Ever since New York State’s presidential primary in April, officials from the city Board of Elections have been trying to explain what led to two illegal voter purges that removed more than 120,000 voters from the rolls.WNYC also analyzed the purge list by surname and found that the surnames with the highest purge rates were Santiago, Soto, Vega, Rivera, Colon, Torres, Ortiz, Perez, Ramos, Cruz, and Gonzalez. (See the complete list at the link.)
Board officials have said repeatedly that the purges were a mistake. The two top clerks at the Brooklyn office have been suspended without pay since shortly after the primary. Executive Director Michael Ryan announced earlier this month that the board would return all the purged voters to the rolls in time for Tuesday's congressional primary.
... Under the state Freedom of Information Law, WNYC obtained the list of every voter the board says was removed from the books in a major purge over two days last summer. When mapped by election district, our analysis shows that Hispanic voters were disproportionately purged from the rolls when compared to all other groups....
The concentrations of purged voters generally align with election districts where the majority of the population is Hispanic, based on the population of individual blocks that make up each election district in the 2010 Census.
In fact, 13.9 percent of voters in Hispanic-majority election districts were purged, compared to 8.7 percent of voters in all other election districts. That means voters in Hispanic-majority election districts were removed at a rate about 60 percent greater than everyone else.
The purge absolutely was unlawful:
No voter should have been removed from the rolls before that voter was first designated “inactive” - a classification strictly delineated by election law. A voter is classified as inactive only if the post office returns the annual notice, and then the voter does not participate in two subsequent federal elections. The board is only supposed to send an intent to cancel notice to voters who are already on the inactive list. The Brooklyn staff skipped the inactive voter step when it conducted the 2015 purge, Ryan has said.But while it's not clear why the purge happened, it's preposterous to suggest that it was part of a sinister conspiracy to deny Bernie Sanders a victory in New York State.
Here's one version of that conspiracy theory:
... New York’s flagship public radio station, WNYC, reported that tens of thousand of registered Democrats had been purged from the voter rolls. The New York State Attorney General opened an investigation into how that could have happened, and Diane Haslett-Rudiano, a Brooklyn county clerk working at the New York City Board of Elections, was soon suspended without pay.But that makes sense only if you think that pro-Clinton conspirators would purge voters in a pro-Clinton voting bloc. Exit polls revealed that Clinton won Hispanic voters in New York State by 28 points.
Some Sanders supporters quickly noticed something suspicious about Diane Haslett-Rudiano. This was not the first time she had been in the New York City press. A few years before, a real estate deal had made her a multimillionaire, when she sold a severely dilapidated apartment building in Manhattan’s Upper West Side for $6.6 million, despite having only bought it for $5,000 in 1976.
Curiously, the buyer in that deal was Dana Lowey Luttway -- the daughter of Nita Lowey, Democratic Congresswoman for New York’s 17th District, a strong ally of Hillary Clinton -- and a superdelegate to the upcoming convention in Philadelphia.
All this begged a rather unsettling question: Was that real estate deal for 118 West 76th Street, giving a massive windfall in exchange for a property that was described at the time as “an ol’ bag of rats,” really just a front for a payment to a well-situated election official, who could, when the time was ripe, rig the election for Lowey’s ally Hillary Clinton?
Yes, there was a poll just prior to the New York primary showing that Hispanic voters were split nationwide between Clinton and Sanders:
A poll released Thursday shows Latino registered voters are relatively divided between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as the New York primary looms.But if you were going to carry out a sinister plot to purge voters in order to win an election, why would you purge them primarily from a voting bloc in which you were either leading or tied? Why not purge by age? (That exit poll says Sanders won 81% of 18-to-24-year-olds in the New York primary.) Why not purge voters in hipster neighborhoods? Why purge the Santiagos and the Colons?
Latinos voters were essentially divided 48 percent for Sanders and 47 percent for Clinton in the poll conducted March 30-April 3 by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with The Atlantic.
Please, can we put this conspiracy theory to rest?
UPDATE, WEDNESDAY: WNYC posts a follow-up informing us that the purge affected almost exclusively voters over the age of 29. Here's part of a graphic at the link. On the left you see the percentage of Brooklyn voters who share each birth year. On the right you see the percentage in each birth year who were purged:
Go to the link to see the full chart. Voters of every age from 30 to 101 were more likely to be purged than voters under 30. (That's because voters 29 and under are much less likely to have gone from active to inactive over a period of years.)
If you were trying to screw Bernie Sanders out of a victory through skulduggery, this is the exact opposite of what you'd do.