Ballot Box

Sanders rails against voter irregularities, closed primary in NY

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders railed against voting irregularities in New York and the state's closed primary system Tuesday, just hours before polls closed in the critical Empire State primary.

Speaking to supporters at a rally on the Penn State campus, Sanders seized on reports that scores of voters in New York have had difficulty accessing the polls or found that they've been wrongly removed from the voter rolls.

"It is absurd that in Brooklyn, New York, where I was born, tens of thousands of people as I understand it have been purged from the voting rolls," he said. "It's a little bit crazy that in upstate New York they open the polls at noon. What happens to people who get up early in the morning and have to go to work?"

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has opened an investigation into reports that voters across the state have waited for hours in line for polling places to open. Some precincts have reported faulty or broken polling machines.

In addition, Stringer's office said about 125,000 voters in Brooklyn had turned up to cast ballots only to be informed they were not on the voter rolls.

Sanders on Tuesday also bemoaned New York's closed primary system.

The Vermont senator has outperformed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton among independents and young voters so far. However, the New York primary is closed to independents, and voters had to register with a party all the way back in October to participate.

Sanders said the system had sidelined 27 percent of eligible voters, or about 3 million people.

"That's wrong," Sanders said.

"I want to see more of our people actively involved in the political process regardless of their views," he added. "In that regard I would hope that in future primary elections in New York state, the officials there make some fundamental changes in how they do business."

Sanders entered Election Day trailing Clinton by 13 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

He has done his best to make the race competitive, attracting tens of thousands of supporters at rallies across the state and ratcheting up his rhetoric against Clinton.

However, the former New York senator remains the heavy favorite to win her home state on Tuesday.

Sanders stopped short of predicting a victory, but said he expects he'll surprise to the upside.

"Despite the fact that Secretary Clinton has won elections there twice for U.S. Senate, despite the fact that she beat then-Sen. Obama in 2008 in the primary there by 17 points, and despite the fact that virtually the entire New York Democratic establishment is standing with her, we're going to do just fine tonight in New York," he said.

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