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The New York City Board of Elections is under intense scrutiny this year after already making major mistakes when it comes to absentee ballots.
The issue, according to a report from The New York Times, is that the board is staffed through nepotism – and the people in charge aren’t doing their jobs.
“The official who oversees voter registration in New York City is the 80-year-old mother of a former congressman. The director of Election Day operations is a close friend of Manhattan’s Republican chairwoman. The head of ballot management is the son of a former Brooklyn Democratic district leader. And the administrative manager is the wife of a City Council member,” the Times reported, adding that the board itself is a relic.
Staffers for the board are chosen by Democratic and Republican Party bosses, something that occurs nowhere else in the country.
More than a dozen current and former staffers on the board told the Times that their coworkers rarely worked and that there was little to no accountability for incompetence.
“Some staffers read or watch Netflix at the office, the employees said. Others regularly fail to show up for work, with no fear of discipline. Several employees said some staffers punch in and then leave to go shopping or to the gym,” the Times reported.
One former staffer said she saw other workers smoking marijuana on an election night.
The “chronically dysfunctional” agency, as one former staffer called it, has led to embarrassing election mistakes.
Just one day before New York’s June primary, the board mailed out thousands of absentee ballots it had forgotten to send previously. This was due to the fact that the board became so overwhelmed by the surge in voters seeking to vote by absentee ballot that it hired upstate companies for help – but did not tell the companies who still needed a ballot until just two days before election day. The companies then had to scramble to get the ballots out before the election, an effort that proved futile.
Others were thrown out for errors such as missing postmarks. It took weeks for some races in the state to be called due to the mistakes. The board has also improperly printed nearly 100,000 general election ballots, though the printing company said not even 1,000 voters received the misprinted ballots. The ballots sent out had names and addresses that didn’t match with the mail-back envelopes included inside the packages.
Those were just some of the problems this year.
As the Times reported, the board also wrongly removed 200,000 people from voter rolls before the 2016 election and caused massive delays to voting in 2018 by approving a two-page ballot that jammed scanning machines.
When answering questions about its errors, members of the board have blamed vendors, such as the printers, for issues, yet the board is responsible for overseeing the ballots.