New Yorkers looking for quick election night results next Tuesday shouldn't hold their breath. The city's Board of Elections will be counting votes with its painstakingly slow hand-tally method. But quicker results could be on the way. NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report.
When the New York City Board of Elections ditched the old lever voting machines and replaced them with high-tech ballot scanners in 2010, it was widely assumed the new system would allow for a swift election night tally. That turned out not to be the case. In fact, it takes more time to get results.
“It has been a learning process for us and each year we are hoping to make the process better,” said Frederic Umane, NYC Board of Elections commissioner.
Currently, election workers print out the vote count from individual scanners. They then add up results manually by election district. The tally is given to the NYPD, who manually enters the data into its system before it is shared with the media and then with the public.
The Board is now considering ways to speed things up. For about $3.4 million, wireless technology could be used to tally and transmit results on election night. The technology is already being used in Chicago. An official from the company that makes Chicago’s voting machines says it takes one hour to tally 95 percent of the vote.
“It is eliminating manual math that is being done at the end of a long day," said Judd Ryan of Election Systems and Software. "It's also eliminating hand data entry of results, which is another opportunity for error. So, I would think that the public would welcome this,”
But changing the way election night results are counted may take some time. Even if the Board decides it wants to use wireless technology for the tally, the changes may not take effect in New York City until 2014.
“It would involve changes in state law, rules and regulations of the state Board of Elections and then recertification of the hardware,” said Steven Richman, general counsel for the NYC Board of Elections.
However, there is some hope that legislation in Albany will help speed things up even faster. Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh's bill would allow the city to use electronic data to tally election night results.
“We are optimistic and we are working to get it done by Thursday,” Kavanagh said.
The Board of Elections said it supports the legislation.