Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that time has come to overhaul the embattled city Board of Elections, which he slammed as an ineffective “patronage mill” that’s left New Yorkers stranded in lines for hours to cast ballots.
“They weren’t ready for it,” Cuomo said during a conference call Friday.
“The Board of Elections needed radical change for many, many years and New Yorkers now who have to stand online for 5 hours learned that lesson quite painfully.”
Even Mayor Bill de Blasio waited in line for three-and-half hours to vote on Tuesday.
Cuomo urged de Blasio and the Council to submit him a “fair and effective” plan and “I will work my best to quickly make it law.”
“By the way, this has been a long story with the Board of Elections. It’s always something. It is a patronage mill it has been for a long time, the status quo has protected it,” the governor said.
The Democratic and Republican county leaders from each borough recommend the 10 commissioners that run the board, and have sway over much of the hiring at the agency the City Council confirm the commissioners.
Cuomo claimed the BOE is a “disservice to the citizens” and the crisis provides a push to “change the status quo”, adding, “I think we have that moment now so I don’t want New Yorkers to forget and I don’t want to lose the moment.”
A push to dissolve the BOE and make it a mayoral agency or non-partan entity would require a state constitutional amendment — that would have to be passed by two consecutive years by the legislature and then by the voter in a referendum.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is the former Bronx Democratic Party chairman. The new Bronx Democratic Party leader is state Sen. Jamaal Bailey.
Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte is the Brooklyn Democratic Party chairwoman. Rep. Greg Meeks is the Queens Democratic Party leader.
De Blasio said said he backs legislation that would enable the the executive director to operate the BOE as a “more modern agency”
“This is an entity that is beyond repair, beyond reform. It must be torn down and rebuilt. And the State Legislature is the only place that can happen,” the mayor said on WNYC Friday.
“There’s legislation right now in Albany that would at least help by empowering the Executive Director of the Board to hire a more professional staff. That would help but really we need a total overhaul because the Board just doesn’t work.”
A BOE spokeswoman declined comment when asked about the governor calling the agency a “patronage mill.”