Investigation Reveals Problems, Recommends Reform in New York City Elections

Investigation Reveals Problems, Recommends Reform in New York City Elections

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The New York City Department of Investigation released a report on the performance of the Board of Elections and made recommendations for reform. Part of its inquiry focused on the accuracy of voter rolls used in the 2013 primary, runoff, and general elections. The department identified a sample of 176 people who had been registered voters in the city but now were deceased or incarcerated felons, or had moved away. Investigators found that 63 of those individuals, 36 percent of the sample, still were listed as eligible voters.

Department employees attempting to vote as one of the 63 ineligible individuals discovered that inaccurate voter rolls, along with poor training of poll workers, created vulnerability in the system. Investigators were able to cast a ballot (for a fictitious write-in candidate) in 61 of their 63 attempts. They observed that poll workers did not check voters’ birth dates, nor did they compare voters’ signatures to those in the registration books. Investigators in their 20s and 30s were allowed to cast ballots even though the names they provided were of deceased people who would have been in their 80s and 90s.

The report notes that the 61 ballots cast by investigators were not statistically significant in relation to the 2.1 million ballots cast during these elections, but the study nonetheless points to errors on the voter rolls.

The report suggests a number of recommendations, including using Social Security data to identify voters who died as well as implementing procedures for responding appropriately when an individual asks to be removed—or to have an ineligible family member removed—from the rolls.

Click here for more information on how states can keep their voter rolls up-to-date.

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