The New York City Board of Elections has a pretty miserable reputation, which only grew worse after significant problems roiled last November’s presidential election, forcing many voters to wait in line for hours.
Unsurprisingly, today’s citywide primary election doesn’t seem to be going much better, with New Yorkers across the city reporting widespread incidences of broken voting machines and misinformed poll workers, causing some to be turned away in their attempt to participate in the democratic process.
At some polling sites, local elected officials reported that all of the old-school levered voting machines–which were revived this year because of concerns with new electronic scanning machines–were down, forcing voters to cast affidavit ballots instead. Others reported being turned away.
But the problems didn’t stop there. At Councilman Brad Lander’s polling site in Brooklyn, broken knobs on the machines prevented voters from selecting their candidates. At Councilman David Greenfield’s site, one machine only let voters select one of the two candidates in the Brooklyn district attorney’s race. At a Williamsburg polling site this morning, several befuddled voters found they could vote for multiple mayoral candidates at once.
The mechanical flaw, which a poll worker said an engineer would resolve “soon,” let voters to flick the levers next to the names of multiple candidates and lock them into place when they voted, allowing a Democrat to vote for multiple candidates simultaneously.
Pamela Cowherd, a Williamsburg housewife and infuriated voter, demonstrated to Politicker inside the booth how a voter could theoretically help throw the primary into chaos.
“You can press them all down and actually pull the damn lever,” Ms. Cowherd said. “That’s something that’s totally wrong, that’s not supposed to happen.”
“I was just in shock. I didn’t know what was going on,” she recalled.
Another voter, Louis Flores, reported a broken voting machine serving the 63rd Election District in Jackson, Heights Queens, and said the levers did not line up exactly with candidates’ names. He described the situation as “a complete mess.”
But the dysfunction extended beyond the machines.
“Just tried to vote for the primaries this AM,” Jason Schwarz, who lives in Park Slope, wrote. Unfortunately, he says a poll worker told him, “Don’t waste your time, the machines are broke.” Voters are actually expected to vote via paper affidavit ballots in this situation.
Abraham Riesman, who works for New York magazine and other publications, said that the Board of Elections representative he was on the phone with told him ”there are no primary elections in your district today.”
Mr. Riesman added, “I corrected her by pointing out that there are multiple city- and borough-wide primaries today and she said ‘Ohhh, you’re right.’”