NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan’s job may be in jeopardy over a potential conflict of interest less than one month after a voting fiasco threw a wrench in Election Day across all five boroughs.
Long lines were everywhere on Election Day, and Ryan was full of excuses when he appeared before the City Council in late November. Among them were heavy voter turnout, improperly trained poll workers, and a new ballot that confused voters and jammed machines.
“The increase in the ballot created a ripple effect at poll sites,” Ryan said.
In addition to his leadership role within the BOE, Ryan also serves on an advisory board for the company Election Systems and Software, which makes machines for New York City. Reports say the company flew Ryan around the country, put him up in hotels, and he failed to accurately report it.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday said he was surprised by the reports.
“I think it should be looked at carefully because it is a very sensitive subject,” he said.
Other city officials said enough is enough. Comptroller Scott Stringer wants him out, along with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“I lost my confidence,” Johnson said. “I’m actually really angry that he did not disclose this, he was talking about this company he was talking about these machines, and he did not disclose this. That is wrong.”
The BOE approved Ryan’s position because he was not on the company’s board of directors, but merely an informal unpaid advisory board so no waiver is required. Still, watchdogs say at the very least the optics are awful.
“It raises questions as to who he is working for and whether he is really putting the interest of the voters first,” Susan Lerner from Common Cause said. “It certainly shows the Board of Elections has no regard for the law and accountability when the situation was not fully disclosed under New York City law as it was supposed to be.”
CBS2 reached out to the conflict of interest board and they say they cannot by law address the specific case. Election Systems and Software did not reply to CBS2’s request for comment.