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Eric Garner's Daughter, 126,000 Others, Could Not Vote in NYC

  • Bernie Sanders is embraced by Erica Garner, daughter of the late Eric Garner, at a town hall in Columbia, South Carolina, on Feb. 16.

    Bernie Sanders is embraced by Erica Garner, daughter of the late Eric Garner, at a town hall in Columbia, South Carolina, on Feb. 16. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 April 2016

Erica Garner's daughter is a prominent supporter of Bernie Sanders but like many other independents was blocked from voting.

Eric Garner’s daughter, a Bernie Sanders' campaign advocate, did not vote in the New York primaries, along with 126,000 other independent voters, including Donald Trump's children.

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New York has a closed primary system, meaning that only voters registered with a party can vote, and the deadline to register with a party was back in October, 2015. This makes New York the hardest state to vote in for unaffiliated voters, who are expected to prepare 193 days before voting begins.

The rule has led to an emergency lawsuit by more than 200 New Yorkers, who joined ranks to call for their state to run an open primary. They claim the party affiliation on their voter registration changed without their consent, leaving them shut out of voting in Tuesday’s primary.

Only 10 other states have a closed primary system. The purpose of this system is to prevent “party raiding,” where voters switch parties in large groups to influence their rival party’s primary. However, these extra restrictions are preventing many people from voting.

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Many of those involved in the lawsuit claim that when they looked up their voter registration after the deadline had passed, it had changed their party affiliation from either Democratic or Republican to “Not affiliated” or “Independent,” which makes them ineligible to vote in either primary.

Shyla Nelson, a spokesperson from the recently-formed Election Justice USA, branded the issue a “widespread national problem” which is disproportionately affecting presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' supporters, as they are less likely to have been previously affiliated with any party.

At a rally in Manhattan last week, Sanders criticized the closed primary system, saying it shuts out both independent and young voters, the majority base of his supporters.

Nelson says their organization has received complaints of the same issue happening in other states including California, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

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