Gotham’s new mayor is getting kudos for standing up to radicals on guns and crime and schools, but when it comes to election integrity the left is taking him to the cleaners. Unchecked, it’s an electoral death sentence for Mayor Eric Adams and fair elections in New York City.
The war on election fairness is being waged on two fronts — one in broad daylight, and the other from the shadows. In both cases, the vehicle for the radical takeover of New York is the city’s failed Board of Elections.
In the daylight war, Mr. Adams in January allowed radical City Council legislation granting 800,000 noncitizens the right to vote in local elections to pass into law. Any noncitizen who is legally documented and a resident for 30 days — 30 days! — can vote in contests for mayor, City Council, comptroller, public advocate and borough presidents. The Board of Elections is tasked with managing the hundreds of thousands of new noncitizen voters.
In the shadow war, Mr. Adams is mute while possibly thousands of voters remain illegally on voter rolls. Under federal law, the National Voter Registration Act, the states must make “a reasonable effort” to remove from voting rolls “the names of ineligible voters” who have been disqualified from voting due to death or failure to provide notification of change of residence. The Board of Elections is responsible for keeping voter rolls honest.
Dirty voter rolls matter. Leaving the names of inactive voters on registration rolls creates opportunities for fraud, such as dead people voting or double voting. Sometimes it only takes a few votes to swing an election. The 2019 election for Queens district attorney, for example, was won by 60 votes.
In November, the government accountability group Judicial Watch sent letters to BOE officials in all five boroughs warning of apparent serious violations of the voter registration act. The law requires states to remove registrations of voters who fail to respond to an address confirmation request and then fail to vote in two consecutive elections.
In New York City, the numbers of potential violators ignored by the Board of Elections are staggering. Mining statutory reporting data, Judicial Watch found that in Manhattan, with 1.2 million registered voters, state authorities removed a grand total of two ineligible voters from voting rolls.
In Brooklyn, with 1.7 million registered voters, the number removed: zero.
In Queens, with 1.3 million registered voters, the number removed: zero.
In Staten Island, with 344,000 voters: zero.
In the Bronx, with 867,000 voters: One ineligible voter was removed.
“About 10% of Americans move every year,” notes Robert Popper, Judicial Watch’s director of voting integrity efforts. “Those counties should generate hundreds of thousands of canceled registrations. There is simply no way to comply with federal law while removing so few outdated registrations under its key provision.”
BOE’s response? A stonewall of silence on dirty voter rolls. And a punt on noncitizen voting: It sent a letter to Albany asking for a “review” of the new law.
The BOE has a long history of incompetence and cronyism, most recently badly bungling the initial ranked-choice voting rollout in last year’s municipal elections. Under the new law, it likely would have to create a dual-ballot system for election day — one ballot for state and federal races for citizens, and one for municipal races that would include noncitizen voters.
Dual ballots are an invitation to corruption. So is the 30-day residency requirement of the new law. Both open the door to all sorts of unscrupulous operatives who manipulate ballots and voters.
Legal challenges are mounting. A group of prominent New York Republicans has filed a lawsuit against Mr. Adams, the Board of Elections and the City Council, seeking to overturn the noncitizen voting law as unconstitutional.
And Judicial Watch has warned city officials that they will face court action if they remain out of compliance with the voter registration act.
“New York City’s Board of Elections is a national disgrace,” says Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The idea that it can manage an entirely new list of noncitizen voters when it can’t even keep ineligible voters of its current list under federal law, is absurd.”
• Micah Morrison is the chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch.