Board of Election Professionalization Package Passes Senate

The New York State Senate passed legislation to reform local boards of elections in New York. The legislative package includes provisions to restructure the New York City Board of Elections; update requirements for holding public hearings before BOE appointments; update the qualifications of a commissioner to be appointed; prohibit commissioners and deputies from holding public office; prohibit conflict of interests; require commissioners to be full-time employees; remove a commissioner under certain circumstances; set minimum staffing levels; increase the compensation of election inspectors; split shifts for election inspectors or poll workers; mandate annual training for election commissioners and develop and provide county training materials for a train the trainer poll worker program.

“Our local boards of elections play an essential role in upholding democracy and safeguarding New Yorkers’ right to vote,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “This package of legislation will enact much-needed, common-sense reforms that will modernize the operations of local boards of elections across the state with an eye to improving New Yorkers’ voting experience.  These reforms will markedly upgrade the administration of elections and bolster public confidence in the democratic process. I commend Election Chair Senator Zellnor Myrie and the bill sponsors for their work on this critical issue.”

Bill sponsor and Chair of the Committee on Elections, Senator Zellnor Myrie said, “As Elections Committee Chair, I was proud to lead hearings across the state in 2021 where we learned first-hand about the issues facing New York voters. We issued a landmark report calling for major changes to the way New York conducts its elections, from how poll workers are trained to how commissioners are appointed and removed. I'm grateful to my Senate Majority colleagues for prioritizing these reforms and look forward to seeing them signed into law.”

Following the June 2021 primary elections, the Senate conducted a series of five (5) public hearings seeking testimony from voters, election administrators, poll workers, voting rights advocates, and good government groups. Based upon that testimony, the Senate Election Committee released a report outlining policy recommendations to reform the operations of local boards of elections, boost voter participation, and enact election efficiencies. The policy recommendations in the report inform the bills in this legislation package. Every year since 2019, the Senate has made expanding access to the ballot box and reforming our state’s election process the first order of business in the legislative session. This action includes the historic John R. Lewis New York Voting Rights Act, a nation-leading law that strengthens voter protections and prohibits suppressive voter practices.  

Read the Senate Majority release.

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