Election Day Mishaps Renew Call for Voter Information Portal and Reforms from Council Member Kallos

04/20/2016
Voters counseled to verify registration before elections to protect their right to vote. Incompetence from patronage appointees targeted for reform.
New York, NY – Yesterday, as many as 63,821 Democratic voters in Brooklyn who were eligible to vote last November may not have found their names in poll books, according to data from the State Board of Elections. Mistakes were reported by Board of Elections employees and Election Day workers that lead to poll sites opening late, without poll books, voting machines, and other instances where voters were turned away.
 
This could have been mitigated through the elimination of patronage as well as voter information portal legislation introduced and heard last year by Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, which has oversight over the Board of Elections. The portal would have allowed voters to check their registration status, update information, request and track absentee ballots, and verify their voting histories.
 
“Voters shouldn’t have to continually check their status before casting a ballot. But unless Albany finally updates its archaic and disenfranchising election laws, the onus is on voters to verify their eligibility before each election," said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Voter registration should not be a barrier to voting. “Elections are too important to be run on patronage. Working for the Board of Elections should be about civic duty and what you know, not who you know.”
 
“The City of New York should immediately stop funding patronage positions at the Board of Elections and, replace incompetence with positions that have been advertised publicly with candidates who are qualified and tested for their positions,” continued Council Member Ben Kallos. While the New York City Board of Elections is an unfunded mandate of State Law, the City of New York is responsible for its funding upon which the city’s budget can include “terms and conditions.”
 
In 2007, upon identifying that over one million voters were dropped from poll books ahead of the 2008 Presidential Primary, and Kallos launched VoterSearch.org so that New Yorkers could verify their voter registration status. Since then, over 150,000 New York State residents have done so and the State Board of Elections has launched a similar tool at https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx.
 
Voters who have not voted in two successive federal elections and failed to respond to a letter from the Board of Elections can be removed from poll books and have their right to vote taken away. In Brooklyn alone there were 70,830 Democratic voters who voted in the 2008 Presidential Primary but have not voted in another Primary in the 8 years since, according to figures provided by Prime New York.
 
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