New York City’s Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan said the board’s print vendor, Phoenix Graphics, had a printing run error.
“It is isolated to one borough, that would be the borough of Brooklyn, and one print run,” Ryan said during a board meeting this week. The error “has been caught and corrected moving forward.”
To make sure “absolutely no disenfranchisement occurs in the borough of Brooklyn,” the board demanded the printing company send new ballot packages to every person who may have been affected.
The packages include ballots and envelopes for sending them back. The envelopes had incorrect information printed on them. Some voters also reported that their ballots had incorrect information.
According to Melissa DeRosa, secretary for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, nearly 100,000 people are affected by what happened.
The board didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson told CNN that the issue affected 99,477 voters.
In a statement on Sept. 30, the board told voters to expect to begin receiving replacement ballots during the week of Oct. 9.
Voters who receive duplicates will be instructed to destroy the contents of the previous package. “The Board will ensure that the second ballot will be the only one that is counted,” the board said in a sentence that was in bold on its website.
Phoenix Graphics President Sal DeBiase said in a statement that the company “experienced mechanical-inserting issues” when producing the ballots in question.
“We estimate this has affected less than 1 percent of the mailings, of what was the first of many absentee-ballot orders for these counties. Future mailings will not be affected,” he said.
“Phoenix Graphics is in the process of reprinting and mailing all materials to correct the project and will be covering all expenses related to production and postage.”
DeRosa told reporters this week during a press briefing that the company sent absentee ballots that said “military absentee.”
“There should have been a slash in between those two, so people knew that they’re both military and absentee, not military absentee,” DeRosa said. “And then the second issue is with their printer, which I believe is based in Rochester. They mismatched the application and the envelope. So there are people who were getting the correct ballot, but not the correct envelope.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, said his office was in touch with the State Board of Elections, which he said should take action against the city’s Board of Elections.
State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, a Democrat, accused Cuomo of trying to prevent the city board from sending out new ballots, calling the alleged effort “straight up disenfranchisement and an affront to our democracy.”
Cuomo adviser Rich Azzopardi responded in a statement, saying the Cuomo administration doesn’t control the board but is recommending that it just send corrected envelopes, not entirely new packages.
“There is nothing wrong with the actual ballots and sending 100,000 duplicate ballots seems to be an over correction,” he stated.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said the state should “change the Board of Elections once and for all, to just create an entirely different structure.”
“Either make it a mayoral agency so we can properly administer elections or come up with some other kind of model where it’s modern and professional. But what we have now is not working, and the state has not acted to change that, and that is why we have the problem year after year,” he told reporters on Sept. 30.
People who got the wrong ballot should call 866-VOTE-NYC and request a new ballot, he said.
President Donald Trump said the situation was “a total MESS.”
“Mayor and Governor have no idea what to do,” he said on Twitter. “Big Fraud, Unfixable! Cancel Ballots and go out and VOTE, just like in past decades, when there were no problems!”
Voters used similar language to describe what happened.
“It’s a mess, it’s an absolute mess,” Marla Garfield, an editor who lives in Brooklyn, told The Associated Press. “The fact they don’t know how far reaching it is, is troubling, And you have this moment where really, now this election, this is the one this is happening to?”
Victoria Edel, 28, added that she received her younger brother’s ballot while he got her mother’s and her mother got an envelope of a woman who appeared to live nearby.
“It feels like it’s really easy for a lot of people to be disenfranchised this way,” Edel said.