Good Government group urges NYC BOE to increase transparency, accelerate the release of raw data and agree to an independent inquiry, and encourages state legislature to advance reforms to create an effective board independent of party leaders.
To view memorandum from Citizens Union outlining the group’s recommendations, click here
New York, N.Y. (July 2, 2021) — After a counting error from the New York City Board of Elections (BOE) threw New York City’s June primary into chaos, Citizens Union has issued a series of recommendations aimed at restoring the faith voters have in the BOE. The recommendations call on the BOE to be fully transparent as votes are counted, accelerate the release of raw vote count data and agree to an independent inquiry. Citizens Union also renewed their call to make the BOE independent of party leaders, and called on the state legislature to take steps to create a more effective, independent agency.
“New Yorkers deserve elections, and election administrators, that they can have the utmost faith in,” said Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of Citizens Union. “Sadly, we are talking about yet another mishap that has threatened the confidence voters have in the Board of Elections. We have outlined simple steps that the BOE can take immediately to provide confidence in the results of the June primary. This latest episode illustrates the need for structural reform that will create a professionalized, independent agency to oversee our elections. We are encouraged that Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has indicated that the Senate will take this issue up, and we look forward to working with the legislature to create an agency that is accountable to voters, not party bosses. ”
Below is an outline of Citizens Union’s recommendations:
Be transparent about the vote count- For every race, BOE should detail the number of votes that have been counted, the number of outstanding ballots including a breakdown of their source (absentee, affidavit, etc.), and the votes every candidate has received. They should also make public the expected timeline of publishing the preliminary Ranked Choice Voting round by round elimination reports for all races, not just citywide races.
Accelerate the release of raw data- BOE should make public the anonymous, electronic records of every voter’s ballot selections, to allow for public scrutiny. Voting machines create anonymous, electronic records of every voter’s ballot selections. These computer-readable files, known as Cast-Vote Records, are used to tabulate votes and produce results. BOE had previously said it would not release them until primary results are certified. However, it was an erroneous count of BOE’s own Cast-Vote Records—the inclusion of test ballots in those records—which caused the June 29 data discrepancy.
Agree to an independent inquiry- BOE should publicly commit to an independent fact-finding inquiry into exactly what has caused the release of erroneous results, and make the findings of the inquiry public.
Advance legislative solutions to remove partisan affiliation- The state legislature should finally bring forward meaningful reform that would create a more effective and independent board, accountable to the public – not party leaders. The foremost priority should be to remove the constitutional provision that assures a bipartisan structure of election administration.
For follow up, please contact Jake Oliver at Anat Gerstein, Inc. at
[email protected] or 347-361-9983
About Citizens Union
For 120 years, Citizens Union has been a force for transparency, accountability and ethics in New York’s City and State governments. A nonpartisan organization, some of our current initiatives include the election info hub ElectNYC.org, a new agenda for police accountability, and increasing civic engagement. Learn more at www.citizensunion.org.