Hispanics in Brooklyn, New York, were disproportionately purged from voter rolls last summer compared to other ethnicities or races, according to an analysis by WNYC. Also high on the list were voters surnamed Wong and Chan, the New York public radio station’s analysis found, which are both common last names among Chinese Americans.
The WNYC report, published on Tuesday, comes two months after news broke that the New York City Board of Elections removed at least 120,000 names from voter lists ahead of the state’s presidential primary in April. As a result, two top Brooklyn elections officials were suspended without pay, and board executive director Michael Ryan publicly apologized for the mistake in May.
Bearing the brunt of the purge, the WNYC analysis found, was the congressional district of U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), which slices through Queens, Manhattan’s Chinatown, and Brooklyn. Velazquez is facing a primary challenge from Chinese-American Yungman Lee, a businessman with roots in Manhattan’s Chinatown, and Jeff Kurzon, who ran against Velazquez in 2014 .
It’s unclear how the purge might affect the outcome of the federal primary on June 28. Ryan has said all purged voters would be added back to the rolls before next Tuesday’s election, according to WNYC.
Asian Americans make up around 20 percent of New York’s 7th Congressional District and Hispanics 41 percent, according to the U.S. Census.
Velazquez, meanwhile, called on the U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday to dispatch federal election monitors to polling sites next week.
“Given the pervasive pattern of problems, it is difficult to have confidence that voters will not encounter other difficulties and barriers when heading to the polls next Tuesday,” Velazquez said in a statement.
In an email to NBC News, Lee’s campaign manager, Andy Lun, said they are confident the Board of Elections corrected the purge error and that every Democrat will be able to vote in the congressional primary.
Through a campaign spokeswoman, Kurzon told NBC News that he understands “the purge was done in error and most [board] employees are good, honest and hardworking.”
WNYC obtained the names of purged voters through the state Freedom of Information Law. To estimate percentages of which ethnicities were removed from voter rolls, WNYC compared last names on the list to Census data of surnames common among certain ethnic groups.
The analysis found that 15.2 percent of voters with typically Hispanic last names were removed from voter rolls, compared with 9.5 percent of everyone else. The highest percentage purged had the last name Santiago, at 19.6 percent.
WNYC also found that 15.7 percent of voters surnamed Wong were removed, 15.2 percent surnamed Chan, 11.7 percent surnamed Lee, 11.5 percent Li, and 9.5 percent Chen. All of these are common Asian-American last names.
Voters can be taken off rolls if they’ve moved, died or gone to prison, among other reasons, according to New York state election law.