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Today is primary day in the city. To find out who the candidates are, what offices they're running for, and which parties and districts they're in, check our Guide To The Last Minute Voter. You can view information on specific candidates or whole races, read exclusive interviews, find out what district you reside in, and more. Make sure you have all the details you need before heading to the polls.

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Four Major Candidates Vie For New York Public Advocate Job (NY Times)

Kelly Says Mayoral Candidates Overlook Terror Threats (NY Times)

Big Crime Decrease In The Bronx, Despite Violent Weekend (Daily News)

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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.

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Lawyer Jason Otaño is giving it a second go. Otaño has officially announced his bid to fill the state Assembly seat vacated by scandal-plagued former Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

Otaño made the announcement on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall under an overcast sky and the patter of rain yesterday.

It is the second time in the past two years that Otaño has run for a seat that has traditionally been held by former Assemblyman Vito Lopez and his allies.

Otaño unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Martin Dilan for his seat last summer.

The recurring theme of his announcement was restoring integrity and respect in Albany.

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"What I can tell you is we’re going to have a woman mayor," City Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn declared with confidence at City Hall yesterday.

She was, of course, speaking about herself, as she recognized the endorsement of the local chapter of the National Organization for Women.

"If you look at my record and what I've done on issues that matter to all New Yorkers, and issues that matter particular to women, I don’t think anyone else in the race has the same kind of record that I do," Quinn, who is running for the Democratic nomination, said.

With less than 100 days to the primary election, mayoral candidates have been announcing endorsements almost daily. The endorsement from NOW-NYC is important for Quinn, since she has been criticized in the past for holding up the passage of a paid sick leave law that was supported by prominent women activists.

Quinn managed to hammer out a deal on the bill in March, and the Council passed it 45-to-3 in spite of the mayor's promise to veto it (he did last week).

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The city hopes to get more people engaged in this year's pivotal election with a new web app that aims to benefit both campaigns and voters.

The web app, named NYC Votes, will streamline campaign donations and also serve as a resource on candidates and the election.

NYC Votes Candidate Contribution ScreenAn early version of the software was demoed at a public hearing last night where developers showed a simple interface that included a step-by-step process for making donations.

The software draws from the city's campaign finance data and is expected to be released in two weeks. It will be available on most browser-enabled devices, including phones and tablets.

"We started from the premise of creating a much more seamless, end-to-end experience for participants in the voting process," said Art Chang, the chairman of the Voter Assistance Advisory Committee of the city's Campaign Finance Board, which held the hearing and is in charge of developing the software.

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Political observers are beginning to ask whether race or ethnicity are playing a role in the state's most recent corruption cases. All five lawmakers charged in the growing corruption probe are black or Latino. So, too, are the eight people recorded for the FBI by state Sen. Shirley Huntley.

At a forum on Friday night titled "Attack on Black Leaders: Corruption or Conspiracy?" state Sen. James Sanders of Queens raised questions about whether black leaders were being targeted. “Why aren’t we hearing about other people wired and looking at different communities? Why is it seemingly a focus on this community?”

But experts and lawmakers tell The Associated Press that the current batch of cases may involved people of color, but that has not been the case in the past.

“People are going to think what they think, but it’s important to understand that what is going on in Albany transcends race, gender or party,” Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told The AP. “While this current wave has involved mostly people of color, prior to this it captured people across the aisle who were not people of color.

Federal corruption cases between 2009 and 2011 involved were all white, and half were Republicans. The most recent cases involve Democrats.

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The Department of Investigation says it is establishing a six-person unit to focus on "fraud, waste and corruption" at the city's Board of Elections.

The DOI, the city's 140-year-old agency dedicated to rooting out corruption, announced today that it got $824,000 to start up the investigative unit and has begun filling positions.

Because the Board of Elections is staffed by city employees, the DOI has jurisdiction over the agency.

DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said in the announcement that the decision to create the unit followed the agency's review of the November 2011 election. That investigation was labor-intensive and pointed out the need for more consistent oversight of the BOE.

"The newly created unit will provide the capacity to investigate possible waste, fraud and corruption in an expanded way that was not possible before," she said in a statement.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled three new proposals to deal with corruption in Albany.

Cuomo's first proposal would create an independent enforcement arm in the State Board of Election that is overseen by Democrats and Republicans, who would be able to block investigations.

The governor said the BOE's enforcement has been "toothless," adding that the agency needs reforms "above and beyond this" but said an independent enforcement arm would be a good place to start.

Secondly, Cuomo proposed ending the Wilson Pakula law.

"You've heard of pay-to-play, this is pay-to-run," Cuomo said of the recent case of Sen. Malcolm Smith, who was arrested on allegations he tried to bribe his way onto the Republican line for New York City Mayor.

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Legislators returning from a spring break that saw the arrest of two of their colleagues on corruption charges find themselves in a new Albany where ethics reform is at the top of everyone's to-do list. And everyone has got a plan.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver unveiled his plan for public financing of campaigns today that includes six-to-one matching funds that would be paid for by taxpayers who opt in on state tax forms and with money recovered from securities fraud.

Silver's plan did not address the Wilson Pakula law that allows for cross-party endorsements. The law has come under scrutiny since state Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, was arrested on corruption allegations that he tried to bribe his way onto the Republican line for New York City Mayor.

The group that took perhaps the biggest hit from the recent scandal was the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference that had appointed Smith the chair of their five-memmber conference.

The IDC expelled Smith and, last Friday, issued its own campaign finance reform plans.

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Democratic mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn is calling on her fellow candidates to "pledge to condemn and reject all independent expenditures" in the race to lead City Hall.

Quinn, the City Council speaker, said in a letter to nine other candidates that a television ad attacking her was "an all-out effort to undermine New York City’s public campaign finance system, the most progressive system in the county."

Quinn repeated her position against independent expendiatures during a press conference at City Hall today. She also defended her support of a bill the Council passed in March that excluded union communications from being considered independent expeneditures. The law drew criticism from the city's Campaign Finance Board when the bill was first floated in late 2012.

"What we did was just relation to member to member communications," she said, and defended the bill by arguing it received support from the city's leading good government groups. She said the TV spot against her was different because it was created for a general public and its backers refuse to disclose who is paying for it.

The ad in question was released yesterday and accuses her of back-room deals and putting politics before people. It was the first television advertisement to be released in this year's mayoral race.

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The New York Post reports that State Sen. Malcolm Smith was arrested today for trying to bribe GOP leaders into getting his name on their mayoral ballot. He allegedly had Councilman Dan Halloran, a Republican, meet with party leaders and negotiate thousands in bribes. Halloran was also arrested today and is accused of collecting thousands in bribes for himself.

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While Mayor Michael Bloomberg took Sunday morning airtime to discuss his new $12 million gun control ad campaign, four Democratic mayoral candidates touched upon a range of issues, including the New York Police Department and paid sick leave.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former Councilman Sal Alabanese, and current and former Comptrollers John Liu and Bill Thompson, respectively, all appeared on MSNBC’s "Up with Chris Hayes."

The four candidates took up five segments of the Sunday morning cable talkshow, with each candidate doing their best to distinguish themselves from the others as they reiterate their opposition to the New York Police Department’s policy of stopping, questionioning and frisking people on the street. Liu was the only firm opponent to the policy, with his fellow candidates adopting nuanced, critical stances on the subject.

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Tom Allon has dropped out of the mayoral race, ending a long-shot candidacy to devote his energies to publishing.

His campaign announced early this morning that he would withdraw as a candidate because Allon had acquired the publisher of City & State, a political newspaper. A message left for his spokesman was not immediately returned.

"When I decided to enter the mayoral race in July 2011, I had a deep desire to lead this wonderful and unique city and to finally fix our crumbling public education system," Allon said in a statement released to the press.

He said that he would continue to "pursue a reform agenda as an education activist, a columnist and blogger, and parent of three teenagers."

Allon was running as a Republican and was endorsed by the Liberal Party, which released a statement saying that it respected his decision.

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Community Service Society of New York held a mayoral forum with seven candidates last month to discuss the issues facing low-income New Yorkers. The organization made available this video of the forum earlier today. CSS also published online a voter guide to the candidates — who were asked questions on topics ranging from health to affordable housing — to coincide with the Feb. 28 event.

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NYC2013: Seven mayoral hopefuls gathered to discuss transportation policy at a forum on Friday night. Christine Quinn, the presumptive Democratic frontrunner, suggested she would like to see the city have more control over mass transit. Rival Democratic candidate Sal Albanese went further, suggesting he'd fight for control of it. Some of the presumed candidates rehashed the idea of a commuter tax to raise funds for the mass transit system. (The New York Times; The New York Post; Capital New York)

Notably absent from the forum was Joh Lhota, the Republican candidate who resigned from his job overseeing the mass transit system to run for mayor. Organizers said they couldn't reach him; a Lhota spokeswoman told the Times they didn't even try.

The next night, Quinn was booed at another mayoral forum by Upper East Side residents angry about her ongoing support of a waste transfer station in the neighborhood, even though the facility now sits in a flood zone. "I am not changing my position," Quinn declared. (The New York Post)

NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE IN HARLEM: Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Friday that the National Urban League was planning to move to Harlem and to open a museum about the American civil rights movement. Local leaders had proposed an annex of the Jazz at Lincoln Center, along with other amenities, at the same site, currently a garage (DNAInfo).

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Partner MetroFocus sat down with former New York City Mayor Ed Koch to get his thoughts on Superstorm Sandy, his legacy and next year's election for mayor.

Koch, who remarked that part of his legacy was having lead the city to oppose the strike by transit workers in the 1980s, told the television show he is concerned about the undue influence of unions on the candidates for mayor.

"Before me it was a radical left-wing town that was being destroyed by the municipal unions and their demands for pensions and wages and so forth, and they brought us to the edge of bankruptcy," he told host Rafael Pi Roman. "Now we're a tower of strength again, but I worry about the impact of those same unions who are now making demands on all the candidates who are running."

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Joseph Lhota, the M.T.A. chairman, will step down on Friday and is expected run for mayor as a Republican. A law prevents him from entering the race while holding the chairmanship. He's received widespread praise for his response to Superstorm Sandy. But the agency will adopt its new budget on Wednesday, and is expected to vote on approving a slate of fare and toll increases. It is likely he'd face primary challengers as well.

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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.

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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.

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A civil rights organization is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to monitor the general election in Queens County after the city announced it would not provide Bengali-language ballots as required under federal law.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund announced today that it had submitted a letter to the DOJ requesting that monitors be deployed to oversee voting in six states, including New York.

AALDEF has been at the forefront of underscoring the failure of the city's Board of Election to adhere to federal law requiring language assistance for Asian voters in Queens.

The BOE says it has a plan to provide translators and some materials in Bengali for the general election on Nov. 6. But it blames technical problems with the voting machines for being unable to provide ballots translated into Bengali.

"Although the Board of Elections has offered to provide translated sample ballots, comparing a Bengali ballot to an English ballot is cumbersome for voters," AALDEF attorney Glenn D. Magpantay said in his letter to the DOJ. "The use of translated sample ballots is a new and completely untested procedure in New York City. Moreover, there is little assurance that such translated sample ballots will even be at poll sites for Bengali-speaking voters to access."

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