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'Major Reforms' Needed to Fix Board of Elections, Mayor and Comptroller Say

By  Katie Honan and Maya Rajamani | April 19, 2016 3:59pm | Updated on April 19, 2016 6:04pm

 Comptroller Scott Stringer said he plans to audit the Board of Elections over primary day issues.
Comptroller Scott Stringer said he plans to audit the Board of Elections over primary day issues.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

CIVIC CENTER — Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he'll push for "major reforms" of the Board of Elections following persistent issues at the primary polls, as Comptroller Scott Stringer said he plans to audit the agency. 

The mayor pointed to the more than 125,000 people who were kicked off the voter rolls in Brooklyn, and other issues at polls throughout the city.

"These errors today indicate that additional major reforms will be needed to the Board of Election and in the state law governing it," he said in a statement.

Stringer also announced Tuesday that he plans to audit the agency following confusion over poll locations, poor staffing and workers unsure of what to do on primary day.

"Why were people told they were in the wrong polling place time and time again? Why were voters being told absolute wrong information?" he said at a press conference outside a poll site in lower Manhattan.

READ MORE: New Yorkers Struggle to Cast Primary Ballots Amid Problems at the Polls

"It's time to drill down and finally find out why it is so tough for New York City to have fair, open and honest elections," Stringer said.

The hotline for voter issues at state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office received a much higher volume of complaints than normal.

As of 4 p.m., there had been more than 700 complaints filed, including more than 500 calls and 140 emails. During the 2012 general presidential election, there were a total of 150 complaints.

Rose Clouston, national coordinator at Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said New Yorkers had also been burning up their Election Protection hotline.

The Washington, D.C.-based group says they received almost 700 calls about voter issues today, including calls about a polling site that opened two hours late because the poll workers' keys to access voting materials did not work.

The comptroller sent a letter to Michael Ryan, the Board of Elections's executive director, blasting the primary day disorganization — from poorly staffed polling sites to the removal of voters without notice.

He told Ryan he plans to audit the agency because voters "deserve an electoral system that is free, fair and efficient — not one riddled with chaos and confusion." 

In the meantime, he asked Ryan to explain its poll site operations, voter communication, poll site training and voter disenfranchisement.