BOE Reform

BOE Reform

Spotlight on Board of Elections Reform

 

On June 29, 2021 the NYC Board of Elections erroneously included over 130,000 test records in their initial and preliminary Ranked Choice Voting tabulation, thereby spoiling the published results. This error took over six hours to publicly explain, causing public confusion and scrutiny over election integrity and the Ranked Choice Voting system at large. To be clear, what we saw has nothing to do with ranked choice voting, a new system of voting which gives voters more of a say in who is elected, but is a representation of issues we continue to face with how we administer elections in New York City.

Read the Mayor's statement on this issue

The state constitution expressly requires that Boards of Elections have equal bipartisan representation in the functions of qualifying voters, distributing ballots to voters, and receiving, recording or counting votes at elections. Duties outside of these functions are designated in the state Election Law by the Legislature. Therefore there are two legislative paths for BOE reform: a constitutional amendment to remove the bi-partisan requirement (long term reform) and passing legislation to change election law (short term reform). DemocracyNYC and the Mayor support a two-pronged approach: pursuing short term legislative change to ensure accountability at the board and then pursuing the more comprehensive constitutional amendment.

NYC BOE reform bill S6226A/A5691B: This legislation, sponsored by Senator Krueger and Assembly Member Rozic, prioritizes reforming the NYC BOE by establishing transparency, accountability and professional standards across the organization and is a significant first step towards long term holistic reform. Help us get the word out about this key legislation by contacting your state legislators!

The bill includes key enhancements reflective of the conversations with over 45 good government groups and community organizations citywide. Highlights and significant enhancements to 2020 version of the bill include:

  • Having the Executive Directors be appointed by Citywide elected officials, Public Advocate, City Council Speaker and the Mayor, with the Mayor in the majority vote. 
  • Moving early voting and Election Day poll site selection, poll site assignments, selection of early voting hours, language assistance and poll site setup duties to the co-Executive Directors (away from the Board). 
  • Adding professional qualifications for Commissioners and Executive Staff, and requiring training for Commissioners and Executive Staff by State BOE before they assume their duties.
Background: To be clear, what we saw yesterday has nothing to do with ranked choice voting, a new system of voting which gives voters more of a say in who is elected, but is a representation of issues we continue to face with how we administer elections in New York City. Icon of a ballot with a check mark going in a box over a blue background with NYC buildings in the background.
Next Steps. 1. There must be an immediate, complete recanvass of the BOE’s vote count and a clear explanation of what went wrong. 2. Going forward, there must be a complete structural rebuild of The Board. Blue background with NYC buildings and purple and blue sections for each step.
What could BOE reform look like? There are two actions the State Legislature can take to help and transform the Board of Elections: 1. Pass S. 6226 / A. 5692, sponsored by Senator Kreuger and Assembly Member Rozic, to immediately professionalize the Board of Elections in its current form and make them directly accountable to New York City’s elected officials. 2. Amend the State Constitution to allow for a new, professional board, removed from party affiliation. It’s a necessary, fundamental change. NYC buildings in blue background with purple and blue selections for each action.
The time is now! Failing to establish an accountable, transparent and professional staff has proven devastating outcomes time and time again. It is clear that reform is needed and NYC voters deserve nothing less. Learn more at nyc.gov/democracynyc. An icon of an organizer with a megaphone speaking to a crowd over a blue background with NYC buildings.