‘This is not Afghanistan’: Beep demands voting-system reforms after problem-riddled Election Day

‘This is not Afghanistan’: Beep demands voting-system reforms after problem-riddled Election Day
Borough President’s office

City and state officials must overhaul the city’s archaic voting system, which on Tuesday failed hundreds of Brooklynites trying to cast ballots in the decisive midterm election, according to Borough President Adams, who on Wednesday unveiled a five-point plan to bring the outdated system into the 21st century.

“I think it’s imperative to really examine what we witnessed yesterday, this is not Afghanistan, this is America,” the beep said outside the Brooklyn Board of Elections. “And at the cornerstone of this country’s beliefs is a right to vote, and the right to be part of the process that chooses who will represent us.”

The day before, droves of voters took to social media to vent about how issues such as long lines and malfunctioning machines made it difficult to do their civic duty, and some said the challenges forced them to leave their polling places before they got the chance to make a choice.

Adams put forth five proposals to combat the reported difficulties, including a call for immediate investigatory hearings into what caused the widespread difficulties; expanding the poll-worker program and increasing the training for it; instituting early voting polices like those in more than 30 other states across the country; using technology to modernize the way New Yorkers vote; and bringing together all involved in the voting process to work on reforming the entire system.

But among them, the most crucial is allowing voters to voters to cast their ballots ahead of election day, in order to alleviate long lines, and get ahead of any day-of issues that arise, he said.

“When you have early voting in place it allows an opportunity to iron out any kinks, gives more than one day,” said Adams, who spoke standing beside local leaders who included Park Slope Assemblyman Robert Carroll, Sheepshead Bay Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, and Bushwick Councilman Rafael Espinal.

Problems including paper jams, broken machines, and chaotic queues that formed as a result, plagued a whopping 49 polling sites across Kings County, according to the beep.

The man in charge of the city’s Board of Elections, Michael Ryan, pointed a finger at a perennial nuisance that reared its head in Brooklyn on Tuesday — bad weather — but the beep said blaming Mother Nature is not a solution.

“This is inexcusable,” said Adams. “It rains in New York.”

At a Fort Greene polling site, for instance, all five machines stopped working at the same time, sending 200 hundred people out the door wondering if their vote would even count, according to the head of the city’s Department of Small Business Services, who was trying to cast his ballot at the neighborhood’s Ingersoll Community Center.

“Now all scanners are down. This is a disaster. In 2018 and in NYC I’m embarrassed,” Gregg Bishop said on Twitter.

Adams didn’t go as far as Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D–Manhattan) did on Tuesday, when he called on Ryan to resign due to the election-day fracas, but the beep noted that problems start at the top, and said getting to the root of the failure is more important than hastily instituting changes.

“The call for a resignation is the easiest thing to do, we had different heads of the BOE and got the same result,” Adams said. “Let’s do an analysis of what the problem is and let the outcome of that analysis determine what levels should be gone and what levels should stay.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.