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Hotline Offering Assistance To NYC Voters Experiencing Issues On Primary Day

Hotline Will Be Open Until 9 P.M. When The Polls Close
Voter helpline on primary day (Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

Voter helpline on primary day (Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Poll workers weren’t the only ones who got up this morning to help voters cast their ballots on this primary day.

As WCBS 880′s Monica Miller reported, the polls opened across the five boroughs at 6 a.m. and issues were reported just a short time later.

“It was pretty slow up to 6:20 [a.m.] and then kaboom,” Gene Russianoff with the New York Public Interest Research Group told Miller.

Russianoff said the NYPIRG voter hotline has been busier than other years with calls from frustrated voters. The voter helpline handled more than 200 total calls by noon, according to a release from NYPIRG.

“The number of people who have had broken voting machines and also people who are told that their names are not in the registration books,” he told Miller. “Frequently, they’re at the wrong place. The Board of Elections actually has a term for this, which is ‘right church, wrong pew.’”

The city is using the old lever-style voting booths for Tuesday’s primary elections, after some issues were reported with the electronic voting machines last fall.

The old machines will also be used in the event of a runoff, which would be held on Oct. 1.

The state legislature told the city to have the high-tech models ready for the general election in November.

NYPIRG said there were nearly 40 reports of broken voting booths total across the five boroughs.

At the polling place in NYU’s Brittany Hall in the East Village, one machine was out of service for about three hours.

Voters in the 52nd District were instead casting their ballots on paper during that time.

As WCBS 880′s Ginny Kosola reported, poll workers said when a technician arrived, the machine was restored in quick order.

One voter said she prefers the lever voting booths in use Tuesday compared with the new electronic machines.

“I like the old machines, I think somebody should’ve come up with a way to update them so that they were fixable and had a little more modern mechanism I guess,” she told Kosola.

The Board of Elections said most of the reports of voter problems have been in Queens and Brooklyn. Some are in Manhattan.

Russianoff said some of the issues phoned in were technical in nature, while others were from voters who got bad information.

“Some were really astonishing like the board had said go to P.S. so-and-so and the school was closed and had been closed for six months,” he told Miller.

A voter hotline operator named Jason combed through the Board of Elections website on his laptop to help someone whose name wasn’t on the rolls.

“They offered her an affadavit ballot but she was running late to work and there was a long line of folks filling out affadavit ballots,” he told Miller.

Some voters also phoned in, unaware that they were unable to vote in the primary.

“People get confused because they normally just vote in the generals and don’t think about party affiliation when they’re voting,” a hotline operator told Miller.

The hotline will be unning until 9 p.m. when the polls close.

The voter helpline is 212-822-0282.

Voters can find their polling place at http://www.elections.ny.gov.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)