‘Disenfranchised by incompetence’: NYC teacher rips election board ballot debacle
A New York City high school teacher gives the Board of Elections a “D” for sending him a duplicate ballot for the upcoming presidential election — and advising him to vote twice.
“I find it shocking,” Austin Guillen told The Post. “It’s a huge bureaucratic screwup that didn’t have to happen.”
Guillen, who teaches English in Brooklyn, was one of 99,000-plus residents who received second ballots in the mail last week with letters from the city BOE saying their first ballots may have been addressed with wrong names or had other errors.
The BOE instructed the voters to “destroy the contents of the previous absentee ballot package” and mail back the second one instead.
But if the voters had already completed and returned the first ballots, the BOE instructed them to fill out the “replacement ballot” and send it back.
“The Board will ensure that the second ballot will be the only one that is counted,” the letter said.
Voters can also cast a second ballot in person if they choose, it added.
Guillen didn’t open the second envelope immediately because he had already voted.
The first envelope he received gave his correct name, but was marked “military absentee ballot.” Guillen had never served in the military, but read that the label didn’t matter.
When the second envelope arrived, he emailed the BOE to let the agency know it had sent him a second ballot in error.
“Did you receive my completed ballot?” Guillen asked. He got no reply.
But on Friday, Guillen read an article by Post columnist Andrea Peyser describing the BOE debacle.
“Had I not read the article in The Post, I would never have opened that second ballot,” he said. “It was sitting on top of some junk mail on the counter.”
So Guillen filled out the ballot a second time and mailed it back, as the BOE instructed. “I voted twice,” he said.
The whole process leaves him skeptical of the BOE’s abilities. “I’m not sure that either of my ballots will be counted,” he said.
“I have voted by mail in Washington and Oregon when I lived in those states and have never encountered a problem like this,” he added. “The Board of Elections should be investigated, and the state should ask other states for help to ensure that New York voters aren’t again disenfranchised by incompetence.”
The BOE blamed the snafu on Rochester-based vendor Phoenix Graphics after voters, mainly in Brooklyn, started complaining about mismatched names and addresses on their envelopes.
“The vendor at its own cost sent a replacement absentee ballot to all those potentially affected,” said BOE spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez-Diaz.
She could not say exactly how many erroneous ballots went out, only that new ballots went to 99,000 “out of abundance of caution.”
Asked about people who unwittingly returned a ballot with the wrong name — and didn’t send the replacement — Vazquez-Diaz acknowledged their votes would not be counted.
She could not say Saturday how many replacement ballots have been returned to date.
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