New York voters ran into an array of reported polling-site problems Tuesday as they tried to cast ballots in the state’s hotly contested presidential primary – with some locations opening late and others using broken machines.
The Wall Street Journal reported that some voters waited hours to cast ballots at a site in Brooklyn, where workers apparently did not have to keys when it was supposed to open Tuesday morning.
Elsewhere in the borough, voters reportedly were turned away due to technical problems; voters reportedly posted pictures showing spelling errors on some ballots as well.
The incidents flared up in the final hours of what has been a grueling primary battle, in a state where three of the five remaining candidates claim roots.
Primary front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both are seeking big rebound victories Tuesday after recent campaign setbacks. Clinton, who served as New York’s senator, has touted her connection to voters in her adopted home state, while Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders has campaigned hard seeking an upset. Looking ahead, however, Sanders was campaigning Tuesday in Pennsylvania, which votes next week.
Meanwhile, Trump, who is from Queens, is looking for an overwhelming victory after having crisscrossed the state bashing rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich – and declaring no true New Yorker could vote for them.
The polling problems, though, cast a cloud over the primary’s final hours.
The New York Post reported voters were grappling with broken machines in some locations.
The New York Daily News reported on problems in both Brooklyn and Queens, including a Queens site where all three voting machines apparently were broken.
Amid the complaints, at stake is a huge delegate haul.
On the Democratic side, Clinton and Sanders are competing for 247 delegates. Clinton will want a convincing victory to halt rival Sanders’ winning streak and blunt his claims of “momentum” in the Democratic race.
The Republicans are battling for 95 delegates. Trump’s double-digit polling lead has been unshakable for weeks. The big question, though, is whether the billionaire businessman can sweep most or even all of the 95 Republican delegates up for grabs. Trump would need to win more than 50 percent of the vote statewide -– and dominate across the congressional districts -– to have a shot at claiming all the delegates.
The importance of every last delegate has only increased in recent weeks as Cruz has appeared to outmaneuver Trump’s campaign in behind-the-scenes preparations for July’s convention.
Cruz has effectively been preparing for a contested convention -– where no candidate has the necessary 1,237 delegates to clinch the nomination -– by getting allies elected as delegates. That way, if voting extends to a second round, some of those pledged to Trump on the first round could peel off and support Cruz.
This has heightened the pressure on Trump to clinch the nomination before the Cleveland convention, to avoid that scenario.
Cruz, who infamously panned Trump’s “New York values” earlier in the race, was bracing for a tough showing in the Empire State. The Texas senator was already looking ahead on the primary calendar, also scheduling events Tuesday in Pennsylvania.
“New York is Donald’s home state,” Cruz told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly Monday evening. “Of course he will do well in his home state. When we were in Texas, my home state, we walloped him.”
Trump leads the GOP race with 756 delegates, ahead of Cruz with 559 and Kasich with 144.
In the Democratic race, Clinton’s campaign was declaring the contest virtually over Monday and warning Sanders that he risks damaging the party’s eventual nominee if he keeps up harsh criticism of the former secretary of state.
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Sanders faces a “close to impossible path to the nomination” and predicted New York would result in Clinton taking “an important step to the nomination.” Sanders needs to win 68 percent of the remaining delegates if he hopes to clinch the Democratic nomination.
Clinton herself spent the final hours of campaigning in New York trying to drive up turnout among women and minorities, her most ardent supporters. Since Sunday, she’s danced to Latin music at a Brooklyn block party, vowed to defend abortion rights to female supporters in Manhattan, prayed at a black church in Westchester, drunk a bubble tea at a dumpling shop in Flushing and cheered newly unionized workers in Queens.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” Clinton said Monday after greeting workers at the Hi-Tek Car Wash & Lube in Queens.
The Sanders campaign has held out hope for a closer race, relying on the large crowds at the Vermont senator’s rallies translating into votes Tuesday.
“This is a campaign on the move,” Sanders shouted to a crowd of thousands gathered along the waterfront in Queens, the Manhattan skyline serving as a dramatic backdrop. “This is a movement getting the establishment very, very nervous.”
Clinton has accumulated 1,758 delegates to Sanders’ 1,076. Those totals include both pledged delegates from primaries and caucuses, as well as superdelegates, the party insiders who can back the candidate of their choice regardless of how their state votes. It takes 2,383 to win the Democratic nomination.