being a law requiring that these voters be notified in time during the election to dispute the Boards actions, it’s recently come to light that none of the voters whose votes were disqualified received any notification in time at all

One such voter was Lauren Wolfe from Brooklyn Heights. She voted at Joralemon Street on Election Day, as that was where her poll site address was listed online.  However, at the Joralemon Street poll site, workers there directed her to a voting site a few blocks away. Neither site ended up having her name on the voter rolls and, after making the trip back between the two voting sites several times, she eventually cast a vote on a paper affidavit ballot.  She stated, "I said [to the poll workers], ‘Well, I don’t want to do that unless you can promise me my vote is going to count.’ And the woman said to me, ‘I promise it will, 100 percent.’ ”

But, four months after the election, Lauren Wolfe received a letter from the New York Board of Elections stating that her affidavit ballot vote was discounted because she cast it at the incorrect poll site. Understandably upset, she contacted Common Cause, who work to combat government corruption, for aid.  "For the first time, I understood what it could mean to be disenfranchised — whether this was unintentional or not, it still made me feel very distant from the democratic process,” she’s stated.

New York law states that the Board of Elections are definitely supposed to alert voters within the state by first class mail “immediately” if they intend to discount someone’s vote. That voter then has 20 days to question the Election Board’s decision in court. Not one voter in New York was notified in time to appeal the Board’s decisions in the 2017 Presidential Election.  According to the head of Common Cause, Susan Lerner, "What we see here in New York City is that the voters are denied any chance of defending their own ballot.  They have no recourse. They've simply been disenfranchised. And that is scandalous and completely unacceptable.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, along with Common Cause and the Justice Department, are engaged with levying a lawsuit against the New York City Board of Elections for how they mismanaged the voter rolls in federal court.

By: Anat Ghelber