Clerk Suspended Amid NYC Elections Probe

     BROOKLYN (CN) — A head honcho with the New York City Board of Elections was suspended without pay Thursday amid an investigation of the 100,000 Brooklyn voters dropped from the rolls and unable to vote in the state primary.
     The Executive Committee of the Board of Elections in the City of New York voted Thursday to suspend Chief Clerk Diane Haslett-Rudiano without pay effective immediately as the state and city investigates why 125,000 voters were cut from the rolls.
     In addition to benching Haslett-Rudiano, the board has vowed to “fully cooperate” with the city and state’s investigations.
     The controversy erupted Tuesday, hours before New Yorkers handed Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and her likely Republican challenger Donald Trump the state’s highly coveted delegate votes in the primary election.
     New York City comptroller Scott Stringer, who acts as the city’s chief financial officer, confirmed that more than 125,000 Brooklyn voters were removed from the rolls, miscategorized by party and shut out of the democratic process because polling spots opened late, or not at all, and were poorly staffed.
     Stringer announced that his office will audit the Board of Elections, and New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman jumped into the fray soon thereafter to announce that his office too will launch an investigation.
     In a letter to the board’s executive director Michael Ryan, Stringer complained of “faulty ballot scanners and polling locations that opened late (or not at all) to poorly staffed polling sites and voters whose registrations were seemingly purged from the rolls without effective notification.” (Parentheses in original.)
     The BOE and Schneiderman’s office confirmed Haslett-Rudiano’s suspension amid the investigations. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press team meanwhile reissued their statement from April 19.
     “These errors … indicate that additional major reforms will be needed to the Board of Elections and in the state law governing it,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We will hold the BOE commissioners responsible for ensuring that the board and its borough officers properly conduct the election process to ensure that voters are not disenfranchised.”
     Stringer’s statement from earlier this week meanwhile lamented that, “election after election, reports come in of people who are inexplicably purged from the polls, told to vote at the wrong location or unable to get in to their polling site.”
     “As I am sure you would agree, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, all New Yorkers deserve an electoral system that is free, fair and efficient — not one riddled with chaos and confusion,” Stringer added.
     The confusion at the polls came on the heels of a federal lawsuit Monday night by 14 Long Island Democrats after they allegedly learned the state had mysteriously lost their party affiliations. They took umbrage with New York’s closed-voting system that lets only registered members of a political party vote in that party’s primary.
     On Friday, Schneiderman issued a warning that the “administration of the voter rolls in Brooklyn is of major concern to our office and is a focus of our investigation.”

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