News

Voters Encounter Problems At Polls

Reported Hitches Include Missing Machines, Workers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some New York City voters arrived at their polling places Tuesday to find that machines were never hauled in, supervisors were not present or, in the case of one mayoral hopeful, his signature was missing from the register.

A city spokesman said most of the problems reported concerned voting machines. At the 55th Street and Lexington Avenue site, there were no voting machines when polls opened, the spokesman said. But that was later rectified.

He said problems at a few other sites included no supervisors or enough workers. The spokesman said some people had to vote via affidavit because machines weren’t ready when they arrived.

After experiencing problems with electronic voting machines last year, the city brought in older lever voting machines for the primaries. The units, whose use was approved by Albany lawmakers, date back to the 1960s.

“There’s a certain charm certain familiarity with the lever machine,” Dick Winfield, of the West Village, told CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco. “I never thought they’d resuscitate them.”

The New York Public Interest Research Group said its voter helpline fielded 200 calls by noon Tuesday and said 39 of those calls were to report broken voting machines.

Other complaints to the hotline included late poll site openings, rude or unhelpful poll workers and voters being sent to the wrong polling place, NYPIRG said.

Even some of the candidates had problems voting Tuesday morning.

Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner almost didn’t get to vote for himself when he arrived at his Manhattan polling place and found that his signature wasn’t in the poll list book.

A Weiner staff member called the Board of Elections. Board spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez said Weiner’s signature was on file and board staff members told the poll workers to let him vote.

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Vazquez said the absence of Weiner’s signature from the book was an administrative error.

Weiner joked that he is “not very well known.”

Republican Joe Lhota, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, was forced to vote by paper ballot when the machine at his Brooklyn polling site wasn’t working.

“It’ll be a late night based on this because they’ll need to manually count these,” he said.

But Michael J. Ryan, executive director of the New York City Board of Elections, told 1010 WINS problems with the machines were not expected to delay elections results.

“We’re expecting a very small fraction of the voters who have to vote on emergency ballots,” he said. “The emergency ballot is a valid ballot so no voters will be disenfranchised if there is a problem with their machines. They’ll simply vote in an alterative way and those ballots will be tabulated at the end of the night.”

The agency was monitoring all tweet feeds and said it was working hard to rectify any problems.

The old machines will also be used in the event of a runoff, but some groups are concerned that the old machines may be confusing for voters.

“The board felt they weren’t up to the job of using the paper ballots and the optical scanners that every other jurisdiction is able to figure out and get a fast answer,” Common Cause New York Executive Director Susan Lerner told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.

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

Polls opened at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. Experts do not believe turnout will be high.

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

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