If this is foreshadowing for the national election, November could wind up being total chaos.
Mail in ballots belonging to more than 84,000 Democrats in New York City who were seeking to vote in the presidential primary were disqualified according to newly released data from the Board of Elections.
According to the NY Post, the city received 403,103 mail in ballots for the June 23 Democratic primary and the certified results on Wednesday confirmed that only 318,995 of these ballots were counted.
The 84,108 ballots that were not counted represented 21% of the total mail-in ballots.
The ballots were disqualified for things like arriving late, lacking a postmark or failing to include the signature of the voter. Roughly 30,000 mail-in ballots from Brooklyn alone were invalidated, the Post reported.
The report describes the Postal Service as “woefully underprepared” to handle and process an “avalanche” of mail-in ballots that were distributed and encouraged for use as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The state had paid for pre-paid envelopes to make it easier to vote during the pandemic.
The disaster has now turned into a legal mess, with a federal judge ruling Monday that “thousands of voters” were disenfranchised because of “tardy mailing and processing” of the ballots. Lawyer Arthur Schwartz said: “A 26 percent invalidation rate is astounding. It’s very troubling. The envelope with directions for the signature was so poorly designed.”
The court is now fighting with the Board of Elections over whether ballots received by June 25 should be counted.
Doug Kellner, co-chair of the state Board of Elections, had suggested reforms to the ballot but was “blown off” by the BOE back in November. He has urged proper staffing at polling places for November to keep lines short and to tally absentee ballots quicker than the six weeks it took for the primaries.
“Add new capacity to process the applications in a timely manner now. Do not wait for a backlog from which you can never recover,” Kellner suggested.
He concluded, in his notes to the BOE: “To those voters who did not have an opportunity to cast their ballots in the primary election, we should apologize for not doing more. Elected officials and others warned that we were not deploying sufficient resources to mail out absentee ballots in a timely manner, and in hindsight, we could have done more to address the problem.”