Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
More than two million New York City voters are expected to head to the polls in just over six weeks to cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election. In a year when the Board of Elections’ performance has come under scrutiny for its handling of primary and special elections, information about the Board is conspicuously absent from the city's annual report card, known as the Mayor's Management Report.
The Board does not participate in the so-called MMR because it’s not a mayoral agency, according to BOE spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez.
Instead, she said, “the data that is requested in the MMR is made public in our annual report.”
That report does contain overlapping metrics with those listed in the MMR.
But Bronx elections commissioner J.C. Polanco also stressed the Board’s independence from the Mayor’s office.
“We are appointed by the New York City Council, we get our funding from the New York City Council, we go before the New York City Council, so our annual report is to the New York City Council,” Polanco said.
The Mayor’s office echoed the sentiment. “The Board of Elections is run by the political parties, not the mayor, and we do not have the authority under current law to mandate they submit data as every other city agency does,” said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the Mayor’s office.
Still officials like City Councilman Brad Lander want the Board to find a compromise.
“I would hope rather than quibble about whether they are a mayoral agency or another kind of city agency, they would say, ‘sure, here's the information, we track it, let's talk about what form we're going to put it in and just give it to us,” Lander said.
He’s sponsored a piece of legislation, Intro 778, that would require the city Board of Elections to report data listed in the Mayor’s Management Report to the City Council.
It’s one of a series of bills aimed at reforming the Board of Elections that will go before a hearing of the City Council Committee on Governmental Operations on October 15.
Spokeswoman Passalacqua said the Bloomberg administration would support measures to make the board more transparent and accountable.