Ballot Battle

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Larry Norden, senior counsel with the NYU Law School's Brennan Center for Justice, on the problems with the New York ballot.


Larry Norden

Comments [19]

everybody vote! from uws

I agree with Suzanne that the head of the Board of Elections was not impressive yesterday to say the least, and I do think she gave out incorrect information about write ins for the initiatives.

I also agree with Ro that most of the print wasn't so small. I am new to wearing reading glasses this year & I definitely needed them, but why would anyone who needs reading glasses go anyplace where they know they have to read without their reading glasses? I need them at the supermarket to read ingredients, so I always have a pair in my bag. The only print that was truly too tiny to really read is the party designation. Fortunately I was able to determine which party was which by using the symbols attached to the governor candidates & use them further down the page (I like voting for 3rd party candidates to give other parties a chance at being on the ballot for 4 years).

Thanks for yesterday's show going over the ballot initiatives. It made for a much quicker time with my ballot today.

Nov. 02 2010 02:53 PM
Ro from Manhattan

I cannot understand what all the fuss is/was about! OK the font was a little small, but if you were wearing your glasses as if reading your book or newspaper there should have been no problem. The ballot was well laid out and clear in its instructions: 'Vote once' etc. alongside each line/block.
As for filling in the ovals - they were right there in the SAME BOX as the name of the candidate for heaven's sake!
I am a new citzen and this is my second time voting. If Americans are so hide-bound and truculently reluctant to entertain new designs, concepts and policies we are truly lost!

Nov. 02 2010 02:42 PM
CL from New York

I just voted, and I have to say that I am appalled. Beginning with the primary polling place problems and extending through the ballot design issues, this process is clearly broken. What I noticed today: the ballot is one of the worst designed things I've ever seen (print far too small and the overall directions are opaque) and the two-step process of marking and scanning is just plain stupid. The Board of Elections is disenfranchising voters in multiple ways, some overt, some subtle. I am outraged. I firmly believe that the entire board should be dismissed. I don't know whether lack of intelligence or training (or both) is to blame, but it doesn't matter. What they have done to the voting process borders on criminal, in my opinion.

Nov. 02 2010 11:45 AM

The President of the Board of Elections who Brian interviewed yesterday was not impressive or not did she sound professional in the way she expressed herself or her command of what is needed to run an election. She even compounded confusion by misstating the position of where to mark the choices. It's totally depressing that we can't attract or appoint more competent people to these positions. (Actually she sounded like a complete idiot.)

Nov. 02 2010 11:42 AM
Amy from Manhattan

They may be calling them "palm cards," but they're not actually palm-sized, & they aren't handed out to individual voters. They're in plastic sleeves in the privacy booths (or whatever they're called), so it could be easy to miss them if you're keeping your eyes on your ballot. And it sounded yesterday as if the reminder about the q's. on the back of the ballot are *on the back of the palm card*, so you have to turn the card over to see that you have to turn the ballot over!

Nov. 02 2010 11:40 AM
Robert from NYC

Someone on the show just said that, if you are at the right polling place and your name is not on the list, call some number.

The voter guide mailed out by the Campaign Finance Board says in this case you should vote by affidavit ballot.

Nov. 02 2010 11:27 AM
Daniel from Forest Hills

One good thing about the much maligned new voting system: To me it seems to work a bit faster, because more than one voter in the same Election District (ED) can work on their ballot at the same time. With the old machines, you had to wait around doing nothing if someone was in the voting machine for your ED, and if there was a line of people waiting, it was tempting to just leave.

Nov. 02 2010 11:24 AM
nancy from nyc

the letters on the ballot are toooo small, i was unable to read the questions (i did not bring my reading glasses).

Nov. 02 2010 11:17 AM
Steve from Flatbush

Why is everyone so up in arms about privacy? I couldn't care less who saw my ballot, so long as they can't alter it.

Also, the "privacy booths" are pointless because the ballot is hard enough to read for the person filling it out, Superman couldn't surreptitiously spy on anyone's choices.

Again, what does it matter if someone sees what you put down? It's not a test where someone is going to copy your answers ... and even if they did, bully for you since it's a vote to bolster your own. Neither is there going to be a public shaming; they won't be waiting outside for you with tar and feathers.

Nov. 02 2010 11:17 AM
Miriam from Woodside, NY

I hated the ballot. It was such a tiny font, and there were multiple languages for each set of candidates for each office, that it was confusing and enraging. I have a Ph.D. and if I had trouble (though I think I finally got it right), so did a lot of other people.

Also, there is now only ONE registration book per Election District and the volunteers were very, very slow. I waited in my line for 20 minutes behind just 6 other voters! 20 minutes is way out of line to wait, when if they had organized the process in a more voter-friendly way, I should have received my paper ballot in about 10 minutes or less.

One more thing. For our 3 Election districts there were only 2 scanners. What if something goes wrong with one of them? What will it be like for all three Election districts to be using 1 machine?

Nov. 02 2010 11:15 AM

why do people get so upset about other people finding out who they voted for?

i'm always proud of who i vote for.

Nov. 02 2010 11:15 AM
Susan from NYC

Reluctantly voting for the cynically manipulated ballot initiatives since that is the only way to rid ourselves of Bloomberg/Quinn self-serving undermining of democracy, though it should be immediate and they should both be in prison, not office.

Nov. 02 2010 11:14 AM
RLewis from the Bowery

I'm sure that there will be people who look for something to complain about and will find something, but my polling place in Chinatown was smooth sailing. Only a couple of other folks there at 9am, so low turnout, but no real problems. Can this be one vote that we're not all ragging on. The future is here.

Nov. 02 2010 11:13 AM
michael from greenpoint, brooklyn

i didn't have an issue, but this guy next to me had some sort of pen marks all over his ballot. He asked for a new one before he went to his voting "privacy booth" and the volunteers were giving him quiet a problem saying there was nothing wrong with the ballot, and he just wanted a new one to be sure. After a few minutes they gave him and new one after much fuss.

Nov. 02 2010 11:03 AM
Allegra from UWS

On your show yesterday I thought you mentioned a write-in option for the proposals on the back. That is not an option. You can only write in for candidates on the front. I want do get rid of term limits but I can't have my voice heard. Why not?

Nov. 02 2010 10:37 AM
David from Brooklyn

For those who miss pulling the levers, here's a look back at the New York Times 1889 announcement of the invention of the voting machines, and a proclamation of their success once they were actually used in New York City in 1901:

Nov. 02 2010 10:20 AM
Westchester voter

At my polling place this morning in the town of Rye, no one had dropped off the key to unlock the scanning machine. The ballots were being collected in Emergency Ballot envelopes, but were just being stacked on the table behind the inspectors - "to be scanned later in White Plains". I was concerned that the envelopes were not being collected securely, so I did not vote. I will return after work to try again and hope the machine will be operating then.

After I left, a neighbor told me that the scanning maching for the other district at that site had jammed with paper and could not be opened.

Nov. 02 2010 09:49 AM
Lamar from Woodhaven

My polling place (Queens 31st district) experience was relatively good. The poll workers were friendly and my vote was processed. The only issue I had was that I forgot to turn the ballot over and vote for the charter revision. I walked all the way back to my apartment before I realized. I wish they had a reminder (a sign or verbal announcement) that the ballot is two sides. I heard that poll workers could not mention the charter revision, but I don't know why they can't say that the ballot is two-sided.

Nov. 02 2010 09:26 AM
Stephen from Prospect Heights

Not a ballot problem, but a Board of Elections issue:

The 'clerks' at the tables completely screwed up my b allot this morning because it appears that each ballot is numbered and for some reason despite being only number 17 today I fell out of sequence so they spent almost 20 minutes trying to "re-sequence" ballots so my ballot would match their rooster.

Nov. 02 2010 09:02 AM

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