Election Task Force Issues Voting Recommendations for This Fall

The Board of Legislators’ Election Information Gathering Task Force came out with its list of recommendations Monday for improving voting in Westchester County this November.

The 21-page report called for expanded early voting hours, a multimedia campaign to encourage early voting, multilingual video instructions for how to vote by absentee ballot and changes in procedures to increase the number of available workers.

Other proposed changes include drop boxes for returning absentee ballots, information-sharing partnerships with community organizations, technology investments to help streamline opening and recording of mailed ballots and improvements to the Board of Elections website.

It also addressed what went right and wrong during the June 23 primaries as election officials dealt with unprecedented events relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were changes to deadlines and absentee voting procedures, difficulty in recruiting and training poll workers and lack of availability of many regularly used polling locations.

The task force was created by Board Chairman Ben Boykin (D-White Plains) in response to problems that emerged during the primary elections. It gathered information from more than 100 comments from the public and committee meetings with voter advocates and the Westchester County Board of Elections Commissioners.

“The Board of Elections faced an extremely difficult set of circumstances in June because of COVID,” said task force Co-chair Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining). “We have to assume the situation will be similar this fall, but voter turnout will be much higher. Although the Board of Elections has the sole power and responsibility over the conduct of elections, we hope the information and recommendations we’ve assembled will be helpful.”

“The impact of the pandemic on the June primaries was something no one could have been fully prepared for,” added Co-chair Vedat Gashi (D-Yorktown). “However, we still have more than 10 weeks before early voting begins in the general election and the experiences of the June primaries to learn from. This report pulls together what we’ve learned since June and I hope the information and recommendations will be valuable to the Board of Elections going forward.”

Read the full report at https://westchesterlegislators.com/images/Newsroom/2020/eigtf-final-report.pdf.

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