The state Constitution enshrines the structure of the city Board of Elections, and has many defenders. Some believe that it is more efficient to have partisan appointees looking at each other than to concentrate control in one elected official as many states do.

The board’s mission is difficult, according to government watchdogs. However, the board has made significant improvements over the years. For example: digitizing voter registration records that were long kept on millions notebook-bound cards. The spokesperson for the state Board of Elections stated that every local agency had struggled during the pandemic.

However, New York City’s board has been the subject of constant criticism for decades.

In 1940, a city investigation discovered it was plagued in “illegality and inefficiency”, laxity, waste, and other problems. A 1985 city inquiry also found it to be “almost embarrassingly ignorant” about its job.

Mayor Bill de Blasio once offered the agency $20 million to hire a consultant and reform; commissioners declined.

State legislators have not seriously attempted to change the state Constitution to create a professional organization. The City Council has not exercised its authority over the approval of commissioners to force changes.

While they are quick to criticize this board, elected officials tend to avoid taking responsibility. Representatives for Mr. de Blasio as well City Council Speaker Corey Johnson pointed out that the state is responsible for the board’s structure. On Sunday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Sunday that he has not advocated for reforms to the board and believes the city should be the one to lead by submitting a proposal.

“They run it. They appoint them. They set the rules,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Reform was inevitable following the 2013 scathing report from the city Department of Investigation. Investigators found that “illegalities”, misconduct and antiquated operation were all discovered, as well as the fact that nearly 10% of employees were connected to another employee.