Early voting gives New Yorkers the chance to vote nine days before Election Day. That’s important for constituencies like seniors, people with disabilities, and parents who have to work and take their kids to and from daycare.
Remember the chaos that ensued last November when ballot scanners malfunctioned and jammed at sites across the city? The Board of Elections (BOE) blamed the rain and the two-page ballots, but it ultimately led to frustrated voters leaving the line and not casting their votes.
Early voting could have prevented that kind of mess. Yet, the Board of Elections, one of the agencies least willing to reform its outdated practices, is putting up a fight yet again.
Recall that in 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered $20 million for the BOE to make reforms such as hiring an outside operations consultant, identifying failures, enhancing poll worker training, and providing email and text notifications for voters. The BOE didn’t accept.
This time, the city has dedicated $75 million in its budget to open 100 early voting sites for three election cycles in 2019.
But the state legislation only requires the BOE to provide early voting at just 34 sites, which the mayor and good government groups believe is too few.
For early voting to truly be effective, New York City voters need more sites to cast their ballot. The Board of Elections should take the money and do its job to ensure more voters can make their voices heard in the upcoming elections.
If it doesn’t, BOE executive director Mike Ryan should seriously reconsider if this job is for him. We need a reformer at the helm, not someone impeding progress.