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Pols Push for Board of Elections Overhaul

After New Yorkers dealt with problems at polling sites Tuesday, officials agree the election system needs work.

After many New Yorkers dealt with long lines, jammed machines and a disorganized volunteer staff at polling locations on Tuesday, elected officials and government watchdog groups are pushing for an election process overhaul, according to the New York Times.

Christine Quinn, current City Council speaker and possible mayoral contender, said the city’s election process needed a “major soup-to-nuts overhaul” and that the Council had plans to lobby Albany for change.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich, R-Howard Beach, slammed the board while voting on Tuesday, saying they had let partisanship trump citizenship.

"Expecting people to walk, in some cases, 30 or 40 blocks to their new polling site, not informing them of their poll site, not deciding what their poll site will be until last night at six o'clock, I think the board has once again proven it's not fit to conduct these elections," Ulrich said.

But overhauling the process may not be so simple.

The State Constitution outlines how state elections are managed, requiring that Republicans and Democrats be equally represented at all levels of election administration. In New York City, the 10 Board of Elections members are recommended by the Democratic and Republican Party committees in each of the five boroughs and then confirmed by the City Council. Both parties are also in charge to choosing staff members.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a vocal critic of the Board of Elections, argued that the system is set up so that it’s “county leaders picking their buddies” to oversee the voting process. 

Changing this system would require state legislation, if not an amendment to the State Constitution, according to the paper.

Some elected officials have suggested changes on a smaller-scale that would make voting in New York easier.

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer all endorse allowing early voting and de Blasio would also like to see legislation allowing same-day voter registration.

The City Council will hold a hearing on Dec. 5 to look at Election Day problems, which included jammed or broken ballot scanners, poll sites that ran out of affidavit ballots, and long lines that caused a wait of hours for many New Yorkers to vote.

What was your Election Day experience? Do you think New Yorkers will be too disenfranchised to vote in the next election after the problems this year? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Deirdre Lawrence November 10, 2012 at 12:33 AM
I voted at a school on 6th avenue and Berkeley Place and the scene was chaos. Very little signage (words written on the back of a paper plate was the only sign I saw) and long confusing lines were just two elements keeping us all there for too long. When I finally got up to the desk to pick up my ballot the person checking me in could not find my name because she was looking for my name by the first name. So this system is supposed to streamline things for us? Hardly, it is convenience for the those counting votes but has set us all back in terms of time. Bring back the old machines!
max November 10, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I voted at about 2PM. When I got to my assigned table it was as if I was was the first person voting for the day. There was confusion. The left hand did know what the right hand was doing. There was no system therefore what should have taken 2 minutes took about 8 minutes. This multiplied for each voter created long lines and waiting times.
Jim Stock November 12, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Unfortunately we hear only about the problems not considering one of the worst natural disasters had hit NYC days before the election and they had an election. That is amazing. Consider that the electronic scanner are made to work in a dry controlled environment they scan paper ballots under very moist conditions, all and all it went well. This system was approved by Albany, not the BOE only a few years ago. Of course some procedures could have been better, but name me any system that could not be improved on every single election from now until the end of time. Look at the positives considering the circumstances.
max November 13, 2012 at 03:07 AM
I was speaking about the human element not the electronic. The left hand did not know what the right hand was doing. They looked like deer startled by headlights. Fortunately I voted in an area that was not affected by the storm.

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