[Image via tenant.net]
New York City’s Board of Elections has come in for withering criticism after the April presidential primary, with reports of voters being improperly removed from the rolls – but now a new audit by the city’s Comptroller highlights severe problems with equipment inventory. The Daily News has more:
The Board of Elections doesn’t have a handle on how much office equipment it has, can’t find nearly a dozen computers and didn’t itemize close to 300 pieces of equipment — including several voting machines, an audit found.
Controller Scott Stringer on Monday announced that the BOE had inaccurate records for over 1,450 pieces of election and office equipment, an organizational lapse that could lead the agency’s good vulnerable to theft.
“Maintaining an accurate inventory is critical to transparency, integrity and accountability at any government agency, and on this count BOE is clearly absentee,” Stringer said in a statement announcing the results of the audit.
The audit found a whopping 11,176 items that hadn’t been properly tagged, including 462 computers, 449 monitors and 23 laptops.
Fortunately for the agency, the vast majority of these were false negatives – things on-site but not inventoried – but there was a (big) handful of missing equipment. Not surprisingly, the Comptroller suggests that the NYCBOE rectify that with better records:
[The audit] also found nearly 300 pieces of election and office equipment that hadn’t been listed on inventory records — including four voting machines, 12 TVs, and 45 computers.
And 11 items were on inventory records, but no one could find them.
Stringer’s office recommended a series of record-keeping changes the BOE should adopt, including upgrading its inventory records to real-time data.
From the Comptroller’s press release:
The Comptroller’s audit made a series of recommendations to BOE, including that they find missing items, maintain complete and accurate records, update its inventory records in real time, conduct an annual inventory of major electronic equipment, tag all of its property and ensure its inventory procedures follow City standards.
“New Yorkers demand that the BOE run elections accurately and efficiently and they also expect it to be able to keep track of the equipment it buys with taxpayer dollars. With three more elections this year there’s a lot of moving pieces to juggle. BOE must take steps now to assure New Yorkers that elections won’t be compromised by mismanagement and poor record-keeping,” Stringer said.
The NYCBOE’s recent problems – which already suggest a culture that doesn’t necessarily emphasize attention to detail or accuracy – are yet another area of concern for the Comptroller other city officials. To be fair, in some ways this audit reveals problems that are unique to a city the size of New York, which requires a massive inventory of equipment to conduct its operations. But the basic concept – that an election office be careful with its equipment and other assets – is doubly important when collecting and keeping track of voters and votes is “Job One.”
National media attention has swung away from New York as presidential primary season reaches its conclusion … but you can bet city officials (and longtime nemesis the Daily News) will use this story and others to keep up the pressure on NYCBOE as it turns its attention to this year’s remaining votes, especially this November’s general election.
Stay tuned …