White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators will convene a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting in July to hear from the Commissioners of the County's Board of Elections about how to improve voting conditions in November in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board Chairman Ben Boykin (D- White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison), said, "The Board of Legislators has no authority over how the Board of Elections conducts elections. The BOE is an independent body that reports to the State Board of Elections. But it is imperative that voters in Westchester have confidence in the way elections are held in our County, and as representatives of the people of Westchester, we must do what we can to ensure that.

"The June 23 primaries were conducted under a perfect storm of difficult conditions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented process for and volume of absentee voting, the difficulty in recruiting and training poll workers in the face of the pandemic, and the challenges of locating a sufficient number of suitable voting places presented challenging circumstances.

"Unfortunately, as a result, confusion about absentee voting was widespread and Election Day lines were unacceptably long. It is imperative that we examine what happened and understand quickly what steps need to be taken to make sure that things will be better in November."

The Board of Legislators is planning a COW for the week of July 20 (specific date to be determined) with County Board of Elections Commissioners and staff. In future meetings, the BOL is also planning to speak with voters, advocates, State Board of Elections representatives and others to help ensure that clear and pro-active steps are taken before November.

In particular, Legislators are interested in hearing about improvements in the following areas:

  • Early voting
  • Communications
  • Poll worker recruitment and training
  • Poll sites
  • PPE and safety supplies
  • Physical and absentee voting logistics

Majority Leader MaryJane Shimsky (D - Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington), said, “Our voting system had to deal with numerous shocks during the June primary, the result of the coronavirus pandemic and the largest primary voting turnout in decades. Westchester County’s election system cannot be caught by surprise again. We need to make sure we are ready for what will likely be record-setting turnout for the general election in November. We look forward to working together with the Board of Elections, advocates, State officials and others to make sure our County is prepared for November.”

The Board of Legislators would like to hear first-hand experiences from those who voted this June as well. We are asking voters to share their experiences, as specifically as possible, by email at BOLPublicComments@westchesterlegislators.com.