NEW YORK, April 19 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tore into New York state on Tuesday for its closed primary system, saying it has disenfranchised 3 million residents who are registered independents here.
New York is among several states that does not allow outsiders to participate in party primaries. By rule, New Yorkers who were not registered members of the Republican or Democratic parties in October -- six months ago and well before anyone could have predicted the tight campaigns, particularly on the Republican side -- were not permitted to vote Tuesday.
Independents are allowed to petition a judge and sign an affidavit in order to obtain a ballot, but few were expected to do so.
Closed primaries have already generated controversy this primary election season. In Arizona, confusion over exactly who was allowed to vote contributed to long lines at many polling places -- and some were ultimately turned away despite being registered voters.
A big part of the problem in Arizona was a decision by election administrators to drastically reduce the number of polling locations. Democrats, including both Sanders and Hillary Clinton, have joined together in a lawsuit against Arizona officials over how the primary was administered.
In New York, a group of independent voters brought a suit at the last minute, seeking to have a judge order the polls open to all voters on Tuesday. A federal judge, saying he did not want to interfere with an election already in progress, deferred his ruling until after the vote concluded.
"Today, 3 million people in the state of New York who are independents have lost their right to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary. That's wrong," Sanders said outside a polling location in New York City on Tuesday.
Sanders has performed better in open primary states, where independents -- a significant portion of his political base -- are allowed to vote.
By contrast, Clinton, who appeals to more establishment-oriented Democrats, has had far better success when the electorate is limited to only registered party members.