100,000 voters affected: Postal voting chaos in New York

Incorrect addresses and names: Around 100,000 New York voters received invalid postal ballot papers. A delicate mishap and confirmation for President Trump.

By Peter Mücke, ARD-Studio New York

When the corona pandemic raged particularly badly in New York, 61-year-old Phil Oetiker from Brooklyn decided – for the first time in his life – to vote by postal vote in the presidential election. He didn’t want to take any risk of being infected at the polling station and applied for the documents together with his wife.

Wrong address, wrong name

For weeks Phil Oetiker heard nothing from the New York Board of Elections, the competent authority. Not even after the party congresses of Republicans and Democrats had formally determined their candidates. At the end of last week, the envelopes were finally in the mailbox: “I’m just about to put my cross,” he reports, “I see that the back envelope has a completely different name. Someone from the neighborhood I don’t know, two streets away continue.” His wife also received the documents from a stranger.

A small survey in the neighborhood blog on the Internet shows that nobody in the area has received the right documents.

Oetiker is certain that many people do not even notice the mistake and send off their election papers. “That means that the votes are invalid. If my ballot paper is in someone else’s envelope and the signature is wrong, then they have to sort out the vote.”

100,000 voters affected

When the disaster spread, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sent in his chief adviser Melissa DeRosa, who grudgingly admitted: “It looks like a total of around 100,000 voters are affected, most of them in Brooklyn.” The printer had incorrectly assigned ballot papers and envelopes. “That is not acceptable. To say that this worries us would be the understatement of the year,” said DeRosa.

Your boss, Governor Cuomo, preferred to stay on the diving station for the time being. Instead, Mayor De Blasio found clear words about the New York Board of Elections: “I don’t know how often something like this has happened. There are certainly good people who make an effort. But it’s just not a modern agency . ” That has to change.

It took the agency until August to determine the results of the New York City primaries in June. Tens of thousands of votes had to be sorted out immediately because postmarks and signatures were missing or envelopes were incorrectly sealed.

Confirmation of Trump’s doubts

Even then, US President Donald Trump took the opportunity to question the security of postal voting itself. And of course he reacted with malice to the new mishap.

An absurdity for voter Phil Oetiker: “That is the best club for the political opponent to say, the system cannot be trusted. That upsets me so much. How can you allow that?” In this election in particular, it was so important not to make any mistakes. To be careful.

Oetiker is now waiting for the new election documents. His wife has now decided to go to the polling station to be on the safe side – although the corona infection rates are rising sharply again in Brooklyn.

NDR Info reported on this topic on October 6, 2020 at 7:20 a.m.


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