Common Cause New York and the city’s voters scored a big victory today as the New York City Board of Elections admitted that it illegally removed the names of more than 200,000 people from the city’s voter rolls last year.
The admission and a series of steps the elections board has agreed to take to prevent future illegal purges are part of an out-of-court settlement of a suit brought by Common Cause in November 2016.
"I see their willingness to grapple with this problem as a significant step forward," Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, told public radio station WNYC.
The purges occurred in advance of New York’s 2016 presidential primary. In addition to Common Cause New York, the plaintiffs included two State Department employees who are New York residents but left the city temporarily as part of their work. While maintaining their legal residence in New York, the men were purged by the Elections Board after it received change of address notices for the men from the Post Office.
The consent decree gives the elections board 90 cays to provide the court with a new plan for managing the city’s voter rolls. The board also agreed to review the status of every voter removed from its lists dating since July 1, 2013, to identify those removed illegally. Those voters’ registrations will be restored to the rolls unless they’ve already been updated.
The board also agreed to establish a process for recording, tracking, investigating and resolving to voter complaints about the status of their registrations. The Board will also be subject to monthly and annual reporting requirements, along with semi-annual audits.
Issues: Voting and Elections