Features, Finance, New York

NYC’s Failing Board of Elections

November 14, 2017

By William Keeney

New York, NY — New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer has released an alarming audit showing significant breakdowns in the operations of elections by the City’s Board of Elections. After the BOE’s voter “purge” came to light in April 2016, the Comptroller’s Office deployed staff to more than 150 poll sites to observe three subsequent elections.  Auditors discovered violations of federal, state, and BOE rules — including mishandled affidavit ballots — at more than half of poll sites audited. There were inadequate staffing at three-fourths of voting locations, and fundamental failures in serving voters with disabilities at more than a quarter of BOE polling places.

“Most know about the Brooklyn purge, in which more than 117,000 residents were taken off the voter rolls. What these new findings show, however, is that there is effectively another purge that takes place beneath the surface. We’ve uncovered deeply concerning, systemic issues in the BOE’s operations. The BOE cannot be synonymous with dysfunction, and we cannot allow these egregious failures to undermine New Yorkers’ fundamental rights,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “Our poll workers work exceptionally hard, but the BOE isn’t giving them the support they deserve. After a thorough review of the agency, it’s clear the voter purge is a reflection of larger, systemic, day-to-day breakdowns. Elections matter, and every vote must be counted in every election. That’s why the BOE needs to fundamentally change its operations.”

Auditors scrutinized the BOE’s operations at 156 poll sites over three elections. The dates include June 28, 2016, September 13, 2016, and November 8, 2016. In all locations federal and state election Laws were broken, and the BOE’s own internal rules were ignored. The BOE failed to properly staff more than three quarters of sampled polling sites — leading to confusion and delays at the polls. Poll worker training proved exceptionally inadequate.

Between March 2014 and July 2015, the BOE’s Brooklyn Office improperly cancelled the registration of 117,305 voters based only on the fact they had not voted since 2008. That move violated both Federal and State law and denied voters their right to participate in the April 2016 Presidential Primary through the normal voting process.

November 14, 2017

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