Brooklyn Boro

A.G. Schneiderman probing NYC voting snafus

April 22, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Saying he had received more than a thousand complaints during the course of the Primary Election on Tuesday, NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday opened an investigation into alleged improprieties by the NYC Board of Elections.

“I am deeply troubled by the volume and consistency of voting irregularities, both in public reports and direct complaints to my office’s voter hotline,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

Schneiderman joins NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, who on Tuesday announced that he will audit the agency’s operations and management.

More than 125,000 Brooklyn residents were left off the voter’s registration list, according to Stringer, who cited reports of closed polling sites, faulty ballot scanners, misleading voting site notifications and other voting irregularities.

On Wednesday Stringer launched an online portal to solicit information from the public on their voting experience. [The portal can be found at http://comptroller.nyc.gov/nyc-primary-day/ ] Stringer said the data would be used to “help inform future work undertaken by the office.”

“One voter who reached out to my office reported going to her polling site at the Williamsburg Community Center shortly after 6 a.m. only to be told that the location was not operational and the staff was unable to anticipate when it would be functional,” Stringer said. “Meanwhile, a voter in Southeast Queens reported broken machines at his poll site at the start of the day, leading poll workers to instruct voters ‘to place their ballots in a slot, and they would all get processed later.’”

Rob Kagan, who has worked four or five times on Manhattan’s West Side as an election inspector, told the Brooklyn Eagle, “It’s surprising the number of affidavit ballots we had to give people. Usually it’s just from one to three affidavits. On Tuesday, our table alone gave out more than 30. I spoke to an adjoining table, and they told us the same thing. It was more than anyone had ever seen.”

He added, “Clearly there was something wrong.”

Kagan said that many of those not able to vote appeared to be young persons who had registered online. “Just two or three were long-time voters.”

Stringer said that roughly 60,000 voters received notices last month misleadingly stating that the primary election is in September, and neglecting to include the April primary date.  To remedy the mistake, the board then mailed another letter to the same voters clarifying the dates – but again, did not mention the April primary date.

In addition, many poll workers were unprepared, Stringer said. “Indeed, one voter contacted my office to report that she was discouraged from filing an affidavit ballot, after being told it would not count towards the election.”

A lawsuit has been filed, Campanello et al v. New York State Board of Elections, which seeks the “immediate restoration” of voting rights for New Yorkers who have been barred from the polls, Stringer said.