Renewed calls for reform at NYC Board of Elections after vote count snafu

The NYC Board of Elections has long been accused of lacking accountability, political patronage, and even incompetence, and Tuesday night's botched vote count was the last straw for the Board's critics in the City and in Albany who say they are finished waiting for the board to fix itself.

Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted the BOE on Wednesday, saying Tuesday's mistake, including over 100,000 test votes in the second round of the Democratic Mayoral Primary's ranked-choice vote count, was just the latest in a string of problems with the agency.

"The Board of Elections is broken, structurally broken," Mayor de Blasio said. "They're used to being a partisan entity from another time that can do what they want without accountability, and that just has to end."

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The Mayor is backing a state bill that would increase accountability and transparency of the board that was first introduced in January 2018, just months after a federal court found the BOE illegally purged 200,000 voters from its rolls prior to the 2016 Presidential primary.

That lawsuit was brought by Common Cause New York, and its Executive Director Susan Lerner said on Wednesday that the group isn't letting up its reform efforts.

"We're going to continue to advocate for that change, stronger management, professionalization, and removing political parties from direct control," said Lerner.

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The Board's problems remained ongoing through the last two federal election cycles, from the new ballot-scanning machines that jammed and caused long lines around the city in November 2018, to the tens of thousands of mail-in ballots the BOE rejected during the Democratic primary at the height of the pandemic last June.

"In my race, which was decided by less than 3000 votes and 12,500 votes that were cast by mail were not counted due to some technicality," said Suraj Patel, who narrowly lost to incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney after a court battle where he learned that 34,000 more ballots weren't sent out to his district's voters until the night before the election.

"We would have never known that because there's no transparency at the Board of Election had it not been for a federal lawsuit," Patel said.

And now State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says she will be moving forward on BOE reform. In a statement, she said, "The situation in New York City is a national embarrassment and must be dealt with promptly and properly."