We Demand Criminal Investigations of the Mass Purging and Voter Suppression in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primaries

We Demand Election Integrity & the Rule of Law

What kind of democracy is it when hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens are wrongly denied their right to vote by government officials – and then those same officials get only a slap on the wrist.

On April 19, 2016, thousands of New Yorkers intending to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders in New York’s Presidential primary were turned away at the polls. Many of these voters were citizens of color. They were told they were not registered to vote, even though they knew they were. In late 2017, the New York City Board of Elections finally admitted to purging more than 200,000 registered voters from its voting rolls in the days leading up to the primary.

This admission was the result of a civil lawsuit brought by Election Justice USA against New York State and another brought by Common Cause New York, joined by the U.S. Justice Department and the New York Attorney General, against the NYC Board of Elections. In the consent decree settling these lawsuits, the NYC Board of Elections promised it would not engage in such mass purging again.

But such promises are not enough. The voting franchise is our most sacred right as Americans. Millions of Americans have fought and died for the right to vote – to extend the franchise to white men without property, to African American men, to women of every race, and finally to young citizens reaching adulthood.

It is completely unacceptable to sweep this mass purge of voters under the rug with mere promises not to do so again. Such promises are reminiscent of the toothless consent decrees entered into by huge Wall Street banks for their predatory and fraudulent practices that led to the 2008 financial collapse. Without criminal prosecutions, there is little incentive to comply with the law in the future. Deterrence requires criminal law enforcement. The absence of prosecutions creates a “moral hazard” that only encourages even greater lawbreaking in the future. We either have “equal justice under law” or we are a banana republic.

Government officials must not be allowed to deny American citizens their most sacred right to vote with impunity. Voter suppression is always unacceptable, no matter the party affiliations of those being denied the right to vote or those responsible for the suppression.

We demand that the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the New York Attorney General institute criminal investigations of the NYC Board of Elections. In particular, we demand to know if the NYC Board of Elections purged voters in coordination with any political campaigns and/or with Democratic Party officials -- whether national, state, or local party officials – including any coordination to target citizens who had been identified through the Democratic Party’s NGP VAN computerized voter database as likely Bernie Sanders supporters.

Please sign our petition now to request U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to begin criminal investigations of the New York City Board of Elections for mass purging of citizens from its list of registered voters in the 2016 Presidential primary.


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