NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio will make $20 million available to the city Board of Elections for vital reforms following thousands of voting complaints on New York’s primary day.
De Blasio is demanding the board hire an outside operations consultant, establish a blue-ribbon panel to identify its failures, enhance poll worker training, and improve communications with voters.
He also promised to propose state legislation to change how the board is run.
“The Board of Elections is an outdated organization in dire need of modernization – and we need to make these changes now,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We cannot allow a single voter to be disenfranchised because of the Board of Elections’ outdated operations. These common-sense reforms will bring much-needed transparency, modernize practices, and help ensure we do not experience an election day like last week’s again.”
Sen. Adriano Espaillat praised the mayor’s move but said it doesn’t solve the problem.
“The bottom line is we should have an independent Board of Elections, one that is not run by the party bosses, one that is accountable to the voters of this city, one that is professionally run,” Espaillat said.
The office for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said it received over 1,000 complaints from voters on Tuesday. The attorney general said it is the largest volume of complaints they have received for a general election since taking office in 2011. The office said they only received 150 complaints in the 2012 general election.
The most common complaint was voters being told they weren’t registered, followed by being told they were not registered with a political party, and the denial of affidavit ballots when requested.
The board suspended Diane Haslett-Rudiano, the chief clerk in Brooklyn, without pay after CBS2 reported the names of 126,000 Brooklyn voters were removed from the rolls ahead of the election.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said he plans to audit the Board of Elections.
Board of Elections Director Michael Ryan spoke to CBS2 last week about the complaints.
“Any of those issues are absolutely 100 percent regrettable. We do a post-elections analysis to make sure those mistakes do not happen again in the future,” he said.
Ryan said the voters were removed from the roll because they moved out of the borough or were classified as inactive after changing addresses or failed to vote in two successive elections and didn’t properly re-register by the March 30 deadline.