Letter to the Editor: Election Day Incompetence is a From of Voter Suppression

Editor, River Journal:

Not every example of voter suppression is intentional. Incompetence can also discourage voting and keep every vote from being counted.

The State of New York has recently taken steps (like the introduction of early voting) that make it easier to cast a ballot. But the COVID-19 pandemic has created serious problems that could discourage turnout by reducing public confidence in our ability to conduct efficient and fair elections.

Long lines in the recent primary election, combined with confusion about absentee voting and long delays in announcing results, should be a wake up call for the Westchester County Board of Elections. These problems must be fixed before the November 3rd General Election. Here is a partial list of what the Board must do:

* create clear, consistent instructions for people who want to vote early or cast an absentee ballot;

* make sure the lists of registered voters are up to date and available at every polling place;

* recruit and train enough staff for early voting, Election Day polling places, and the counting of absentee ballots;

* identify and publicize polling places that can accommodate a large turnout safely and efficiently;

* design a ballot that can be easily understood by voters and processed by election staff;

* develop on-going public information programs to make sure citizens can confidently participate in this most important civic duty.

The Westchester Board of Elections must learn from the problems it experienced in the June Primary Election and take the actions necessary to avoid a repeat in November. The coronavirus has changed the game, and the Board must transcend its “business as usual” attitude in order to insure that every citizen can vote and that every vote will be counted.

Rob Abbot
Croton on Hudson, NY 10520

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