The New York City Board of Elections meeting was held on April 30, 2013. These are some of the issues I found interesting.
1. Steven H. Richman, General Counsel reported on the City Council’s proposed local law to amend the New York City Charter by adding a new Chapter 46-A - City Elections - Voting By Non-Citizens Residents. This is a local law to amend the New York City Charter in relation to allowing immigrants lawfully present in New York City to vote in municipal elections. The Committee on Immigration, jointly with the Committee on Governmental Operations, will be holding a Hearing on May 9, 2013 and invited the Board to testify.
President Frederic M. Umane stated that this proposed law would cause tremendous administrative and financial burdens on the Board, and questioned if this proposal would be constitutional. The Board would have to create new voter registration forms and new poll worker training procedures, print additional separate ballots and poll list books, and maintain separate voter registration lists. President Umane recommended that the Board take no position on the proposed law, but to present the potential problems and additional costs it would cause at the Board.
Mr. Richman provided an overview of the proposed law. A “municipal voter” shall mean a person who is not a United State citizen, but is lawfully present in the U.S. on the date of the election in which he/she is voting. A “municipal election” shall mean the designation, nomination and election process for a municipal officer, including the mayor, comptroller, public advocate, member of the city council and borough presidents. “Municipal voter registration” shall mean the method by which the Board registers new municipal voters pursuant to the provision of the chapter.
Commissioner Shamoun asked if this proposed law was implemented in other boards of elections in the United States. Mr. Richman replied yes, but they are not in municipalities as large as New York City. President Umane moved for Board staff to prepare a draft response addressing the Board’s concerns regarding the implementation of the proposed law, and to circulate the draft to the Commissioners before the next meeting. The motion was unanimously adopted.
2. Mr. John P. O’Grady, Chief Voting Machine Technician provided a status update of the mechanical lever voting machines. In the past 6 weeks, Voting Machine Technicians (VMTs) from all boroughs were dispatched to the Board’s storage warehouse to ascertain the usability conditions of the mechanical lever voting machines.
A total of 5,424 lever machines have been tested. A few issues remain to be resolved, and there is enough lead time to clean and oil the machines if the Board should conduct an election using them. One of the biggest issues presented are the condition of the paper rolls that are loaded on the spindle and used to record write-in votes. Staff has contacted several vendors and Phoenix Graphics is the only vendor that is interested in fabricating these paper rolls. Their current bid is costly at $200 per paper roll with a three (3) month lead time. The Board would also need to purchase light boxes and light bulbs which are used to indicate the party of the voter, as well as whether the booth is in use.
President Umane asked Mr. O’Grady to research all costs and report back to the full Board. President Umane inquired which mode the machines would be set in for a Run-off Primary. Mr. Richman stated Primary mode.
Commissioner Jose Araujo inquired about the status of Senate Bill S4088 relating to the use of lever voting machines for non-federal elections in NYC. Mr. Richman stated that there is no action on the bill. Mr. Richman stated that the Board may receive more information on the bill at the Information and Education Day in Albany, NY.
NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!
Michael H. Drucker
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