Antonio Gonzalez of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) is no stranger to exit polling misses. Gonzalez ran a national exit poll of Latino voters in 2004 that proved more correct than Edison Research’s polling for the National Election Pool, but has defended Edison against claims that they misread the Latina and Latino vote in the Nevada caucuses on the Democratic side in 2016. Last week I asked Gonzalez why exit polls are missing so badly for primaries between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. “The exit polls,” he believes, “were accurate in who actually turned out, in who tried to vote.”
A woman named Chloe (whose personal information is otherwise redacted below) describes registering as a new voter more than a week before New York’s deadline with the Department of Motor Vehicles. In spite of persistent efforts, including a record of more than a dozen calls and emails stretching to page fifteen of Exhibit A in Election Justice USA (EJUSA)’s lawsuit filed in New York City, Chloe still has not been registered as a Democrat.
Included in well over a hundred of pages of similar proofs in the Exhibits, another denied voter named Daniel provided a copy of an email sent by Debbie Wasserman Schultz to registered Democrats on April 19, the day of the New York election, encouraging them to get out and vote. Daniel’s registration was purged or switched in the 24 hours before he tried, and was denied, the right to vote.
While Gonzalez attributes much of the trouble in New York and Arizona to confusion over who was eligible to vote, CounterPunch has reviewed details and supporting evidence from databases of voters wrongly denied the right to vote in closed primary contests between Clinton and Sanders. Three databases with records of over a thousand cases show that would-be voters who followed proper procedures to register as Democrats were disenfranchised – either denied the right to vote or forced to vote provisionally or by affidavit.
For those who did vote provisionally or by affidavit, the vast majority of their votes have not counted. This includes 91,000 uncounted affidavit ballots in New York City alone and 20,000 uncounted provisional ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona. For Arizona, CounterPunch reviewed each individual record in a 151 person database collected and published by the online collective Anonymous. Details of 716 entries in a denied-voter database are summarized in Exhibit I of EJUSA’s New York City lawsuit. The third database includes records from would-be voters experiencing registration problems in a wide variety of states from California (which does not vote until June 7th) to Pennsylvania as well as more than one hundred cases, from counties throughout New York, that have not yet been incorporated into EJUSA’s lawsuits. EJUSA gave us limited access to the databases for verification purposes.
The impacts of registrations denied or switched and of voters improperly purged from voting rolls, even when they followed stated laws and procedures, goes well beyond those 100,000+ uncounted ballots, however. Thousands more voters appear to have been denied ballots altogether or simply stayed home when online State records told them they would not be allowed to have their vote counted. The only available conclusion is that forces supporting the campaign to elect Hillary Clinton were willing to use any means necessary – legal, gray, or flatly illegal – to put down the Bernie Sanders insurgency that threatened to upend Clinton’s coronation as the presumptive Democratic nominee.
CounterPunch has obtained a copy of the lawsuit filed by EJUSA in New York City and the accompanying Exhibits. Together with the databases and emerging story, they paint a picture of a Democratic machine every bit as corrupt as the Tammany bosses of the 1920’s and 1930’s who opposed Franklin Delano Roosevelt at every turn.
Exhibit I of the lawsuit includes these summary facts of the 716 entry EJUSA database:
- 97 respondents “clearly misunderstood New York’s registration deadlines”
- 619 respondents who did understand the deadlines represented nearly every New York County
- 401 respondents registered from 2012-2016 and legally should not have been subject to voter roll purging
- 303 registered during the current campaign in either 2015 or 2016 and before the relevant deadlines
- 140 of the 619 were switched, without knowledge or consent, to no longer registered
- 289 of the 619 had been switched, without knowledge or consent, to independent
- 79 of the 619 had been switched, without knowledge or consent, to a different party
- 27 of the 619 were simply unlisted at their polling site even though properly registered and active
- Of those who reported to EJUSA after election day 75.9% were forced to vote by affidavit ballot, 10.3% were turned away by poll workers entirely without voting, 4.1% went before a judge and were granted a court order to vote regularly, 8.2% saw their registrations had been switched or purged and did not attempt to vote. 1.4% reported never receiving requested absentee ballots
According to Stewart McCauley, who helped collect the data and analyzed it by affidavit for Exhibit I, EJUSA has found that “[t]here are four broad methodologies that were used” to disenfranchise New York voters, the first two of which were also present in Arizona. “Two by hackers (possibly), and two that had to have been carried out by BoE [Board of Elections] officials and/or employees:
- Logging in (most likely after identifying the voter’s candidate of choice) to the BoE database remotely and tampering with registration records, including back-dating of changes
- Crudely forged hand signatures to alter party affiliation via paper forms
- BoE “nuclear” approach: actively purging eligible voters through a variety of methods, including intentional bouncing of maintenance letters (but note that the majority of our respondents/plaintiffs could not legally be removed as it has been less than five years since they registered)
- BoE officials and employees actively neglecting to register new voters”
Tomorrow, I will be taking a closer look at the possibilities (or not) that election machines have been hacked and rigged. For now, McCauley’s suggestion that New York’s Board of Elections may have been hacked is bolstered by evidence presented at the end of Anonymous’ report on Arizona. On the last day for new registrations in New York, Anonymous discovered an invalid security certificate, evidence of a Man-in-the-middle attack, on the site used for online registrations.
CounterPunch‘s analysis of each entry in the Anonymous database confirms that the primary target for registrations switched without the knowledge or consent of the intended voter overwhelmingly affected supporters of Bernie Sanders. In Arizona and New York, dozens upon dozens of cases, like Chloe’s and Daniel’s, include proof from citizens that they were or should have been registered Democrats. Having reviewed mountains of evidence, we do not see any possible non-nefarious reasons for more than a very very small handful of these cases.
Yesterday, I wrote about various reasons exit polling could be so far off in various states. While Arizona did not have exit polling and other affected states seem to have had these issues on a far smaller order than New York, it is worth looking at what the outcome would be if nearly all of the 91,000 ballots in New York City were from voters who should have been allowed to vote and would have voted for Sanders. (These assumptions are hypothetical for the purpose of testing the exit poll miss only; a reliable NYC BoE precinct worker we spoke with told us that the majority of affidavit ballots cast in his precinct were by voters unaware of the registration deadlines.)
Even if all 91,000 ballots counted and were for Sanders, the exit polling in New York would still have missed by around 6%. While some of these issues affected counties surrounding New York City and beyond, they do not seem to be the only issues that caused the exit poll miss in New York. As I wrote yesterday, even to the extent that these issues explain exit polling misses in New York, they do not help us understand anything about huge ten-point plus misses in open primaries or mixed-primaries with same day registration allowed.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit around these issues in Arizona appears to have floundered by including just one plaintiff rather than hundreds, as in the New York lawsuit. I am told there are no plans as of now to appeal.
While SVERP’s Antonio Gonzalez thinks the major issue in Arizona was voter suppression “consciously, or unconsciously” by Republican state officials, he is very clear about what the remedy should be:
“In my view, the Arizona primary, the Democratic primary, the Republican primary, should be thrown out and a new election should be held.”
According to Gonzalez, “the suppression of tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Arizona voters” was a violation of the Voting Rights Act as it had a “disproportionate affect on Latino” voters. “Typically, Latino voters vote more heavily on election day” rather than in early or absentee balloting. Seventy percent of Latino voters in the state are in Maricopa county, according to Gonzalez, and the Democratic (and Republican) party should not seat delegates from Arizona: “Those delegates should be thrown out, the awarded delegates based on a fraudulent vote should not be allowed. Either that delegation should be disqualified in total at the party convention or you have to have a new election.”
Unless Democrats or the New York City Board of Election can provide compelling evidence contrary to Election Justice USA’s findings, New York’s delegation also should not be seated at the Democratic Convention in July.