NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Called on the carpet and excoriated, the executive director of the city’s beleaguered Board of Elections felt the City Council’s wrath following a long list of Election Day problems.
There were long lines that stretched outside and around basketball courts and massive voting machine failures that left voters frustrated an angry. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the Board of Elections, had a long list of reasons why Nov. 6 was a fiasco.
He described it as being, “in the middle of a crisis, the likes of which I have not seen in the five years I have been the executive director.”
Testifying before the City Council on Tuesday, Ryan blamed the chaos on a combination of heavy turnout, poll workers who were not properly trained and the unusual two-page ballot with a perforated edge that had to be split in two, with each page scanned separately.
* The ballot had never been used anywhere in the United States
* Different size ballots were used in different boroughs
* The ballot had a greater chance of jamming machines
“The increase in ballot jams created a ripple effect in poll sites, causing longer wait times resulting in crowded sites, long lines and taxed technical support resources,” Ryan said.
But Ryan was often unprepared during the questioning, which infuriated Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“How many calls were made by poll site coordinators to the Board of Elections, reporting broken or jammed scanners?” Johnson asked.
“I don’t have that information,” Ryan answered.
“Why don’t you have that information? That’s easy information to have,” Johnson asked.
“Right, I don’t have it readily available,” Ryan replied.
Johnson scolded Ryan, telling him that his excuses sounded a lot like the dog ate my homework, and wouldn’t fly with voters.
“What you would want to hear is we are going to fix this so this doesn’t happen anymore in the future,” Johnson said. “The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have a problem.”
The City Council is calling on Albany to approve voting reforms, like early voting. Members are also worried about what will happen the next time people vote, which may be in a few months, probably February, to elect a replacement for Public Advocate Tish James.