MIDTOWN — Donald Trump easily won New York's Republican presidential primary Tuesday and Hillary Clinton cruised to victory against Bernie Sanders among the Democrats as New York emerged as an important presidential election battleground for the first time in decades.
With roughly 80 percent of precincts reporting statewide, Trump had 60 percent of the vote and Clinton had 57 percent of the vote, according to the New York State Board of Elections.
"I can think of nowhere where I would rather have this victory," Trump said during his speech at Trump Tower in Midtown.
At the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, Clinton supporters cheered as jumbo screens showed her pulling away from Sanders.
"It's been a long time since New York has been the center of political attention for this nation," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at Clinton's victory rally, before she was introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Clinton wasted no time in trying to unify the Democratic Party.
"To all the people who supported Sen. Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us," Clinton said before adding that "the race for the Democratic nomination is in the homestretch and the victory is in sight."
She also lashed out at Republicans.
"Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are pushing a vision for America that's divisive, and, frankly dangerous," Clinton said.
But the state's moment in the political spotlight was marred by a sometimes chaotic primary day full of reports across the city of voters missing from the registration rolls and polls opening late, prompting both the mayor and the city comptroller to call for an investigation of the Board of Elections.
"I would say to BOE, get your act together, because we're coming into the board, we're coming with auditors and we're going to ask questions," Comptroller Scott Stringer said when he announced an audit of the Board of Elections on Tuesday afternoon.
"These errors today indicate that additional major reforms will be needed to the Board of Election and in the state law governing it," de Blasio said in a statement. "The perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process and must be fixed."
The hotline for voter issues at state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office also received a much higher volume of complaints than normal.
As of 4 p.m., there had been more than 700 complaints filed, including more than 500 calls and 140 emails. During the 2012 general presidential election, there were a total of 150 complaints.
Rose Clouston, national coordinator at Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said New Yorkers had also been burning up their "Election Protection" hotline.
The Washington, D.C.-based group said they received nearly 700 calls about voter issues Tuesday, including calls about a polling site that opened two hours late because the poll workers' keys to access voting materials did not work.
"Some people were discouraged from voting," Clouston said.
State Sen. Bill Perkins said the increase in voter issues may have been due to the higher than normal primary turnout that he noticed as he campaigned for Sanders.
"The turnout is not bad. People are coming out," said Perkins, who is a pledged Sanders delegate.
Perkins said BOE problems are not new.
"What election do you remember when the BOE was not the focus of some kind of criticism or audit?" Perkins asked.
At stake for Democrats Clinton and Sanders were New York's 247 electoral delegates.
Even though Clinton had a 1,758 to 1,076 lead over Sanders in pledged delegates and superdelegates going into the primary, Sanders had won seven of the past eight primaries and Clinton was looking to stop his momentum in her home state.
"If Clinton does better than double digits and picks up 60 percent or more of the delegates, that helps her make the case that Democrats should wrap this up and start focusing on her nomination," said Evan Thies, a political consultant and president of Brooklyn Strategies.
Local politicians who supported Sanders seemed resigned.
"We don't want a fight amongst the Democratic candidates," Perkins said. "We have two good choices. We can't lose in either case."
Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams said he felt Sanders' message was "still exciting. It still resonates."
Thies said Sanders is unlikely to quit immediately.
"Even if he loses by 15 points or more he's shown he can raise money. As long as he can keep the lights on he'll fight for the strongest possible position for his wing of the party at the convention," Thies said.
Adam Dadson, 25, an economics major, said Clinton was simply the best choice.
"It just makes sense. The math works out," Dadson said. “She’s the realistic, pragmatic candidate.”
Both Clinton and Sanders supporters gathered at the KBH Bar in Park Slope where at least one argument between rival groups broke out.
Rob Arnow, a designer from Brooklyn who supported Bernie Sanders, said he was disappointed by the results.
"I think to me what's most disappointing is I think a lot of progressives and liberal people have bought into the false idea that Hillary Clinton is going to support their interests, but her history shows that's just not the case," Arnow said.
After Clinton was announced the winner Arnow said that "corporate America" won again— which sparked words with Ben Allen, 32, a teacher from Brooklyn.
"I'm happy that it's as definitive as it is. And I'm hoping she goes all the way right to the general," Allen said.
Trump was expected to win big in the fight for the 95 Republican delegates against Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The Associated Press called the primary election for Trump seconds after 9 p.m. when the polls closed.
"A lot of downstate New Yorkers are voting for Trump by default," Thies said. "They are not super passionate because he's been a fixture in the tabloids for 30 years."
But Trump said enthusiasm for his campaign was higher than ever and that he feels he wrapped up the nomination with the victory.
"We don't have much of a race anymore," Trump said. "Sen. Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated," he added before pledging to bring jobs back to America and repeal Obamacare.
Trump said he was flying to Pennsylvania Wednesday ahead of the April 26 primary there and in four other states. Clinton too said she was headed to Connecticut and other states with upcoming primaries.