White Plains, NY — The Westchester County Board of Legislators will convene a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting on Wednesday, July 29 at 10 a.m. to hear from the Commissioners of the County's Board of Elections (BOE) about how to improve voting conditions in November in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pursuant to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.1, as extended, in order to protect public health and maintain necessary social distancing, the meeting will take place without in-person public access, but, as with all our public meetings, the proceedings will be streamed live and archived on our website, www.westchesterlegislators.com.

A live link to the stream will appear on the Upcoming Events section of our online meeting calendar at https://westchestercountyny.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=1 when the meeting begins.

The June 23 primaries were conducted under a perfect storm of difficult conditions because of the COVID-19 pandemic which affected the BOE's ability to recruit and train poll workers. In addition, changes in the availability of traditional polling sites meant that many new locations had to be found. Also, a series of gubernatorial emergency Executive Orders changed election dates and deadlines multiple times, and instituted new absentee balloting procedures, leading to a dramatic increase in the volume of absentee voting.

The BOE faced a daunting task in conducting elections in that environment, and the COVID-19 pandemic is sure to present similar challenges this November, when turnout will be significantly higher.

The County Board of Legislators has no authority over how the BOE conducts elections. However, as the elected representatives of the people of Westchester County, we know that nothing is more important that the people's right to vote. To the extent that the legislature can gather information, ask questions, and provide recommendations to the BOE, we must do that.

The COW is just one of several steps the Board of Legislators is undertaking to assist voters and to provide recommendations to the BOE.

A newly created Election Information Gathering Task Force met Wednesday evening, July 8 to hear from more than 70 members of the public who registered to speak during the online event. Many of those who spoke were long-time poll workers. We also received more than 150 written comments. The comments offered valuable and real-world user-experience data we hope will be useful to the BOE.

In addition, our Budget & Appropriations Committee met on the morning of July 13 with election professionals and advocates to hear about their experiences and suggestions.

The Election Information Gathering Task Force will assemble the information from these meetings and prepare a report, including recommendations, to be completed by August 7.