Ballot Issues, Front and Back

On election eve, The Brian Lehrer Show focused on the how-to of voting, talking to Julie Dent, president of the New York City Board of Elections and later to Alex Camarda,  director of public policy and advocacy at Citizens Union, explains the charter revision initiatives which are on the back of the paper ballot.

The president of the NYC Board of Elections answered questions about voting and the new paper ballots that caused widespread problems on primary day. In explaining how to vote, Julie Dent inadvertently added to the confusion about where exactly, in relation to the candidates name, voters are supposed to fill in an oval.

I did at the beginning of our conversation I did indicate next to, but as I said to you, it's below. I do not think it will cause any confusion to the voter. They will see the candidate's name printed and right below the candidates name they will see an oval that they will mark in that oval, as you would do if you were taking a test of anything of that sort.

And in the wake of last week's firing of the Board of Election's executive director, Dent made sure to describe how the board's governance works. She distinguished between the politically-appointed commissioners of the Board of Elections, and the professional staff who run day to day operations at the agency.

The commissioners do not run the election. That's why we have hired staff. There are staff members there. And they do know how to run elections.

Dismissing allegations that the ballot design is confusing and that primary day saw significant problems, she said Board of Elections staff and employees are "capable of turning out an effective election." Anyone encountering problems on election day should call 1-866-Vote-NYC, she said. To listen to President of the Board of Elections Julie Dent's interview here.

Alex Camarda, director of public policy and advocacy at Citizens Union, also joined the show to disentangle the marathon charter revision question that voters will find if they turn over the ballot.

There are two questions on the ballot, including whether term limits for city office should go back to two terms (after the change to three terms in 2008 that set up Bloomberg's election to his third term). The other question of which includes seven separate issues, all bundled together into a single yes or no vote. Among the issues voters will decide are whether the city should increase the requirements for campaign finance disclosure, decrease the number of signatures necessary for candidates to get on the ballot, streamline the number of required reports city agencies must produce, and add more information to city maps of the locations of polluting facilities such as waste transfer stations.

The single jumbo question is a result of a year's worth of deliberation by the Charter Revision Commission, which believed because of the new ballot design that it only had a very limited amount of space on which to present questions. Carmoda said that may not actually have been the case. 

Listen to Carmoda parse the various clauses of the charter revision question here.