Voters experience lever machine problems at polls
The Board of Elections Tuesday said reports of voting problems stemming from the archaic lever machines were "not major at all," but some advocacy groups are saying they want to see the proof.
"Can they produce data that clearly backs up their claim?" said Gene Russianoff of NYPIRG, adding that the group received 39 calls relating to voting machine problems.
"We've reviewed their recent annual reports and find their metrics difficult to follow. In other words, show me," he said.
Councilwoman and Manhattan Borough President Candidate Gale Brewer said that she had heard of voting problems in Brooklyn and Queens, and that the distance to polling places for some voters could have disenfranchised some New Yorkers, particularly the disabled and elderly.
"In a local race problems like these could make all the difference," Brewer said.
Several voters and elected officials reported the machines malfunctioned at their polling places, saying some had broken levers and other problems.
Even GOP mayoral candidate Joe Lhota had to cast his own vote on a paper ballot when his voting site in Brooklyn Heights only had one working unit.
Anthony Weiner, however, ran into a different holdup when poll workers couldn't find his signature in the poll books at Baruch College. Michael J. Ryan, the BOE's executive director, said that when Weiner moved from Queens to Manhattan his name transferred over but not his signature.
A call by poll workers to the BOE's headquarters confirmed it was him and he was able to vote on the lever machine, according to Ryan.
The machines were brought back just for the primary and potential runoff because they are faster to reprogram for the runoff than the digital ballot scanners. The city will use the scanners in the general election, and Vazquez said she predicts that if there is a runoff there won't be any serious problems.
"Please help! @BOENYC Many machines broken at Park Slope Armory (44th AD in Brooklyn). Many voters turned away," City Councilman Brad Lander tweeted.
A BOE spokeswoman said the board replaced the broken machines, using 22 trucks that were carrying spare machines and that they responded to each request.
She added that the issues were isolated and didn't seriously impact Primary Day, since voters were given emergency paper ballots to cast their votes.
"Our focus is to make sure that voters have the best voting process," Vazquez said
Emergency ballots and affidavit ballots cast at polling sites will be counted Tuesday evening as part of the process as distinguished from military and other absentee ballots, the executive director of the Ryan told Newsday. He said military and absentee ballots will be counted at a later date.
(Tim Herrera and Ivan Pereira with John Valenti)