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EXCLUSIVE: Backlog May Prevent Thousands Of NYC Absentee Voters From Casting Ballots

Polanco: Absentee Voters Will Receive Ballots 'Very Soon' Despite Backlog
Voters (credit: CBS 2)

Voters (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you are one of the 100,000 New Yorkers planning to vote absentee this year but have not yet received your ballot, you are not alone.

With Election Day fast approaching, some local residents may be forced to sit this one out.

The New York City Board of Elections is dealing with a backlog of absentee ballot applications, causing a delay in getting the ballots sent out to voters.

CBS 2 has launched an exclusive investigation into the problem to try to determine if all city voters will get a chance to cast their ballots before Election Day.

More than 100,000 New Yorkers applied for absentee ballots. Board of Elections Commissioner J.C. Polanco admitted the board is backlogged because he said they are understaffed.

“We are doing everything we can possibly with the limited staff we have to have the most efficient Board of Elections. We requested from the state Legislature, from the City Council to help us with staff,” Polanco told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez.

Other voting officials said the backlog is not from lack of trying.

“They were processing voter registrations with their own regular staff from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Then they had temp staff coming in 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., so they were working round the clock,” said Kate Dorn with the League of Women Voters.

Voters have a deadline to send in their application for an absentee ballot, but there is no set deadline for the board to send ballots out to voters.

City leaders said there must be changes made to the BOE to prevent future issues with absentee ballots.

“This is a group of people that do not seem to be able to get it right,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

“Hundreds, maybe thousands of New Yorkers being disenfranchised by their own board of elections is unacceptable,” New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio told Sanchez.

De Blasio also said he wants to see a tougher election law requiring the board to send out absentee ballots to qualified voters more quickly.

De Blasio’s proposal would require the BOE to send absentee voters their ballots 14 days after they receive the application or no later than the Friday before Election Day.

“Right now it says ‘as soon as it’s practical.’ And that’s an invitation for any bureaucracy to take their time,” de Blasio told Sanchez.

With 11 days to go until Election Day, Polanco said all absentee voters will receive their ballots in time to make their voices heard.

“If they haven’t received it already they’ll receive it very soon,” Polanco assured Sanchez.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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