It’s been an interesting couple of years for elections in New York.
Not only did the New York City Board of Elections make a very public error during its first foray into ranked choice voting, but Upstate New York’s NY-22 devolved into what some view as an embarrassment to democracy.
The final kick in the pants to New York’s Democrats was the failure to pass two ballot proposals which would have expanded voting in the state.
“The failure of both of those propositions is a perfect example of why we cannot rest, and why we must be proactive in preserving our democracy,” Senator Zellnor Myrie, chair of the Senate Committee on Elections, told Capital Tonight. “What we saw was our state party leadership fall asleep at the wheel. Conservatives and Republicans were excited, engaged, spent resources and they put out misinformation that deceived New Yorkers, and ultimately led to the failure of both of those propositions.”
When asked if Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs should be held accountable for the failure, Myrie said yes.
“By any objective measure, the failure of these propositions, the failure of Democrats to win up and down the ballot, lies in part with his leadership,” Myrie said. “I think everything should be on the table.”
“Every single Democrat should be in a state of introspection,” he continued.
Earlier on Monday, Myrie released a long-awaited report on election reforms in New York, which had followed several weeks of hearings across the state.
The report began with a set of principles starting with “Voters first.”
“We held hearings where we didn’t hear from government officials first. We didn’t hear from advocacy groups first. We heard from voters,” Myrie explained. “Resoundingly, we heard that the customer service experience of the voter was not up to par.”
The hope articulated by Myrie is that state and county boards of election begin focusing on voters as customers, rather than exclusively focusing on compliance.
The second and third principles in the report were “election administration matters” and “the past doesn’t need to determine the future.”
The idea behind the second principle is that election administrators need to be trained to a uniform standard.
Explaining the final principle, Myrie said voters don’t need to settle for the status quo, whether that refers to the bipartisan leadership structure at boards of elections or to the hiring process for election workers.
“I don’t believe in that. I think it’s important for us to look forward,” Myrie said.
Here is an outline of the major reforms Myrie is proposing:
- Restructure the New York City Board of Elections
- Reform Local Boards of Elections Outside of NYC
- Change the Relationship Between the State Board of Elections and local Boards of Elections
- Reform the Selection Process, Qualification and Accountability Structure for Election Commissioners
- Raise Poll Worker Standards, Improve Recruitment and the Poll Worker Experience
- Additional Improvements to the Voter Experience
Other Changes to the Law
- Enact Additional Changes to Make Voting Easier