Primary Day: Problems Pulling the Lever?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You may have noticed that you pulled a lever to vote today. And many of you reported that it didn't go very smoothly. NYPIRG's Neal Rosenstein discusses why the machines are back, and what kinds of problems they are encountering. If you had problems at the polls, fill out our survey and/or contact the NYPIRG/CommonCause voter hotline directly at 212-822-0282.

WNYC's Ilya Marritz is reporting on polling trouble throughout the afternoon. Reach him on twitter if you want to share your story.


Neal Rosenstein

Comments [20]

Deb from Brooklyn

The lever at my polling place in Sunset Park was broken. So, we filled out proxies! and circled our ballots - leaving our vote to be done out in the open on a table with other onlookers. Then, put into an envelope with my name and address. I'm highly skeptical that my vote made it to any count what so ever. It is rather sickening. I remember junior high elections with more privacy and order. Really? making my vote by writing on a paper along a wall?

It is an embarrassment, and I feel like my vote was wasted (not to mention probably in some random pile of papers right now)

As such, why should we not recount other races like Public Advocate? How can we be sure all that went to vote, really had a vote?

Sep. 11 2013 01:21 AM
Julie from Manhattan

well, I couldn't vote because I don't belong to either of the big two parties! I am so angry... I am basically stripped of my right - and duty - to vote...

Sep. 10 2013 09:50 PM
Isabel B from District 20- Brooklyn

I was told by poll workers that my last name did not show up on the list. I insisted that since my father with the same last name had voted in the morning, there must be a mistake, was I at the wrong table or polling location? I was told that no, I was simply not on the list, and had I filled out a paper ballot and affidavit.

Worrying that my paper ballot would not be counted, I verified that I was registered online. I went back. I found out, just as I thought and had previously asked the poll workers, I had originally been sent to the wrong table. I asked whether I could replace my paper ballot (marked to the wrong district) with a real vote... This did not make the poll worker happy. I was refused multiple times before demanding to speak with a supervisor.

In the end I was able to void my paper ballot (thankfully it was not placed in the box yet) and I cast a real vote. I hope I was right in going through all that.

Sep. 10 2013 09:02 PM
Susan M. Dooha from Brooklyn, NY

Very unhappy experience today at my polling site. When I arrived to vote, I found that the workers didn't know about the ballot marking device and told me to use the lever machine. I said I had a right to use the ballot marking device and that they should give me a ballot. I said that people with disabilities had a right to vote. They gave me a ballot--but it didn't fit into the ballot marking device--it was too large. They told me to just fit it in and tried to make it fit in. It jammed the ballot marking device as a result. I said this is the wrong ballot. It doesn't fit. They told me to vote on the lever machine and said it would be easier for me. I said that it was not easier for me. In fact, the ballot marking device helps me because I can make the type larger; I can see one race at a time; I can see where I have marked the race to make sure that the name is the one I wanted to select. When I'm done it shows me the races and how I've marked them to make sure that I've mark the ballot correctly. They told me that the lever machine had broken down and that they had used the ballot marking device ballots to give to voters as a result. They said that they didn't have any ballots left. I was incredulous and told them to call the City Board of Elections. I asked them if they had the number. They did not call and did not respond to that. They finally found a ballot that could be put in the machine properly. Then they had to be told to back up so that I could vote privately without them looking at my ballot. Then they didn't know what to do with my ballot--they didn't have a scanner and didn't know that they had a box to put it in so that it would be counted. Finally they figured out that they had a box to put it in. I'm not sure my ballot will end up being counted. I'm furious and making a formal complaint in the am.

Sep. 10 2013 08:48 PM
marthar from greenpoint

No Brooklyn Borough president (and therefore no Eric Adams) on my ballot in Greenpoint, ED 30.
Of course Eric Adams is the only choice, but not to be included runs down his actual numbers.

Sep. 10 2013 06:49 PM
judy karp

Voting machines not working in Carroll Gardens on Union Street and Hoyt- I filled out an affidavit and then an emergency ballot and now have to go back and sign the book- which is to say that no one knew how to take care of the problem. Everyone nice but very perplexed. What Third World country do I live in? I'm sure my vote will never be counted. Am I being paranoid???

Sep. 10 2013 03:03 PM
Ruth Mullen from Bronx

I love the lever machines! Scanner system is absolutely wretched. People are always craning their necks to see who I've voting for, both at the table where I fill out the ballot and at the machine where I scan it in. The lever machine is private, solid, it has heft and substance, and it makes a satisfying THUNK when you pull the handle to cast your vote--the sound and feel of real democracy in action. The scanner machine experience is more along the lines of buying shampoo at CVS.

Sep. 10 2013 02:48 PM
Greg from New York

I voted at 8 pm , I have voted in election for 23 years. Get ride of pull levers ,

Sep. 10 2013 11:50 AM
Claire from New York

I am registered third party so I can't vote today, but my husband (D) woke early to go to the polls before work. As I lay in bed, he kissed me goodbye saying he was off to vote, having decided last week on De Blasio. Twenty minutes later he came back into the bedroom to kiss me goodbye a second time. I said I thought he had already left to vote. Turns out he had gone to the internet moments before leaving to cast his ballot, read up on the candidates, and decided he couldn't support any of them!

Sep. 10 2013 11:35 AM
Chris Garvey from Libertarian Party

Lever Voting machines - Party Bosses' Advantages:
The lever machines could have specially worn wheels that would not increment above 99 for a disfavored candidate.

The lever machines had no paper ballots that could be recounted.

The lever machines needed to ride to the Board of Elections on Teamster-driven trucks, that sometimes disappered for hours, to reappear with seals broken, and numbers different than those recorded at the polling place.

When I ran as Libertarian for Governor in 1998, the polling place count was about 7000 votes.
After the absentee ballots were in, I had only 5000 votes.
How did 2000 votes go absent?

People told me thay couldn't find me I was so far down the machine.
People using paper absentee ballots had no trouble finding me.

There were two levers in my box. One of which was supposed to be locked out. Was it?
On the second count, did they only count one of the levers?

Did people try the locked lever and, when it didn't move, move on without voting for me?

You can vote on paper ballots, even if there are no machines. Humans can count the results on paper ballots.

Touch-screen machines use mysterious secret programs to record electrons in a mysterious database, in ways that can be reprogrammed.

Sep. 10 2013 11:00 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I prefer the old lever machines. The scanner system has one walking around with an open ballot which could flutter to the floor and compromise privacy. In addition, it doesn't have that tactile "I've just voted" feel to it. Maybe the Board of Elections will finally see the light and let us keep our lever machines.

Sep. 10 2013 10:53 AM

If you want to vote in next year's primary, you must register with a party before mid-October this year, probably Oct. 10, 2013 but I can't find that deadline date on the Board of Elections website:
The party bosses generally don't want you to vote in primaries.

Sep. 10 2013 10:48 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Why do voters have only till the general election to re-register w/a party affiliation? I remember hearing notices that the deadline to register in time for this year's primaries was just a few months ago!

And Brian, thanks for being specific about needing to register w/a party chosen. Neal just said to register for the primary, & it wasn't clear enough that the point is to choose the party whose primaries you'll vote in.

Sep. 10 2013 10:46 AM

That's Oct. 10 of 2013 - this year.

Sep. 10 2013 10:45 AM

If you want to vote in next year's primary, you must register with a party before mid-October, probably Oct. 10, but I can't find that deadline date on the Board of Elections website:

Sep. 10 2013 10:44 AM

I didn't have any trouble with the voting machines, but did get harassed by the polling workers for taking a photo of myself waiting in line to vote. I tried explaining that it was just the ballot booth I couldn't photograph, but they called over the police officer to intimidate me.

Sep. 10 2013 10:44 AM
art525 from Park Slope

I disagree with Mr Rothstein. I have been voting in NYC since the 70s and I never ever had a problem with a lever machine. Last year it was a zoo at my polling place with the elctronic voting machines. You had to wait for a table (not with a curtain to protect your privacy) and then after waiting for that table you ahd to wait in line for the scanner. That doesn't seem like progress to me. And it felt like I had really registered my choice when I pulled that big lever.

Sep. 10 2013 10:36 AM
Billie from Crown Height, Brooklyn

I voted today in Crown Heights and my machine was broken.
All hail scantron!

Sep. 10 2013 10:31 AM

How could we have chosen a new voting system that can't be quickly re-programmed?

Sep. 10 2013 10:28 AM
Allison from Brooklyn

I was so excited to use the lever machine again. I didn't savor it last time because I hadn't realized it might be the last time I saw one. This time I made sure to really enjoy it. Chunk! Chunk! Love the lever!

Sep. 10 2013 10:08 AM

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