Elections

Elections are vital to preserving democracy. As a member of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, I had the opportunity to help build a coalition of lawyers and others dedicated to fostering universal participation and trust in the electoral process by ensuring that all eligible person can register to vote easily, vote simply, fairly, without intimidation, and that all votes are counted on open and reliable voting systems. While rising to the position of State Coordination Committee Chair, I had the opportunity to organize and manage over 4,000 New York attorneys and 350 New York law students, who helped protect our right to elect Barack Obama as President and coordinate election protection for U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's first election to Congress, helping to take back the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. While working with this organization, I first discovered that over 800,000 New Yorkers had been dropped from the New York State Voter Registration List and without much time before the election, I created VoterSearch.org, to help 12 million New Yorkers verify their voter registration. Since its creation VoterSearch.org has verified voter registrations for over 35,000 New Yorkers.

As Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Jonathan L. Bing, I had the opportunity to work on ground breaking legislation to allow New Yorkers to register to vote online. As your City Council member I will fight for transparent elections using a voter verifiable paper trailopen voting machines with hardware and software can be reviewed by the City or State, and accountability with the requirement that with a transition to a paper based ballot, that all optical scanned paper ballots be posted online for the people to verify and audit should they so choose.

NY1 Number of state lawmakers look to trade jobs in Albany for City Council seats by Bobby Cuza

But if experience matters, so does name recognition, which critics say creates an unfair advantage. The irony is that Council term limits and the city's robust public campaign finance system are designed to attract political newcomers, not professional politicians.

"The point of term limits is, we're supposed to have a citizen legislature," said City Councilman Ben Kallos of Manhattan.

Issue: 
Elections

Statement: Council Member Ben Kallos on Voter Data Release

Statement: Council Member Ben Kallos on Voter Data Release
 Today’s decision by the New York State Board of Elections is a shameful capitulation to the President’s fear mongering about voter fraud. Allegations of widespread voter fraud have repeatedly been disproven and there exists no evidence to suggest it occurred in last November’s election or any election.
 
The President’s sham commission is nothing more than yet another Republican attempt to restrict voting rights and only serves to perpetuate dangerous myths and spread doubt about our democratic process. That the commissioners of the State Board of Elections would assist such a commission casts doubt on their integrity and their commitment to protecting the personal data of New York’s 12.5 million voters.

Gotham Gazette Pushing Back, Board of Elections Head Insists on ‘Personal Responsibility’ for Voters by Samar Khurshid

The government operations committee, chaired by Council Member Ben Kallos, met to discuss the BOE’s $136.5 million proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year. Council members sought answers from the board about the latest WNYC report, which came after a series of reports by Bergin exposing problems at the BOE, including tens of thousands of voters purged from the rolls ahead of the presidential election. Kallos said his wife was one of those voters whose vote did not count, and that she received a notice from the BOE just last month.

“There is a quasi-manual, quasi-automated process,” said Michael Ryan, BOE executive director, insisting that the board could not send notices to voters who aren’t in the system until they provide relevant missing information to the board.

Referring to a specific voter highlighted by WNYC, who shuttled numerous times between two poll sites in attempting to cast her vote, which eventually was not counted, Ryan said the voter’s actions on Election Day seemed “suspicious” and also said WNYC’s report, “simplistically analyzed a complex process.”

Issue: 
Elections