New York Attorney General will probe into Muslim voter suppression

25th Sep 2020
New York Attorney General will probe into Muslim voter suppression

Letitia James, Attorney General of NY (Photo credit: Thomas Good/NLN)

Elham Asaad Buaras

A spokesperson for the Attorney General of New York has confirmed to The Muslim News that she “will look into” potential voter suppression targeting Muslim absentee ballots in one of the primary elections in June, following calls by civil and Muslim rights groups for her to launch an official investigation.

On August 31, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) called for the investigation into the Lackawanna, Erie County elections after it was discovered that all but one of the more than 200 absentee ballots that were disqualified had an overtly Muslim and or Middle Eastern names.

The voters were not informed of the objection to their ballot, but a list of the names was exposed through a Freedom of Information request filed with the Erie County Board of Elections by Attorney Peter Reese. Within one hour of filing the request, the objections were withdrawn.

In a statement to The Muslim News, the New York’s Attorney General’s office said, “Attorney General Letitia James takes all reports of voter suppression in New York with the utmost seriousness. The account of voter suppression among Muslim communities is disturbing and will be looked into by our office.

CAIR-NY called for the investigation in time for the upcoming federal elections.

In a statement, CAIR-NY Executive Director, Afaf Nasher, said, “To disqualify the votes of hundreds of eligible citizens is the worst danger to our democracy that can be imagined.

“Regardless of religion or race, every eligible vote is crucial to preserving the legitimacy of our Government. Disenfranchising certain populations is an abhorrent practice victimizing marginalized communities to censor their voice and stunt their political power — but we will not be silenced. We ask Attorney General Letitia James to scrutinize the reasons behind the apparent targeting of Muslim absentee ballots in Lackawanna.

Other civic engagement organizations including the Buffalo Urban League, the Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance and the Voters Organized to Inspire Civic Engagement (VOICE) have also joined the call for an investigation.

Amira Muflahi, an organizer with VOICE, said, “Disenfranchising voters by discretely rejecting absentee ballots is abhorrent and a threat to democracy. Voter suppression is alive and well in Lackawanna, NY, and we will fight against it.

We try to preserve and safeguard the inalienable rights of our citizens by assisting them at the polls, but how can we protect their right when ballots are being thrown out behind the scenes with no regard? Voting is the core fundamental to our freedom and any impediment to it is unconscionable and un-American!

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