Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered the New York City Board of Elections to investigate why more than 63,000 registered Democrats were dropped from the voting rolls since last fall.
The request comes the same day a WNYC analysis revealed the largest decline in active registered Democrats statewide was in Brooklyn. (UPDATE: The New York state Attorney General's Office is now reporting a spike in problems at polls, particularly in Brooklyn.)
But new data provided by the city Board of Elections on Monday indicates it actually removed 126,000 Brooklyn voters from the rolls, according to executive director Michael Ryan.
That includes 12,000 people who moved out of the borough, 44,000 people who were moved from active to inactive voter status and 70,000 voters removed from the inactive voter list.
As a Brooklyn Democrat himself, de Blasio said he's concerned about the sudden slump of Democrats on the voter rolls there.
“This number surprises me,” said de Blasio, “I admit that Brooklyn has had a lot of transient population – that’s obvious. Lot of people moving in, lot of people moving out. That might account for some of it. But I'm confused since so many people have moved in, that the number would move that much in the negative direction.”
Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan confirmed he had been contacted by the mayor's staff and he shared with WNYC the same explanation he said he gave them.
“Brooklyn was a little behind with their list maintenance tasks,” said Ryan, who said the other boroughs update their lists on a rolling basis.
That backlog meant the Brooklyn voter rolls needed a major clean up. The board can only remove people from its lists at certain times of year. There are blackout periods that exist 90 days before federal elections.
Ryan said Brooklyn election officials fell 6 months to a year behind updating their voter rolls.
Asked how the borough could be allowed to lag so far behind the rest of the city and state, Ryan replied, “Because there are other things going on at the same time. For example, when we are doing an election, which we did in November. We're not doing list maintenance tasks.”
“My simple point is, when there is an election event,” said Ryan, “work stops getting done.”
This headline was updated to change "Brooklyn Democrats" to "Brooklyn Voters" based on updated information from the New York City Board of Elections.