Now that the Board of Elections has sent mismatched absentee ballot envelopes to 99,477 Brooklyn voters, flummoxing the hell out of the electorate, what to do, besides curse bureaucrats’ blatant incompetence and watch President Trump gloat about how bad vote-by-mail is?
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The answer is to send voters, right away, 99,477 new packets — with another ballot, correct ballot envelope and return envelope and clear-as-crystal language to use this second mailing instead. And follow that up with email, text messages and phone calls, and a public education campaign.
Just sending out the correct ballot envelope, perhaps to limit the number of ballots in the wild, won’t work. Plenty of voters have already tossed what they errantly received. Extra absentee ballots aren’t a danger anyway, since they need a proper signature envelope.
But even if the Board acts now and is (don’t laugh) perfectly competent from this point forward, lasting damage has been done.
Unknown numbers of voters will in good faith send back the right ballot with the wrong signature. Disenfranchisement will be the result.
Remember, the only real general-election contest in the city, the Max Rose and Nicole Malliotakis congressional race, includes a chunk of Brooklyn. It could come down to the wire, and the Board has just made what is likely to be a complex counting job that much harder.
Absent this colossal screwup, Board bumblers had reacted reasonably to the June primary mess with a new absentee tracking system. All voters who requested a ballot can log in to see the dates when the application was submitted and ballot mailed out, as well when the completed ballot is received back and if it is deemed valid. In theory, bad ballots (like with a questionable signature) could then be fixed.
If only they hadn’t just stepped on a few dozen rakes.
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