In two incidents last summer, more than 122,000 Democrats in the borough of Brooklyn had their names scratched from New York City's list of registered voters. Following a public outcry after the purge was uncovered in April ahead of the Democratic primary, officials categorized it as routine maintenance inexplicably gone awry.
Now, according to data published Tuesday by WNYC, it seems the "routine maintenance" disproportionately affected Hispanics, with voters in predominantly Hispanic districts purged from the election rolls 60 percent more often than anyone else.
Per the WNYC investigation, 13.9 percent of voters in predominantly Hispanic districts saw their names removed from the rolls, while in all other districts, the purge affected just 8.7 percent of voters.
The purge and WNYC's findings have raised some concerns about voter suppression, spurring action from elected Democrats.
The sheer volume of purged voters ... is staggering and incomprehensible. Rep. Nydia Velázquez
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced in April that he was opening an investigation into the city Board of Elections over the matter, as did city Comptroller Scott Stringer, who said he planned to audit the board.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), who represents the 7th District -- which had the highest percentage of purged voters -- told WNYC she intends to verify the findings and alert the Department of Justice.
"I do not want to think that it was deliberate, you know, because that would be voter suppression, and at a time when the Voting Rights Act is under attack in Washington, to have this type of action in a city and state like New York, a Democratic city, it’s just beyond any comprehension,” she said.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday, Velázquez asked for federal election monitors to oversee next week's congressional primary there on June 28. "The sheer volume of purged voters in the 7th congressional district is staggering and incomprehensible," she wrote.
Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan told WNYC the purged voters will be reinstated ahead of the primary. Two officials who served on the board and were behind the decision have been suspended without pay.