Buckle up, America. The voting demolition derby that was the New York primary on Tuesday was merely the crash test for the coming voting wreckage in November: a carefully planned pile up.
First, live from New York".
Francesca Rheannon, whom you may know as the host of Writers' Voice radio, did the civic thing by volunteering to work the polls in a town east of New York City.
"I just got off my 17 hour shift as an election official. In my election district, out of 166 Democratic voters, 39 were forced to file affidavit ballots. The last [election] I worked in, exactly ONE voter needed an affidavit ballot."
An affidavit ballot (called a "provisional" ballot in most other states) is a kind of placebo ballot. You get to pretend to vote -- but the chance it will actually be counted is "well, good luck. If your name is wrongly removed, kiss your vote -- affidavit or not--goodbye.
Rheannon's experience was hardly unique. In Brooklyn alone, over 125,000 names were quietly scrubbed from the voter rolls in the five months leading up to the primary.
To put it in prospective, the number of voters purged equals about half of the number who got to vote. Scott Stringer, the New York City Comptroller will now audit the Elections Board--now that the election is over. Hey thanks, Scott.
Neal Rosenstein, the lead voting rights attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group, which plans legal action, notes that part of the problem is that partisan hacks sit on the Elections board in New York--hacks from both parties.
Brooklyn is under the control of the Kings County Democratic Party, one of the last of the big city machines. Would they attack their opponents' voter registrations? I don't have to guess: in my wasted younger days, I was in the Brooklyn County elections office with the hacks where we were assigned by the Party to challenge voters' signatures en masse. (I wouldn't and nearly lost my state job.)
Am I saying the machine "fixed" the election for Hillary Clinton? Without further investigation, it would be irresponsible for me to pronounce judgment. Some of the purged may have moved, some may have died. But those who waited in line only to fill out affidavit ballots are unlikely to be deceased.
But whether party hacks shoplifted New York or not, that's small potatoes. Scrubbing voter rolls is not a "New York value." It's a nationwide epidemic, a disease eating away at the heart of our democracy.
Voting officials learned a lesson from Katherine Harris the Florida Secretary of State who purged Black voters in 2000. They learned how to repeat the purge, expand it and carefully hide it.
I've been traveling the nation, from Ohio to Georgia to Arizona and back--and finding the voter-roll purging machinery running at full speed.