New York City's Board of Elections: Chaos, Madness, The Absolute Worst?

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Those in New York City responsible for seeing that the Great American Democratic Process goes smoothly -- the Board of Elections -- has had a complete shitshow of an election season. Or has been the complete shitshow of New York's election season -- which, given Charlie Rangel, Carl Paladino, and the "Rent Is Too Damn High" crackpot...is impressive -- and just somehow managed to get worse.

Quick recap:

September 14, 2010: Voting in the primaries is basically lambasted by everyone. The machines suck and where polling spots are functioning, they're functioning terribly.

September 29, 2010: George Gonzalez, the executive director of the Board of Elections, lashes out at his critics, noting his lack of resources as the problem with the results the Board of Elections have turned out. Nobody agrees with him. Mayor Bloomberg stops short of calling it a "massive fuckup," instead opting for "royal screwup."

October 22, 2010: As it turns out, the language on the ballot tells New Yorkers how to vote incorrectly. The language is apparently dictated by law, and nobody managed to see this coming at any distance. And then, today...

October 26, 2010: George Gonzalez is fired by a vote of 6-0 with four members of the board abstaining from the vote. Via the WNYC Newsroom:

Julie Dent, the Board of Elections President said, "I take full responsibility for everything that went well or didn't go as planned. But I do ask that we, collectively, come together and address all the concerns which will enable us to do a better job on Election Day, November 2, 2010." No replacement has been named, but NY1 is quoting an unnamed source who says the Board may appoint Pamela Perkins, a BOE administrator and the wife of State Sen. Bill Perkins, to be the interim director.

Yes, one week before the elections, they oust their leader without a new one in sight. Some questions:

  • Why didn't this change happen weeks -- or months -- ago?
  • Why wasn't an independent commission sent after the Board of Elections right after the election to figure out what happened?
  • How is this going to make anything about to happen in the next week any smoother of a process?

Really, though: As these things go, shouldn't you fire the guy responsible for the mess after everyone comes to visit, because he's the only one who knows where everything is on game day? If you're in the hot seat and need to save your ass politically, no, you do it as soon as humanly possible, which is also the worst time possible. That way, nobody could reasonably be blamed for whatever chaos is going to ensue next week.

These people are the worst. Given a problem, the blame typically lies somewhere in a gray area, between the purview and responsibility of plenty of other people besides those at heart of said problem.

That is not this. These people just gave themselves a dumb, political out. These people are to blame.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]

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