Please do not vote by mail — unless it is absolutely necessary.
So says a powerful state lawmaker who is urging New York residents to vote early and in person in the wake of the New York City Board of Elections’ absentee ballot mailing fiasco.
“For the safety of your vote, better to vote in person,” Brooklyn Sen. Zellnor Myrie, who chairs the legislative body’s elections committee, said in an appearance on NY1 Wednesday night.
Myrie said all but the most health compromised New Yorkers should vote in person because election officials and the postal service are not prepared to handle the unprecedented onslaught of mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 general election taking place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Myrie’s warning comes just days after the BOE’s printer botched 100,000 absentee ballots bound for Brooklyn voters — erroneously sending the names and addresses of voters on return ballot envelopes to the wrong households. The same goof happened in Nassau County.
The BOE’s printer, Rochester-based Phoenix Graphics — is resending new ballot of package to all 100,000 voters to correct what Myrie called a “colossal screw-up.”
Myrie said the blunder lends “credence” to President Trump’s attack on the use of mail-in ballots, though the problem in New York is tied to incompetence and poor quality control, not fraud, as the president has claimed. The president on Wednesday particularly ridiculed gaffes in New York to sow doubts on relying extensively on mail-in ballots for the upcoming election.
“That is what everyone should be doing. If you can vote early, please vote early in person,” Myrie said.
The nine days of early voting runs from Oct. 24-Nov.1.
“The lines will be shorter. You have a number of days to choose from. …The reduction of the workload on the Board of Elections and the United States Postal Service cannot be overstated,” he said.
“We have a really great system in early voting. It has been successful thus far. It has been under-utilized. So, please vote early.”
Myrie said it was “unfortunate” that the BOE’s printer goofed “out of the gate” with erroneous mailings of ballots.
Still, he said, “Even while there are mistakes by this New York City Board of Elections, I think voters should be confident that we still have other options for you to participate in.”
Myrie said discussions to over overhaul — “professionalize” — the patronage-ridden city BOE, whose leadership is selected by county Democratic and Republican leaders in concert with the City Council, will begin in earnest following the election.
He said the pandemic has taxed the capabilities and resources of election agencies during the pandemic.
But the senator said lax oversight and mistakes made “over and over again” by the board “predated this pandemic” and voters are “fed up.”
New York state first approved a dramatic expansion of its absentee ballot program for the June 23 primaries as the coronavirus pandemic tore through the five boroughs to prevent the typical Election Day crowding at polls, which could allow the disease to easily spread.
However, the embattled city BOE struggled and ended up disqualifying more than 80,000 votes for largely technical reasons — many of which were caused by the board itself or the postal service.
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