Watchdog Group Warns Of Serious Issues On Election Day Without More Funding

Steve Burns
September 10, 2020 - 8:00 pm

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    ALBANY (WCBS 880) — Government watchdogs in New York warned Thursday that serious problems could come on Election Day if more funding is not given out to election boards.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued several executive orders already surrounding the upcoming election, including a new rule that will allow all New Yorkers to apply for an absentee ballot if they are concerned about the risks of COVID-19.

    John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, supports the election rule changes, but notes that local election boards need more funding to adhere to the new guidelines.

    “Board of Elections that have no money are just going to ignore these executive orders,” he explains.

    Reinvent Albany is just one of the many watchdog agencies and non-profit organizations that are calling on the governor and New York State lawmakers to set aside more money for the Nov. 3 election.

    Kaehny’s group believes election boards across the state will need around $50 million to meet new demands from the state and explains the main expense will be the printing and postage costs for absentee ballots.

    The election boards will also need funding if they want to adhere to social distancing guidelines at in-person polling places.

    “The consequence of providing no money is going to be less voting,” Kaehny said.

    In a statement, the governor's office said New York State is facing a serious budget issue and officials want local election boards to use funding they were provided several months ago.

    “The boards of elections have millions of dollars available to them from previously provided funding from the State and Federal governments and they should make use of those resources as the State is contending with a $62 billion revenue drop over four years. In the absence of Federal funding to offset this revenue loss, the State, which funds schools, hospitals, and public safety, will have to make spending reductions, and anywhere we don’t reduce spending will mean deeper reductions elsewhere. This is another reason the Federal government must step up and provide States with necessary resources,” said a spokesman for the governor.

    But, there’s an issue.

    Kaehny says: “According to what the state BOE and local BOE'S have told the legislature that money is all spent.”

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