This story is over 5 years old.

The VICE Guide to the 2016 Election

The New York Primary Has Been a Chaotic Mess

After reports of purged voter rolls, broken voting machines, and closed polling stations, officials have vowed to investigate what went wrong in New York's primary elections.
Photo via Flickr user justgrimes

Broken machines, closed polling stations, and other problems turned Tuesday's New York state primary into a disaster, and local officials have promised an investigation to determine just how the vote went so wrong.

Reports emerged Tuesday that more than 120,000 voters had been purged from the Democratic Party's rolls in Brooklyn, and no one seemed to know why. The issues were coupled with brewing frustration over the state's closed primary system, in which only residents must pre-register with a political party in order to cast a primary ballot.


While some voters were angry at having missed the October registration deadline to vote in the primary—as two of Donald Trump's kids did—others claimed they had filed the correct paperwork, but were kicked off voter rolls due to irregularities in the Board of Elections' system. On Monday, the Long Island-based group Election Justice USA, filed a lawsuit demanding the state issue a blanket order allowing its more than 200 plaintiffs to vote. As the primary election commenced, voters continued to take their complaints to court, reportedly lining up at the Brooklyn office of the Board of Elections to appeal their cases before a judge.

According to the New York Daily News, other voting issues Tuesday included broken machines, stations that failed to open on time, and poll workers urging voters to support Bernie Sanders. By 4 PM, a hotline set up to report voting problems had received more than 500 calls.

New York's issues follow voting chaos in other states this primary season, in many cases caused by new voter-ID laws and cuts to election budgets. It's not clear why New York has had so many difficulties, but even before polls closed officials were promising to get to the bottom of this dysfunction.

"There is nothing more sacred in our nation than the right to vote, yet election after election, reports come in of people who were inexplicably purged from the polls, told to vote at the wrong location or unable to get in to their polling site," New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a statement Tuesday. "The people of New York City have lost confidence that the Board of Elections can effectively administer elections and we intend to find out why the BOE is so consistently disorganized, chaotic, and inefficient."

Follow VICE Politics on Twitter.