100 NYC early voting sites proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio for $75M

Mayor Bill de Blasio demands that the cjty Board of Elections make early voting easy for New Yorkers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio demands that the cjty Board of Elections make early voting easy for New Yorkers. Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Mayor Bill de Blasio is looking to get a head start on implementing early voting this November. 

The mayor sent a letter Monday to the city Board of Elections suggesting that it use $75 million allocated in his budget proposal to finance 100 early voting sites ahead of the next general election. 

The BOE is slated to reveal its early voting plan Wednesday. De Blasio said he pre-emptively shared his idea with the board because it has recently struggled to run smooth elections, citing the long lines, frustrated voters and broken machines this November. 

“If we get the same old mistakes from the Board of Elections, then it will be the same thing over and over,” de Blasio said.

In January, the state passed legislation allowing New York counties to permit voting for periods of up to nine days proceeding any given Election Day. Under the new rules, the city must operate at least 34 early voting sites this year. 

De Blasio said the $75 million should be enough to run 100 early voting sites during the 2019 general election, the 2020 presidential primary and the 2020 June primary. He said the BOE could decide where to open these polls. 

The city BOE did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The board, however, is expected to testify about early voting Tuesday, before the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations.

BOE Commissioner Mike Ryan needs to provide voters with more opportunities to vote, according to De Blasio, who is being sued by the BOE amid a dispute about stationing interpreters inside the polls in February.

The mayor said another mishap at the polls would lead to more "structural changes" at the board, which is made up of representatives recommended by the GOP and Democratic parties. 

"I do believe this is going to create pressure," said de Blasio, who is still weighing a presidential run. "People have seen early voting all around the country. They know it’s been voted on. They expect it. But if the board does not give them enough opportunity to vote, there will be a firestorm."