Latinos voters were affected the most by a Brooklyn voter purge that saw Hillary Clinton win the Democratic primary in New York over Bernie Sanders back in April. The revelation comes as Sanders' supporters have complained about voter suppression in states with primaries closed to independent voters and have refused to back Clinton in the November general election.
Of the 120,000 voters removed from the borough's voter rolls ahead of the primary, many were from neighborhoods with large Hispanic populations, according to a WNYC analysis published Tuesday. About 14 percent of voters in Hispanic neighborhoods were take off the voter rolls, compared with 9 percent of voters in all other areas. Among voters with names deemed Hispanic by the Census, about 15 percent were removed from the voter rolls, compared with 9.5 percent of voters with non-Hispanic surnames.
New York City Board of Elections director Michael Ryan said no voters were disenfranchised but has conceded there were irregularities. The purged voters were supposed to be told they were being removed from the voter rolls after having not voted in two consecutive national elections.
There were other problems. Voters who are removed from the rolls can typically still have their votes counted after submitting an affidavit ballot. But in the New York primary, they were denied that option.
Democratic Rep. Nydia Velazquez, whose district overlaps with the Hispanic neighborhoods in Bushwick, East New York, Williamsburg and Sunset Park, said if voters were intentionally removed from the voter rolls, it would be an act of voter suppression. Ahead of the primary, Latino voters were divided, 48 percent backing Sanders and 47 percent backing Clinton.
"How could they purge 120,000 and no one knew that this was happening? It’s just, by looking at that map I could say, ‘Hey, I’ve been targeted, or my district has been targeted,’ just by looking at it," she told local media.
Clinton, who served as a New York senator, won the Democratic primary in April with 57.9 percent of the vote. Sanders, who was born in Brooklyn, had 42.1 percent of the vote. Clinton won about 60 percent of the Brooklyn vote.
A Bloomberg Politics national poll of likely voters in November’s election determined this week that only 55 percent of Sanders supporters will back Clinton for president. About 22 percent said they would vote for Republican Donald Trump, and 18 percent lean toward Libertarian Gary Johnson.
Clinton's campaign has argued that she won the Democratic primary contest fairly. In states where primary contests were open to independent voters, Clinton won 14 primaries, while Sanders was in first place in just nine of those states.
Vox put it this way in May: Sanders' campaign, "was, in essence, an attempted hostile takeover of a major political party. That's not impossible (again, see Trump), but it's difficult, and Sanders just didn't get the job done. He wasn't cheated, but he was disadvantaged by a process that meant he was fighting an uphill battle the whole way."