Sliwa, Queens Republican faction voice BOE ballot woes
By Rachel Vick
The inclusion of 135,000 test ballots in the Board of Elections’ preliminary ballot count last week sparked bipartisan concern, with some groups calling for election reform and others, including a group of Queens Republicans who gathered Tuesday, pushing for the abolition of the board.
Republican Mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa and Andrew Giuliani, son of disgraced lawyer Rudy, joined a recently formed Queens’ Republican faction — the Queens County Republican Patriots — to criticize the BOE for the mistake and declare that the city no longer has a need for the agency.
“Democrats are now experiencing what all voters have experienced: the lack of ballot integrity,” Sliwa said. “One thing this should prove, we need to abolish the Board of Elections. We need to do what they do in other states and make it a simple process not only to vote but also for candidates to run.”
The claims were met with cheers by the half dozen supporters who gathered and joined in chants of “close the board.”
In a statement last week, the BOE said the incorrect ballot count was a mistake and emphasized the integrity of both earlier counts and tabulations moving forward.
“Let us be clear: RCV was not the problem, rather a human error that could have been avoided,” they said. “We have implemented another layer of review and quality control before publishing information going forward.”
Sliwa said that to improve voter turnout the city needs to reassure them that their vote counts, but that the BOE “answers no question, won’t humble themselves and basically says ‘tough noogies.’”
Though some questioned why, in 2021, there wasn’t a faster way to count ballots or an easier way for regular people to get elected, others fell back to claims of intentional fraud and mismanagement.
Giuliani, whose gubernatorial aspirations were overshadowed after members of the state Republican Party declined to support the bid, took the opportunity to join in on criticism of the process to get on the ballot and criticize nepotism in board appointments.
For the QCRP, the fight against the board and Queens’ political party culture is rooted in fresh wounds.
Queens Supreme Court Justice Robert Caloras ruled in favor of the Queens County Republican Party over removing 31 QCR candidates from the ballot due to faulty paperwork and fraudulent petitions. The Appellate Court, Second Division upheld the ruling on Thursday, June 17.
Joseph R. Concannon, the party’s founder, said they want state officials to step in and force reform, and a federal monitor to examine the “gargoyles” of the BOE.
Phil Orenstein, one of two candidates running for a district leader seat who were found to have submitted faulty paperwork with the Board of Elections, lamented the roadblocks to citizen candidacy.
“We want them to change the outdated, ridiculous old equipment… so no candidate has to go through what I went through because of the draconian rules that they put on the people for control and power,” Orenstein, who blames the BOE rejection on a clerical error in a system that doesn’t count seconds, said.
“We petitioned, we did everything legitimately,” he added. “We were not allowed to be on the ballot because of their fault.”
The BOE did not respond to request for comment.