Voter purge mystery for New York primary


ON the morning of the New York primary elections, April 19 2016, tens of thousands of Democrats found themselves not appearing on the voters’ roll in Brooklyn.
Between November 2015 and April 2016, over 63 000 Democratic voters in Kings County — the most populous county in New York, which houses Brooklyn — were removed from the county’s voters’ rolls.
To be moved from the ‘active’ list of voters to the ‘inactive’ list, a registered voter has to fail to participate in two consecutive federal elections, or for four years.
The New York City Board of Elections told WNYC that voters are often removed from the rolls due to deaths or relocation.
And any felons incarcerated over that five-month period would have lost their voting rights.
But as the data shows there were only 9 154 new inactive voters over those five months, while 45 513 voters are still unaccounted for.
This voter purge is only the latest election flub in this year’s New York primary, which has been plagued by irregularities all year.
Last week, the New York State Board of Elections mailed absentee ballots with inaccurate information to voters, forcing them to issue another mailing at the cost of taxpayers to correct its mistake.
And last month, the board mailed forms to newly-registered voters that incorrectly listed the date of the primary as September 13 2016, rather than April 19 2016.
King County contains the highest number of those purged from voters’ rolls in Brooklyn.
Actually 125 000 Brooklyn voters were removed from rolls, as many discover they needed to declare as Republican or Democrat back on October 9 2015 in order to vote in this week’s primary elections.
Other registered voters arrived at polling stations claiming they had met all the requirements to switch party affiliation in time, yet still found themselves missing from the voters’ rolls.
New York is one of several states that limit participation in the primary election to those registered in advance with a party, but its six-month cut-off window is by far the strictest in the country.
In a tongue-in-cheek manner, I would say, issues of voter education is a notion that is reserved for the ‘jungles’ of Africa where the poor natives need to be informed on various processes and procedures they should take care of before they vote.
Developments in New York clearly indicate that even in America elections can be frustrating, inconveniencing and confusing to the voter.
I sincerely hope that this is not a case of ‘funny voting schemes’ that we witnessed that year, when we ended up with George Bush Jnr as president of the free world.
Meanwhile, in Cuba, former leader Fidel Castro bade farewell to Cuba’s Communist Party on Tuesday 19 April 2016, telling party members he would soon die and urging them to fulfil his communist vision.
According to official press reports, Castro’s birthday is on August 13 and he will be turning 90.
Speaking at the close of the four-day party Congress, Castro is quoted as having said: “Soon, I will be 90, our turn comes to us all, but the ideas of Cuban communism will endure.”
Castro’s speech capped the party congress, during which the Communist leadership railed against the threat of introducing other political parties, acknowledged the need for nimbler economic management and accused the US of using the private sector as a Trojan Horse intended to undermine Cuba’s government.
While Castro seemed to take his leave on Tuesday, others in his cohort signalled their intentions to stay put.
The Communist Party announced that Castro’s brother, President Raúl Castro (84) and his second-in-command, José Ramón Machado Ventura (85) would continue to lead the party for at least part of another five-year term.
Even among those who support the socialist system, there is a sense that younger leaders, like Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, the country’s first vice-president, who turned 56 on Wednesday, April 20 2016, are being passed over.
While the party leadership remained the same, some protégés of Díaz-Canel were appointed to senior Communist Party positions.
The push for increased youth participation in government is not an issue that is being faced by Cuba alone.
There is a growing push, not just from the United Nations, but various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for increased youth participation in the political and governance processes.
According to a UNDP report titled, ‘Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Election Cycle’ young people between the ages of 15 and 25 constitute a fifth of the world’s population.
While they are often involved in informal, politically relevant processes, such as activism or civic engagement, they are not formally represented in national political institutions such as parliaments and many of them do not participate in elections.
United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has said: “Youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making at local, national and global levels.”


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