Editorial: Don't let NYC fumble a mayoral runoff
Anybody want to launch an app contest for software to help the city's Board of Elections count ballots quickly and securely? At the moment, the board is flummoxed over the possibility of citywide runoff elections that would come two weeks after the Sept. 10 primary. There must be someone out there who can help.
Please. This is a town that knows how to count -- where stock quotes are tabulated and dispatched in the blink of an eye, where coffee shops are filled with enterprising, math-savvy software geeks.
The Board of Elections is getting desperate.
The city has used electronic voting since 2010. The problem is, it relies on paper ballots filled out by voters and then scanned by machines for a centralized tally. Now, with a citywide election coming up, the board can't figure out how -- if no candidates gets 40 percent of the vote -- to print, distribute and test ballots in thousands of scanners within the two-week time frame mandated for a runoff.
The latest suggestion is to resurrect the familiar old lever-operated machines, which were state-of-the-art in the LaGuardia era. State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) has introduced a measure to make it happen. Thankfully, it's a long shot. The machines are prone to breakdowns and manufacturers stopped making parts years ago.
Another option is to print up sets of ballots before the primary takes place that show every likely runoff combination. Now you're talking about killing a lot of trees and spending millions to do so.
The last, and most reasonable, option is simply to push the runoff date back a week -- to Oct. 1 -- giving the board seven extra days to count affidavit, absentee and military ballots from the primary; print a new runoff ballot; and test the scanners. The catch: The State Legislature seems loath to tinker with a date change. It should think again.
As for the future, we hate to ask the patronage-ridden board to keep innovating. Every time it modernizes, we go further back into the past.
But someone needs to innovate. The city that never sleeps shouldn't be the city that can't vote.