A number of New York City voters in Brooklyn have reported receiving absentee ballots for the general election this November that include an official ballot envelope bearing the wrong names and addresses, a mistake that could void their votes if not corrected.
Some Brooklyn residents reported receiving their absentee ballot along with the “official absentee ballot envelope” with an incorrect name and address, Gothamist/WNYC reported. A voter inserts their ballot into the official envelope and signs their name to the outside, but if the signed name does not match the name on the envelope, the vote is marked void and not counted.
The New York City Board of Elections has already sent out nearly half a million absentee ballots so far leading up to the presidential election, including more than 140,000 ballots to voters in Brooklyn, home to 2.6 million people.
Voters in Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Carroll Gardens, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, Bushwick, Flatbush, Brooklyn Heights, and Sunset Park have all reported the issue with their ballots.
Michael Ryan, the Board of Elections executive director, said the issue was due to a mistake by vendor Phoenix Graphics, which was hired to print and distribute absentee ballots for voters in Brooklyn and Queens.
“We will ensure on behalf of the voters in Brooklyn that the proper ballots and ballot envelopes are in the hands of the voters in advance of Election Day so they can vote,” Ryan told Gothamist/WNYC. “This problem will get corrected.”
Voting by mail has become a fraught issue leading up to the November election. Democrats have encouraged voters to submit their ballot by mail to protect themselves from potentially exposing themselves to coronavirus at polling places. Meanwhile, President Trump has opposed the widespread use of mail-in ballots, saying it is a breeding ground for voter fraud and “puts the election at risk.”
The use of mail-in ballots have resulted in several recent instances of fraud, including the coercion of elderly voters in Texas and a ballot-harvesting scheme in North Carolina during the 2018 midterms that caused GOP congressional candidate Mark Harris’s victory to be voided. In California, cases have cropped up in which dozens of ballots were sent to the same person, or a ballot was sent to an undocumented immigrant who had never registered to vote.
The errors on Brooklyn absentee ballots has sparked concerns that the fumble could undermine voters’ faith in the New York City Board of Elections. Board officials have encouraged voters who received a botched ballot to call and request a new ballot, but the phone lines have reportedly been overwhelmed, with voters put on hold and informed they are behind dozens of others in line.