Candidates seeking change rail against Board of Elections in Brooklyn
Roughly a dozen candidates running for positions in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and beyond gathered in front of the Brooklyn Board of Elections on Adams Street Tuesday, calling for election law reform and the defeat of their political opponents in the city and state’s political machine.
The candidates, including a slate calling themselves political outsiders who are running for Brooklyn Civil Court judgeships in the September 12 Democratic primary, are backed by the New York Bernie Sanders Committee for Change (NYBSCC), which officially launched Tuesday.
NYBSCC is demanding a criminal investigation into last year’s voting fiasco on the eve of the Democratic presidential primary, in which more than 126,000 voters were lost or wiped off the rolls, 100,000 in Brooklyn alone.
On Tuesday, the candidates and their backers said the purge and other Board of Elections shenanigans were not mistakes, but business as usual.
“Our job is to break up the political machine that has existed in New York City and New York State for far too long,” said Michael Blecher, president of Politics Reborn.
Blecher said that the Board of Elections, while an administrative body, is not held accountable by public citizens.
“The whole Board of Elections is appointed by the party leaders,” he added. “We’re disappointed that to this day there has been no criminal investigation of what happened at the purge, and no real reform has actually been passed, to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
NYBSCC wants the state Legislature to amend the NYS constitution to eliminate the bipartisan boards of election and create a nonpartisan election administration. They are also pushing for the implementation of open primaries, automatic voter registration and same day party changes.
“For the past 30 years the voting rate has been falling in NYC. In the 2013 mayoral race less people voted than since women were given the right to vote in 1918,” Blecher said. “Incumbent elected officials, the political machines and lobbyists take full advantage of NY’s voter suppression. The less people who vote the easier it is to control the election.”
“I’m one of the voters that were purged from the polls,” said Anne Bassen of the South Slope. “I was not allowed to vote in the primaries last spring. I wanted to vote for Bernie Sanders. When they looked up by registration, after 20 years of being a registered Democrat, for some reason it was [listed] as unaffiliated, which meant I was not able to vote in the primaries for the candidate I wanted to vote for.”
When she came to the Board of Elections, Bassen said she was told by a woman at the counter, “Sorry lady, you’re crazy. Leave!”
In December 2016, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a report detailing “profound and widespread” voting issues. “In New York, we have what amounts to legal voter suppression,” he wrote.
Appearing at the rally were Carmen Hulbert, running for City Council in Red Hook/ Sunset Park’s District 38; David Eisenbach, running for NYC Public Advocate; Thomas Kennedy, running for civil judge in Brooklyn; Sandra Roper, running for civil judge in Brooklyn; Anthony Rivers, running for City Council in Queens District 27; Isiris Isela Isaac, running for civil judge in Brooklyn; John O’Hara, running for civil judge in Brooklyn; Patrick Hayes, running for civil judge in Brooklyn; Delvis Valdes, running for City Council District 38; Nina Sherwood, running for the Stamford, CT Board of Representatives; and Jonathan Clarke, running in Oyster Bay, Nassau County, and others.