On Wednesday, CBS2’s Jessica Moore looked at what went wrong and what needs to change before November.
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“They had no idea what they were doing, the people that were working the polls,” one voter said.
There was chaos during Tuesday’s primary election, with voters complaining of untrained poll workers and half ballots.
The voter that spoke to Moore said he did not receive a ballot for the local election. Add to that missing absentee ballots, last-minute polling location changes, and voting lines that snaked around the block across New York City.
“Yesterday is what happens when you try to make a lot of changes to elections in a very short period of time,” said Perry Grossman of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Grossman, a voting rights advocate, said the changes were necessary to protect voters during the coronavirus pandemic, but he worries about a system that isn’t equipped to handle the new norm, especially come November.
“There was a real difficulty, again, recruiting and training poll workers because the pandemic. So much of the poll worker workforce is people who are COVID-vulnerable, so you’re see a lot of those experienced poll workers drop out,” Grossman said.
He said lawmakers must ensure all voters have access to absentee ballots in November and is calling on the Board of Elections to refine the system that processes them.
“We don’t want people disenfranchised because they’re dealing with a vote-by-mail process for the first time, and on Election Day we’ve really got to invest in poll worker training and poll worker recruitment,” Grossman said.
“November is coming and we know this was rough based on the pandemic, but just we have to do better,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said.
Moore asked the Board of Elections whether it plans to improve poll worker training and refine the process of processing absentee ballots, but it could not give her an answer.
Another big issue was poll workers showing up late to polling places because of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s overnight shutdown, something Williams said Albany needs to address before November.
The Board of Elections said roughly 765,000 absentee ballots were distributed in the city. Those ballots will be accepted until June 30. There was no word on how long it will take to tally those votes.