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New York’s history of shady election practices

Democracy dies in darkness. That’s not just the Washington Post’s catchy slogan, it’s the argument Eli James makes about the state of New York in an an op-ed for City Limits. Nationally, New York has an image as “a bastion of progressive government,” but James writes that to see through the mirage, all you have to do is look at the state Board of Elections’ shady practices. 

In January, a federal judge ruled that the BOE’s policy of labeling voters “inactive” based on returned mail from the post office – then failing to make the names of those voters available at polling sites to help get them back on the active list – was unconstitutional. And while the court ruled that the BOE needs to change the policy, the board also has a track record of ignoring such mandates. 

So what could keep the board in check? According to James, getting mainstream media outlets to shine a spotlight on the situation would help. Until that happens, New Yorkers and their fellow Americans will continue to believe that New York is moving, as its motto declares, ever upward.

In other news….

  • The national bail industry is giving us a perfect example of how money can influence politics without touching a politician’s pocketbook. That’s because the American Bail Coalition has been battling Senate bill S2101-A, which enacted the bail reform laws, by spending thousands on Facebook ad campaigns meant to mobilize the public against the changes, reports Gothamist. The problem is that the ads are making it harder for voters to have meaningful discussions about the controversial law because they are filled with misleading and, in some cases, outright false information. The New York Civil Liberties Union claims that the ads spread fear for the sole purpose of bringing money back to the bail industry, regardless of whether that’s good for the public or not.
  • The ripples created by Iowa’s fumbled primaries are hitting New York City by raising concerns about how ranked-choice voting will play out in The Big Apple. The Gotham Gazette details two potential concerns: First, NYC voters may not fully understand how ranked-choice voting works (here’s an explainer if you need one) and will therefore not understand why a certain candidate won. Second, the nuances of ranked-choice voting will mean that official election results may not be available until days after ballots are cast. Combined, these differences could confuse voters and make them lose confidence in the final results, much like the Iowa Democratic party’s faulty ballot-counting app did for The Hawkeye State. Hopefully these problems will be ironed about by the time June 2021 rolls around, though the Board of Elections doesn’t inspire much confidence.
  • And of course, this wouldn’t be an issue of The Take without yet another sleazy de Blasio campaign finance story.

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