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Mismanagement at the polls

It's a hot mess at the Brooklyn Board of Elections and there is no conspiracy, just idiots

Brian Young's picture
Apr 20, 2016

Election day in New York brought out a lot of the faults with the New York Primary system and showed the rest of the country how little some New York voters care about our elections.

Throughout the day, the headline across the country was about the chaos and disorder that was occurring in New York, but especially Brooklyn.  As polls opened at 6 AM in the NYC metro area, voters reported not being able to vote at poll sites in both Brooklyn and Queens, including one poll site near Atlantic Terminal, the main train station in downtown Brooklyn, that didn’t open until 8 AM. This coupled with the fact that over 100,000 voters were found “purged” from the voter rolls in Brooklyn made for a rough day for the idiots over at the Brooklyn Board of Elections.  After hearing these stories, one has to ask was it intentional fraud or was it just mismanagement at the board of elections?

Having worked elections in NY, I can attest to the fact that poll sites opening late in Brooklyn is nothing new.  As the Board of Election that serves the most people in the entire state, they have had trouble in the past in managing and organizing their poll sites.  Add to that hundreds of workers who work for only a few days a year, Brooklyn turns into a giant cluster F.  Sadly, this mismanagement undoubtedly forced hundreds of voters to not vote in the primary.

The purging of voters from the rolls is another story. The policy of Board of Elections across the state is to purge voters who have missed two consecutive federal elections.  I have personally been told by Board of Elections in multiple counties in the state that voters who missed two federal elections are sent letters letting them know that their voter status is moving to inactive.  If the letter comes back marked undeliverable, the person is automatically removed.  If the letter is delivered but no action is taken by the voter, the person is also removed.  The problem with what we are hearing out of Brooklyn is that the report is that many more voters were purged than anywhere else in the state.  Some of that may be from the transient nature of Brooklyn residents, especially in the hipster enclaves of Williamsburg but it shouldn’t have resulted in such a high number. Even if everything was above board, the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of voters appeared to be still living at their registered addresses is disturbing. 

Could funny business be at play within the Brooklyn Board of Elections?  The likelihood is no. It is simply a case of bad management and negligence on the Board of Elections part.  With Clinton winning nearly 60% of voters in Brooklyn, the belief that only Sanders voters were disenfranchised fails to look at the math.  Rather the likelihood is that the disenfranchised voters would trend towards the way that their county voted, meaning that more Clinton supporters were unable to vote for her then were able to vote for Sanders. 

The problem with this type of mismanagement is that it leads to the theories that voters’ preferences are being stolen. With the Board of Elections being run by political appointments instead of civil servants, the lack of professionalism becomes clear every time another story about problems at the Board occur.  While New York may not be in the national spotlight for anything other than fundraising, hopefully this year has shown the light on the problems that New York voters face when we go to the polls.

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