The work to reform the Board of Elections starts today

We did it. We flipped the New York State Senate blue, and Democrats took back the U.S. House of Representatives. Brooklyn Democrats – alongside independent and even Republican voters – did their part by showing up in droves to vote for Andrew Gounardes for New York State Senate and Max Rose for Congress. In fact, approximately 44% of active, registered Democrats voted in Kings County yesterday. But our thrill over high voter turnout and the election’s outcomes is matched by our frustration with the New York City Board of Elections.

The BOE’s incompetence was on full display to voters. At many poll sites across Brooklyn, scanning machines broke. Sites lacked enough scanners to accommodate voters. Poll workers couldn’t explain how the new perforated ballots worked. Voters were required to vote by “emergency ballot,” leaving the tallying process ambiguous. Repurposed trash cans overflowed with exposed ballots. These issues follow last year’s voter purge, after which we were promised things would improve.

The core of the problem lies in the fact that the BOE’s commissioners are chosen by the County-based Party machines, which favor loyalty over competence and experience. We need wholesale reform to professionalize the BOE.

In the coming months, NKD will work to disentangle the way the city’s BOE works and how it could be improved. Sign up to join us at our next Policy Committee meeting. We’ll start to address what role Brooklynites, and even members of the Kings County Democratic Committee, can play in teasing apart the BOE’s inefficiencies.

We expect that the Kings County Democratic Party should be equally concerned that the registered Democrats it represents are so disserved by the Commissioners it help put in positions of power.

New York has among the most regressive voting laws in the country – we knew this. Yet the widespread chaos Brooklyn (and other boroughs) experienced Tuesday was unprecedented and incredibly disappointing. We also know that the dysfunction was exacerbated by New York’s voting laws, and we call on our newly elected and re-elected leaders – particularly Governor Cuomo and Attorney General-elect James – to prioritize election and voting reform by advocating for early voting, same-day and automatic voter registration, no-excuse absentee ballots, and professionalized BOE with electronic poll books.

A Democratic New York State Senate means we can achieve progressive policy wins. Improving the voting process should be first among them.

NKD is a member of Let NY Vote, a campaign to modernize New York State’s voting laws. We will be working with the campaign and our friends over at the Brooklyn Voters Alliance to bring attention to these issues.

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