Election Reforms and Reforming Elections
December 6th, 2010
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a set of election law proposals he will push in Albany next year, Council Speaker Christine Quinn grilled the city Board of Elections on its performance in November’s election.
While the Board of Elections improved over its handling of primary day — when scores of polling places opened hours late, complaints of a lack of privacy flourished and the overall management was called a “royal screw-up” — Quinn said it still had a way to go.
“There was no royal screw up of significance on Nov. 2,” Quinn said. The speaker has called for the board to give itself grades per polling site, post a sample ballot online and conduct a nationwide search for a new executive director. George Gonzalez, the former executive director, was fired a week before Election Day this year in connection with the board’s performance on primary day.
The board has promised to post sample ballots online before an election, but it has warned officials it would come with a price tag.
When asked today about its executive director search, a board official said it has received one resume and one inquiry about the position. It gave no commitment to conduct a national search.
“There is no formal process,” said Steven Richman, the board’s general counsel. “But the board is open to receiving resumes.”
The speaker took issue with the more than 195,000 difference in votes counted on election night and when the certified results came out last week. Asked if this jump — which the board says is a 14.2 percent difference and press says is 17 percent — was unusual, the board said it did not keep unofficial election tallies from previous elections.
“It was the end of a long day,” said Richman. “Maybe there was some arithmetic errors?”
Board of Election officials said they would get the council the historic data, but they also argued unofficial tallies the night of the election and certified results are always different.
If the announcement from the Bloomberg adminsitration this afternoon is any indication, the spotlight on the Board of Elections will not go out anytime soon.
In the next legislative session, the administration plans to push for several voting proposals, including early voting, allowing voters to fill out their ballots at home and extending the registration deadline from 25 days before to 10 days.By Courtney Gross on December 6, 2010, 6:05 pm
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