State lawmakers and election reform advocates for years have decried problems at the New York City Board of Elections, ranging from patronage posts to incompetence. Often, those calls for changes are quickly forgotten about in the wake of election.
But the misreporting of ranked-choice voting results in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary is once again spurring calls for changes.
The state Senate on Wednesday, meanwhile, signaled it will hold hearings on the issue.
"Each year the State Senate begins session by passing voting reforms that languished under the previous Republican majority, including early voting, automatic registration, and a better absentee voting process," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. "The situation in New York City is a national embarrassment and must be dealt with promptly and properly. In the coming weeks, the Senate will be holding hearings on this situation and will seek to pass reform legislation as a result at the earliest opportunity."
One bill, backed by state Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, would deal specifically with the city board.
"Time after time, election after election, the New York City Board of Elections has continued to show us its ineptitude," Rozic said. "From long lines one year to broken equipment the next to accidentally counting thousands of practice ballots this year — these mistakes are so common that they have come to be expected. New Yorkers need a transparent and reliable board overseeing their elections and ensuring that all voters have access to voting. These continuous mistakes undermine the rights of voters."
The proposal would set requirements and qualifications for hiring at the board and boost reporting and accountability measures. And the bill would add accountability components for the co-execuitve directors of the board and create training and continuing education requirements for commissioners, staff and the co-directors.
The misreporting of the vote totals was due to the inclusion of "dummy" ballots used to test the ranked-choice voting software deployed to count the ballots.
For now, lawmakers are not in Albany and the legislative session is not due to start again until early next year.
Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, the chairwoman of the Assembly Elections Committee, in a statement was non-committal on a potential bill to reform the board, but said she was closely watching the developments.
"As Chair of the New York State Assembly's Election Law Committee, I expressed concerns about the accuracy, efficacy, and reliability of the outcome of the tabulation process under the present Rank Choice Voting infrastructure. I will continue to monitor this matter closely to ensure that the integrity of the voting rights of every New Yorker is respected and protected," she said. "We will determine if legislative remedies are required after the board of elections process is examined."