Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City who bills himself as a non-partisan technocrat, unloaded some harsh criticisms on the New York City Board of Elections today after reports surfaced of problems at polling locations across the five boroughs. Calling the situation a "royal screw-up," the mayor said his office has received "disturbing" reports about polling places opening two to four hours late this morning, forcing some voters to leave without casting their ballots. He said he has also heard about broken or missing scanners and unhelpful poll workers.
The city spent more than $77 million to buy thousands of new voting machines that now replace the lever machines New Yorkers have used for about 80 years.
Speaking at the swearing-in of Civic Corps volunteers on Tuesday, the mayor said:
"Today, unfortunately, we are hearing disturbing reports that some polling sites have been very disturbing.
We’ve been told of some polling sites that opened two to four hours late.
That is a royal screw-up – and it’s completely unacceptable.
It means some voters waited for hours – and other voters may not have a chance to cast their ballots at all.
We’ve also gotten reports of broken and missing scanners, emergency ballots, and poor customer service.
Other counties have also experienced problems, but I’m not sure any of them have been as severe as we’ve seen in our five boroughs.
Over the past five years, the City has provided the Board of Elections with more than $77 million to make the transition to the new machines – and that doesn’t include the $85 million in federal funds used to purchase the new machines.
But there is a total absence of accountability for how the Board performed on Election Day – because the Board is a remnant of the days when Tammany Hall ran New York.
New Yorkers deserve better than this – and the time has come to fix it. And let me repeat that for our Spanish speaking audience:
Los neoyorquinos merecen mejor – y ha llegado la hora de arreglarlo.
We owe that to all of you – and to every voter.
No democracy is perfect, but the more people participate in civic life, the stronger that the democracy is.
And that’s why voting is so important – and that’s why the commitment we’re making today is so important – and I just want to thank all of you here and wish you all the best of luck. I wish our Board of Elections had performed as well as all of you guys are going to do."