Voter confidence will drop after Gov. Cuomo’s decision on misprinted absentee ballots


Joe Shlabotnik | Flickr

Farah Javed, Managing Editor

Repeatedly, the 2020 presidential election has been referred to as a fight between democracy and fascism.

It is imperative to vote, as the outcome of the election could mean the difference between having affordable healthcare or not, having Roe v. Wade or not, acknowledging climate change or not, and the list goes on.

When the power to vote is snatched from the hands of the public, how could a democracy exist? This question needs to be asked of New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who seeks to not correct mistakes on ballots that could lead to them being voided.

Phoenix Graphics, a Rochester-based printing company, is responsible for the shipment of many incorrect absentee ballots to Brooklyn and Queens. Phoenix Graphics stated that only 1,000 ballots were misprinted. The New York City Board of Elections said it could be 100,000, but it was impossible to know the true number, according to The New York Times.

When one orders an absentee ballot, it comes with a smaller envelope to put the ballot in, which is then placed inside a larger envelopment for shipping. These two envelopes allow for privacy, as well as ensuring that a ballot isn’t tampered with.

To be clear, this whole unit is what composes an absentee ballot. For some, however, the addresses and names on each envelope did not match up.

Another mistake was that people were receiving ballots that said “military” on them, even though they had never been in the armed forces. This caused confusion, leading to phones ringing off the hook at the Board of Elections offices.

Now, to fix this problem, Phoenix Graphics simply planned to mail out corrected ballots before election day, so people could follow the proper process. Cuomo, however, decided not to take this course of action.

Instead, he has decided to take the risk of not having these ballots counted and is simply telling people to just mail them out, even with the mistakes.

His idea is convoluted for two reasons.

First, voting through absentee ballots was meant to relieve people of the need to go in person and vote. Instead, people are deciding to vote in person to avoid having their ballots rejected. With people flocking to polls, coronavirus cases could surely increase.

Additionally, people who are at risk for the coronavirus will not risk going out to polling sites, so then, what about them? The only option they have to vote would leave them in a limbo, not knowing if their voice was counted in the 2020 election. Their health conditions should not be the reason why they are omitted from the nation’s consensus, which Cuomo should be more considerate of.

Second, the explanation senior Cuomo adviser Richard Azzpoardi gave for the decision to not send corrected ballots is flawed.

“We don’t control the board of elections but our recommendation was that sending corrected envelopes will ensure that any person that got an erroneous envelope can still vote,” said Azzopardi.

“There is nothing wrong with the actual ballots and sending 100,000 duplicate ballots seems to be an overcorrection,” The New York Post reported. Cuomo reportedly intends to do this so that Trump cannot claim New York voted twice.

In Pennsylvania, so many ballots were voided because people didn’t mail them using both envelopes. All they did was forget an envelope, sent “naked ballots” and the votes were discredited.

By only sending out corrected ballots instead of the ballot and two envelopes like The Board of Elections ordered, voters’ confidence in mail-in voting will dwindle. The President already used this mail debacle during the first presidential debate with Biden to show that absentee voting is corrupt and untrustworthy.

Trump has been picking away at the integrity of mail-in voting. Instances like that in Pennsylvania only fuel his argument that mail-in voting is corrupt, which then makes voters lose confidence in it.

Though that belief is wrong, considering absentee ballots have been used for years with no issues, once the seed for doubt is sowed, it can’t be unplanted. With less than five weeks left before the Nov. 3 election, Cuomo’s choice will only allow that seed to grow.