New York Board of Elections adds quick fix to mail-in ballots
The red X marks the spot!
The New York State Board of Elections plans on using a Red X or Red arrow — and possibly larger print — to remind people voting in the November 3 general election to sign their affirmation letter included with their mail-in ballots.
During the June 23 pandemic primary election, tens of thousands of votes were disqualified because voters didn’t sign the affirmation letter that accompanied their mail-in ballots, sources said.
Election officials and political leaders said the lack of signatures led to the disqualification of more mail-in ballots than those invalidated for lacking a post-mark or received by vote-counters after the primary, the latter two the subject of a federal lawsuit.
Voting rights advocates said it wasn’t the voters’ fault that they failed to sign the affirmation letter that was included with their ballot.
The directions to sign the affirmation was in small type – and glossed over by thousands of New Yorkers voting by mail for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Brooklyn Democratic Party chairwoman Rodneyse Bichotte submitted a proposal to include a Red X next to a red line that says “Signature or mark of voter.”
“There was a larger percentage of ballots that were invalidated because of a lack of signatures,” said Bichotte, who submitted her recommendation to the state Board of Elections.
A Post analysis of city Board of Elections data found that 84,000 mail-in ballots were not counted in the Democratic presidential primary – a 21 percent invalidation rate.
State Board of Elections co-chairman Doug Kellner confirmed that the agency is already looking to redesign the ballot affirmation letter to remind people to include their signatures with their ballot.
Kellner said Bichotte was “correct” in saying that the affirmation letter was poorly designed and called making the directions to sign it more explicit was an “excellent idea.”
“We’ll use a red X or a red arrow that says, ‘Don’t forget to sign the envelope.’” he said.
Kellner said the state board is working with a contractor, The Center for Civic Design, to make the mail-in ballot procedure more understandable.
Meanwhile, the state legislature is holding a hearing Tuesday to get to the bottom of the primary mail-in debacle and what can be done to improve the handling of potentially millions of more ballots during the Nov. 3 general election.
State and city elections officials will testify but the US Postal Service declined the invitation.
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