Monday, October 20, 2014

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Voting Officials Expect Near-Record Turnout

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Across the city, election officials are ready for a heavy turnout Tuesday as voters head to the polls to cast their ballots for president, Congress and the state legislature. Taunia Hottman filed this report from the Bronx.

As the voting hour drew near, officials in the Bronx elections office said Monday that they were about as ready as they could be.

"We have translators available, we've increased our phone bank to triple the size, and we're tied into 311," said Bronx Elections Commissioner J.C. Polanco.

The Board of Elections is expecting a near-record turnout Tuesday. Between January and October, 715,000 new voters registered citywide – with an unprecedented 200,000+ registrations processed in the last two weeks alone.

Besides long lines, Polanco said his workers are ready for any voting machine troubles. Sixty-five technicians are stationed across the five boroughs to handle malfunctions.

"Every Assembly district in the city has a technician available and roving, to make sure that machines are working properly," he said.

Technician Antonio Melendez says the city's voting machines – while old – are tried and true.

"To me these are more reliable," he says.

In fact the Board of Elections says that in 2007, only four of the city's 7,000 machines had to be taken out of service. Others may have malfunctioned but were fixed on site – something that may become necessary again on Tuesday.

"We expect a big load," Melendez says. "The machines go out early in the morning and we get calls about handles jamming and things, and we try to take care of all the problems before noon when people really start to come in."

With all the new voters, the risk also increases that some could be turned away if their registrations haven't made it to the polling site.

Normally you need only sign your name on your polling form to vote. But if your form appears with a notation that your identity hasn't been verified yet, you won't be able to vote unless you have a driver's license or other ID, like a passport, along with a copy of a paycheck, utility bill or other document showing your address.

Otherwise, you may only be able to cast a provisional ballot unless you get a court order.

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