Friday, May 31, 2019

NYC BOE Adds 19 More Early Polling Sites for November Election

The New York City Board of Elections (BOE) has added 19 more Early Polling Sites to the Rollout Planned for November Elections, but the Addition is unlikely to satisfy City Leaders who were Pushing for a more Widespread effort.

The total is now at 57, which is more than the BOE had initially Planned but still far short of the 100 Polling Sites the City is Requesting.

The addition comes after Months of Contentious back and forth between the Mayor, the City Council, and BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan, who has been Reluctant to Embrace a more ambitious Rollout amid concerns that it would Overwhelm the notoriously Error-Prone Elections Apparatus.

Albany set aside $10 Million in the Budget to Reimburse Localities that, under a recently Passed Law, must host Nine Days of Early Voting. The State Board of Elections set a Wednesday Deadline for Municipalities to Submit the Number of Early Polling Places to Qualify for some of the Cash. The BOE Confirmed the 57 Sites.

That did Not sit well with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, along with Good-Government Groups, considers it far Too Few Locations. To help the oft-maligned body nearly Triple that Number, he has offered $75 Million as part of the Upcoming Budget. The Mayor recently threatened Legal recourse if the Board did not Step Up its efforts. "The only acceptable announcement is to have at least 100 early voting sites," the mayor said at an unrelated Press Conference this week. "If they do not do that, we will consider all options possible to make them create an early voting program that actually works for everyday New Yorkers, and we’ll certainly consider legal action among those potential steps."

While State Aid will be based on that Figure, the Board would still be able to Add more Sites before November if it chooses. However, Local Election Officials do Not seem inclined to Meet the Mayor's Mandate.

Ryan has said that the Organization would rather try a more Tailored Rollout to Minimize the potential for Chaos, rather than Ramp Up to the Full Capacity that will likely be needed for the Presidential Election in 2020. “I want to make sure we don’t end up like Howard Hughes when he built the Spruce [Goose],” Ryan said at a recent Hearing. “He built this big beautiful thing, but it doesn’t fly.”

The Two sides have also sparred over potential Locations. Ryan has argued that many Traditional Polling Sites are Not willing to cede their Facilities for the additional Time required for Early Voting, and brought a Stack of Letters from Locations that did Not want to Participate to a recent Council Hearing for dramatic effect.

In response, the Mayor later sent over a List of 222 Willing and Accessible Locations while Questioning the Board's Competence, though Board Officials shot back that many of them are Not Feasible as de Blasio has Maintained.

The BOE has had Trouble endearing itself to Local Officials, and its Reluctance in Opening more Sites has Not helped.

In November, Rain and Malfunctioning Machines combined to cause Hours-Long Waits at Polling Places throughout the City. In 2016, the BOE faced Widespread Outrage after Deleting more than 100,000 Eligible Voters from the Brooklyn Rolls during the Democratic Primary.

And recently, the BOE faced Backlash from the Governor on down for Publishing Voter Information Online, prompting it to eventually Reverse that Decision.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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