County Board of Legislators Issues Task Force Report on Recommended Voting Reforms this Fall

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WPCNR CAMPAIGN 2020. From the Westchester County Board of Legislators. August 16, 2020:

Expanded early voting hours; a multimedia campaign to encourage early voting; multi-lingual video instructions for how to vote absentee; changes in procedures to increase the number of available workers; drop boxes for returning absentee ballots; necessary voting equipment; and information-sharing partnerships with community organizations — these are just some of the recommendations for improving voting this November contained in a newly issued report from the Board of Legislators’ Election Information Gathering Task Force.

The Task Force was created by Board Chairman Ben Boykin in response to voting challenges that emerged during the June 23 primary elections.

The Task Force is co-chaired by Legislators Catherine Borgia and Vedat Gashi. The other Task Force members are Vice Chair Alfreda Williams and Majority Leader MaryJane Shimsky. The Task Force gathered information from more than 100 public comments and committee meetings with voter advocates and the Westchester County Board of Elections Commissioners.

The 21-page report details some of the things that went right and some of the things that went wrong during the June primaries, as election officials dealt with unprecedented events relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Challenges included multiple State changes to deadlines and absentee voting procedures, difficulty in recruiting and training poll workers, and changes in the availability of many regularly used polling locations.

Other recommendations in the report include technology investments to help streamline opening and recording of mailed ballots and improvements to the Board of Elections website.

Taskforce Co-Chair Catherine Borgia said, “The Board of Elections faced an extremely difficult set of circumstances in June because of COVID.  We have to assume the situation will be similar this fall, but voter turnout will be much higher. Although the Board of Elections has the sole power and responsibility over the conduct of elections, we hope the information and recommendations we’ve assembled will be helpful to the BOE. The Board of Legislators stands ready to be a partner to the BOE in making sure voters in Westchester have the greatest possible access this fall.”

Taskforce Co-Chair Vedat Gashi said, “The impact of the pandemic on the June primaries was something no one could have been fully prepared for. However, we still have more than 10 weeks before early voting begins in the general election and the experiences of the June primaries to learn from. This report pulls together what we’ve learned since June and I hope the information and recommendations will be valuable to the Board of Elections going forward.”

Read the full report at

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