NYC Primary Certification: how many affidavit ballots were counted?

(originally appeared on Medium)

Overall, only 25%

I’ve compiled the figures here for public use and reference.

The results of the 2016 New York City Presidential Primary were certified on Friday, May 6, despite an enormous public outcry about the number of people unable to vote or forced to vote via provisional ballot, or, in New York parlance, affidavit ballot. Some of the disenfranchisement was due to “ordinary” problems like broken machines, missing ballots, missing poll workers and late-opening polling places, but the majority was due to people being incorrectly and illegally removed from the voter rolls. Voters in this predicament who went to the polls anyway, or who did not discover their changed status until Election Day, could vote using affidavit ballots, although many were unaware of this right and simply left, and others requested affidavit ballots but were refused them by poll workers.

In spite of all these obstacles, over 120,000 affidavit ballots were cast. The next step in these votes being counted was verification for eligibility. The public was not allowed to witness this sorting process. The ballots that made it through this round of culling were then included in the final vote tally.

These figures are from the New York City Board of Elections Summary, available here. To see the final tallies, go to the “Democratic President Citywide” results for each borough, click on the recap, and scroll to the last page of the document.

In that document, you can also see the results for individual districts — helpful if you happened to be a poll worker on primary day and witnessed the voting firsthand.

Below are the final figures for affidavit ballots cast, and affidavit ballots allowed in final certified tally. Disclaimer: I got my figures for affidavit ballots cast from this NYDY piece, not from my own reporting (those should also be available online somewhere, but they are not included, as far as I can tell, in the Election Results Summary).

Total affidavit ballots cast in 4/19 primary: 121,056

“Eligible” affidavit ballots included in certified final count: 30,058

Percentage of cast affidavit ballots certified: 25% (rounded)

Brooklyn (Kings Co.)

  • Total: 37,214
  • “eligible”: 8,364
  • percentage: 22%

Manhattan (New York Co.)

  • Total: 30,161
  • “eligible”: 8,077
  • percentage: 27%

Queens (Queens Co.)

  • Total: 26,131
  • “eligible”: 5,352
  • percentage: 20%

Staten Island (Richmond Co.)

  • Total: 4,566
  • “eligible”: 429
  • percentage: 9%

Bronx (Bronx Co.)

  • Total: 22,984
  • “eligible”: 7,836
  • percentage: 34%

The affidavit ballot totals for the 2016 primary are almost five times the total that were counted (not submitted) for last contested presidential primary, in 2008, when 26,242 affidavits were counted.

The same source also notes that the affidavit ballots cast were more than a tenth as much as the 1,032,796 regular ballots counted in the initial results.

For an overview of the situation and current developments, I suggest going to the NY Primary Problems and/or Election Justice USA pages on Facebook. Media coverage has been spotty, and MSM, with the glaring prime example of the New York Times, nearly nonexistent. Best sources I’ve found are the New York Daily News and Gothamist. Feel free to include links to other background info on the primary and lawsuits in the comments; I’ll also do this when I can.

If the comments get nasty in any way, I reserve the right to censor. Voter disenfranchisement is not a partisan issue. It’s also not conspiracy theory: what I’m presenting here are facts, drawn from published government documents.

Disenfranchisement — whether by intent or bureaucratic ineptitude — strikes at the heart of democracy. In the United States of America, one’s vote is one’s voice; thus, by this count alone, nearly a hundred thousand people have had their voices taken by the government, which is supposed to be the servant of the public. Again, this is not a partisan issue.

The story is much larger than New York City and these actual existing affidavits. There were far more voters turned away at the polls, statewide, because of illegal voter roll purges and swapped or lost registrations, who did not file affidavit ballots — because they were not aware of their rights, or were misinformed by poll workers. There were also voters who checked their registrations ahead of time, saw that they had been purged or their registration switched, and didn’t go to the polls at all.

Again, please feel free to leave more information in the comments. If you were disenfranchised, please contact Election Justice USA at