For months, the New York City Board of Elections has said it would not be ready for potential runoff elections in three citywide primary races. On Tuesday, the board approved a contingency plan, which could prove to be a waste of taxpayer dollars. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
This year's primary election is already causing headaches for the city's Board of Elections.
"Those who want to continue to criticize us as not having any idea or any clue about what we are doing, I am just trying to give you the ammunition to be able to do that," said Frederic Umane of the New York City Board of Elections. "But we have no choice under the law."
The board said it has been dealt a bad hand. Officials said they won't have enough time to certify the September 10 primary results before a potential runoff election two weeks later.
The problem, they said, is the new machines.
So on Tuesday, board members approved a new plan for a runoff, which means they may have to cut a few corners.
"There is an increased possibility that abnormalities with the ballots would not be caught in the testing procedure," said Douglas Kellner, co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections.
They will use the new machines, but they will print ballots before the results are official, anticipating which candidates could be facing off against each other.
"We are only going to use one or two, or maybe none of that, and that's just a lot of trees to cut down," Umane said. "I wanted to be clear that we're not completely oblivious to the fact that this plan is going to be potentially very wasteful of taxpayer money."
They will ask the state legislature to push back the runoff one week, giving them three weeks instead of two.
The board initially wanted the primary moved to June, giving them months to plan.
"The day of actually changing it is long passed," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "We are looking at a way of accommodating the Board of Elections in a narrow time frame in September."
The board's plan for an October 1 runoff will cost about $8.6 million on top of the normal $20 million price tag.
The Board of Elections also considered bringing back lever machines, but they ruled that option out because that, too, would need approval from the state legislature in Albany.
The whole discussion will be moot if a candidate receives 40 percent of the vote on primary day.