board of elections Tag All blog entries tagged as board of elections Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:23:13 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Board Of Elections Says Disabled Voters Will Get Help At Polls Elections officials say disabled voters will have access to electronic devices at each poll site this year so that they can submit paper ballots for the September primary, even though inaccessible lever voting machines are being brought back.

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A spokeswoman for the city's Board of Elections said in a statement today that ballot marking devices would allow "all voters, including voters with disabilities, to vote privately and independently at their poll site" on Election Day.

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The Gotham Gazette reported yesterday that the BOE could face legal action from advocates for the disabled over its plan to bring back lever voting machines.

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James Weisman, senior vice president and senior counsel at the United Spinal Association, told the Gotham Gazette that his organization was considering taking legal steps to stop the BOE from using the machines.

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He said disabled voters would face physical challenges to using the lever voting machines.

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The BOE has said that the optical voting machines are too unwieldy to use for the mayoral primary or for the runoff this year.

]]> (Administrator) City Wed, 17 Jul 2013 21:45:10 +0000
Board Of Elections Could Be Sued Over Lever Voting Machines Plan UPDATED: Board of Elections Says Disabled Voters Will Get Help-at Polls

The Board of Elections is bracing for any potential lawsuits over its plan to bring back lever voting machines for the primary and possible runoff.

The BOE's commissioners voted to pass a revised resolution on the plan for the lever voting machines at a public meeting today, with Board President Frederic M. Umane saying that new language would be "helpful" in case the agency got sued over the plan.

"It's been suggested that there could be litigation over this and it might be helpful to lay out and delineate, to a greater extent than what we did last week, some of the concerns and reasons why we want to be using the lever machines and not the optical scanners," Umane said earlier today before the commissioners voted to approve.

Civil rights and good government groups have criticized the plan for bringing back the lever voting machines. The BOE has said that the optical voting machines are too unwieldy to use for the mayoral primary this year or for the runoff.

James Weisman, senior vice president and senior counsel at the United Spinal Association, said his organization was considering taking legal steps to stop the BOE from using the machines that date back decades.

"It's definitely on the table," he said, adding that there were numerous reasons why the lever voting machines were problematic for people with disabilities. People without manual dexterity can't pull them down and blind people can't read them, for instance, he said.

"It's unfortunate that they just keep disregarding the needs and rights of people with disabilities," Weisman said of the board.

The United Spinal Association is currently litigating a federal case against the BOE. The organization has accused the city of failing to take steps to make sure disabled voters have access to poll sites and that poll workers are sufficiently trained to assist them.

Weisman recalled what it was like for disabled voters to go to the polls when they had no choice but to use the lever voting machines.

"Either they took a poll worker in the booth with them to vote with them and so they had no privacy, or they brought a friend with them," he said.

At today's hearing of the BOE commissioners, board attorney Steve Richman complained that the new language of the resolution was formulated with input from the city's Law Department.

"I think it's a bad precedent for the board to take direction from the mayor or the Corporation Counsel," he said at the meeting.

Richman authored the original resolution.

"They don't want to have their fingerprints on this," Richman added. "So I just wanted to put on the record that it's a concern for us — that an independent agency taking direction this way — that this was made through less-than open and free communication in public

Board spokeswoman Valerie Vasquez confirmed that the Law Department regularly provides advice as a preventative measure against lawsuits.

The Law Department said it did not comment on attorney-client matters.

]]> (Administrator) City Tue, 16 Jul 2013 22:23:22 +0000
Is Investigation Into Possible Waste At Board Of Elections Stalling? #NYC2013 A lack of cooperation appears to be stalling an investigation — before it even begins — into allegations of possible waste and abuse at the city's Board of Elections.

An attorney for the BOE said at a hearing of the agency's commissioners that he and another attorney had refused a request for full access to employees by the Department of Investigation, which is spearheading the investigation.

Asking that DOI send any future requests in writing, BOE attorney Steve Richman also told the commissioners that his legal team criticized what they considered the possible political motivations behind the investigation.

They told the DOI representatives during a closed-door meeting that "it is beyond dispute that the mayor is not a fan of the board," BOE attorney Steve Richman told the commissioners. The legal team also pointed to a recent DOI report on the agency's handling of the 2011 election, which they said was "unfair, biased and did not tell the complete story."

"I agreed that if that report is any indication of how the board would be treated in the future by DOI, the board’s concerns are entirely justified," Richman said at the BOE meeting on July 9.

The DOI would not confirm Richman's account.

"It is always troubling when there is a lack of willingness to cooperate in an investigation," the DOI said in a statement to the Gotham Gazette. "It is not clear that everyone at the City Board of Elections feels this way, however. Nevertheless, we will proceed with our investigative responsibilities with respect to BOE."

The BOE declined to respond to the DOI's statement.

In April, the DOI announced it would create a six-person unit to investigate the board after it reported that the BOE could have saved the city more than $2 million in 2011's off-year election.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn have refused to detail the basis for the investigation, Richman told the commissioners. Bloomberg has publicly lambasted the BOE for various mishaps, and for being mismanaged by staff who rely on their connections to political parties for their jobs.

Reading from prepared statements during last week's hearing, Richman detailed how he and fellow BOE attorney Raphael Savino met with DOI Deputy General Counsel Benet J. Kearney and Inspector General Michelle Offsey Raimondi on Monday, July 7, for a half-hour sitdown, with mixed results.

According to Richman, the DOI investigators expressed concern their requests for information to the board would be revealed publicly or even during the board's closed-door executive sessions. Among the questions raised, according to Richman, was what would happen if "one of the commissioners or a member of the executive staff" was the subject of the investigation.

Richman said he pointed out to the DOI staff that all requests for information would have to be discussed — at the very least during executive sessions, regardless of who or what is being looked into.

As the board's representative at the meeting with the DOI, however, Richman also wasn't shy about revealing some of the conflicting points between the two city agencies.

He recounted how he began the meeting by suggesting that he intended to make a recording, calling it a practice "standard for anyone appearing before DOI."

"Ms. Raimondi would not consent to the recording and threatened to end the meeting," Richman told the board. "After further discussion, it was agreed that nothing of substance was to be asked at this time. DOI was only interested in determining how they would obtain documents and information needed in the course of their potential investigations in the future."

Richman said the investigation's price tag — last reported as $824,000 — would put the DOI under "a lot of pressure to come up with some results one way or another."

Richman said that Inspector General Raimondi told them the DOI had already received complaints about the board, but that any unfounded complaints would be reported as such. In order to proceed with those investigations, however, DOI said it needed full access to BOE employees.

"I added that it is unlikely," Richman said, citing the counting of ballots long after Nov. 5 election night, "that any employees will have free time for interviews until certification is complete."

]]> (Administrator) City Tue, 16 Jul 2013 14:43:25 +0000
City Council On Board of Elections Reforms Members of the City Council have called for an overhaul of how the Board of Elections administers elections following the chaos at the polls seen this past November during the general election.

The Council announced the following recommendations during a committee hearing today on the BOE's performance during the election, which was complicated by Superstorm Sandy:

  • Early voting at poll sites
  • Easier access to absentee ballots
  • End the use of voter cards
  • Begin using electronic poll books
  • Better training for poll workers
  • More oversight of poll workers
  • Split shifts for poll workers
  • Larger polling locations
  • Hire an executive editor for the Board
  • Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act

Here is Speaker Christine Quinn's statement, sent by the Council's press office:

The New York City Board of Elections must take responsibility for systemic problems and fix them immediately. Poorly trained poll workers and chaotic polling place procedures have been recurring issues, election after election. Implementing the reforms we are announcing today is a step towards bringing about the change voters expect and deserve.

]]> (Administrator) City Wed, 05 Dec 2012 16:22:36 +0000
Headlines: Polling Site Mess; Nearly 1M Still Without Power Yesterday’s election saw long lines, jammed ballot scanners and shortages of affidavit ballots. Few voters used shuttle buses to get to substitute polling sites. Scanners were broken at polling sites in Gramercy Park and Park Slope. Two of three emergency sites in Coney Island opened over two hours late. Some poll workers at sites had no idea that people could vote using affidavit ballots, and the city printed up only 250 per election district. According to unofficial results, the state Senate is now tied, but thousands of absentee ballots still need to be counted in very close races. Even if the Democrats win a majority, a number of Democrats say they'll back Republican leadership. Meanwhile, embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez won re-election with 89 percent of the vote despite the scandal swirling around him.

In the Press...

]]> (Mike Muller) City Wed, 07 Nov 2012 13:35:09 +0000
Cuomo Allows Hurricane Victims to Vote Anywhere in State

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order allowing voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy to vote at any polling place in the state.

Voters from the five boroughs can fill out an affidavit ballot at any polling place in the state and the local Board of Elections will then mail their ballots to the correct county.

However, ballots will only be available for local elections, so voters who are displaced out of their Senate or Assembly districts will only be able to vote for the statewide races.

"We want everyone to vote. Just because you're displaced doesn't mean you should be disenfranchised," Cuomo said at a press conference this evening.

The move could drive down turnout in lower-ballot races. The contest between Sen. Joe Addabbo and Councilman Eric Ulrich in Queens could be severely impacted.

The NYC Board of Elections has set up multiple alternative polling places to replace sites rendered unusuable by Hurricane Sandy.

For up-to-date information on polling place locations, voters can text "NYCVOTES" to 877-877. Spanish speakers can text "DONDE" to 877-877 for information in Spanish.

Polls open at 6 a.m. tomorrow and close at 9 p.m.

Cuomo briefs the press on executive order, earlier today. Photo provided by The Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

]]> (David Howard King) State Mon, 05 Nov 2012 23:07:30 +0000
Headlines: Cold Front Threatens Sandy Victims Between 20,000 and 40,000 were left homeless in the city by Sandy. About half of those are public-housing residents. The 115,000 people in the Rockaways remain without power, as do thousands more in Red Hook and Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn, and New Dorp Beach on Staten Island. A cold snap is making this particularly problematic. Also, a nor’easter with 35-45mph sustained winds is likely to hit on Wednesday night, possibly bringing moderate flooding in areas already impacted by extreme flooding from Sandy.

Although the majority of the subway system is reopened, rail switch and signal failures will continue. It could also take several months to restore the A train to the Rockaways.

Fifty-nine polling places will be affected, and Mayor Bloomberg expresses little confidence the Board of Elections will manage it very well. The board still hasn't appointed an executive director and their Manhattan headquarters had no power all week. Those who can't get to their polling places may to go to the Board of Election's borough offices and vote until 5 p.m. today.

The city had been inundated with people dropping off goods, so officials and other groups are suggesting they give money, and possibly coats, instead. Dozens of buildings near the water’s edge, especially in the financial district, are weeks or months away from reopening. The fuel shortage could last for several more days. Currently 27 percent of gas stations in the area are empty. Major crime dropped significantly in the storm's wake, but burglaries saw a 3 percent increase. Generators, heaters, and other supplies for the canceled marathon remained unused in Central Park. More than 100 New York City public schools will remain closed today.

]]> (Mike Muller) City Mon, 05 Nov 2012 13:36:30 +0000
Headlines: NY elections in the news; Cities seek bailouts

A number of New York state GOP lawmakers have been promoting their ties to Gov. Cuomo as election day draws near, including the second-highest-ranking Republican in Albany, Sen. Thomas Libous. The governor is popular with voters from both parties. Many mailings featuring Cuomo's image don't mention the party affiliations of the candidate or the governor. The City Council is holding an oversight hearing today to make sure the city's Board of Elections is ready for the November voting. Meanwhile, candidates for city office are left struggling to plan for the 2013 primaries as the state decides whether to move primary day up to June from September for New York races. Congressional and presidential primaries were already moved to June.

]]> (Mike Muller) City Mon, 15 Oct 2012 12:31:37 +0000