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NYC public advocate: Brooklyn voters were ‘disenfranchised this morning’

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Infamous butterfly ballot designer Theresa LePore can’t be blamed for any of this.

“Voters around New York State stepped into the brave new world of electronic voting machines in Tuesday’s primary elections amid complaints around the city of longer-than-usual delays and troubles with the scanners that are supposed to swallow and tabulate the new, SAT-style ballots,” James Barron and Elissa Gootman report for The New York Times.

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On Monday, Beth Fouhy at the Associated Press noted, “Even the most jaded New Yorkers might consider this a recipe for chaos: New electronic voting machines are being introduced in the Sept. 14 primary. State and city budget cuts mean not enough staff has been trained to help voters use them. A glitch in the computer programming will let people mistakenly vote for too many candidates. And the machines come with paper ballots so hard to read, voters will be offered magnifying glasses.”

Election officials still insist the rollout of the optical scan voting machines should be relatively smooth, as New York becomes the last state to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act. HAVA, enacted in response to the contested Florida presidential vote in 2000, directed states to adopt simpler voting systems to avoid the nightmare that led to the contentious, 36-day recount in Florida that gave George Bush the state — and the White House — by 537 votes over Al Gore.

But voting rights advocates are so concerned about New York’s new system that one group has filed a lawsuit over flaws they have detected. And a state lawmaker has asked the U.S. Justice Department to intervene in what he warns could be a full-blown voting debacle.

“After years of voting the same way, you’ve now got to use a computer, and that’s not a friendly situation for people,” said Democratic Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who’s running for attorney general. “This is a big change in culture, and it has real potential for disaster.”

No one is claiming total “disaster” yet, but the day isn’t over.

The Times adds,

Some polling places in Brooklyn did not open for more than 90 minutes — and there was one report of a three-and-a-half hour delay — as election workers tried to get the new equipment to function. Senator Charles E. Schumer was held up when he arrived at Public School 321 in Park Slope just before the scheduled 6 a.m. opening: He and other voters had to wait 15 to 20 minutes before the machines were ready to take their ballots.

….

The public advocate, Bill de Blasio, encountered at the Camp Friendship voting site at 339 Eighth Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn, said it had not opened until 9 a.m.

Someone is supposed to show up in the morning and turn over keys to activate the machines, but Mr. de Blasio said the keys did not arrive until sometime between 8:30 and 9 a.m., almost three hours late.

“Whatever the exact protocol is, it didn’t happen this morning,” Mr. de Blasio said. “It’s very troubling. This is a very high voting site. It’s ridiculous that it took by one account by 8:30 a.m., by another count 9:30 a.m., to open up.”

“So basically,” he said, “the folks in Park Slope were disenfranchised this morning. The irony is these are the machines that were supposed to resolve the problems in 2000,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Voting rights activist blogger Brad Friedman chimed in: “All of this, of course, could have been avoided, as New York Election Integrity advocates — as well as a number of election officials — have been fighting against the adoption of the new systems, after similar systems have racked up a disturbing record of failure across the nation since HAVA encouraged their implementation.”

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Moon may be richer in water than thought — and it could help propel humans farther from earth

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There may be far more water on the Moon than previously thought, according to two studies published Monday raising the tantalising prospect that astronauts on future space missions could find refreshment -- and maybe even fuel -- on the lunar surface.

The Moon was believed to be bone dry until around a decade ago when a series of findings suggested that our nearest celestial neighbour has traces of water trapped in the surface.

Two new studies published in Nature Astronomy on Monday suggest there could be much more water than previously thought, including ice stored in permanently shadowed "cold traps" at lunar polar regions.

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Asymptomatic coronaagvirus sufferers lose antibodies sooner: study

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Asymptomatic coronavirus sufferers appear to lose detectable antibodies sooner than people who have exhibited Covid-19 symptoms, according to one of the biggest studies of its kind in Britain published on Tuesday.

The findings by Imperial College London and market research firm Ipsos Mori also suggest the loss of antibodies was slower in 18–24 year-olds compared to those aged 75 and over.

Overall, samples from hundreds of thousands of people across England between mid-June and late September showed the prevalence of virus antibodies fell by more than a quarter.

The research, commissioned by the British government and published Tuesday by Imperial, indicates people's immune response to Covid-19 reduces over time following infection.

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2020 Election

Early voting to be hit by heavy rain and flooding as Hurricane Zeta barrels towards the Gulf Coast

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Hurricane Zeta is expected to make landfall near Louisiana's border with Mississippi on Wednesday evening as campaigns work to get supporters to the polls and convince any undecided voters to back their candidate.

"Hurricane conditions and life-threatening storm surge are possible along portions of the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and Storm Surge and Hurricane Watches are in effect," the National Hurricane Center warned.

"Between Tuesday night and Thursday, heavy rainfall is expected from portions of the central Gulf Coast into the southern Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic states near and in advance of Zeta. This rainfall will lead to flash, urban, small stream, and minor river flooding," the center explained.

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