New York State Board of Elections Faces Voting Challenges During Pandemic
WHITE PLAINS, NY -- June 30, 2020 -- As the Chairman of the Black Democrats of Westchester, I am very concerned about our current election process. Due to the pandemic many changes occurred during this time. Village primaries were postponed until September, the recent Presidential Primary didn’t take place until June 23rd and a new mail-in absentee ballot application process was instituted. Residents complained about absentee ballot applications and the delay in receiving their actual ballots. Many polling places were not accessible and many poll workers were unavailable. It was unacceptable for voters to stand in long lines, stand for hours late into the night waiting to vote and some poll workers were confused about voting procedures. The reason the lines were so long on primary day is the lack of available voting machines, the state mandated guidelines requiring sanitizing and social distancing protocols. The lessons we learned from the primary will ensure the success of the November elections. I am confident that Commissioner Lafayette will listen to the residents of Westchester and guide us through the fall elections. In November, we need to make sure all voters cast a vote and no one is turned away. We need to review the primary election pitfalls and immediately make the necessary corrections in preparation for the November 3rd Presidential election. We are clearly in the middle of two pandemics, COVID-19 and institutionalized racism that has persisted for 400 years. All Americans play a vital role in restoring our Democracy and protecting our Constitution. Whether you are a Progressive Democrat, Moderate Independent, or Conservative Republican, we must vote to move this country forward embracing our collective strength as a Nation. This is about our right to vote. However, some individuals have tried to make this about Reginald A. Lafayette, the Democratic Commissioner for the Westchester County Board of Elections. Commissioner Lafayette is following state mandated guidelines, the current election laws and the Governor’s orders to allow for absentee voting due to COVID-19. The Governor and our New York State Delegation have not changed the laws to allow mail-in voting, currently. Mail-in voting follows different guidelines than absentee voting. The Board of Elections runs all Countywide and district elections in Westchester County. The Board of Elections does not report to the County Executive, or the County Board of Legislators. The Board of Elections has been established, as an independent countywide non-partisan entity and reports to the State Board of Elections. This state mandated structure protects elections from any partisan intervention that could occur by County or local officials seeking to manipulate elections for their own personal advantage or party interests. Commissioner Lafayette must purchase voting machines certified by the State Elections Commission. Many residents are concerned about those machines being hacked. I believe the issue lies with the State, not Commissioner Lafayette. It is clear to me, as the Chairman of the Black Democrats of Westchester, the disparity of treatment is vastly different between Commissioner Colety and Commissioner Lafayette. Both commissioners requested additional funds to purchase more voting machines, however Commissioner Lafayette is being singled out. We need to support Commissioner Lafayette, as he continues to work for all the residents of Westchester County.