The city Board of Elections has suspended a second administrator at its Brooklyn office in connection with the widespread voter registration irregularities that surfaced on Primary Day last month. Brooklyn deputy clerk Betty Ann Canizio, hired by county Democratic boss Frank Seddio, joined her Republican counterpart on unpaid suspension pending an internal investigation. BOE director Michael Ryan announced the move at a meeting of the agency's commissioners late on Thursday afternoon.

Canizio got a $17,000 raise last year, and was making $120,000 at the time of her suspension. The city Conflict of Interest Board scolded her in late April for making a subordinate drive her to and from work, but declined to fine her because it hadn't publicly stated the rule before. The board previously fined her employee-chauffeur, David Annarummo, $500 for parking illegally in Downtown Brooklyn with a forged BOE placard in his car window.

BOE commissioners suspended the Brooklyn BOE office's Republican clerk Diane Haslett-Rudiano two weeks ago following the glut of polling-place problems and the revelation that 126,000 voters had been purged or rendered inactive in the borough in the six months leading up to the presidential primary. Many of those deactivations appear to have been made in error, as there were widespread reports of voters who had lived and voted in the same place for decades missing from voter lists at polling sites, as well as newly registered voters who met cutoff deadlines, not just in Brooklyn, but citywide.

In addition to the suspensions, Ryan has said the board is investigating how the irregularities came about in the Brooklyn voter rolls. Also, because voters whose names poll workers couldn't find on voter lists cast 121,000 provisional ballots, nearly five times as many as in the 2008 presidential primary, board workers counting the affidavit ballots looked through each person's database entry for signs of irregularity before discounting any ballot, Ryan said. At a meeting on Tuesday, a commissioner said that the "affidavit ballots have been counted and we have an accurate number."

Long Island attorney Jonathan Clarke, who is suing the state and county election boards as part of the group Election Justice USA, said that the lawsuit and a state attorney general investigation seem to have motivated Ryan to go the extra mile in making sure votes are counted and registrations accounted for.

"There's a lot of oversight, and I don't think he wants to run afoul of any of that," Clarke told The Young Turks.

Clarke said he talked over the affidavit review process with Ryan, and though it's unclear exactly how the board decided whether or not to count affidavit ballots, voters can challenge the outcome in court. Voters whose affidavit ballots were rejected are supposed to receive mailed notices explaining the decision, but because the notices may be backed up and the challenge has a 20-day time limit, Clarke encouraged voters to check with their local BOE offices as soon as the votes are certified to find out if their votes had been counted, and said Ryan promised a full accounting to anyone in the city who inquired about his or her affidavit vote. Clarke's group is hoping to assemble a network of lawyers to shepherd voters through the challenge process.

Board of Elections director Michael Ryan, center rear, at a BOE commissioners meeting. (Nathan Tempey/Gothamist)

On Thursday afternoon, administrators from the county offices appeared before the board's commissioners, also appointees of the county political party bosses, to certify the election results. Clarke noted in his interview that the certification process is somewhat ceremonial, and affidavit ballots have been added to the total after the fact in past elections. Still, the ceremony was not without hiccups.

Bronx administrators reported that at PS 1 in the South Bronx, a poll worker's error led to voters in one election district being given ballots for another. Other than that, however, when asked the boilerplate question, "Are there any discrepancies to report to the board," all administrators present answered no, including the two fill-ins sent from the Brooklyn office.

The meeting adjourned twice for long stretches, but for reasons unclear Manhattan's BOE representatives failed to show up, so the votes weren't certified, and the meeting was adjourned till today at 1:30 p.m.

At another recent meeting, Ryan said that affidavit ballots examined so far had shown a "healthy mix of potential real problems as well as, we're finding a chunk of voters that did not necessarily understand the closed primary process in New York." Among the "real problems" we've encountered so far, people's party affiliations seem to have been changed without their input, their registration rendered inactive despite regular voting, their names, addresses, and birth dates typed in incorrectly, and their new voter registration not processed.

The meetings, usually lightly attended, have become tense affairs since the primary, with news photographers taking flash photos, and concerned voters, largely Bernie Sanders supporters, expressing their displeasure with the handling of the election, sometimes dramatically.

In Brooklyn, some of the irregularities seem to trace to a series of errors during database maintenance last year, maintenance that ironically is one of the only known efforts taken by the board to reform itself after a scathing 2013 Department of Investigation report exposed poor training, widespread nepotism, and woefully ill-kept databases. A series of mailers meant to identify dead, moved, or otherwise ineligible voters was supposed to first assess whether someone lived at an address, then if no response was received, to let the occupants at that address know of the board's intent to cancel the registration. Ryan said one of the series of mailers may not have gone out before cancellation.

Had the notices gone out, address spelled out with apartment number and all, their purpose wouldn't necessarily have been readily obvious to their intended recipients. The Campaign Finance Board Voter Assistance annual report explains:

A review of the voter rolls by NYC Votes shows that a large number of voters were changed from active to inactive status on a single day in January 2016, roughly three months before the first federal election on the calendar.

Each of those voters should have received notification from BOE, and been provided with the opportunity to respond and keep their voter record active. [...]It seems obvious that much of the confusion on the day of the primary could have been eliminated with simpler, clearer communications before the election from BOE to voters.

The number of voters made inactive was 88,658, all made inactive on January 13th, which was apparently a recurring date in the temporary voter court set up in the Brooklyn office on Primary Day. The notices look like this:

(Campaign Finance Board)

The Campaign Finance Board again:

The notice sent to newly-inactive voters is printed on plain white paper, with the words “CONFIRMATION NOTICE” on the front. It is easy to overlook, and does not clearly indicate that a response is required.

The first page of the multi-page mailing fails to clearly explain that a voter received the notice because their registration was marked inactive, while the following page is written in legal language that is inaccessible to the average voter. There is also no deadline provided for when the voter needs to respond.

These mailings should be redesigned so that they stand out to voters and make clear at a glance that action is required.

Also on Thursday afternoon, the City Council voted unanimously to approve three measures to increase access to the polls. One calls for creating a web portal for voters to look up the status of their absentee ballots, registration status, and voting history. Another would require the BOE to send email and text message notifications to voters who supplied their information, including election times, polling locations, deadlines, and links to more information. A third would require the BOE to post signs at former polling places that were used in the last four years, indicating where the new poll sites are.

The BOE's function as a dumping ground for party players rather than computer science majors and logistics professionals is cemented in state law, but Councilman James Vacca, author of the email and text notification bill, said these three bills do a good job of working around the edges.

"The Board of Elections has to be reformed, has to be really, really reformed," he said at the Council hearing. "It needs help. It needs a miracle. But so much of what has to be done has to be done on a state level."

"We’re in a technology age," he added. "The Board of Elections has got to get with it."

We couldn't reach Canizio, but she told Brooklyn Daily, "I didn't sign off on anything."

A spokesman for her sponsor Frank Seddio declined to discuss her qualifications.

The BOE did not respond to questions.