Ballot Issues, Privacy Concerns Hamper NYC Polling Places

Not As Bad As Primary Day, But Problems Irk Voters, Mayor

NEW YORK (CBS New York) — It’s decision day and the control of Congress hangs in the balance. Many voters who cast their ballots reported numerous issues from jammed scanners to privacy problems.

Web Extra: Election 2010 Results: NY, NJ, CT

The magic number on Tuesday was 218. Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats to reach the majority needed to control the House.

But just like on primary day, polling place issues popped up at various places throughout New York City. Derricke Dennis reports from Park Slope, where many voters experienced problems at their local polling sites.

There was mixed results for New York’s new hybrid analog/digital voting system. At PS 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, early reports had two of the three ballot scanners out of service because of paper jams.

1010 WINS Reporter Stan Brooks says many voters had trouble reading the small print

“It was earlier but we got it taken care of within a half hour, taken care of right away,” poll worker Sandra Igneri said.

Then at PS 41 in Bayside, Queens, voters complained the paper ballots themselves were printed entirely too small for them to accurately pencil in. Others missed the instructions to turn the ballots over and fill out the referendum questions on the back.

“Even with glasses, even with the light, it’s too small. What were they thinking? They don’t have enough paper,” resident Stella Tatarian said.”It’s really silly. I mean everybody here has been complaining. I mean the elderly can’t read this at all,” Ed Tatarian added.

The September primary was the first election since the city retired the decades old lever system. But modern is not always better, according to one New York City councilman. Mechanical support is vital.

“There’s no backup, so when these techs are coming, and they’re doing a great job, but when they’re not able to fix it, we don’t have a redundant machine to bring in to replace the machines that are down,” Councilman Daniel Halloran said.

Overall, voting problems appeared to minor despite some concerns over privacy. Special sleeves designed to conceal ballot choices, in many cases, were being removed by voters who needed help with the scanning process. Their votes were in the hands of poll workers and their privacy was potentially compromised. Still, most said they welcomed the new system.

“Much easier than using the machines, so that worked out for me very well,” Ira Warheit said.

WCBS 880’s John Metaxas reports on voting issues with the new electornic machines

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg with voters in Yonkers

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports from Islip Terrace

 WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond on the Upper West Side

 WCBS 880’s Steve Knight in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

 WCBS 880’s Catherine Cioffi in Pound Ridge

 WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reports

 1010 WINS’ John Montone reports

“It took me five minutes to get in and out. You got a lot of people in there,” said Ken Reilly of Brooklyn.

At the Camp Friendship polling place in Park Slope, which opened three hours late back on Primary Day because someone lost the keys to the scanners, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was there and returned with a better review Tuesday.

“Things were smooth. In fact the poll worker reminded me that you have to look on both sides of the ballot, because the referendum questions are on the back of the ballot,” Blasio said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed, but not completely.

“The machine worked. I think, I happen to think we would be better off with computers,” the mayor said.

There were scattered reports of hiccups at suburban polls. One of three ballot-scanning machines was out of service at the church in Mount Kisco where the Democratic candidate for governor, Andrew Cuomo, voted Tuesday morning.

A polling station in Hartsdale reportedly opened about two hours late because election workers couldn’t get access to locked-up ballots.

Tuesday voters were advised to pay special attention to the ballot itself, which included at least one error. It did not properly instruct voters to fill in the oval below the name of the candidate of their choice.

“Make sure you’re voting for the person you’re voting for and not the person above or below,” Bloomberg said.

“Love people doing that, but it is complete chaos. The idea that we’re filling out paper. And these scanning machines, it’s not even private,” said Lauren Shenkman of Park Slope.

In Astoria, coordinator Loretta Csikortos said she’s experienced a one hour technical delay on more than half of her scanners and an ongoing personnel shortage. “Early this morning we had about four scanners that weren’t cleared,” she said. “I don’t have enough people. Because you need two people per table.”

Csikortos said as a result of that shortage in her polling place, some voters had to manage the electronic scanner on their own, and the staff she does have is skipping lunch.

If you vote in New York City, don’t forget to turn over your ballot. Voters are deciding whether to reinstate a law limiting city elected officials to two, four-year terms.

If the ballot initiative loses, the current three-term limit created by Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council in 2008 will remain in place.

Polls opened in all three states in the tri-state at 6 a.m. New York voters will have until 9 p.m. to cast their ballots.

Polls close at 8 p.m. in New Jersey and Connecticut.

If you experience any voting problems, you can report them by clicking here.

More from Mike Xirinachs
  • Jay

    I am young, with pretty good vision and I have to say that I could barely see the ballot. I could imagine the seniors and the trouble they must be having today. The magnifier they supply is almost useless; it’s dirty and scratched. This process already needs an overhaul. This is one of those cases where change actually made things worse :(

  • Cheeky

    Voting machines have been broken since 2:30 and no one has serviced them yet and its 6 pm, the ballot taker attempted to open my privacy shield so she could put my ballot in the holding area, bubbles were too small, and too be told i must be perfectly in the lines or my ballot won’t count is ridiculous! if you want to modernize move to touch screen not these ridiculous scantrons!

  • fustrated voter

    Went to jhs 51 park slope this morning at 6:20 am 1 of 10 machines worked.A NYPD officer had to fix scanners.The workers should have given their day pay and lunch to the officer.the workers had no clue what to do.

  • Nina

    I live in Orange Co. N.Y. and the question of the constitutional convention was not on the ballot. Why???

  • Pete

    Today i tried to vote in Massapequa. I was sent to 2 different schools to vote. The voting ladies at the table gave me an attitude because i wasn’t on their ballot record. They told me i have to drive to Merrick to vote. I’m sorry at rush hour i’m not driving and sitting in traffic to vote. Please help me lol We need to do something about the voting process. We use the internet today for many conveniences. Why not vote online. I can shop online, pay bills etc. By not allowing me to vote due to address issues, basically gave me a negative memory along with many others. Now i understand why people don’t bother voting.


  • Sgeo

    I would imagine that the whole point of filling it on paper is so that there’s a record of the ballot,, instead of trusting it 100% to the machine.

  • aikoaiko3

    Yes Bob R, you are correct. When the tousands of people in each election district come in to vote, in a random order, the 70-year-old poll worker reads the microscopic print on the blank ballots and marks it on your voter card. Then, the Board of Elections has an army of workers combing through thousands of bins, trying to match up the 670,000 ballots (as was cast in NYC in 2008) to determine who Bob R voted for. Then, 15 years later when they are finished for the 2010 election, they will find you and leave a flaming bag of poo on your doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run.

  • aikoaiko3

    Margaret, some states do have voting-by-web, as well as early voting to prevent lines on election day (as well as weed out issues early.)

    Puzzled in Queens, I imagine that this happens at times, but not to the point where it would affect an election. Any polling place would notice if someone came in more than once or twice. The busiest times of day at my polling place are still practically empty (except for that darn ED 75 table.)

    Eddie the K, how did you know that the mechanical machines were tabulating correctly? Who’s to say that the poll worker transposed two numbers or levers at the end of the day? At least the new system leaves a paper trail.

  • MJF

    This system was clumsy, and hard to use. The scanner didn’t work, and I have no idea if my vote was actually counted. This is stupid.

  • Eddie the K

    What bothers me about this new voting process is that after I put the paper ballot into the scanner, it does not display the selections I have made and ask me to confirm that these are correct. How do I know that the scanner is reading me vote correctly? I have no assurance that the programming in the machine that reads the paper ballot is not “doctoring” up my vote.

    • Bob R

      Even worse than misreporting your vote, I question if the form has the form number hidden on it so how you vote can be determined from the ballet itself. When they rip the ballet from the pad, there is a serial number on the stub and this number is recorded by a worker who is making a list of who voted and what ballot number they used. If the number is also on the ballot (such as using microprint/microdots on the form) the supposed secret ballot is a farce. Since the ballots are printed with laser technology hiding a unique microdot pattern in the form is not that hard. Most copying machines now put such a microdot pattern and time stamp on the forms they copy for tracking purposes.

    • Penelope M.

      I agree with you Eddie. I was really surprised this morning when my ballot was scanned that it did not display my selections. I think you should be able to confirm that your ballot was scanned correctly. A simple “confirm” and “cancel” button would do it. I have no confidence my ballot was cast properly.

  • Brooklyn Voter

    Privacy? Are you kidding me, the print is so small, you have to squint to fill in the bubble, no one is going to see who you voted for when you scan it in, and then again who cares? Your name and address isn’t on that form. It did take me much longer to vote this way though.

  • Puzzled in Queens

    At the polling site this morning, two people working at my District’s table were discussing procedures of logging voters in by looking up their names in the big black binder. One asked the other, “You have to make sure the signatures match, right?” and the other replied, “No, don’t worry about that.”


    Could it possibly be true that the signatures dont have to match? What’s to stop anybody from using other people’s names?

  • Margaret Swanson

    Why don’t we just vote from our computers. Or is that too sensible? Guess too many part-time workers will be out of jobs.

    • VotersofNYC

      i agree 100000000000%

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