City Councilman Oswald Feliz drafted a formal letter to the New York City Board of Election (BOE) President Frederic Umane calling on the BOE to review and revise its voter ballot format following discrepancy reports during the June primaries from constituents in the 15th Council District in the Bronx.
Feliz, who represents that district, received multiple reports and photos of voter confusion with the city’s new ballot format from constituents following the June 22 primary. Voters intending to vote in the Council District 15 race ended up encircling candidates in an entirely different race.
Photos of such mistakes were sent to Feliz following the election, which has prompted the lawmaker to look further into the issue. Voting issues within the June primary were exacerbated when constituents faced confusion following the lack of educational outreach on the city’s new Ranked Choice Voting system. Additional hurdles for voters include visual impairments and language barriers that the new ballot format and system does not currently address.
A letter sent to Umane details the Feliz’s findings and includes an exhibit photo demonstrating the ballot issue. Possible revisions and considerations were included in the letter for the BOE and state (New York State law has jurisdiction over ballot design) to review. Feliz is strongly urging that the city BOE and state officials take up the ballot format issue in an effort to protect voting integrity and the constitutional rights of all New Yorkers.
“Problems like these should not happen, and they are simple to resolve: they only require a slight modification of the formatting of the ballot,” Feliz said in the letter. “I am respectfully requesting that the NYC Board of Elections make the following changes to the design of the ballot to remedy the problem: 1) add a large enough space between each race on the ballot so that voters may distinguish between the races; and 2) add darker borders around each race to separate them from each other. Small changes such as these will add security especially to the votes of vulnerable voters, including those with visual impairments, language barriers, and seniors. Please modify the ballot design so that it can be easier for voters to properly exercise their constitutional right to vote.”