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Pols Push for Board of Elections Overhaul

After New Yorkers dealt with problems at polling sites Tuesday, officials agree the election system needs work.

After many New Yorkers dealt with at polling locations on Tuesday, elected officials and government watchdog groups are pushing for an election process overhaul, according to the New York Times.

Christine Quinn, current City Council speaker and possible mayoral contender, said the city’s election process needed a “major soup-to-nuts overhaul” and that the Council had plans to lobby Albany for change.

On Wednesday City Councilman Jumaane Williams, D-Ditmas Park, said the board, "succeeded at failing beyond [his] wildest expectations."

City Councilman Eric Ulrich, R-Howard Beach, slammed the board while voting on Tuesday, saying they had let partisanship trump citizenship.

"Expecting people to walk, in some cases, 30 or 40 blocks to their new polling site, not informing them of their poll site, not deciding what their poll site will be until last night at six o'clock, I think the board has once again proven it's not fit to conduct these elections," Ulrich said.

But overhauling the process may not be so simple.

The State Constitution outlines how state elections are managed, requiring that Republicans and Democrats be equally represented at all levels of election administration. In New York City, the 10 Board of Elections members are recommended by the Democratic and Republican Party committees in each of the five boroughs and then confirmed by the City Council. Both parties are also in charge to choosing staff members.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a vocal critic of the Board of Elections, argued that the system is set up so that it’s “county leaders picking their buddies” to oversee the voting process. 

Changing this system would require state legislation, if not an amendment to the State Constitution, according to the paper.

Some elected officials have suggested changes on a smaller-scale that would make voting in New York easier.

Sheldon Silver, speaker of the Assembly; Bill de Blasio, public advocate; and Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President, all endorse allowing early voting – de Blasio would also like to see legislation allowing same-day voter registration, as well.

The City Council will hold a hearing on Dec. 5 to look at Election Day problems, which included jammed or broken ballot scanners, poll sites that ran out of affidavit ballots, and long lines that caused a wait of hours for many New Yorkers to vote.

What was your Election Day experience? Do you think New Yorkers will be too disenfranchised to vote in the next election after the problems this year? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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