The New York City Board of Elections is blaming a vendor for an egregious error on absentee ballots mailed to voters in Brooklyn that could cause their votes to be thrown out–even if they follow the rules to the letter. The reason is that the absentee ballots were sent out with return envelopes that were mismatched and bear the names and addresses of other voters so that if the person signs the envelope with their own name it won’t be counted as the signature would not match the name on the mistakenly sent return envelope.
Incorrect return envelope image via Nathan McDermott/Twitter
New York City absentee ballots were already causing problems with a typo making recipients mistakenly believe they had been sent a military ballot.
Typically, there is a slash between the words “Absentee / Military” like on the primary ballots from this June. The slash was not included this time. Though confusing, these ballots are still valid. pic.twitter.com/JxZ4x5AaPj
— NYC Votes (@NYCVotes) September 28, 2020
Gothamist reports the error is being reported across the borough (excerpt):
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The New York City Board of Elections has mailed out nearly half a million absentee ballots ahead of Election Day this November, as many New Yorkers are opting to vote by mail during the pandemic. Yet some voters are already reporting problems with their ballots that could invalidate someone’s vote if they aren’t caught in time.
Multiple voters in Brooklyn told Gothamist / WNYC that they have received a mislabeled “official absentee ballot envelope.” Normally, the voter inserts their completed ballot into the envelope and signs the outside. But in these cases, their ballot envelopes bear the wrong name and address. If a person signs their own name to this faulty ballot envelope, the ballot would be voided.
So far, voters in Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Carroll Gardens, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, Bushwick, Flatbush, Brooklyn Heights, and Sunset Park have already reported the issue. More than 140,000 absentee ballots have gone out across the borough…
The Board of Elections posted they are aware of the snafu:
— NYCBoardOfElections (@BOENYC) September 29, 2020
The BOE blamed a vendor, “The was error made by the vendor, Phoenix Graphics, who has been contracted to print and mail the ballots for voters in Brooklyn and Queens. They have assured us that voters who received erroneous envelopes will receive new ones.”
The was error made by the vendor, Phoenix Graphics, who has been contracted to print and mail the ballots for voters in Brooklyn and Queens. They have assured us that voters who received erroneous envelopes will receive new ones.
— NYCBoardOfElections (@BOENYC) September 29, 2020
The City reported on how those ballots would be rejected even if voters followed instructions excerpt):
The voters who contacted THE CITY reported receiving their absentee ballots in the mail Monday as requested. Each got a ballot along with an “official absentee ballot envelope” into which they were instructed to place their filled-out and signed ballot.
They’re then supposed to seal that envelope and place it into another that’s addressed to the city Board of Elections in the county where they’re registered to vote.
In the problem cases that emerged Monday, the official absentee ballot envelope contains the name, address — and presumably a specific identifying barcode — of a different person.
So if a voter did as instructed — filled out the ballot, signed it, placed it in the internal envelope and sent it to the Board of Elections — they would be effectively voting on behalf of someone else.
These votes would ultimately be voided because the signature is matched to whatever is on file.
It’s a two-step process: When the voter sends their ballot in, it would become identified by bar code as belonging to somebody else. The Board of Elections would then compare the signature and cancel the vote.
A local teacher was one of the first to report the problem on Monday, “Also received an envelope with someone else’s name. I spoke to someone at the Brooklyn office who genuinely sounded shocked and panicked when I told her the issue. I was rushed off the phone”
Also received an envelope with someone else’s name. I spoke to someone at the Brooklyn office who genuinely sounded shocked and panicked when I told her the issue. I was rushed off the phone
— John DePasquale (@johndepasquale_) September 28, 2020
Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), whose district includes Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn tweeted, “ATTENTION: Brooklyn absentee voters. Please make sure your name on the ballot matches the envelope. A printer error by the @BOENYC has resulted in some mismatching. DO NOT mail it in if it does not match. Please contact the BOE or my campaign to get it fixed. #NY11”
ATTENTION: Brooklyn absentee voters. Please make sure your name on the ballot matches the envelope. A printer error by the @BOENYC has resulted in some mismatching.
DO NOT mail it in if it does not match. Please contact the BOE or my campaign to get it fixed. #NY11
— Max Rose (@MaxRose4NY) September 28, 2020
A CNN reporter received the botched absentee ballot:
I just got my New York mail-in ballot today and the security envelope I’m supposed to put it in and sign has some other guy’s name and address on it.
Gothamist is already reporting other cases, so this is looking to be a widespread problem.https://t.co/lSF3abIXTB pic.twitter.com/4uWmNOwwRW
— Nathan McDermott (@natemcdermott) September 29, 2020
NY Times staffer and her husband got them:
My husband and I both got other people’s ballots 🙁 The outer envelopes were addressed to us. Inside, smaller type: the ballots were for other people in our building. Honestly would’ve been easy to miss. https://t.co/nIyqhj5xtL
— Lauren Kelley (@lauren_kelley) September 29, 2020
A Liberal columnist urges people to vote in person:
If you feel comfortable doing it, you should just vote in-person. The NYC Board of Elections is a deeply incompetent, patronage-filled agency that can’t be trusted to successfully manage hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots.https://t.co/BdU7pTNKjz
— Ross Barkan (@RossBarkan) September 29, 2020
President Trump, right again.