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NYC Board of Elections Suspends 2nd Official, Delays Hillary Clinton v. Bernie Sanders Results Certification

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New York City’s Board of Elections (BOE) was expected to certify results of the primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at 3:30pm Thursday. Instead, around 5:30pm BOE Director Michael Ryan officially announced the suspension-without-pay of a second high-ranking Board employee from Brooklyn and delayed certification of the results at least until 1:30pm on Friday, according to reporting from Gothamist journalist Nathan Tempey.

Developments over the course of the day Thursday were a bit tangled. On Wednesday, the BOE signaled that it would go ahead with certification Thursday afternoon even before listening to angry outbursts from dozens of residents denied the right to vote. Around ninety minutes before the results were to be certified, Election Justice USA reported that certification was to go ahead as planned even though a second Brooklyn BOE official, Betty Ann Canizio, was to be fired (the later announcement from the BOE said suspended). Forty minutes later, Election Justice posted an interview with their lawyer Jonathan Clarke over at The Young Turks with the following details:

Election Justice served legal documents to the NYC BOE along with the Boards for Nassau and Suffolk County (Long Island) seeking a restraining order to delay certification of results until the mess created by, among other things, a purge of 123,000 voters from Brooklyn’s Democratic rolls could be sorted out. Election Justice had previously sued on behalf of 200 voters from Brooklyn and beyond who said their voter registrations had been surreptitiously switched from Democrat to something else without their consent. Election Justice temporarily backed down from its restraining order request after the BOE quickly called Election Justice and said that it was attempting to meet the demands of the lawsuit by individually deciding whether to count each affidavit ballot cast by voters who were told that their names were not on New York City voter rolls. The Board promised to look at the voter registration change history of every voter forced to vote by affidavit.

It is unclear how long this might take as the New York Daily News has reported that there were more than 121,000 affidavit ballots, around 12% of all ballots cast in New York City on the Democratic side.

A prominent New York Times column suggests that those grousing about potential election fraud are part of a “Cult of Sore Losers.” Meanwhile, the Times reporting on the suspension of two Board of Elections officials has been minimal at best. The Times initially loaded a perfunctory 273 word article on the suspension of the first official, Diane Haslett-Rudiano, then buried a longer article on page A-16 under a headline which began with the word “Routine.” Both articles insisted that no voter disenfranchisement had occurred. As of 10:30am Friday, the Times had yet to report on the dismissal of Canizio or the delayed results.

The Daily News, New York PostNPRNY1/Time Warner, Gothamist, and The Villager all have related articles. NBC’s article on Canizio’s firing focuses on the “racially disparate impact” New York City’s voter suppression exhibits, particularly for Asian Americans. Perhaps the Times will eventually run with the brief Associated Press piece on the matter since it is a thing of such minor note in their home city.

It’s easy to mock people as sore losers, apparently, when your paper looks the other way at multiple heads rolling amidst allegations and lawsuits related to serious voter fraud.

The Times’ outgoing public editor Margaret Sullivan has already dinged the paper at least twice for election coverage heavily biased toward Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

At this point, we will have ample opportunity to see if New York City’s Board of Elections Chief Enforcement Officer Risa Sugarman is the fiercely independent watchdog she has claimed to be after recommending criminal charges around the financing of Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s most recent campaign or whether, as suggested, she’s another part of the Democratic machine with loyalties primarily to Governor Cuomo.

The allegations of fraudulently switched voter registrations, almost exclusively affecting Bernie Sanders’ supporters, echo similar claims from other states, especially Arizona. At this point, it seems unlikely that any level of evidence could cause major outlets to take claims of election fraud in the Democratic primaries seriously.

CounterPunch, meanwhile, has been speaking with voting officials in multiple states, veteran hackers, academic election experts, and exit pollsters. We will begin a full-fledged series on claims of Democratic election fraud, some of which may be debunked, early next week.

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Doug Johnson Hatlem is best known for his work as a street pastor and advocate with Toronto’s homeless population from 2005-2013. He is now a film producer and free-lance writer based in Chicago.

CounterPunch Magazine

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