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New York to probe poll irregularities in US presidential primaries

The New York City Comptroller has ordered an audit of the city elections board after more than 125,000 names vanished from voter rolls. State Attorney General's office also reports unprecedented rise in voter complaints.

Comptroller Scott Stringer, the city's top auditor, complained in a letter to the elections board that it was "consistently disorganized, chaotic and inefficient."

He cited faulty ballot scanners, late-opening polling stations and inadequate staffing for voters' woes as the state's largest city votes in one of the most-anticipated primary contests of the US presidential election.

This comes as New York's state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's voter hotline says it had received more than 562 phone calls and 140 emails by late afternoon Tuesday local time. That's compared to just 150 complaints received during the 2012 general election.

An attorney general's office spokesman says this year's total number of election complaints is "by far" the most it's handled since Schneiderman took office in 2011.

Social media lights up

Voters complained of registration problems, a lack of privacy at the voting booth, a lack of accessibility and poor instructions from poll workers.

On the Democratic Party side, frontrunner Hillary Clinton faces the insurgent campaign of Bernie Sanders, a largely unknown liberal US senator whose momentum in the past seven of eight contests has put the Clinton campaign on the defensive.

Sanders' campaign says it's "deeply disturbed" by reports of long lines and voting issues in New York's presidential primary which is seen as a must-win for the darkhorse candidate.

Sanders campaign spokesman Karthik Ganapathy told the Associated Press "what's happening today is a disgrace" and there's a need to make it easier for people to vote, "not inventing arbitrary obstacles."

Most polls show Sanders trailing Hillary Clinton in New York. But Sanders hopes a strong showing in New York will help him

cut into the former secretary of state's inside track for the Democratic nomination.

Among Republicans, opinion polls show flamboyant real estate mogul Donald Trump with a double-digit lead in New York, where the "winner takes most" primary carries significant weight in the national contest.

But a big win for Trump in his home state of New York would not erase his vulnerabilities.

More to come...

jar/se (AP, Reuters)

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