The Board of Elections wasted nearly $2.5 million by ignoring recommendations that it reduce staffing for the low-turnout 2011 election, according to a blistering report Monday by the city Department of Investigation. With a paltry voter turnout of 3.9%, the city averaged one poll worker for every six voters, the report charged. At 12 poll sites, election workers actually outnumbered voters. With no major races on the ballot, the chronically blundering board had been warned by the DOI and the Daily News that full staffing was unnecessary for Election Day 2011. A News editorial on Oct. 31, 2011 — titled “Stop thieves!” — calculated that the board was about to throw away millions of dollars by having its usual complement of patronage workers at the polls.
The News suggested that the board reduce the required staff by consolidating election districts — something it had done in the past.
And the DOI sent a letter to the board on Nov. 4 urging that it reduce staff. But the 10-member board — split evenly between Democrats and Republicans — never responded to the agency.
The board went ahead and flooded the polls with 28,279 workers — claiming it needed full deployment to train workers to deal with new electronic ballots.
“Fully staffing all polling sites in the face of such low voter turnout is a costly way to do training,” DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said Monday. “The (Board of Elections) should not use a low-turnout election to train its staff without first doing the math.”