Late last month, nearly 100,000 voters, mostly in Brooklyn, received absentee ballots riddled with errors, including names and addresses on the ballot that did not match those on the envelopes.
Some voters received “official absentee military” mail-in ballots, which while still accepted, created confusion.
According to reports, BOE executive director Michael Ryan pointed the finger at a vendor, the Rochester-based commercial printing company Phoenix Graphics, for the mistake. New mail-in ballots with correct information will be sent to affected voters.
Even if the error was not their own doing, the Board of Elections’s history of mismanaging elections, coupled with the expected increase in mail-in ballot requests due to the pandemic, does not bode well for one of the most consequential general elections of our lifetimes this November.
President Donald Trump, who has derided mail-in voting for months, picked up on the absentee ballot “mess” in New York City, saying that it’s “exactly what I’m talking about.”
The fiasco bolsters Trump’s argument at a time when we should be encouraging mail-in voting as a reliable option for voters who do not feel safe going out during the pandemic.
Recall that back in June’s primary election, it took the Board of Elections more than a month to certify the results, leaving several close races up in the air. Thousands of absentee ballots were also invalidated due to a variety of issues, like late postmarks or a lack of a signature on the envelope.
Earlier this month, state lawmakers passed a package of reforms aimed at addressing some of those issues, including giving voters notice of any deficiencies in their mail-in ballots and allowing for absentee ballots to be processed 30 days before the election.
While the reforms are both timely and necessary, the responsibility to execute these changes fall on the city’s Board of Elections, which is not reliable at this point.
A similar outcome in the general election would be disastrous, and New York City needs to avoid it at all costs.