New York City

How did the NYC Board of Elections do during Tuesday’s primary?

June 29, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
After numerous foul-ups during last April’s presidential primary, the Board of Election’s (BOE) performance was under the spotlight during Tuesday’s Congressional primary.  Photo by Mary Frost

Eyes were on the Board of Election’s (BOE) performance during Tuesday’s Congressional primary after numerous foul-ups during last April’s Presidential primary.

These included the alleged improper purging of 120,000 Brooklyn voters, poll sites opening late, misinformed poll workers and malfunctioning voting machines.

Rep. Nydia Velázquez had asked for Federal election monitors after learning that many of the purged voters were Hispanic and live in her 7th Congressional District, which spans sections of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The purging of voters with Hispanic surnames in Sunset Park, East New York, and parts of Bushwick and Williamsburg suggested “a targeted pattern of voter suppression,” Velázquez wrote to U. S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The blunders launched several investigations, including an audit by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Velázquez, who sent some of her own staffers to quietly monitor polling places on Tuesday, handily beat her opponents Yungman Lee, a Chinatown banker, and attorney Jeffry Kurzon.

A Velázquez spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle following her victory on Wednesday, “There remain long-term issues that need to be addressed. The Congresswoman is dedicated to ensuring all New Yorkers’ voting rights are protected.”

While the feds did not monitor Tuesday’s voting, the City Council did. In Council Speaker Mark-Viverito’s 2016 State of the City, she highlighted increasing voter participation.

The Council sent 27 monitors to poll sites throughout CD7 and CD13 [Manhattan/Bronx]. Council staff members took note of issues at the poll sites — for example, whether voters’ names properly appeared in poll books, whether poll sites had enough supplies including privacy folders and provisional ballots, and whether voters faced lengthy wait times. Council staff also observed operations at the Board of Election’s executive office and borough offices.

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“Voting is our most important civic duty and we must ensure the process works for all New Yorkers,” Mark-Viverito said Tuesday in a statement. The results of the oversight were not immediatley available.

An Attorney General’s Office spokesperson said that the primary hotline received more than 40 calls from around the state on Tuesday, which he called a “normal volume.”

Besides calling the hotline to learn if they had contested primaries in their jurisdiction, voters also called to complain that their names could not be found in the poll books.

“We attempted to resolve these issues directly with voters and encouraged them to file affidavit ballots, and we also plan to follow up with BOE on these complaints,” the spokesperson said.

There was a higher volume of complaints submitted to the voter hotline from New York City than other parts of the state, according to the AG’s office.

According to Gothamist, scattered problems occurred at polling sites across the city. At I.S. 162 in Bushwick, Brew York editor Chris O’Leary was unable to vote due to malfunctioning voting machines and a “misinformed” poll worker.  At P.S. 131 in Borough Park, a woman was improperly asked to show her I.D. before voting.

A poll worker in Brooklyn Heights’ 101 Clark Street polling site told the Eagle that there were far fewer errantly purged names on the voter list this time around.

“In April I had 50 at this table alone,” she said. “Usually I have just one or two.”

The Brooklyn Heights Library, another polling site, closed early due to its chronically non-working air conditioner. Voters were allowed in, however.

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Updated at 4:15 p.m. with a quote from a spokesperson from the Attorney General’s Office.

 

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