Sections

They must be the ‘Bored of Elections’

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

New machines, same old problems.

Anticipating a spate of technical problems with new electronic voting machines on Election Day, Brooklyn voters instead encountered incompetence from the Board of Elections.

Dozens of poll sites throughout Brooklyn turned away voters this morning because the machines had not been delivered or were not properly set up when polls opened at 6 am.

At PS 34 on McGuinness Boulevard and Norman Avenue, one of the heaviest turnout sites in Greenpoint, voters were unable to cast ballots for three hours because the machines did not arrive.

One of those voters was a candidate — Kate Zidar, who was running against a longtime incumbent for district leader, an office, that, ironically, controls poll workers.

“They didn’t have machines, they don’t even have the book of names, they don’t have emergency ballots, they don’t have signage out,” said Zidar. “It is a hot mess, and it’s my polling site. I think it’s the beginning of a day of shenanigans.”

In Boerum Hill, voters at PS 32 did not get to cast their ballots until 7:30 am, and in Carroll Gardens, MS 142 and PS 58 did not open for voters or at least two hours because Board of Elections officials did not give keys for the machines to the NYPD in time.

In Park Slope, voters had to wait at Camp Friendship on Eighth Street until 9 am before casting a ballot because the voting machines did not have the proper extension cords and could not be turned on.

And in Williamsburg, the electronic scanners broke down entirely at PS 19 on S. Third and Keap streets.

“These machines are a piece of s—,” said Esteban Duran, a candidate for district leader. “This is our heaviest polling site.”

Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) believes that the Board of Elections was “unready for the change-over” since it took staff members a long time to set up machines.

“This is total incompetence by the Board of Elections that inconvenienced and perhaps disenfranchised many Brooklyn voters,” said Lander. “There are often one or two problems here or there, but this was a far bigger fiasco than in times past.”

When the polls were finally open, several voters expressed dismay at the new voting system.

Instead of flicking metal levers for each candidate and manually pulling a lever on a post-War-era machine, voters had to take a green identification card and a paper ballot from an election worker, color in bubbles on a sheet that resembled a standardized test, and then give the paper ballot back to another election worker who took the card and scanned in the ballot form.

“When you’re done, there’s nothing signifying that you actually voted,” said one voter in Park Slope. “At least with the old machine, you’d pull the red handle back to its original position and it made a sound that made it clear you voted. I loved that sound — it sounded like a prison door closing on a corrupt politician.”

Speaking of which, there were voting problems at Flatbush’s St. Augustine’s Church early in the day, said state Sen. Kevin Parker (D–Flatbush), who is on trial for beating up a New York Post photographer.

Parker reported that some equipment at that polling site, at Avenue D and East 43rd Street, was delivered late. In addition, he said, voters at the site also dealt with scanner malfunctions.

“It was horrible this morning,” Parker stressed.

Several voters at St. James Pavilion, a polling center at Jay and Chapel streets in Brooklyn Heights, said the process was confusing. By noon, only 150 voters cast their ballots.

“The print is really small,” said voter Virginia Drake. “I had to use a magnifying glass. I miss the red lever and the curtain”

Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, who lives in Park Slope, was among the many city leaders who was not amused by the late start to Election Day. DeBlasio said his office would hold the Board accountable for its mistakes to ensure similar problems do not occur in November’s general election.

“Today’s widespread delays and confusion with the electronic voting machines has damaged the public’s trust in our democracy,” said DeBlasio. “If the conditions at my poll site, which opened three hours late, are any indication, thousands of New Yorkers were likely disenfranchised. With such low turnout, these persistent problems could very well change the outcome of an election.”

Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vasquez acknowledged problems at some polling sites.

“For months, our staff has been diligently working to address various contingencies … to minimize problems that may arise on Election Day,” said Vazquez. “We increased our poll worker training by 50 percent … increased the number of poll workers by 20 percent, and have worked with community and civic interest groups across the city.”

— with Gary Buiso and Helen Klein

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

B from Park Slope says:
Bring back lever machines-and explain why they had to be replaced in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sept. 15, 2010, 10:41 am
Laura Hofmann from Greenpoint, Brooklyn says:
The polling site at Dupont St. (Mary D's Senior Housing) was indeed a hot mess. I was given a green card to take to the poll with my ballot. One of the workers came running after me realizing she'd screwed up. (I didn't have a clue yet, what was to be done) They had given me the wrong number and/or card. They had three people looking at my ballot and green card to see where the mistake was. After a minute or two, I realized there were no numbers on my ballot that would be useful to them and pulled it away. I'm still not sure if the numbers were entered correctly, since they didn't seem to know either. My son seems to have disappeared from the Board of Elections altogether. He ended up filling out a paper ballot. This is a vote for Zidar that may have ended up in Techno space.
Sept. 15, 2010, 1:03 pm
juniper from Greenpoint says:
The fact that poll workers, who took the classes, now have taxes taken out of their pay . This means that most of the people who normally work can't or they will loose their benefits. The Board of Elections is now dangerously short staffed.

The public has to take some reasonability. Most didn't even know the change in the voting process or even bothered to find out. They also don't know that New York is the last state to adopt the current system and is court ordered to do so. The machine are new and that people are therefore fearful of change. the machines do tell you have voted you have to wait a second for confirmation not just walk away from the scanner!

Most don't even know what a primary is for and still demand to vote when they aren't enrolled in a party.

If the November elections are to proceed in a organized manor both the public and the BOE need to get their act together.
Sept. 15, 2010, 6:11 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
the old machines(which I too prefer) were replaced because of hanging chads in Florida. we now have a uniform national standard.

the green card is for democrat and voting form and card are NOT supposed to be able to be tracked. They take the green/white card from you when the form is scanned into the machine...
Sept. 15, 2010, 7:39 pm
Bob Scott from Brooklyn Heights says:
There is no excuse for most of Tuesday's problems — ALL were foreseen, just not by the Board of Elections.
Sept. 16, 2010, 9:09 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.