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Friday, December 19, 2014
Editorial comment

Give us a vote of confidence

Posted

 

It was the perfect storm: 

In a redistricting year many people had to adjust to new polling sites for the first time in at least a decade. 

Voters were using new machines for the first time in a presidential election. 

Other polling sites had to be moved because of superstorm Sandy. 

And then — the night before Election Day — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to make provisions for those displaced by the storm, allowing people to vote with affidavit ballots at any site. 

Overseeing it all was a shockingly incompetent Board of Elections, staffed largely by political appointees who were poorly trained to handle the new system. 

Machines — some of them not properly set up at the start of the day — routinely broke down. Polling sites ran out of pens. They ran out of manila folders. Lines snaked around voting rooms and down the hall, often intertwining lines of voters waiting to sign in with voters waiting to have their ballots scanned. Sites were so crowded that voters scanning ballots rightfully complained there was no privacy. 

The relocation of a polling site from Manhattan College to Hebrew Institute of Riverdale was indicated by small signs at both sites and only a single good-hearted volunteer stood in the cold all day to inform voters that they had come to the wrong place.  

It got so bad that locally, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz  — whose name was on the ballot — stepped in to help move a line along at Vladek Hall, asking voters where they lived and reciting by memory which Election District line they should get into.  

Rep. Eliot Engel, who was also up for re-election, said he tried unsuccessfully four times to scan his ballot before it went through, and that was only after a poll worker turned it over, rendering it no longer secret. 

Citizens waited in line for hours just to cast a vote. Others simply went home. 

This is unacceptable — but there’s a strong chance that the Board of Elections will accept it anyway. 

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