Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
What’s big, orange and looks like an old lever voting machine? It’s a new voter kiosk unveiled for the first time Tuesday by staff at the New York City Board of Elections, who say deploying them citywide would shorten lines at polls and speed the process of communicating results on election night.
After coming under fire for its performance in recent elections, the board staff has been trying to find some creative solutions to address complaints from voters and elected officials.
John Naudus, the board’s director of electronic voting systems, presented the $10,000 kiosk prototype, which uses the hull of an old lever voting machine, with the lever removed and replaced by a 72-inch touch screen monitor, camera and printer.
“Someone will notice this walking away,” said Naudus. “Whereas if we put a laptop out there, one of our concerns is always it will grow legs and walk away.”
Before polls open, poll workers will be able to check in for duty and print out a confirmation slip. In theory, this would enable the board to deploy additional poll workers to any sites where there might be a shortage.
Throughout Election Day voters would be able to use the kiosk to check poll site information. A person would type their address on the large touch screen monitor. If the person was in the wrong location, the kiosk would print directions to the right one. If the voter was at the right poll site, the kiosk would tell them which table corresponds with their election district.
At the end of the night, poll workers would be able to use the kiosk to upload election results as opposed to working with NYPD officers to transport election information on memory sticks.
“The sticks won’t have to travel all the way to the precincts,” explained Naudus. “They'll just travel across the room.”
He said if all goes well, election results should start coming in by 10:30 p.m. on a busy election night, as opposed to 3 or 4 a.m.
The board hopes to build out 2,500 kiosks so there could be two at every poll site in the city. But before that build out can happen, the board needs funding from the City Council. That means at the earliest, the kiosks would be deployed for the elections in 2014.
The board is scheduled to testify before the City Council on Thursday for its preliminary budget hearing.