Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Lawmakers Disapprove Of New Electronic Polling System's Glitches

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The City Council is holding an upcoming hearing to figure out problems the Board of Elections experienced as it unveiled a new electronic voting system for Primary Day.

The new electronic voting machines scan paper ballots. A handful of polling places citywide did not open on time at 6 a.m. Tuesday due to problems.

Voters reported some sites had problems, including a lack of paper ballots, issues getting the scanners to work, and some polls did not even have the scanning machines delivered until well after polls officially opened.

"The poll site that I was at did not have all the computers up as of 9:30. People were leaving, not wanting to vote by paper, they wanted to vote on the machine," said Manhattan Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito. "Considering we have a whole brand new system being implemented in the City of New York, the fact that machines were not up and running by 6 o'clock when people were expecting them to is quite problematic."

"The problem was rectified that's all I can say. We've got our equipment, wherever it was sent, we sent out the wrong equipment that was sent here and that's it," said one poll worker in Queens.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was infuriated by voters' reports of unprepared polling places and poor customer service. The machines cost $85 million and the city paid $77 million to the BOE to implement the new system, and Bloomberg said New Yorkers deserved more for their money.

"That is a royal screw-up and it's completely unacceptable," said Bloomberg. "It means some voters waited for hours and other voters may not have a chance to cast their ballots at all. We've also gotten reports of broken and missing scanners, emergency ballots and poor customer service."

The City Council also released a statement that said the Board of Election had "poor execution," and its upcoming hearing will try to resolve any issues the BOE has before the general November election.

BOE officials issued a statement saying they are aware that some polling sites have issues with the new voting system.

The board said its top priority is "resolving these issues as quickly as possible. It's important to note majority of the poll sites are working properly and many voters are having a positive experience."

BOE officials add they will apply the lessons learned from the primary to November's general election, and thanked New Yorkers for their patience.

The new system is required by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. If you are having problems voting, call the Board of Elections at 1-866-VOTE-NYC.

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