Thursday, January 12, 2017

Justice Department Says NYC BOE Violated Federal Law in Brooklyn Voter Purge

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking on the New York City Board of Elections (BOE) for improperly purging nearly 120,000 Brooklyn voters before the April 2016 Presidential Primary.

In a motion filed in Federal Court Thursday, the DOJ claims the Board violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 when it removed those voters from the rolls.

It's the first time Federal Authorities have taken a position on the Purge, which was first reported on the eve of the Primary vote in April. Numerous Elected officials and Advocates had requested Federal intervention since.

The Case was originally filed in Federal Court in Brooklyn last November on behalf of the Good Government group Common Cause, which advocates for individuals' voting rights, along with two named plaintiffs. Lawyers for the plaintiffs also sought intervention from the Justice Department, citing the reporting.

The Suit challenges the Board’s Removal of Voters from the Registration Rolls in violation of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. The Law prohibits removing Voters from the Rolls unless the person has failed to Vote in two successive Federal Elections and has failed to respond to a notice from the Board indicating that their Registration will be cancelled. The Government said that some Voters had in fact Voted in prior Elections, and in other cases the notice itself was improperly handled.

The Board mysteriously purged 120,000 Brooklyn Voters from the Rolls prior to the hotly contested Primary between Clinton and Challenger Sanders last April. The Board then said it would reinstate those Voters in time for last summer's Congressional Primaries and the fall General Election for President. It was also reported that the Purge disproportionately affected Latino Voters in Brooklyn's 7th Congressional District.

Elected Officials and Advocates cited the reporting in their complaints to the Federal Government and the Court. They also argued that more Voters may have been improperly purged on other dates, and that the problem persists.

The Court Case describes the situation of two Foreign Service workers, Benjamin Buscher and Sean Hennessey, the two named plaintiffs, who keep a permanent residence in Brooklyn while they work overseas for the State Department. In October of 2016, both men applied for Absentee Ballots to vote in the General Election, according to the complaint.

When those Absentee Ballots did not arrive, they contacted the Kings County Board of Elections Office and were told that their Registrations were no longer valid and that they had missed the deadline to update their Registration.

The plaintiffs contacted the Nonprofit Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, which learned that the Board had removed the plaintiffs more than two years before.

The case was brought on behalf of the plaintiffs by the Lawyers Committee along with LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the law firm Dechert LLP. Five additional named plaintiffs have been added to the lawsuit.

The City Board of Elections had no comment, and the City Law Department, which is defending the Board, says the matter is under review.

In a letter to the Judge, the Justice Department said it is in talks with the Board about an appropriate remedy and will have an answer by February 6th.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon

No comments: