Once we are done with this epic election, and know who’s going to occupy the White House, as well as Congress and our own state Legislature, lawmakers here should get right down to remaking the Board of Elections.
You remember how the BOE wrongly purged 200,000 voters from the rolls four years ago. You remember how it took six weeks for it to tally results in two congressional primaries last summer. And you remember how just last month a contractor in the BOE’s employ sent nearly 100,000 erroneously labeled ballots to voters.
But did you know about the time back in 2000 when someone stuffed hundreds of ballots into an air conditioning duct at the BOE offices, all from a contested state senate district where the incumbent held sway over the board?
That’s just one of the scandalous tidbits about the BOE revealed by The New York Times on Monday. Read the Times’ story and you’ll want the BOE dismantled and rebuilt from scratch.
The problems are inherent in how the agency is run. It’s overseen not by professionals, the way other city agencies usually are, but by the leaders of the two main political parties. They choose 10 commissioners, one from each party from each borough, who then treat the place like their personal fiefdom, appointing friends and relatives to jobs and ignoring whatever nonsense they engage in. Watching Netflix movies, going to the gym and smoking weed seem to among some employees’ favorite activities during the workday.
The board is like our last legal vestige of the old Tammany Hall days when patronage and corruption were endemic and acceptable. No other state allows such a thing. And New York can’t afford to any longer: It’s expensive, incompetent and embarrassing. The need for reform is something even Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo agree on — at least in their public comments. Let’s see if they actually mean it. It is, after all, the governments they lead that created this thing and allow it to continue. The BOE simply must be dismantled and rebuilt. It’s time to start over.