This past Tuesday morning, at the Queens headquarters of the Board of Elections on Queens Boulevard, Republican Mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa and Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Giuliani called for immediate New York State election integrity reforms
Sliwa called for “The Gold Standard,” demanding that election results be published on the night of the election, and certified results released shortly thereafter – not weeks later.
“We need to abolish the Board of Elections,” declared Sliwa to a background of cheers. He continued with demands for equal opportunities for candidates and voters alike, and stressed that a return to lever machines at the ballot box is a sure method to guarantee a winner on election night, adding that technology has complicated and confused the voting process.
Giuliani noted, “This is 81 years in the making,” pointing to a New York Times article from the 1940s that highlighted BOE inefficiencies.
Speakers demanded quick administrative changes to the New York City Board of Elections to restore the integrity and fairness in the election process. “It has become apparent that the New York City Board of Election officials are in collusion with local political party leaders,” said one organizer. “They have weaponized the election process and created clear conflicts of interest to keep themselves in power perpetually and keep those they dislike out,” said another. These allegations are brought up as the corruption of the agency slowly is uncovered. As is transpired this past election cycle, over 30 candidates seeking public office or party positions in Queens were thrown off the Primary ballot.
Sliwa proposed the Law of Ballot Integrity to replace antiquated BOE systems. “As the Republican and Independent party candidate for mayor, I would like to know who my adversary is before November 2,” the Republican candidate noted. “At this rate, you have three Democratic candidates supporting the Rank Choice Voting who have an opportunity to represent their party in the general election. It is unfair to their staff, their campaigns, or these individuals, many who have been running for over two years, to have to come down to this process.”
“Close the Board!” was a boisterous chant that showed Sliwa was not alone in urging that the recent BOE tally debacle of RCV be used to not just reform but eliminate the agency altogether as it brought disgrace to our city and made us “a laughingstock to the nation.”
Sliwa wanted listeners to remember that these decisions affect both the Democrats and Republicans equally. “Equal status, equal malfeasance, equal incompetency, and County chairmen for both parties must take responsibility,” the nominee noted, as he called for open democracy that would allow the people to decide election results. These words were met with chants of “Let the people vote!”
Andrew Giuliani offered a reasonable solution. “These are patronage jobs. We must get elected officials every two years,” he said. This concept would halt bipartisan commissions from ruling the BOE and give each borough an elected Democrat and Republican who is elected and held accountable. “I would champion a system where there are five Democrats and five Republicans that are elected and held accountable,” said Giuliani as he called for transparency.
Sara Tirschwell, a former mayoral candidate, was also in attendance, calling for an immediate end to the “inside game.” She added, “The lack of participation in local elections demonstrates that voters in New York City are sadly resigned to a system that they cannot break into. It is the hyper-regulated ‘Democratic’ cities like New York that have political machines designed to serve insiders and limit the freedom of voters to select candidates.”
Joe Concannon, of the Queens County Republican Patriots, a New York State-registered multi-candidate committee, said, “Government does not determine who has access to ballot, the people do. Let the people choose.” Concannon called for a Federal monitor to supervise the integrity of election in New York City and stop corruption.
Phil Orenstein spoke on the outdated system and demanded that time stamp machines be updated to read seconds. Others pointed to a need for streamlined processes for candidates to get on the ballot with fewer ways to disqualify signatures.
“When we take back the Governor’s mansion on November 8 of 2022, we should make sure that every New York City voter has voter identification,” said Giuliani in calling for creating accountability.
A lot remains to be done to investigate, professionalize, and free the BOE of nepotism and conflicts of interest.
By Shabsie Saphirstein