New Yorkers face threats to democracy driven by a widespread problem: an electoral system with a history of systematic failures. Those are the findings of a 46-page report to be released by the state Senate Elections Committee on Monday, which proposes a series of reforms that include overhauling the New York City Board of Elections (NYCBOE).

“New Yorkers are fed up with the dysfunction,” said State Senator Zellnor Myrie, who represents Brooklyn's 20th District and chairs the chamber’s Elections Committee. He said the report is meant to serve as a foundation for public discourse and legislative action.

“This is a five-alarm fire for every voter in the state,” he said.

The recommendation to restructure the NYCBOE involves reducing the number of commissioners from 10 and removing the role of each borough's Democratic and Republican party bosses, who currently select the commissioners for the agency. That follows a similar recommendation made by the Brennan Center for Justice earlier this year in their report on the systemic flaws in New York City’s current electoral system.

The report could serve as a course correction, coming on the heels of the unexpected defeat of two ballot measures intended to expand voting rights -- one which would allow for same-day voter registration and the other no-excuse absentee ballots -- after a well-funded campaign by New York’s Conservative and Republican parties.

It also comes ahead of a retreat next month among state Senate Democrats where they are expected to build their legislative agenda for next year, which in past years has made election reform a day one priority.

The case for revamping the state’s election system is built on a long list of recent election snafus: from voters improperly removed from the rolls, scanner breakdowns, an insufficient number of language interpreters, misprinted absentee ballots and hours-long lines to vote.

The last straw for Senate Democrats was when city elections officials released faulty primary election data earlier this year, with more than 130,000 test votes skewing the first set of ranked-choice tallies.

“The situation in New York City is a national embarrassment and must be dealt with promptly and properly,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in June while announcing that the state Senate would hold hearings, “and will seek to pass reform legislation as a result at the earliest opportunity.”

Throughout the summer, the Elections Committee met across the state to gather testimony from voters, poll workers, advocates and elections officials about what’s really happening at local election boards and the polls, along with what needs to change to make elections function better.

Voters were the main witnesses at hearings in Brooklyn, Rochester, Syracuse and Westchester County where they testified about the ways the democratic system, and elections officials, failed individual voters and poll workers.

In Brooklyn, Jan Combopiano, who worked as a poll-site coordinator at the Dodge YMCA on Atlantic Avenue in June, testified about how she was forced to reach out to a local mutual aid group to help find additional poll workers on Primary Day. This came after NYCBOE officials failed to provide assistance when people failed to show up for their assignments.

In Rochester, Spanish-speaking voters described poorly trained poll workers who in multiple instances reverted to aggressive physical contact with voters. In one incident documented in the report, an older voter who alleges she was given an incorrect ballot, described being shoved by a poll worker.

“They were pushing me and pushing me and treating me like a piece of garbage,” Belen Colon testified at the hearing in Rochester in August.

Elections officials, good government groups, and academics were invited to a final hearing in Albany in September to respond to issues raised by voters and offer their input on how changes to election laws have forced them to change how they operate. In some cases, elections administrators urged lawmakers to slow down on additional election law reforms arguing that they could not keep up with the pace of change.

During his testimony, state Board of Elections co-chair Peter Kosinki, a Republican, cited 80 changes to election law that created more work for local election boards. He raised specific concerns about a new absentee ballot cure process that requires local elections officials to contact a voter when the ballot they have returned contains certain disqualifying, but fixable, errors.

“I’m going to call it a burden on our boards,” Kossinki said. “It's a benefit to the voters, no question, but it's a burden on our boards that people need to understand.”

At the same time, elections administrators defended how they operated, voicing strong support for the bipartisan structure of the boards. Outside New York City, that can often mean only two commissioners, one Democrat and one Republican, and sometimes a staff of fewer than six people.

“Particularly in rural counties, if you did not have a mandated bipartisan personnel structure, you would in fact have a partisan one,” said Judith Hunter, chair of the Democratic Rural Conference of New York State, during her testimony. “Whatever party dominated in that county would be able to appoint the personnel and you would not have the built in checks and balances of the mirrored system.”

New York is the only state in the nation that gives political party leaders an explicit and exclusive role in the process of selecting elections officials, the report notes, citing research from political scientist Ronald Hayduk, a professor at Queens College.

That requirement system makes the agency administering elections both inherently political and unaccountable to voters, the report argues. Currently, the only way to remove a commissioner for cause is for the governor to intervene, something the state elections officials acknowledge has never been done before.

The report also urges more transparent and professional standards when it comes to hiring staff at senior levels for the NYCBOE, with appointments made by, “some combination of the Mayor, City Council and Public Advocate,” with their removal subject to the same combination. It also urges lawmakers to strike the statute that requires bipartisan hiring for all boards.

Other recommendations include strengthening the oversight role of the New York State Board of Elections, creating minimum standards for commissioners who would also be required to attend regular training and could be removed by either the state BOE or local government officials. There are also a host of proposals to improve the quality of poll workers and the experience of voters.

Altogether, the report proposes to continue advancing the conversation about voting rights in New York, as a buttress against the assault on democracy taking place elsewhere.

“There is a slow burn insurrection happening across the country,” said Myrie, pointing to the recent defeat of what he called “common sense” ballot initiatives in New York by a campaign that stoked unfounded claims of voter fraud. He said that should serve as a wake-up call to Democrats that support expanding voting rights about what can happen if they sit idly by while their opponents invest more to defeat them.

“Any Democrat that is not in a state of introspection,” said Myrie, “really needs to decide whether or not this is the party for them.”