BROOKLYN – Last month the Board of Elections (BOE) sent out nearly 100,000 absentee ballots with return envelopes that had wrong names and addresses in Brooklyn. If the voter filled out this ballot, signed it, and put it in the return envelope, they’d be voting on behalf of someone else. And since their signature won’t match the one on file, their vote will be voided, THE CITY reported.
Phoenix Graphics of Rochester, N.Y., is the vendor that the BOE hired to print and distribute absentee ballots in Brooklyn and Queens. We have learned that Phoenix Graphics and the DeBiase family that owns it, have donated more to Republican campaigns compared to Democratic ones, and significantly larger amounts as well.
According to data from the NYS Board of Elections, over the last 10 years, Phoenix Graphics Inc. has donated over $100,000 to Republican campaigns, with tens of thousands of dollars going to the Monroe County Republican Housekeeping Committees. The Democratic campaigns, on the other hand, received less than $30,000.
Phoneix Graphics Inc. is located in Monroe County, which has a strong presence of both Democrats and Republicans, though there have been some slight shifts in recent years. In the 2016 election, 54.4% of the vote went to Hillary Clinton and 40.3% went to Donald Trump. But the question remains: Why is the Board of Election working with a partisan vendor?
In May, the Board of Elections awarded Phoenix Graphics a $4.6 million contract to handle absentee ballots, THE CITY reported, “The contract was a negotiated acquisition, which means that there was no competitive bidding. Phoenix was the only vendor contacted by BOE for the job, the city comptroller’s Checkbook NYC system shows.”
We reached out to the Board of Elections and to Phoenix Graphics Inc. for comment on the partisanship but did not hear back.
According to Borough President Eric Adams, “The BOE has once again fallen short on this basic task, and for that, there must be accountability. Trust in our democratic process must be absolute, and errors like these are particularly unacceptable for disenfranchised communities who have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19 and depend on fair elections to address decades of systemic inequality and injustice.”
“We can and must swiftly right this wrong and encourage in-person voting for all those who are able, strictly adhering to public health guidelines by handing out masks and hand sanitizer, creating outdoor voting booths, and anything else necessary,” he continued. “This upcoming election will be one of the most important in modern history. We will not let deliberate sabotage, political cynicism, or bureaucratic screw-ups cast the results into doubt.”
Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, who is also the Brooklyn Democratic County Committee Chair, lamented that “Brooklyn voters wishing to safely participate in our democratic process are once again being disenfranchised by systemic errors caused by third party participants in the electoral process. I am outraged that Brooklynites are receiving erroneous ballots impeding their ability to effectively vote by mail.”
“Perceived threats to our democracy emerging from the federal government are exacerbated when confidence in the absentee voting process is undercut. I wholeheartedly sympathize with voters across the county who are troubled by these events. The state Legislature has worked hard to implement election reform to carry us through these unprecedented times,” she said. “This error undermines our efforts to make voting more accessible and transparent. I implore each and every voter to persevere and vote, by mail or in person,” she continued. “This problem is troubling, and could impact the outcome of the elections in south Brooklyn, where there are marginal races. I will work in tandem with city and state agencies to ensure that this risk is minimized.”