Judge Denies Request To Immediately Open Up New York Primary To Independent Voters

Luvenia Suber, a social worker from Brooklyn, can’t vote in Tuesday’s New York presidential primary because she is a registered independent. CREDIT: EMILY ATKIN
Luvenia Suber, a social worker from Brooklyn, can’t vote in Tuesday’s New York presidential primary because she is a registered independent. CREDIT: EMILY ATKIN

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Independent New York voters who were hoping to gain the right to vote in the state’s closed primary received some disappointing news from a federal judge on Tuesday, when she denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have opened up New York’s primary election to all voters, regardless of party affiliation.

District Judge Joanna Seybert denied the request, and delayed a hearing on an emergency lawsuit filed Monday, which sought to open the state’s closed primary so that New York’s 3.2 million independents could cast a ballot on Tuesday.

Filed by the group Election Justice USA, the lawsuit alleged that many New York voter registrations were being purged from the rolls, and that some voters’ party affiliations were being changed without explanation.

Jordan Chariton, a reporter for The Young Turks, reported on Twitter that the lawsuit was delayed because the plaintiffs essentially named the wrong defendants. Instead of the New York state Board of Elections, Seybert reportedly said the lawsuit should be challenging each individual county’s board of the elections, because they are responsible for what happens with voter registrations.

Before the ruling on Tuesday afternoon, Election Justice USA was urging independent New York voters to go to the polls and file provisional ballots, in the hopes that they may eventually counted if the lawsuit was successful.

Still, the decision to delay the lawsuit is not the worst possible news for independent New York voters hoping to have those provisional ballots counted. Though Seybert delayed the lawsuit, it wasn’t completely thrown out. If a judge does eventually grant the plaintiffs’ request, provisional ballots filed by independent voters in Tuesday’s election could eventually be counted.

Plaintiff attorney Jonathan Clarke, however, admitted in an interview with Chariton that it would be unlikely if his request to have an open primary in New York were granted. Clarke said he’d focus instead on changing the law to benefit voters who say they had their party affiliations erroneously stricken from the record. “We’re asking that the vote stay counted until the Board of Elections can actually show that you’re not a registered Democrat,” Clarke said.