In the Gotham Gazette, Meg O’Connor goes into great depth taking a look at New York City’s dysfunctional Board Of Elections, the problems, causes and suggested reforms. It’s a thorough article and gets to the root of historic and ongoing problems. A must read for a rainy federal primary day!
An excerpt: “Many eyes will be on the New York City Board of Elections come Tuesday as New Yorkers head to the polls for the second time this year, casting their votes in congressional primaries. The first election, April’s presidential primaries, was so problematic it prompted multiple city and state authorities to launch investigations into the city BOE and caused Mayor Bill de Blasio to offer an extra $20 million in funding for the agency, conditional upon the enactment of certain reforms.
Because of the structure of the law, the Mayor cannot make structural reforms at the BOE. “We need a state law change,” de Blasio said during a June 23 appearance on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show when asked by a caller how to get rid of the “corrupt system” at the BOE. “We can no longer have a BOE that is run unprofessionally and in an outdated way…this is a non-functioning part of our democracy.”
The BOE is comprised of ten commissioners, five from each of the two major political parties, two from each borough, who are (traditionally) appointed by the county party chairs and approved by the City Council. The commissioners then appoint staff to the city’s BOE and have authority over all city BOE employees, including the executive director, currently Michael Ryan.
“I wish it was a pure city agency. If it was under my power, I would tear it down the current reality and start over,” de Blasio added on WNYC, calling the failures of the April 19 primary “pure incompetence” on the part of the BOE. “We literally need to make the BOE closer to other city agencies so the executive director should run it and have the power to put in modern management approaches and have accountability.”