NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – From long lines to broken voting machines, election day was a mess this week at the polls – but will anything change next time?
CBS2’s Andrea Grymes demands answers on who is responsible for making improvements.
Voting machines completely went down at some polling sites, causing general confusion about a two-page ballot.
Mayor Bill de Blasio places a lot of blame at the feet of the New York City Board of Elections.
“The Board of Elections simply can’t function, cannot do its job,” he said.
There’s plenty of blame to go around at the city and state level.
Michael Ryan is the executive director of the city Board of Elections that some criticize for the way its membership is appointed: 10 commissioners, two from each borough, recommended by both political parties.
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“Clearly there will be lessons learned,” said Ryan.
For the first time ever, four out of the five boroughs had a two-page ballot, but many people didn’t know they had to split the ballot and scan one page at a time which caused paper jams in the voting machines.
“We were asking it to do more than it’s capable of doing,” said Ryan.
For next time, Ryan hopes the mayor will allow government employees to help work the polls, increasing the number of poll workers.
He says the board will look at adding more voting machines if there’s space at high-volume polling sites.
Ryan says they’ll also again consider the mayor’s offer from two years ago of $20 million to make reforms, but the board has concerns with several proposals such as providing email and text notifications for voters.
Ryan says they want to do those changes but state lawmakers need to change state election law first to make sure that information will stay private.
“I know there are technology fixes and processing fixes, but we need to do that hand in glove with the New York state legislature and the state board of elections,” said Ryan.
But what will state lawmakers do to make voting easier for people?
“Clearly we’re at a crisis level,” said State Sen. Liz Krueger who represents the Upper East Side.
She says for the first time in years, they are poised to make some big changes, and likely soon.
“We need to set up early voting in New York State so that people have a broader range of days that they can vote on,” she said.
Krueger says a law allowing early voting may be on the books by the 2020 election.
Up until now, that was not a priority for the Republican-controlled State Senate, but come January the Democrats take control in addition to maintaining control of the State Assembly.
They want to change the laws to also make it easier to register, change party affiliations, and make voter rolls electronic.
Changing the voting machines, which Ryan says are nearing the end of their 10-year-life span, would also require state legislation.
“We should be investing in the very best and newest technology available to make sure we have voting machines that can actually do this correctly,” said Assemblyman Joseph Lentol.
The state assembly is holding a hearing next Thursday in Manhattan on improving opportunities to vote in New York State.
Ryan says he plans to testify on behalf of the city board of elections.