New York’s arcane election laws are preventing some candidates and election observers from reviewing nearly 22,000 invalidated ballots, say a group of Queens political activists.
The Board of Elections only allows candidates and election attorneys to review copies of ballot envelopes deemed invalid if they receive a court order to do so. A spokesperson for the BOE, Valerie Vazquez, said people who request copies of the envelopes with a court order also receive a notation of the preliminary determination, which explains why an absentee ballot was tossed by election officials. It could be that the envelopes were filled out incorrectly or were not postmarked, she said. Campaigns, usually through election attorneys, can then challenge those disqualifications.
Overall, 21,980 ballots were preliminarily disqualified, according to a handwritten breakdown provided by BOE officials to members of the New Reformers, a political organization that represents a slate of candidates for Democratic district leader positions.
In an email exchange shared with the Eagle, BOE attorney Steve Richman told attorney Arthur Schwartz, who represents 20 Queens candidates, that the candidates did not submit a request to review ballots by a Wednesday morning deadline. Schwartz countered that the deadline applied to a review of registration records and not to observe invalidated absentee ballot envelopes.
“Why do you have to be Mr. Difficult. Let the observers look at the envelopes which aren't being opened. Maybe it will enhance your reputation of being open and transparent,” Schwartz wrote.