Mayor Bill de Blasio said today that Manhattan Board of Elections Commissioner Alan Schulkin’s “crazy” assertions about voter fraud and the municipal identification program are proof he is not fit for his job, and demanded the commissioner step down immediately.
Schulkin, a Democrat, was secretly recorded by conservative nonprofit Project Veritas claiming that de Blasio’s IDNYC initiative does not properly verify individuals’ identities and enables people to commit election fraud. He also said people are unaware that in minority neighborhoods—including African-American, Hispanic and Chinese—organizations “bus people around to vote” to different polling sites so they can get more votes for themselves, and argued New York needs a Republican-advocated voter I.D. law.
In the video, Schulkin also accused Muslim women of using their burqas to hide their identities.
“That’s crazy and what he said was entirely inappropriate and unfair and absolutely the reverse of what someone should be saying on the Board of Elections,” de Blasio said in his weekly “Ask the Mayor” segment on WNYC this morning. “He should really step down.”
The mayor dismissed the commissioner’s assertion that the IDNYC program—which is open to all residents of the five boroughs, including undocumented immigrants and the homeless—is encouraging voter fraud. He noted that the city worked on the program for months to ensure it was secure and that in other American cities where the program has been implemented, there have been no concerns about fraud—also calling the fraud allegations an urban legend with “no proof whatsoever.”
“Look, the IDNYC program was developed with the NYPD—maybe Mr. Schulkin is questioning the NYPD and their approach to security,” de Blasio continued.
When Lehrer asked him whether Schulkin evinced racial prejudice given that he singled out African-American, Latino and Asian neighborhoods, de Blasio said he would not weigh in on “what’s going on in his soul,” calling his professional role the main issue.
“He’s supposed to be guaranteeing maximum voter participation and his statements and his values obviously indicate he’s not trying to do that,” de Blasio said. “And to attack one of the things that has empowered people to participate which is IDNYC and to attack it falsely proves that he’s just not up for the role.”
The BOE declined to comment on the mayor’s remarks.
Schulkin later said the phrase “potential fraud” would have been more appropriate, but still wants a voter I.D. requirement. In 2014, Schulkin, then deputy chief clerk of the BOE’s Manhattan office, secured five of nine votes from the City Council to become the next Manhattan commissioner.
Council members Margaret Chin, Mark Levine, Corey Johnson, Ydanis Rodriguez and Helen Rosenthal voted in favor of his appointment, while Inez Dickens, Dan Garodnick, Ben Kallos and Rosie Mendez voted against. Mark-Viverito did not vote, but recently blasted Schulkin’s claims as “uninformed opinions” that “have no basis in fact.”
Mark-Viverito’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But Schulkin is not alone in supporting a voter ID law. Earlier this week, GOP Staten Island Councilman Joe Borelli wrote a letter to Democratic Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos, chairman of the Council’s Government Operations Committee, requesting that the potential of voter fraud stemming from abuse of the IDNYC program receive attention during a committee hearing as well as an evaluation of the program’s merits and effectiveness.
De Blasio is not the only elected official to speak out against Schulkin’s comments. Bronx Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda has already called on Schulkin to resign.
The mayor also urged New Yorkers to register to vote in light of today’s deadline and reiterated his belief that New York State has an antiquated voting system that needs to become more modernized and progressive.
Watch the Project Veritas video below: