Addressing nepotism at local elections boards and having officials there comply with the state's code of ethics for public employees are among the measures being proposed by 40th District State Sen. Peter Harckham (D) amid scrutiny of election administration in New York.
The measures are being proposed as lawmakers, including Elections Committee Chairman Zellnor Myrie, have held public hearings around the state to discuss the issue following high-profile missteps at local elections boards in Central New York and in New York City.
“We have to do as much as possible to ensure that elections throughout New York State are conducted with absolute integrity and unfailing protections of voters’ rights,” said Harckham. “The legislation I have introduced will enhance the professionalism at boards of elections and work to eliminate possible conflicts of interest. It’s time for the ideals of good governance, like transparency and accountability, to guide this critical sector of public service.”
One bill would classify all employees and officers of boards of elections in New York as public employees in order to have them comply with hiring under civil service rules in a bid to combat nepotism and partisanship at the boards.
Additionally, Harckham wants local boards of election workers to adhere to the code of ethics for public workers, barring them having any financial interest or business obligation that is in conflict with their duties.
“People should be hired on the basis of what they know rather than on who they know,” Harckham said. “By removing the political leverage that partisans try to create in the boards of election, our election process will run more smoothly and center on fairness and accuracy.”